Few legislators take stance on Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Although recent concerns with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s public comment process have spurred local legislators to urge transparency, few of those decision makers have taken an official stance in support or opposition to the project.

 

Read More: Few legislators take stance on Atlantic Coast Pipeline - Nelson County Times

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Making Changes in Richmond

On February 27, the 2015 General Assembly Session adjourned, one day earlier than scheduled. Since I’ve returned home from Richmond, many of my constituents have asked me exactly what the 2015 legislative session was all about. The 2015 session was one of the most productive and successful sessions in recent memory. We worked across the aisle to help create jobs and improve Virginia’s economy, improve K-12 education, make college more affordable, and protect our most vulnerable.

Read More: Making Changes in Richmond - The News Virginian

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Bell Certified as Republican Nominee

Half of the field is set for one of the local races involving a seat in Virginia’s General Assembly.

Dickie Bell was certified Saturday as the Republican candidate for House District 20 in the November election. That was done in a meeting Saturday of the Republican Legislative District Committee for House 20, according the legislative district committee chair, Anne Fitzgerald.

The committee met at the Staunton Public Library. The committee is composed of Republican unit chairs from Augusta, Nelson and Highland counties, and the cities of Waynesboro and Staunton.

Read More - Bell Certified as Republican Nominee - The News Virginian

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2015 Legislative Survey Results

1. Virginia continues to face budget constraints due to sequestration and federal tax increases. How do you believe the General Assembly should address such budgetary constraints?

                 

1

2

3

4

Raise general or statewide taxes (sales, income, gas, and/or personal property)

5.58%

5.58%

7.11%

81.73%

Increase specific fees to cover the actual cost of providing certain government services

18.23%

19.70%

31.53%

30.54%

Cut government spending

67.41%

16.96%

7.59%

8.04%

Streamline government programs and services

45.45%

40.00%

10.00%

4.55%

Eliminate or reduce tax credits and other tax preferences currently in the code

14.29%

22.17%

38.92%

24.63%

 

2. There have been discussions about reforming Virginia’s tax system to eliminate all or some tax credits, deductions, incentives and preferences. Which of the following best describes how you feel?
 

Answer

Percent

Virginia should eliminate all or most tax credits, deductions, incentives and preferences

13.19%

Virginia should eliminate some tax credits, deductions, incentives and preferences, depending on their effectiveness and value

68.94%

Virginia should not eliminate tax credits, deductions, incentives and preferences

17.87%

 

3. Virginia is a “right to work” state which means that no employee can be forced to join a union or pay union dues in order to get or keep a job. Do you support or oppose “right to work” laws?
 

Answer

Percent

Support

93.59%

Oppose

6.41%

 

4. Last year, the General Assembly adopted significant reforms to Virginia’s Standards of Learning (SOL) tests, reducing the number of SOL tests that students in grades 3-8 must take from 22 to 17 tests and creating a pathway for additional reforms that will promote problem-solving and critical thinking. Do you think the SOLs need additional reform?
 

Answer

Percent

Yes, students are still required to take too many tests

27.23%

Yes, the tests still encourage rote memorization, not enough problem solving or critical thinking

31.81%

Yes, teachers are still required to “teach to the test.”

31.33%

No, last year’s reforms will work for now

9.64%

 

5. High school students are required to take 12 SOL tests in order to graduate. Do you think the General Assembly should reduce the number of SOL tests for high school students, similar to the reduction applied to grades 3-8?
 

Answer

Percent

Yes

67.42%

No

32.58%

 

6. School choice refers to the idea that parents and children should have a variety of traditional and non-traditional educational options available to ensure that each student’s learning experience helps them meet their full potential. Which of the following school choice options do you support?
 

Answer

Percent

Full-time virtual schools

11.11%

Virtual classrooms, integrated into traditional school setting

25.93%

Home-schooling

29.82%

Charter schools

33.14%

 

7. Other states have adopted legislation creating “Parental Education Savings Accounts.” These optional accounts allow parents to use a portion of their child’s share of state funding for educational purposes, including tuition at a private or charter school, hire a tutor, enroll their child in online classes or save for college. Would you support or oppose the creation of Parental Education Savings Accounts in Virginia?
 

Answer

Percent

Support

75.44%

Oppose

24.56%

8. Do you support or oppose efforts to allow home-school children to participate in public school sports programs?
 

Answer

Percent

Support

77.25%

Oppose

22.75%

 

9. Of the following options, how do you think the General Assembly should address the rising cost of higher education?
 

Answer

Percent

Increase state funding for colleges and universities

4.26%

Limit or restrict student auxiliary and athletic fees

17.35%

Prioritize building construction projects

20.44%

Reform and prioritize financial aid distribution to serve more middle- and low- income students

13.97%

Encourage colleges and universities to offer “barebones” college degrees and charge just tuition, but not room, board or other fees

21.91%

Encourage colleges and universities to offer “three year” degree programs in certain fields

19.26%

Other

2.79%

 

10. A recent report indicated that mandatory fees account for over one-third of the cost of attendance at Virginia colleges and student fees accounted for, on average, 68 percent of college athletic program revenue. Would you support or oppose a state limit on the cost of student athletic fees?
 

Answer

Percent

Support

90.18%

Oppose

9.82%

 

11. Do you support or oppose mandatory reporting policies that require college administrators to report all allegations of rape and sexual assault to law enforcement, even if the victim chooses not to press charges?
 

Answer

Percent

Support

79.91%

Oppose

20.09%

 

12. Do you support or oppose Medicaid Expansion in Virginia? While expansion would enroll up to 400,000 currently uninsured Virginians in Medicaid, it could cost the Commonwealth of Virginia over $1 billion per year, forcing cuts to other key services like education, mental health and public safety.
 

Answer

Percent

Yes, Medicaid should be expanded in Virginia

12.61%

No, Medicaid should not be expanded in Virginia

87.39%

 

13. Do you support or oppose efforts to provide additional funding for Virginia’s healthcare safety net, such as free clinics and mobile health stations?
 

Answer

Percent

Support

56.41%

Oppose

43.59%

 

14. Last year, the General Assembly adopted a number of reforms to Virginia’s transparency, disclosure and ethics laws. Those reforms included (a) creating a $250 gift cap, (b) creating a statewide ethics advisory commission, (c) requiring more frequent disclosures, (d) requiring all disclosure forms be posted online, (e) requiring mandatory ethics training for elected officials. Which of the following do you believe?
 

Answer

Percent

These reforms did not go far enough

22.51%

These reforms were almost enough, but more work is necessary

25.54%

These reforms were enough

51.95%

 

15. Article V of the U.S. Constitution allows two-thirds of state legislatures to call a “Convention of the States” to amend the federal constitution. Some lawmakers have pushed a convention of the states to enact limits on federal authority and spending. Do you support or oppose a “Convention of the States?”
 

Answer

Percent

Support

79.82%

Oppose

20.18%

 

16. In response to recent events, Governor McAuliffe has indicated that he will support legislation to further regulate child care providers. His proposal would require all providers who receive public subsidies to be licensed and inspected. This would require a budget allocation to support the additional Social Services staff necessary to properly administer such a requirement.
 

Answer

Percent

Yes, I support the Governor’s proposal

39.91%

I support the Governor’s proposal but I do not believe it goes far enough

6.87%

No, I do not support additional regulation of child care providers

53.22%

 

17. Should all Virginia law enforcement officers be required to wear body cameras while on patrol?
 

Answer

Percent

Yes, law enforcement officers should wear body cameras

20.68%

Yes, but local governments should make that determination

42.19%

No

37.13%

 

18. Under Virginia law, law enforcement may seize property related to criminal activity, even if the owner is not convicted of a crime. Some have argued that Virginia should reform its asset forfeiture laws to make it more difficult for law enforcement to seize private property in order to protect the rights of citizens. Do you support or oppose efforts to reform Virginia’s asset forfeiture laws?
 

Answer

Percent

Support

82.28%

Oppose

17.72%

 

19. Should voters have the option to register by political party (Republican, Democrat, Independent, etc.)?
 

Answer

Percent

Yes

72.32%

No

27.68%

 

 

 

20. Please prioritize the following veterans’ issues in the order you think they should be addressed by the General Assembly.

 

 

1

2

3           41

4

Veterans' transition programs and employment opportunities

41.32%

26.45%

20.66%

11.57%

Veterans' healthcare

52.48%

19.01%

16.53%

11.98%

Veterans’ homelessness

29.34%

19.01%

14.46%

37.19%

Veterans’ education and job training

21.07%

28.51%

28.51%

21.90%

 

 
     
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General Assembly to Address Selling Sweets in Schools

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- A bill proposed in the General Assembly may change how sweets are sold in schools across the state.

In an effort to fight obesity, federal law prevents schools from selling foods that don't meet specific guidelines during school hours.

A bill introduced by Virginia Delegate Dickie Bell, who represents parts of the Valley, could allow schools to ease those restrictions.

Read more: General Assembly to Address Selling Sweets in Schools - WHSV

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Doughnuts out, wheat muffins in: Va. wants sugary school bake sales back

Doughnuts are out, whole-wheat muffins in, and Virginia’s General Assembly is fed up: It wants to bring back the old sugary school bake sale.

Federal guidelines that took effect this school year have banished sales of nutritionally dubious treats to students during school hours. Anything sold while school is in session must meet the same nutritional guidelines as school lunch and breakfast.

Read More: Doughnutsout, wheat muffins in: Va. wants sugary school bake sales back - The Washington Post

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FFA Teams Honored by General Assembly

The Nelson County FFA Agronomy and Farm Business Management teams gained further recognition earlier this month for earning second place honors in the nation at the 87th National FFA convention and Expo held in Louisville, Kentucky in October.

The groups were recognized with a joint resolution by the Virginia House of Delegates and the State Senate. Students also met with Senator Creigh Deeds and Delegates Matthew Fariss and Dickie Bell.

Read More: FFA Teams honored by General Assembly - The Nelson County Times

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Several Bills from Delegate Dickie Bell Pass in the House of Delegates

Delegate Dickie Bell (R-Staunton) announced today that House Bills 1361 and 1437 and House Joint Resolution 490 have passed in the House of Delegates.

Read More: Several Bills from Delegate Dickie Bell Pass in the House of Delegates - Augusta Free Press

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State Legislators Take Aim at Restraint, Seclusion in Schools

After years of sometimes-disappointing efforts in Congress, activists—including advocates for people with disabilities—are finding state legislatures fertile ground for fighting against the practice of restraint and seclusion in schools.

In recent weeks, Virginia lawmakers have voted in favor of regulations that would restrict the behavioral-modification tactics, replacing what had been "informational" guidance that placed no mandate on schools. Other states that have imposed restrictions recently include Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Ohio. More than 20 states have restrictions around restraint and seclusion for all students, according to one advocate's tally.

Read More: State Legislators Take Aim at Restraint, Seclusion in Schools - Education Week

 

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Senate Engages in Great Bake Sale Debate

The Virginia Senate proved Monday that it’s easier to find consensus on multimillion-dollar legislation to suspend the state’s largest electricity supplier from State Corporation Commission oversight than to exempt public schools from federal rules prohibiting junk food fundraisers.

Over the course of nearly half an hour, which at times seemed even longer, 11 senators rose to debate the merits of House Bill 2114.    

Sponsored by Del. Richard P. “Dickie” Bell, R-Staunton, at the request of House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, the bill would let schools hold up to 12 school-sponsored food fundraisers of five days duration each year to help raise money for school activities

 

Read More: Senate Engages in Great Bake Sale Debate -Richmond Times-Dispatch

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