Bell Sounds from the 20th - 2018 Session - Week 8

The 2018 General Assembly session is entering its final week! The last week of the session will be a busy one.  There are still many bills that have not been acted on by both bodies and the House and Senate conferees are still working to reach an agreement on the budget bill.   

Budget Update

This week the House and Senate both announced members who will serve as “budget conferees.”  There are 6 conferees from the House of Delegates and 7 from the Senate. These individuals have the difficult task of hammering out the significant differences between the two budgets.  

This is a more daunting task than normal, as the budgets are over $600 million apart.  The largest and most obvious difference between the two proposals is that the House version of the budget includes Medicaid expansion and the Senate version does not.

Last week I shared with you my objections with the House version of the budget, and I stand behind those concerns.  I have had concerns about Medicaid expansion for many years because I simply cannot trust the Federal Government when it promises “free” money.  These concerns seemed to be validated just yesterday when Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget released a statement on Virginia’s expansion stating that the Trump administration is committed to addressing the out of control costs of expansion and that the President’s budget repeals expansion in favor of programs that allow increased state flexibility in meeting the healthcare needs of low income individuals.

I remain hopeful that our conferees will reach an agreement that invests in the core functions of government without expanding this federal government program.  

The final budget must be available 48 hours prior to debate and the final vote. This would mean we would need to see the budget on Thursday at the latest for the General Assembly to adjourn on time.

Some of your medical prescriptions may now cost less!

Earlier this year the House passed HB 1171, a bill that will end the practice of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) requiring pharmacists to charge higher copays than the cash price of the prescription drug. It has now passed in the Senate and is headed to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.

If you aren’t familiar with this issue, a recent news investigation exposed customers being forced to pay copays that exceeded the cash price of the drug. The investigation found PBM’s are requiring pharmacists to sign “gag clauses,” which prevent the pharmacists from informing customers that the cash price for the drug may be cheaper than the insurance copay. The investigation found one instance where a customer was charged $50 for their copay when the cash price of the drug was just over $11. For more information on the full investigation, click here.

It’s not surprising that the practice of overcharging patients is disproportionately affecting our senior citizens. I am proud to support this piece of legislation, which I hope will save Virginians money on medical prescriptions that are vital to their health.  

My Legislation

All of my legislation has now worked its way through the General Assembly.  The two pieces that I am most proud of are House Bills 2 and 84, which I told you about earlier this Session.

House Bill 2 allows the spouse of any member of the armed forces who has a valid out-of-state teaching license to enjoy licensure reciprocity in Virginia. This means that an individual who is currently a licensed teacher in another state and married to a member of the military could seamlessly transition into a Virginia classroom if their family is transferred to Virginia.  This legislation reaffirms our commitment to our armed forces and veterans while also addressing the teacher shortage in Virginia.  

House Bill 84 requires any school division that does not offer any elective courses in American Sign Language to allow students to take ASL courses through a community college or online provider and count successful completion toward the fulfillment of their foreign language requirements for graduation.  This builds upon previous legislation I’ve carried to require colleges to accept ASL as a foreign language for entrance requirements and course credit requirements.  I believe that increased access to ASL courses will open a host of opportunities for both hearing and deaf students.  


This week we were visited by George McNair and students from Grace Christian School in Staunton Virginia.  We also were able to see members of the Valley Cigar Club who came to Richmond for the day.  Also in Richmond for the Virginia Horse Council’s Youth Recognition Day were Juliana and Kendall Benner.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t connect with Juliana and Kendall due to their busy schedule for the day, but the Horse Council Youth were recognized in the House gallery.

We have just one week left! If you’re going to be in Richmond next week, it’s not too late 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 I make every attempt to see my constituents, please understand that my committee schedule can be very hectic and change very quickly. I appreciate your patience and understanding.

Contact Information

We are operating out of our Richmond Office for the duration of the 2018 Session. To reach us by phone call 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.

You can also stay updated by following me on Twitter.

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

As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your delegate!

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