Bell Sounds from the 20th - Week 8

With only one week left things are definitely starting to wind down in Richmond.  Though much of our work is behind us, we still have to complete work on the budget before we can adjourn.  This is arguably the most important task that we have.  

Though no agreement has been reached yet, I understand that the conferees have made some progress in reducing the differences in spending between the two budgets. What began as a $40 million difference in spending priorities has been reduced to $26 million in a week. Unfortunately the debate over Medicaid expansion has continued to impede real progress.  

I’m proud of the priorities that the House has put forth in their budget.  We have adopted a budget that includes limited creation of new programs, sets aside funds for our savings accounts and emergencies, and invests in core functions of government that will continue to help and strengthen middle class families across Virginia.

As I walk through a few more proposals in the House budget, please remember that at this time these items are still subject to change. While they have passed in the House, they have not yet been agreed to by the conference committee.  Until the conference report by the budget conferees is adopted, all budget proposals are subject to change.   

Jobs and Economic Growth

During the economic downturn jobs and economic growth have been a top priority in the budget process, and they have remained a priority this year.

To support our efforts of growing the economy, the House budget includes $11.8 million for the Governor's Opportunity Fund. This fund assists in the creation of jobs by securing a business relocation to the Commonwealth and helping with expansion projects for existing Virginia businesses.  

Many times over the last few years we have seen the impact of this fund in expansions in the Valley, and I hope we will continue to see this in the future.

State Employees

During times of economic difficulty we have had to borrow from the Virginia Retirement System to help maintain a balanced budget.  A top priority in this budget is to meet the responsibility of the Commonwealth to state employees by fully funding the pension system. This budget will restore 100% of the required rates by 2016, three years earlier than required.

In addition, if Virginia’s economy remains strong and we meet our revenue projections, a revenue reserve will be used for a state employee 2% pay raise in July of 2015.

Public Safety

Keeping our communities and neighborhoods safe creates a better quality of life for all Virginians. The budget passed by the House adds $7.1 annually for our local police departments.  I am hopeful that this increased funding will allow them the personnel and resources they need to keep our communities safe.

Rainy Day Fund

One of the most important things we can do to help families across Virginia is ensure that Virginia is in a sound financial position should the economy once again take a downward turn.

To combat any negative impacts of slowed growth, $243 million has been allotted for a Rainy Day Fund deposit that brings the fund to over $900 million.

In addition, $140 million has been set aside for a revenue reserve fund to absorb any potential future revenue reductions.

Special Election in House District 100

This week also saw an election with significant implications for a key Session issue – Medicaid expansion. On Tuesday, a special election was held for the House seat recently vacated by Senator Lynwood Lewis.  House District 100, a district held by a Democrat the last 10 years and won by President Obama and Senator Kaine in 2012 elections, gave Republican Robert Bloxom a big win.

This election was of particular importance in Virginia because the main issue throughout the campaign was the candidates’ opposing views on Medicaid expansion.  The Democratic candidate supported Medicaid expansion, while Republican Rob Bloxom was adamantly against expansion.  Bloxom won by 20 percentage points, and brought House Republicans to 68 members, a historic high.

The voters spoke loud and clear in this election - reject Medicaid expansion in Virginia. Voters do not support Governor McAuliffe and the Democrat Senate’s tactics of putting expansion language in the budget. This puts funding for all other core functions in jeopardy. Teachers, police officers, firefighters, and agencies statewide are counting on an on-time Virginia budget.

Survey Results

I would like to remind those of you who are interested that we have tallied and published the results of our 2014 Legislative Survey.  You can see the results online here.

Visitors

Though things are wrapping up here in Richmond, we were still pleased to see a number of visitors this week from the 20th District.

On Tuesday, we welcomed Rocco DeVito and members of the Blue Ridge Deaf Senior Citizens group from Staunton.  Though I was unable to personally meet with them, I was pleased to have the opportunity to see them in the Gallery and introduce them from the floor. You can see video of the introduction online here.

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to spend some time with Erin Hagedorn, Tory Selmer, and several student representatives from the Kate Collins Middle School Student Government Association.  It was great to talk to them and I look forward to seeing them again in the future.

We also were able to meet Wednesday with representatives from Columbia Gas in Staunton, and Savanna was able to meet with Dr. Scott Just from Augusta Health.

I was able to meet with Jim Harrington of the Staunton City Council along with some of his colleagues from Mary Baldwin College.  Jean Shrewsbury, Augusta County Commissioner of the Revenue, also stopped by for a visit.

There is only one week left in the 2014 Session, but there is still time for you to visit. If you plan to be in Richmond next week feel free to stop by!

Appointments are requested but not required. To schedule an appointment please call Savanna at 804-698-1020.

Contact Us!

While we are in Session, we will be operating out of our Richmond Office. To contact us in Richmond, please call 804-698-1020.  You can also reach us by email at DelDBell@house.virginia.gov.  If you would like to send written correspondence, you can mail it to Post Office Box 406, Richmond, Virginia 23218.  You can also fax it to 804-698-6720.

 

While we do our best to respond to every email and voicemail as quickly as possible, during Session we get sometimes hundreds of calls and emails each day. Therefore, it can often take some time to filter through everything. We appreciate your patience and understanding, and assure you that we will work to get back to you as promptly as possible.

We look forward to hearing from you!

As always, I thank you for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.

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Bell Sounds from the 20th - Week 7

This week was budget week at the General Assembly. In addition to addressing roughly 2,300 pieces of legislation this session, the General Assembly must pass a biennial budget for 2014-2016 spending levels.

 

I am pleased to report that the House has presented a fiscally responsible budget that is structurally balanced and invests in the core functions of government that best meet the needs of Virginia citizens.  

 

The House Budget

 

The House budget proposal is a responsible, conservative proposal that focuses on saving first and spending second.

 

The budget adopted by the House sets aside over $380 million in two state savings accounts.  It also targets key investments in core functions of government, such as education, public safety, transportation, and health services.  Its top emphasis is on K-12 and higher education, mental health services, hospitals and healthcare, and Virginia’s state employees.  The budget adopted by the House does not include any provisions for Medicaid expansion.

 

The budget that passed in the House includes an additional $530.9 million for K-12 public education.  This investment, combined with numerous reforms passed over the last few years, will help provide teachers with the tools necessary to provide our children with a high quality education. This additional funding for students, teachers, and our school systems accounts for approximately 25% of the new spending in the budget. A majority of the funds will help cover increased contributions to teacher retirement funds and teacher health care benefit premium rates. $25 million will be used for new school construction loans. $7.5 million will go towards reading and math initiatives, the Teach for America program, and National Board Certification bonuses for teachers.

 

The House budget also commits over $210 million for higher education, including funding for more in-state tuition spots and funding to help moderate tuition costs.  We are continuing our commitment to help keep college affordable for all Virginia families.

 

The House budget includes targeted investments in the area of healthcare and mental health as well.  To look out for Virginia’s most vulnerable citizens, it includes 50 new ID and 15 new DD waivers, as well as $48 million for mental health access, treatment, and services.  The budget also includes over $118 million in inflation adjustments for our hospitals and $111 million for our nursing homes to help support our hospitals for the indigent care services they provide.   

We also value our state employees for their service to the Commonwealth and want to reward them for their hard work. If Virginia’s economy continues to grow, and we meet our revenue projected costs, the revenue reserve will be used to provide a 2% bonus, effective July 2015, to state employees.

 

Every budget is a compromise, and no budget proposal satisfies everyone or everything. This budget is not perfect, but I do believe it is a good starting point for negotiations.  Like Virginia families, the General Assembly, by law, must balance its budget each year, and we must set priorities.  This budget does that. Keep in mind that this is not the final budget and it may look very different when the budget conferees of both the House and Senate finish their work.

 

Status of Medicaid Expansion

 

One of the main reasons that I supported the House budget is that it is currently the only budget that does not contain Medicaid expansion.  Therefore, it was critical that the House pass this budget to get it into conference.

 

The House has been very clear that we do not think Virginia is ready to move forward with Medicaid expansion.  Last year, both parties in the House and Senate agreed to a process that would remove the issue of Medicaid expansion from the budget.  

 

I personally do not believe that budget negotiations should be preconditioned on Medicaid expansion, which is exactly what the Senate budget does. They have unfortunately brought Washington-style politics to Virginia’s budget process.  

 

The Senate is holding Virginia hostage to Medicaid expansion; this includes funding for teachers, rescue personnel, police officers, state employees, hospitals, colleges, and much more.  This is completely unacceptable.  The House of Delegates will hold strong against expansion.  We must improve the services for current recipients before we even consider expansion.  MIRC must be allowed to finish the job they started.

 

Virtual Education Update

 

Last week I provided a detailed look into several pieces of virtual education legislation that passed in the House.  This includes my House Bill 324, which establishes a new Virtual Virginia School and creates a Board of the Virginia Virtual School as a policy agency under the Secretary of Education (SOE).  This bill was heard today in the Public Education subcommittee of the Senate Education and Health committee.

 

The subcommittee expressed some concerns regarding the funding with this legislation, and would like for the Senate Finance committee to get involved in this legislation during the interim.  They continued the bill until the 2015 Session, and will request that the Chairman of the Committee on Education and Health write a letter to the Senate Finance chairman to request that they get involved in the ongoing discussion surrounding this bill.

 

Though this isn’t what I had hoped for, I still consider it a success. The bill is still alive, and the discussions will be ongoing throughout the interim.  I am hopeful that we can finally resolve some of the funding questions with this bill and find a piece of legislation that can gain bipartisan support in the 2015 Session.  

 

Survey Results

 

We have tallied the results of our 2014 Legislative Survey.  We have mailed the results to those of you who took the survey. For those of you who did not and are interested, you can see the results online here.


Visitors

 

We were once again glad to see a number of visitors from home.

James Gibson stopped by representing the Virginia Government Employees Association.  Dennis Burnett from the Shenandoah Valley Partnership and Greg Hitchen, Director of Economic Development in Waynesboro also stopped in for a visit.

 

I was pleased to have the opportunity to visit with students from Staunton, Augusta, and Waynesboro, who were in town for Model General Assembly, as well as Patricia Via and representatives from the Waynesboro Women’s Club.

 

There are only two weeks left until the end of the 2014 General Assembly Session. This is still plenty of time to visit. If you’re in Richmond over the next two weeks please feel free to stop by!

 

Appointments are not required, but they are appreciated.  To make an appointment call Savanna at 804-698-1020.

 

Contact Us

 

While we are in Session, we will be operating out of our Richmond Office. To contact us in Richmond, please call 804-698-1020.  You can also reach us by email at DelDBell@house.virginia.gov.  If you would like to send written correspondence, you can mail it to Post Office Box 406, Richmond, Virginia 23218.  You can also fax it to 804-698-6720.

 

While we do our best to respond to every email and voicemail as quickly as possible, during Session we get sometimes hundreds of calls and emails each day. Therefore, it can often take some time to filter through everything. We appreciate your patience and understanding, and assure you that we will work to get back to you as promptly as possible.

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

As always, I thank you for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.

 
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Bell Sounds from the 20th - Week 6

I hope that you are all staying warm and dry after this most recent snow storm!  Despite the weather, things continued as normal in Richmond this week.  

Tuesday was crossover day at the General Assembly – the halfway point of the 2014 Session.  At this point the House of Delegates has passed 944 pieces of legislation; the Senate has passed 696.  After crossover, each house in the General Assembly may only consider bills that originated in the other house.

Many long time observers in Richmond have commended the House for completing the first half of the Session’s work load in an extremely efficient manner.  In past years Session on crossover day has lasted well past midnight, however this year it lasted only a couple of hours.

This coming week we will work on the state budget. The House and Senate will report their separate budgets this Sunday, February 16. Once we release our budgets, we will vote for approval in our separate houses. After approval, 6 budget conferees from each house will work to negotiate a final budget that is presented to the Governor. Speaker Howell has appointed Majority Leader Kirk Cox, Delegates Chris Jones, John O’Bannon, Steve Landes, Tag Greason, and Johnny Joannou to represent the House.

Though it is hard to believe, there are only three weeks remaining in the 2014 Session. Let me give you an update on the happenings in Richmond for this Crossover week.

 Virtual Education

As I mentioned last week, I have been working on a piece of legislation that would help increase access to online programs for students across the Commonwealth.  I am pleased to announce that after three years of discussion and debate, Virginia is moving forward with legislation to give parents and students the tools needed to ensure that every child has access to cutting edge technology for virtual learning.

 This year I patroned House Bill 324, which establishes a new Virtual Virginia School and creates a Board of the Virginia Virtual School as a policy agency under the Secretary of Education (SOE). The School will offer both online classes and virtual school programs to all public, private, and home-schooled children in Virginia. The Virginia Virtual School will be responsible for all federal and state accountability requirements applicable to those students enrolled on a full-time basis.

We began working on Virtual Education legislation in 2010 when the General Assembly passed House Bill 1388.  House Bill 1388 required the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Board of Education to develop criteria for approving and monitoring multi-division providers of online courses and virtual school programs.  It also allowed localities to enter into contracts with approved private providers of such courses.

 Since 2010, we have worked tirelessly on legislation to help develop a way to allow all students in Virginia to have access to public virtual school programs. In previous years, however, this legislation has failed in the Appropriations committee due to questions about the funding formula.

 House Bill 324 was referred to the Committee on Education where it was reported and referred to Appropriations.  Appropriations reported the bill on February 7 with a vote of 18-3.  It passed in the House on a vote of 64-34.

Additionally, the House passed House Bill 1115, patroned by Delegate Tag Greason.  Delegate Greason’s bill would expand access to virtual classrooms by creating the “Virtual Virginia” program within the Department of Education. Virtual Virginia will facilitate the distribution of online classes throughout school divisions in the Commonwealth.

Delegate Greason’s bill focuses on a “blended learning” concept by pairing traditional coursework with online classes.  This bill would allow students to take individual online classes that their school systems may not offer.  For example, it would allow a student in Highland County to take a foreign language or advanced placement class that is offered in Fairfax County. It gives students and parents greater options in their course load that they may not have in their current school.

This is a tremendous accomplishment, and a huge step for school choice in Virginia. We have worked with educators, business leaders, parents, and students for four long years on this legislation, and it is wonderful to finally see it have the opportunity to be heard and discussed on the full House floor.

 There are many students in Virginia who thrive in the traditional classroom, but there are also many who do not.  There is a tidal wave of technology available to enhance learning options for these students.  I am pleased that the House of Delegates has come together to make sure that Virginia students are included.

 Every student in every corner of Virginia should be able to grow and learn in the environment that best meets their needs, and these opportunities should not be limited based on their zip code. Virginia is a leader in so many areas, and this should be one of them. This is a great step forward and I am looking forward to the Virginia Senate joining us.

The bill must now be passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor.  There is still a long road ahead, but I am optimistic that legislators will see the benefits of allowing students a virtual option.

Ethics Reform

Another hot topic of the 2014 General Assembly Session has been ethics reform.  The House of Delegates this week passed a bipartisan, comprehensive ethics reform bill with a vote of 98-1.

I chose to co-patron and support this legislation, which would reform and update Virginia’s ethics, transparency, and disclosure laws. House Bill 1211, patroned by Delegate Todd Gilbert, would impose a $250 gift cap, create a statewide ethics advisory council, update several aspects of the financial disclosure system, and implement a mandatory ethics training requirement for elected officials.

Over the last year, the confidence that Virginia’s citizens have in their elected officials has been shaken.  The issues that have been raised must be addressed in order for Virginians to maintain trust in their representatives.  For that reason, a bipartisan group of legislators have worked hard on this legislation to ensure that we promote greater transparency and strengthen accountability in Richmond.  

The bill we passed may not be a perfect bill, and it may not have solved all of the problems.  It is, however, a huge step in the right direction. More importantly, it strikes a good balance by enacting significant reform without penalizing honest public servants or discouraging our best citizens from seeking office.  

  Mental Health Reform

  In the last several years, Virginia has too often witnessed the devastating effects of gaps in mental health coverage.  The tragedy that has stricken the Deeds family has once again urged us to look closely at improving our mental health system.  

We’ve passed a strong package of mental health reforms to ensure all individuals and families experiencing mental health crises have access to needed services and support.  The legislation that we have advanced will give law enforcement greater flexibility to respond to mental health crises.  

 Additionally, legislation passed the House unanimously to establish a psychiatric bed registry. This online registry will provide real-time information on the availability of psychiatric beds for patients who need further treatment.   

 Focus has been on increasing capacity and availability of the many great Virginia resources and quality services.  I hope this legislation will continue to gain support in the Senate.

  My Legislation – Post Crossover

I’m pleased to report that this year I patroned 10 bills that passed in the House of Delegates.  Additionally, I was chief co-patron of one bill that passed in the House.  These bills are:

  •  HB 107 - makes the Highland County Maple Festival the official festival of Virginia.
  • HB 190 - allows athletic trainers to administer oxygen in emergency situations.
  • HB 264 - allows social service boards to get the proper legal representation they need.
  • HB 322 - makes changes to the charter of Monterey that they requested.
  • HB 324 - creates a Virtual School system that gives parents and children more options.
  • HB 520 - changes the make up of the Council for Comprehensive Services for At-Risk Youth and Families.
  • HB 521 - changes the terms that members can serve on the Council for Comprehensive Services for At-Risk Youth and Families.
  • HB 522 - changes the appeals process for families with at-risk children.
  • HB 1086 – allows students with special education needs to access virtual education options.
  • HB 1150 – allows distilleries to use copper or stainless steel pots.
  • HB 977 (Patron:Rust) - Extends from five business days to 10 business days the deadline for a teacher to request a hearing after receiving written notice of a recommendation of dismissal.

Detailed information on all of these bills can be found at virginiageneralassembly.gov.

It is truly an honor to see so many pieces of legislation gain support in the House of Delegates this year.  I hope they will continue to gain support as they work their way through the Senate.

 Visitors

Despite the weather we’ve had we were still fortunate to see a number of constituents in Richmond this week.

  Dr. John Downey and representatives from Blue Ridge Community College met with Savanna on Monday.  She was also able to meet with Marie Rothwell and student representatives from the Augusta County 4-H program.  

On Wednesday, we were able to meet with insurance agents William Weeks and David Johnson, who were in town for insurance lobby day.  We were also able to meet with representatives from the Greater Augusta Association of Realtors, as well as representatives from our local Farm Bureau. 
We enjoyed our time with Alan Richardson representing Invista in Waynesboro, as well as  Kathleen Heatwole and representatives from Augusta Health in Fishersville.

If you plan to be in Richmond over the next few weeks, you're welcome to stop by for a visit.
Though appointments are not required, they are strongly encouraged. To make an appointment please call Savanna at 804-698-1020.

Contact Us

While we are in Session, we will be operating out of our Richmond Office. To contact us in Richmond, please call 804-698-1020.  You can also reach us by email at DelDBell@house.virginia.gov.  If you would like to send written correspondence, you can mail it to Post Office Box 406, Richmond, Virginia 23218.  You can also fax it to 804-698-6720.

 While we do our best to respond to every email and voicemail as quickly as possible, during Session we get sometimes hundreds of calls and emails each day. Therefore, it can often take some time to filter through everything. We appreciate your patience and understanding, and assure you that we will work to get back to you as promptly as possible.

We look forward to hearing from you over the next few weeks!
As always, I thank you for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.

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Bell Sounds from the 20th - Week 5

Though it is hard to believe, this coming Tuesday, February 11 will mark the halfway point of the 2014 Session, known as Crossover.  Crossover is the day that each body must complete the work that was filed in their respective houses.  Beginning next Wednesday, the House will only be able to consider Senate bills that have passed in the Senate, and the Senate will only consider House bills that have passed in the House.

This will certainly make for a long day on Monday and Tuesday, as we will have to be sure to work through all remaining legislation in the House.

I will now provide a brief update on a few items of interest that we have worked on thus far in the 2014 Session.

Standards of Learning (SOL) Reform

As I mentioned in a previous newsletter, one hot topic of this year’s session has been SOL Reform.  The new administration has stated that this is a priority for them, and it is something that many members of the General Assembly have made a priority as well.

When Virginia first adopted the SOLs a number of years ago, we were pioneers in assessment and accountability.  We set high standards, and created accountability among educators.

Though there was never anything but good intent, it has become clear over the last few years that changes are desperately needed.  For that reason, Delegate Tag Greason introduced House Bill 930.

House Bill 930 was the result of many months of collaboration between teachers, education leaders, parents, and legislators.  

This legislation has four main goals:

  • To reduce the number of SOLs in grades 3-8 from 22 to 17.  This is a 23% reduction in standardized testing.  At this time we did not address SOL testing for high school students, due to complications regarding SOLs as a requirement for graduation.

  • To improve the SOLs by requiring the Department of Education to evaluate the multiple-choice and memorization aspects of the current tests, and move toward more problem solving and critical thinking aspects.  

  • To allow teachers in subjects that do not require an SOL the flexibility to utilize performance assessments to locally evaluate how their children are learning.  

  • To establish a Standards of Learning Innovation Committee made up of stakeholders who will be tasked with evaluating our SOLs on an ongoing basis.

Over the last few years we have worked hard in Virginia to reform education.  We took significant steps in 2013 to increase teacher pay and promote greater accountability in our schools.  I believe that SOL reform is another critical step.  House Bill 930 certainly does not solve all of the problems with the SOLs in Virginia, but it is a critical first step.

Virtual Education

Another one of those critical reforms is Virtual Education. Throughout my time in the House of Delegates, virtual education has been one of my top priorities.  Though we passed legislation to promote virtual education in 2010, we have spent the last 4 years looking for a funding solution.

We are closer than we have ever come.  House Bill 324 establishes a new Virtual Virginia School and creates a board of the Virginia Virtual School as a policy agency under the Secretary of Education.  The School will offer full time online classes and virtual school programs to all public, private and home- schooled children in the state who wish to participate.   

There are many students in our Commonwealth that thrive in the traditional classroom setting.  There are also, however, many who do not.  My hope is that virtual education can be a great alternative for those students.  

This bill was initially referred to the Committee on Education, and then re-referred to the Committee on Appropriations. It reported out of Appropriations today on an 18-3 vote. This is the furthest we have made it with this legislation, and this is a tremendous accomplishment.  

House Bill 324 will now go to the House floor for debate and a final vote. I will report back next week with more information.

Prevention of Domestic Violence

Compared to other parts of the country, Virginia is on the right track towards reducing violent crimes. Between 2006 and 2010, overall homicides in Virginia declined by 8%. Unfortunately, however, there is a troubling trend of increased sexual and domestic violence across the Commonwealth with intimate partner homicides increasing by 65%.

At any given time, there are approximately 14,000 active protective orders on file in Virginia. These numbers highlight the adamant need for reform to improve access to critical intervention and prevention services.

This year the House is taking a two-fold approach to combat this problem. I am pleased to co-patron HB 1, a bill carried by Delegate Barbara Comstock, which will streamline existing and new funding for intervention, prevention, and counseling services. This legislation dedicates a funding stream for Sexual & Domestic Violence Agencies to increase access to the important treatment and crisis services they provide. The House Budget Proposal will include $10.6 million in new funding in 2015 for Virginia’s domestic and sexual violence treatment and crisis prevention centers.

I believe this legislation will better serve victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Highland County Maple Festival

This March (March 8-9 and 15-16, 2014)the Highland County Chamber of Commerce will be hosting the 56th Annual Highland Maple Festival.  Maple syrup-making has long been a part of the heritage in Highland County.  Each year Highland County, with a local population of less than 2,500, welcomes upwards of 50,000 visitors to the festival.

The Highland Maple Festival is listed on the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events, and has been designated a Local Legacy by the Library of Congress.

This year, I patroned House Bill 107, which would designate the Highland Maple Festival as the Official Maple Festival of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  I am pleased to report that this legislation passed unanimously in the House of Delegates on Thursday.  If it passes in the Senate, this would go into effect in time for the 2015 Maple Festival.  

Visitors

This week we had a number of visitors from home drop by for a visit.

We had the privilege of seeing Crista Cabe, Vice President for Public Relations at Mary Baldwin College twice this week.  On Monday she came by with Director of Admissions Roberta Palmer and 6 students who were there to thank the General Assembly for their Tuition Assistance Grants.  On Thursday she came by with Brigadier General Terry Djuric, commandant of the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership, as well as several VWIL students.

We also saw students from the Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School, as well as John Avoli and representatives from the Frontier Culture Museum. We met with Denver Riggleman and his wife Christine from Silverback Distillery in Nelson County.

We were also able to see David Blanchard representing Highland County, as well as Augusta County Administrator Pat Coffield and Supervisors Larry Wills, Michael Shull, and David Karaffa.

It is always great to see friendly faces from home. If you will be in the Richmond area over the next few weeks, we welcome you to drop by for a visit.

Though appointments are not required, we strongly encourage them.  To make an appointment call Savanna at 804-698-1020

Contact Us


While we are in Session, we will be operating out of our Richmond Office. To contact us in Richmond, please call
804-698-1020.  You can also reach us by email at DelDBell@house.virginia.gov.  If you would like to send written correspondence, you can mail it to Post Office Box 406, Richmond, Virginia 23218.  You can also fax it to 804-698-6720.

While we do our best to respond to every email and voicemail as quickly as possible, during Session we get sometimes hundreds of calls and emails each day. Therefore, it can often take some time to filter through everything. We appreciate your patience and understanding, and assure you that we will work to get back to you as promptly as possible.

We look forward to hearing from you over the next few weeks!

As always, I thank you for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.

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Bell Sounds from the 20th - Week 4

With just one more full week left until Crossover we are busier than ever.  Our floor sessions are getting longer, as most committees have moved many of their bills through their dockets.

This week I had a very unique opportunity in the House. On Wednesday, I had the honor and privilege to deliver the opening prayer to the Virginia House of Delegates.  It could be a once in a lifetime experience, and I was very grateful and humbled to be asked.  If you’re interested, you can see the video of the opening prayer online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JwppAuziek.

Republicans Request JLARC Audit of Medicaid

As I have mentioned in previous emails, Medicaid has been one of the pressing issues over the last two Sessions. We have received numerous inquiries on the status of Medicaid expansion, as well as requests for my position. At this time I cannot support Medicaid Expansion, and I do not believe that a decision will be made this Session.

Let me first be clear about what expansion would mean for Virginia.  Medicaid could be expanded to cover an additional 400,000 new recipients in the Commonwealth.  The Federal Government has promised to cover 100% of expansion costs for the first 3 years, and 90% of costs after that.

Just last year, the General Assembly established the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) to review, recommend and approve innovation and reform proposals affecting Virginia’s Medicaid system. This Commission provided for legislative oversight in the process.

Over the last year, MIRC has held eight public meetings and worked to compile information on the current program’s operations and costs. In the most recent MIRC meeting, Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel reported 30% of all healthcare spending in Virginia is waste. Wasteful spending includes money spent on unnecessary services, excessive administrative costs, inefficient delivery services, and fraud.

In order to compliment the work of MIRC, Republicans have recently introduced the text of a resolution that would direct the Joint Legislative Audit Review Committee (JLARC) to complete a comprehensive financial and operational audit of Virginia’s Medicaid program.  JLARC was established to evaluate the operations and performance of state agencies and programs. Our hope is that a JLARC audit will provide insight on several intricacies of the program, including the “Fee for service” system that covers our high volume/high-cost Medicaid services and the long-term care program for the elderly and disabled. 

Virginia citizens deserve a more efficient, effective, and easily accessible Medicaid system. This audit would review a number of different aspects of Medicaid and provide members of both MIRC and the General Assembly a deeper understanding of the challenges we face with Medicaid reform.  It will also provide us with a better grasp on how we can improve the system.

I truly believe that it is important that we improve Medicaid before we even consider expansion.  Therefore it is imperative that we not rush the legislative process, nor put an arbitrary date on that decision. 

My Legislation

This week I had two of my own bills pass in the General Assembly.

House Bill 322 was brought to me by the Monterey Town Council.  The Town Council passed a resolution requesting that legislation be filed in the General Assembly to reduce the number of members on their town council.  This legislation would reduce the number of Town Council members from 7 to 4, effective in May of 2014.  It passed in the House on a vote of 99-0.

House Bill 1150 was brought to me by a local distillery in Nelson County.  Currently, Virginia law only allows a distillery to sell on site if they use a copper pot still.  This law would allow them to use a copper or stainless steel pot still.  If passed, this will broaden the ability of small farm and craft distilleries to have a substantial impact on the local and state economy. I am pleased that the bill passed in the House on a vote of 99-0.

Both of these bills will now move on to the State Senate for further consideration.   

Visitors

I failed to mention last week that Rachel Bavister and Alice Frick dropped by for a few minutes on Monday, January 27. 

Despite the cold and snowy weather, this week we had a number of visitors from home drop in to say hello.

Representing our local libraries Ruth Arnold (Staunton), Zahir Mahmoud (Waynesboro) and Diantha McCauley (Augusta) stopped by to speak to us about legislative and budgetary issues affecting Virginia’s public libraries.  Peter Agelasto from Nelson County stopped by representing the Virginia Conservation Network.

We were also able to spend time with representatives from Staunton, Augusta, and Waynesboro School Boards, as well as representatives from the Greater Augusta Chamber of Commerce. 

We were able to visit with representatives from local breweries, including Steve and Heidi Crandall from Devils Backbone, and Peter Ramsey and representatives from Blue Mountain Brewery.

Gayl Brunk as well as staff and supporters from Valley Associates for Independent Living (VAIL) braved the weather to visit us, as well as Mike Aulger, Myron Rummel, and representatives from the Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative. 

Last but not least, this morning I had the opportunity to spend some time with Dr. Bob Gunther. 

It is always great to see friendly faces from home. If you will be in the Richmond area over the next few weeks, we welcome you to drop by for a visit.

Though appointments are not required, we strongly encourage them.  To make an appointment call Savanna at 804-698-1020.

Contact Us


While we are in Session, we will be operating out of our Richmond Office. To contact us in Richmond, please call 804-698-1020.  You can also reach us by email at DelDBell@house.virginia.gov.  If you would like to send written correspondence, you can mail it to Post Office Box 406, Richmond, Virginia 23218.  You can also fax it to 804-698-6720.

 

While we do our best to respond to every email and voicemail as quickly as possible, during Session we get sometimes hundreds of calls and emails each day. Therefore, it can often take some time to filter through everything. We appreciate your patience and understanding, and assure you that we will work to get back to you as promptly as possible.

We look forward to hearing from you over the next few weeks!

As always, I thank you for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.

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Bell Sounds from the 20th - Week 3

 

 

We have just completed our second full week of the legislative session.  Many bills have made their way through the committee process, and we are starting to see longer sessions on the House floor.

 

I’d like to give you a brief update on how things are progressing.

 

Sunday Hunting

 

As I mentioned in a previous email blast this week, a bill allowing limited hunting on Sundays advanced from the Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources.

 

I asked for your feedback and was overwhelmed by the response.  We received hundreds of emails from across the 20th House District from hunters and non-hunters alike.  I am so grateful to each of you that took the time to contact me with your thoughts on this issue, and I appreciate your interest and participation in the process more than you know. I truly believe that the participation of the people in the process is what makes our representative government the best in the world.

 

We are still monitoring the emails, but we will update you on the final tally next week.

 

My Legislation

 

Though we are still fairly early in the Session, I have already had five of my own bills advance through the process.

 

House Bills 520, 521, and 522, all legislation dealing with the Comprehensive Services Act for At Risk Youth and Families, passed in the House of Delegates.

 

House Bill 294, legislation requested by the City of Staunton that would authorize local boards of social services to employ in-house counsel, advanced in the House with a vote of 95-0.  Additionally House Bill 190, which would authorize athletic trainers to possess and administer oxygen for use in an emergency situation, advanced in the House on a 91-0 vote.

 

These bills are simple addendums to existing code that strengthen existing law and do not increase the size or the cost of government.  In these cases they simply clarify existing code.

 

Last Chance to Take the 2014 Legislative Survey!

 

If you haven’t already had a chance, please take our 2014 Legislative Survey.  You can find the survey online by clicking here.  The results of these surveys are immensely helpful to me in better representing you in Richmond. You are welcome and encouraged to forward the survey to any friends and family, as well as community, social, and/or church groups.

We will continue to run the survey through January 31, and will publish the results once we close the survey and tally the results.

Though we did our best to include a wide range of topics, we are unable to cover everything.  If there is an issue that is important to you that we didn’t include on the survey, please feel free to email or call us with your thoughts.

 

Visitors This Week

 

This week due to the weather at home, many of our constituents who had planned to visit were unable to do so.  We missed seeing local representatives from our credit unions, the Virginia Society of CPAs, and others.

 

We did have a few visitors from home that braved the weather to visit us this week.  We were able to spend a few minutes with Lisa Wooten from the Waynesboro Registrar’s office. Additionally we were able to see John Hill and David Ledbetter, as well as Dennis Baugh who was representing Valley Children’s Center.

 

Christa Pierpont was in town advocating for Just Children, and though we never had a chance to visit with him, I know that Bo Wilson of Dr. Pepper of Staunton dropped by as well.

 

We are always grateful to see friendly faces from home.  If you plan to be in Richmond over the next few weeks, we would love for you to drop by.

 

Even with the tight committee schedule, we do our best to see as many constituents as possible. Though appointments are not required, they are strongly encouraged. To make an appointment, call Savanna at 804-698-1020.

 

Contact Us

 

While we are in Session, we will be operating out of our Richmond Office. To contact us in Richmond, please call 804-698-1020.  You can also reach us by email at DelDBell@house.virginia.gov.  If you would like to send written correspondence, you can mail it to Post Office Box 406, Richmond, Virginia 23218.  You can also fax it to 804-698-6720.

 

We look forward to hearing from you over the next few weeks!
As always, I thank you for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.

 

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Urgent - Your Input Is Requested Regarding Sunday Hunting Legislation!

Just today, House Bill 1237 was reported from the committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources with a razor thin 12-10 vote.

This legislation, if passed by both bodies and signed by the Governor, would allow for limited hunting on Sundays in the Commonwealth.  The bill only allows for Sunday hunting on private property, and prohibits hunting with deer or bear dogs.  It requires that the hunter have written permission from the land owner, except in cases where the land owner is immediate family of the hunter.  Additionally it prohibits hunting on Sundays within 200 yards of any church or other house of worship. 

Though there have been numerous Sunday hunting bills over the past few years, none have advanced beyond the Agriculture committee. Because I do not sit on the Ag committee, I have never had the opportunity to cast a vote either for or against any form of Sunday hunting legislation.

I am not a hunter myself, and therefore I do not personally have a strong position on the issue. For that reason,  I am asking for your feedback.

I would expect that discussion on the House floor could be as early as Friday, and this bill could be before the House for a final vote by Monday.  Therefore I need to hear from you as soon as possible.

Please email your thoughts on this legislation to us at DelDBell@house.virginia.gov.  Because of the volume of email we receive during Session, we ask that you please put Sunday Hunting in the subject line to ensure that we view the email in a timely manner.

If you wish to see a summary and full text of the legislation, you can do so online at here.

Your immediate response will be greatly appreciated!

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Bell Sounds from the 20th - 2014 Session Week 2

This was the first full week of the 2013 General Assembly Session, and it was a busy one. Things are in full swing. The first committees began to meet this week, and legislation is working its way through the process.

This was also the first week of a brand new administration.  On Monday night, Governor McAuliffe addressed the House of Delegates and State Senate to outline his priorities for the Commonwealth.

Though there are some areas where I disagree with Governor McAuliffe, I believe there are also several areas where we will be able to work to find common ground. In his top priorities he included job creation, modernizing and reforming our K-12 education system, and workforce development.  These are priorities that I and my colleagues in the House have held for many years.  

Though we do not always agree on specifics, Republicans and Democrats can both agree that our K-12 education system needs reform.  We have made a lot of progress with K-12 over the last four years, and that work must continue.  On Tuesday, House Republicans outlined key elements of our K-12 Education Agenda.  
We already have legislation introduced that will reduce and improve Standards of Learning (SOL) tests, increase virtual education opportunities, and support career ladders for our teachers.

We know that in some ways SOL tests are a necessary evil.  They provide basic benchmarking and allow accountability.  At this time, however, the best students take 34 tests, starting at grade 3.  Those who do not pass the test and are required to retake it take more than 34.    There has been legislation filed that would reduce the number of tests to 26.  

Additionally this legislation establishes SOL “Revision Committees” that will be comprised of educators and experts of the various subjects.  They will work to incorporate more critical thinking and knowledge-application skills into the test. Our hope is this will better able Virginia students to thrive in the competitive business and college environments after they graduate.   

SOL tests have taken years to fully develop, and we will certainly not be able to reform everything in just 60 days.  While this is by no means a perfect solution, I do believe that it is a step in the right direction.  By reducing the number of tests, we hope to allow teachers to have a bit more flexibility, giving them the opportunity to promote critical thinking and problem solving rather than simply regurgitating information.  

Additionally, the House is focused on broadening access to virtual education across Virginia. Throughout my tenure in the House of Delegates I have been a strong advocate for virtual education, and that will continue.  Virtual education provides students the opportunity to create their own curriculum that meets their needs and allows them to achieve their educational goals.  They are not simply limited to the classes that their school offers.  I believe this will be especially beneficial for students in more rural areas of Virginia, where many school divisions cannot afford to offer a large number of elective classes. Virtual education also allows instruction to continue when school close due to bad weather or when students are home sick or serving suspensions.    

Legislation filed will also support the development of “Teacher Career Ladders” that will ensure we retain our best teachers in the classroom where they will have the greatest impact on student success.  Too often teachers must leave the classroom to find higher paying jobs.  This legislation will help keep our best and brightest teachers in the classroom, and help them move to better opportunities and higher paying jobs as they gain experience.

I believe our K-12 education reform proposals provide a solid base for House Republicans to work with the McAuliffe Administration to improve the Commonwealth’s K-12 education system for all our children.  I look forward to these continued discussions.

Medicaid Expansion

There are also areas where I must disagree with the Governor.  The first and most important among these is Governor McAuliffe’s call for a Medicaid expansion decision by the end of the 2014 Session. Medicaid expansion could have serious financial implications for the Commonwealth, and without reform, Virginians could be paying an additional $1 billion each year.

The Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission has been working to identify cost saving reforms in the way Medicaid is currently administered. These reforms include ways to recoup money and punish people who falsely claim Medicaid eligibility.

Putting 400,000 more Virginians in a broken program fraught with waste, fraud, and abuse will make things worse. The federal government has promised to pay for 100% of the cost of expansion for the first three years and 90% thereafter.
Unfortunately the federal government appears to be both broke and broken and the likelihood that they could keep that promise is slim. Even if they could, paying the 10% for an additional 400,000 enrollees plus current Medicaid enrollees spells deep fiscal trouble for the Commonwealth.

Governor McAuliffe believes that expansion is a money maker for Virginia.  However, promises concerning the Affordable Care Act have already been broken.  With the federal government $17 trillion in debt, it is unreasonable to commit Virginia taxpayers to federal promises that could easily be broken.

Your Inquiries

As with previous sessions, our office receives calls and emails to inquire about certain bills.  As your representative, it is vital that we have an open exchange.  This is a cornerstone of our representative government and it is a responsibility that I do not take lightly.

With the election of our new Governor, this year the legislation is slanted towards his agenda.  He and his supporters are pushing for an expansion of Medicaid that forces us closer to Obamacare.  I cannot impress upon you enough that I believe this would be detrimental to Virginia, to our families, and to the quality of health care in general.  

The supporters of these changes are in Richmond in full force and my attention is focused on the legislation they hope to get passed.

If we are not careful, the very important gains we have made will be lost.

One of the most difficult things to manage during the General Assembly Session is the volume of legislation that is considered in such a short amount of time.  As I send this, there are over 2000 bills, not including resolutions, already submitted and there are still more coming.

While we work on the major issues, the day to day business of the House continues. I have introduced several bills, resolutions and budget amendments thus far in support of our veterans, mental health services, K12 education reform and workforce development/job expansion. I have also asked the budget be amended to reflect a raise for Virginia State Police officers who were left out of the budget left behind by Governor McDonnell.

2014 Legislative Survey

If you haven’t already had a chance, please take our 2014 Legislative Survey.  You can find the survey online by clicking here.  The results of these surveys are immensely helpful to me in better representing you in Richmond. You are welcome and encouraged to forward the survey to any friends and family, as well as community, social, and/or church groups.
We will continue to run the survey through January, and will publish the results once we close the survey and tally the results.
Though we did our best to include a wide range of topics, we are unable to cover everything.  If there is an issue that is important to you that we didn’t include on the survey, please feel free to email or call us with your thoughts.

Visitors This Week

This week we were able to meet with a few folks from home.  We met with Edward Misker, who was here for the Military Officers Association of America Storm the Hill Day.  

While I was in committee, my assistant, Savanna, had the opportunity to meet with Justin Beard and a group of representatives of the Staunton Professional Fire Department.  She also was visited by Dr. John Downey and a group of students from Blue Ridge Community College.

Just Yesterday I was visited by Dr. Don Henry, who was in Richmond representing the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association.

We are always grateful to see friendly faces from home.  If you plan to be in Richmond over the next few weeks, we would love for you to drop by.
Even with the tight committee schedule, we do our best to see as many constituents as possible. Though appointments are not required, they are strongly encouraged. To make an appointment, call Savanna at 804-698-1020.

Contact Us

While we are in Session, we will be operating out of our Richmond Office. To contact us in Richmond, please call 804-698-1020.  You can also reach us by email at DelDBell@house.virginia.gov.  If you would like to send written correspondence, you can mail it to Post Office Box 406, Richmond, Virginia 23218.  You can also fax it to 804-698-6720.  

We look forward to hearing from you over the next few weeks!

 
As always, I thank you for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.
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Bell Sounds from the 20th - December 13

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family, and that you are enjoying the countdown to Christmas.  It is always a busy but wonderful time of year.   

 Let me start by thanking each and every one of you for the support you gave us in the recent election.  Although I was unopposed, I still received a humbling outpouring of support from across the 20th District.  Anne and I are continually grateful for your continued support.

As Christmas approaches, so does the 2014 General Assembly Session.  We convene on January 8, 2014 for what is scheduled to be a 60 day Session.  With a new administration, 14 newly elected members of the House of Delegates, and 7 new House committee chairman, it is sure to be a learning experience for all of us.

Joint Town Hall Meeting

Delegates Landes, Cline, and I will once again be hosting a pre-session Joint Town Hall meeting this year.  This meeting will be held at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, December 17 at Guy K. Stump Elementary School in Stuarts Draft.  

 We will be providing an overview of what is expected for the 2014 General Assembly Session, and taking your questions and comments on the issues that are important to you.

I hope to see many of you there!

Legislative Survey

 Each year I conduct a legislative survey to help me stay attuned to the policy positions of those I represent in Richmond.  We are working on the survey now, and hope to have it out to you via email within the next week or so. 

Please keep close watch over your email inbox over the next couple of weeks for this survey. The results are extremely helpful to me, and allow me to better represent you in Richmond.

Where to Go From Here

Like myself, I know that many of you are disappointed with the results we saw at the polls in November.  Though we held a strong majority in the House of Delegates, I know we will feel the losses of the Governorship and Lieutenant Governorship for some time.  Recounts are underway for the Attorney General race, and my hopes are that we will prevail.

 After any political loss, it is natural to look back and see what we could’ve done differently.  It is also natural to look to what we can do in the future to prevent this from happening again.

Recently, I received an email from a constituent. I believe he made some good points on the need for unity in our party and the need for a stronger campaign message going forward into 2014.

In November of 2014 the country will once again face an important choice.  The status quo is not working, and we must work together to offer a clear and unified alternative.              

With his permission, I have pasted his email below.  I hope you will take a look at this and consider his words. 

 

It’s a simple phrase, one the Democrats understand and one for which the Republicans, Tea Partiers, Libertarians and Conservatives have not a clue. “What’s in it for me?” Democrats recognize this and apply Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” and the technology of “The Victory Lab” to carry this marketing message to their base. Republicans only offer, “the roses smell sweet, smell them.”

So, what is the Republican etal’s campaign message? What are they trying to sell? The answer today is they are against, not for, and they lose elections. If it were not for the Obamacare, Benghazi, Syria, NSA and IRS scandals, Obama would have already been crowned king.

Establishment Republicans cling to their place in a strong national government almost as a “Rite of Passage”. But, the “Right” is no longer theirs. Libertarians do not understand that they are really “States’ Righters” but their message is akin to that of the two national political parties. Conservatives seem not to understand their genesis and get mired in anti-abortion and some vague fiscal restraint rhetoric. The Tea Party echoes the outpouring of Boston Harbor in that something is wrong with the tenets of government but they fail to articulate what.

Republicans speak to a strong national defense without considering what that defense should be. Do we need tanks and supersonic fighter aircraft in this day of cyber warfare, intercontinental missiles and a clandestine enemy? Every man woman and child in the nation owes our debt holders some $60,000 each just to pay off the current national debt. Deficit spending runs unabated, the Fed keeps cranking out paper money, inflation looms and all we can say is “more”.
What’s that Republican 2014 campaign message again?

 Contact

As the session approaches, I look forward to hearing from many of you regarding the issues that matter most to you.  I encourage you to contact us by email at deldbell@house.virginia.gov, or by phone at 540-448-3999.

 Please be aware that this is an extremely busy time of year for us, and the email volume increases drastically. We do our best to respond to each email as quickly as possible, and appreciate your patience.

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

 

 

 

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Bell Sounds from the 20th - October 11, 2013

Let me start by thanking all of you who took the time to come out to our annual Barbecue and Bluegrass event a couple of weeks ago.  We had beautiful weather, and it was a great time all around.   Anne and I appreciate your continued support, and it was so great to see so many of you. 

Despite the turmoil coming out of Washington over the past two weeks, we have had some great news here in Virginia.  Forbes.com has named Virginia the Best State for Business in the US.  This is up from our second place rankings over the past three years.  Virginia was also the only state to rank in the top five in four of the six categories, receiving first in the regulatory environment category.  Additionally, a report was recently released that shows Virginia's film industry employment has increased by 15.7% from 2011. 

This shows us that the efforts that the General Assembly and Governor have made over the last few years are working, and we are continuing to receive recognition across the country for our sound business policies.

In addition, the College Board recently announced that, despite the national average falling, Virginia students have seen an increase in their SAT scores in all three testing categories.  This is great news for our students, and proves that the vast majority of Virginia schools are doing an excellent job preparing our students for college.

We must not, however, take these successes for granted.  In order to maintain these high national rankings, we must have strong leadership.

We are just under four weeks from the 2013 General Election, and it is not too late to get involved. I would like to share with you a few upcoming events in our area, as well as a few ways you can help our candidates and ensure that your vote counts this November.

Join Congressman Goodlatte for Barbecue

Those of us that live in the 6th Congressional District are extremely blessed to be represented in Washington by my good friend, Congressman Bob Goodlatte.  Amidst the turmoil in Washington, Bob is a constant.  He has stood strong for fiscal responsibility and fought for our shared values. 

This Sunday, October 13, Congressman Goodlatte is hosting his 5th Annual Barbecue at 3:00 pm at Rockingham Fairgrounds (4808 S. Valley Pike, Harrisonburg). 

This event is free to the public, but reservations are requested.  To RSVP to this event, please email campaign@bobgoodlatte.com or by phone at (434)209-5404.  If you are so inclined, feel free to bring a dessert to share.
Anne and I have enjoyed attending this event over the past few years.  It is a great family friendly and budget friendly event, with activities for all ages.  I hope to see you this Sunday!

Super Saturday   

This Saturday, October 12, will be the last Super Saturday event prior to the November election.  Ken Cuccinelli, E.W. Jackson, and Mark Obenshain can’t win this November without our help.  They need folks to knock on doors and make phone calls in order to get their message out. 

Additionally, Ken Cuccinelli will be stopping by the Augusta Republican Headquarters at 11:30 pm on Saturday.  We would like to have a strong crowd to show our support for Ken and the Republican ticket, so please come out on Saturday if you can. 

If you are interested in volunteering for Super Saturday, please contact Matt Hudgins at 804-539-9767 or mhudgins@rpv.org.

If you can’t volunteer for Super Saturday, but are interested in volunteering at another time, please contact Matt and he will be happy to help you.

Voter Registration and Absentee Voting

The deadline for voter registration is quickly approaching.  If you are not registered, or if you have moved since the last election, you must register by October 15, 2013 in order to be eligible to vote in the election in November.  (Please note, this is not a postmark deadline. They must be in hand on October 15.)

In order to register you can stop by your local registrar’s office, or mail in this registration form to the address listed below.  For the first time this year, you can also register online at https://www.vote.virginia.gov/.  If you are unsure about your registration, you can check the status online here.

For those of you who are registered but plan to be away on November 5, Virginia does allow absentee voting under certain circumstances.  You can download an absentee ballot application here. You can also fill out an application online at vagopabsentee.com.

Virginia also allows those voters who qualify to vote absentee to vote in person.  For more information or for the hours of in person absentee voting, I would encourage you to contact your local registrar.

Augusta County

Augusta County Government Center P.O.   Box 590 Verona, Virginia 24482 (540)245-5656

Highland County

P.O. Box 386 Monterey, Virginia 24485 (540)468-2013

Nelson County 571 Front Street Lovingston, VA 22949

P.O. Box 292 Lovingston, Virginia 22949 (540)292-1162

City of Staunton Staunton City Hall P.O. Box 58 Staunton, Virginia 24402 (540)332-3840

City of Waynesboro 250 S Wayne Avenue Waynesboro, Virginia 22980 (540)942-6620  

Our Campaign

Though I am up for re-election, I am fortunate enough to not have an opponent this year.  While Anne and I appreciate your continued support, we encourage you to stay focused on the efforts of our Republican ticket this year.

If you would like to put up a yard sign or bumper sticker for our campaign, they are available at the local Republican headquarters.  If you aren’t able to make it out to the headquarters, I am more than happy to bring a sign to you or mail you a bumper sticker.

Additionally, we are working to try to cover the polling locations in our District on Election Day.  If you would like to volunteer to cover a polling location, or if you would like a yard sign or bumper sticker, please email us at dickie@bellfordelegate.com.

Although I don’t have an opponent we still require campaign funds to help spread our message.  Additionally, campaign funds finance many of the mailings we do during Session to keep our constituents informed of the happenings in Richmond.  Therefore, we appreciate any donations to our campaign that you may be able to make. 
If you’d like to donate online, you can do so at bellfordelegate.com.  You can also mail a check to P.O Box 239, Staunton, Virginia24402. Thank you for your support!

Email Problem

We recently realized that we had a forwarding issue with one of our email addresses.  Due to a computer glitch, we were not receiving all emails that were sent to dickie@bellfordelegate.com.  If you sent an email to this address over the last few months and did not get a response, it was likely due to this error.  We have fixed this glitch, and this email address is now working properly.  We make every effort to respond to our emails as promptly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused.

Contact Us

We always love hearing from our constituents.  If you had a problem with state government, or would like to voice your opinion on a matter that affects Virginia, please do not hesitate to contact us.  You can reach us by phone at 540-448-3999 or by email at DelDBell@house.virginia.gov.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.

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