Bell Sounds from the 20th - 2016 Session Week 1

The 2016 Session of the Virginia General Assembly began on Wednesday, January 13.  As always, we are off to a quick start. 

The Speaker gaveled the House to order at noon on opening day, signifying the official start to the 2016 Session.  During the opening ceremony, all new and returning members were sworn in.  Taking the oath of office is a humbling experience and I am so honored to represent the 20th District in the oldest continuing legislative body in the Western hemisphere. This year we welcomed 11 new House members.  I congratulate the new members and I look forward to serving with them.

After taking our oaths of office, one of our first tasks was the election of the Speaker of the House. We unanimously re-elected Bill Howell (R-Stafford).  In his opening remarks to the House, Speaker Howell laid out the House Republican agenda for the year.  He highlighted our top priorities, including strengthening Virginia’s economy, investing in new educational opportunities, and the importance of being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars.  His full remarks are available at

That same evening, Governor Terry McAuliffe delivered the annual State of the Commonwealth address to the Joint Assembly of the House of Delegates and Senate.  While we share some top priorities with the Governor, including K-12 reform, economic development, and investments in higher ed, there are also many areas where we do not agree. 

I am unfortunately not as optimistic about Virginia’s revenues as Governor McAuliffe. While we are still improving slightly, we still lag behind the national recovery.  I was also disappointed to see him once again push for Medicaid expansion, which he knows the General Assembly has repeatedly opposed.  By choosing to include expansion in the budget, he has made it even more difficult to finish the budget on time.  Additionally, it is unfortunate that he has continued to push efforts to infringe upon the second amendment rights of Virginia citizens.  

The Republican response was delivered by Delegate Rob Bell (Albemarle) and Senator Frank Ruff (Mecklenburg).  Delegate Bell and Senator Ruff laid out a positive agenda for the 2016 session which will focus on:

 Improving our public schools by investing in our teachers and resources to improve student success;

  • Investing in workforce training targeted to growing industries to help more people get back to work;

  • Being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars throughout the entire budget process;

  • Standing up and defending Virginians’ Second Amendment rights;

  • Investing in our health safety net without expanding an already broken Medicaid system.

You can watch our Republican response at  

 Committee Assignments

This year my committee assignments did not change. I will continue to serve on the Education, General Laws, and Health, Welfare, and Institutions committees.  I will continue to serve as chairman of the Primary and Secondary Education subcommittee. In addition, I am pleased to announce that I have been asked to chair a subcommittee of the Health, Welfare, and Institutions committee.  

If you would like to follow my committees, you can sign up for email notifications at


My Legislation

This year I have filed 13 bills and 1 house joint resolution.  Topics range from education reform to healthcare and more.  I will detail my legislation in future updates as it works its way through the committee process.  If you would like to take a look at my legislation in the meantime, it can be viewed at


Though we have only been her for a few days, we have already had the opportunity to see several of you from home!

This week we welcomed a number of constituents who visited for “Bankers Day”. This included representatives from First Bank, Union First Market Bank, and Farmers and Merchants Bank.  We also visited with representatives from the Headwaters Soil and Water Conservation District and the Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative. 

We love seeing friendly faces from home during Session.  If you are going to be in the Richmond area, consider dropping by for a visit. While appointments are not required, we do recommend that you call or email us ahead of time to schedule a time for a visit.

While we make every attempt to see all of our constituents, please understand that our committee schedules can be very hectic and our schedule can change very quickly.  We appreciate your patience and understanding.

Contact Me

 We will be operating out of our Richmond Office for the duration of the 2016 Session.  While we still monitor the voicemail on our District Office phone line, the quickest way to reach us by phone will be by calling the Richmond office directly at 804-698-1020.  We will still receive email at

If you prefer to send us written correspondence, you can send mail to Post Office Box 406, Richmond, Virginia 23218.

I look forward to hearing from you on the issues that matter most to you.

As in previous Sessions, I will provide weekly updates throughout our time in Richmond. If you know someone who would like to receive these updates, they can sign up online at or email Savanna at

You can also stay updated by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

I look forward to seeing you in Richmond! Thank you for allowing me to serve as your delegate.





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