Delegate Bell’s House Bill 2 Passes Unanimously in the House of Delegates

The House of Delegates today unanimously passed House Bill 2, patroned by Delegate Dickie Bell. This bill will allow a 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.

“Addressing the significant teacher shortage in Virginia is a top priority of the Virginia House of Delegates this year” said Delegate Bell.  “We have one of the largest military populations in the country and this legislation will remove obstacles for licensed and qualified teachers to get a job in Virginia as soon as possible.  This not only helps strengthens our commitment to our active duty military and veteran populations, but also will make it easier for our local school divisions to find and hire qualified teachers for our public schools.”  

House Bill 2 was referred to the House Committee on Education, where it reported out unanimously on January 24.  It passed in the House today on a vote of 99-0.  It will now be sent to the Senate for further consideration.

Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell represents parts of Augusta and Nelson counties, Highland County, and the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro.  He is currently serving in his 5th term.

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Delegate Bell Endorsed by Virginia Society for Human Life

STAUNTON, VA – The Virginia Society for Human Life Political Action Committee has announced their endorsement of Delegate Dickie Bell (R-Staunton) for the 20th District House of Delegates seat in the Virginia General Assembly.

The Virginia Society for Human Life informed Delegate Bell of the decision via letter dated October 5.  Their decision was based on his commitment to advancing and defending pro-life principals and his unwavering support of legislation that would protect the right to life.

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Virginia Society for Human Life.”  said Delegate Bell. “During my time in the General Assembly I have stood up for the rights of the unborn and will continue to do so if re-elected in November.”

Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell represents the 20th District, which includes the Cities of Staunton and Waynesboro, Highland County, and parts of Nelson and Augusta counties.  Delegate Bell is currently serving in his third term.

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Delegate Bell Receives Award for Conservative Achievement by American Conservative Union

Delegate Dickie Bell Announces Award for Conservative Achievement

STAUNTON, VA – The American Conservative Union has announced via press release on June 5 that Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) will receive the Award for Conservative Achievement for his votes during the 2017 General Assembly Session.

This award was given to those legislators that scored a 80%-89% percent rating on the ACU 2017 State Legislative Rating.  Delegate Bell received an 85% rating.  Delegate Bell has a lifetime ACU rating of 93%.   

“I am honored to receive the Award for Conservative Achievement from the American Conservative Union.”  said Delegate Bell.  “Throughout my tenure in the House of Delegates, I have continued to defend the founding principles of this nation in the Commonwealth, and will continue to do so if re-elected in November.  I would like to thank the ACU for this recognition.”

The American Conservative Union ratings intend to reflect how each legislator views the role of government in an individual’s life.  In determining these ratings, they looked for legislators who could be counted on to protect the constitutional right to life, liberty, and property. The Virginia ratings guide for 2017 can be found online at

Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell represents the 20th District, which includes Highland County, portions of Augusta and Nelson Counties, and the Cities of Staunton and Waynesboro. He is currently serving in his 4th term.

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Statement from Delegate Dickie Bell regarding Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates Northam and Perriello’s recent comments on Virginia’s Right to Work Law

Staunton, Virginia - Delegate Dickie Bell (R-Staunton) issued the following statement regarding comments from Democratic Gubernatorial candidates regarding Virginia’s Right to Work statute:

 “I was deeply disappointed to hear Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates Congressman Tom Perriello and Lt. Governor Ralph Northam’s comments about Virginia’s Right to Work laws at their recent debate.  Virginia’s right to work status has a long history of bipartisan support from Republican and Democratic administrations.  

“Congressman Perriello directly stated that he would work to repeal Right to Work, while Lt. Governor Northam praised the defeat of a right to work constitutional amendment last year and inferred that if the General Assembly makeup was different he would be willing to support a repeal.  This is in stark contrast to the words ‘We should never change that’ stated by Governor McAuliffe on the campaign trail just four years ago.

“Virginia’s economic recovery is still lagging behind the national recovery and Virginia’s pro-business ratings are in steady decline.  We should be looking for ways to incentivize businesses to come to Virginia and must do all in our power to restore our place at the top of the rankings as the best state to work and live.  Our status as a right to work state has been one of our best tools to attract and retain businesses and there has never been a worse time to take that tool off the table.

“Other states across the country, including our bordering states of West Virginia and Kentucky, are recognizing the benefits and passing their own Right to Work laws.  Nevertheless, Democrats in Virginia are threatening to go in the opposite direction.  Should Perriello or Northam succeed in repealing our Right to Work laws, no one would benefit more than our bordering states. This region is already incredibly competitive and removing Right to Work would undoubtedly cause thriving businesses to go elsewhere.

“If we’ve learned anything over the last few election cycles, it should be that elections have consequences.  At a time when statewide Democrats are trying to out left each other to win the Democratic primary, I’m pleased to see Ed Gillespie putting forth a strong economic agenda that we can all rally behind. I look forward to working with Ed Gillespie to help protect our right to work status and restore Virginia’s economy.”


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Staunton, Virginia – Last week, Delegate Dickie Bell was presented with a 2017 Excellence in Education and Workforce Development Award by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce for his work during the 2017 General Assembly Session. 

The Excellence in Education and Workforce Development Award recognizes legislators who worked to give Virginians better opportunities to develop skills that align with the workforce needs of businesses.  Delegate Bell received this award for his work on expanding virtual education in Virginia. 

“Business leaders around Virginia consistently say education and workforce development is their top issue when thinking about the future of their business,” said Barry DuVal, president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “Delegate Dickie Bell has been a long-time leader in advocating for policies that would give more Virginia students access to virtual schools as another tool to close the workforce skills gap. We thank him for his continued advocacy this year for Virginia students and are pleased to recognize him with the 2017 Excellence in Education and Workforce Development Award.”

“I am very pleased and honored to receive this award from the Chamber for my work on virtual education.” said Delegate Bell.  “Private business is vital to the Virginia economy and a good education system is essential for developing a skilled workforce.  Virginia has traditionally been recognized as a great state for business, but our rankings have begun to slip over the last couple of years.  I believe that to promote economic growth in Virginia we must think outside the box and continue to promote education reform, as well as tax and other regulatory reforms.   Throughout my time in the house education and economic reforms have been a top priority, and they will continue to be throughout my time in the House.”  

Delegate Bell earned an A+ rating from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce for his voting record in the 2017 General Assembly and holds a lifetime A rating with the Chamber. 

The Chamber grades legislators each year based on their support of pro-business issues throughout the Session. The Legislative Report Card recognizes legislators for their support for the principles and initiatives outlined in Blueprint Virginia: A Business Plan for the Commonwealth

Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell is currently serving in his 4th term.  He represents Highland County, parts of Nelson and Augusta Counties, and the Cities of Staunton and Waynesboro.

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Statement from Delegate Bell regarding Governor McAuliffe's veto of House Bill 1400


RICHMOND, VA – Governor McAuliffe has vetoed House Bill 1400, Delegate Bell’s legislation to establish fulltime Virtual School Programs in Virginia. Delegate Dickie Bell issued the following statement:

“I am deeply disappointed that Governor McAuliffe has vetoed legislation to establish the Virginia Virtual School. With a single stroke of his pen, the Governor has once again denied educational choice to thousands of students and their families, including students that are already on the waitlist.

“The Governor’s actions today prove to be yet another inconsistency in his long history of inconsistencies on this issue.  Governor McAuliffe signed substantially similar legislation with re-enactment language in 2015, yet vetoed legislation identical to House Bill 1400 in 2016.  In January, he once again embraced the idea of virtual education by putting forth his own virtual education proposal.  The General Assembly, however, overwhelmingly rejected his legislation in favor of House Bill 1400.  

“Virginia is a leader in so many areas, but we continue to fall further and further behind with regard to virtual learning. Thirty states already have full-time virtual programs, and Virginia is still not one of them.  Governor McAuliffe is a strong advocate for the use of new technology with regard to economic development, yet has repeatedly put politics over policy and rejected new technology when it comes to virtual learning.  

“Virginia is very fortunate to have one of the best education systems in the United States.  We have many fantastic schools and wonderful teachers who allow our students to thrive in the traditional classroom.  Yet some students are still being left behind. Virtual Education provides one more option for those families that find that their children to not excel in a traditional brick and mortar school.  I trust our parents to make these choices for their families and I wish Governor McAuliffe would do the same.

“We have lost this battle, but the fight for virtual education is not over.  I am committed to expanding virtual education in the Commonwealth and I will continue our work throughout the interim and, if re-elected in November, into the 2018 General Assembly Session.  Every child in Virginia deserves a chance to succeed, regardless of their individual circumstances or their zip code. I will continue to stand as a leading voice for those children and families who need alternatives to the traditional classroom.”


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Delegate Bell Announces 11 House Bills Have Passed in the House and Will Be Heard by the State Senate

RICHMOND, VA – Following “Crossover” day at the General Assembly, Delegate Bell has 11 bills and 2 resolutions that have passed in the House of Delegates and will be considered by the State Senate. Tuesday, February 9, Crossover Day, is the official half-way point of the 2017 Session.  From this point forward, the House of Delegates will only consider bills that originated in the Senate, and the Senate will only consider bills that originated in the House. 

“I am pleased that the House of Delegates saw fit to advance 11 bills and 2 resolutions that I brought forward this year.  I believe that we put together a strong legislative package for the 2017 Session.” said Delegate Bell. “I am encouraged by the support these measures have gained in the House of Delegate and I hope they will continue to gain support in the Senate.”

As a former school teacher and Chairman of the Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee, education is a top priority for Delegate Bell. This year, he filed two bills to reform school discipline by reducing long-term suspensions. House Bill 1534 redefines “long-term suspension” of students by narrowing the time frame to 11-90 days (current code is 11-364 days). Additionally, it provides that if the suspension stretches into a new grading period, the student may ask for a review of their case to present new information for possible re-admission to the start of that next grading period. House Bill 1536 limits prevents suspension of Pre-K – 3rd graders for more than 5 days.  House Bill 1534 passed the House on a vote of 51-46 and House Bill 1536 passed on a vote of 47-45.

“Virginia public schools issued over 126,000 out of school suspensions to approximately 70,000 students in 2014-15 alone, including approximately 16,000 in Pre-K – 3rd grade.  We find that students who are excluded from school are more likely to experience academic problems, mental health issues, substance abuse, and eventual justice system involvement, which is likely to be more costly to the government in the long term” said Delegate Bell. “Additionally, when these students are removed from school the change in daily structure from school to home can make things much worse.  There is simply no evidence that suggests that suspensions or expulsions deter misconduct or improve school safety, especially in younger grades. I hope that by passing this legislation we will look at alternative ways to improve student behavior and performance while keeping them in school.”  

Another bill relating to Education, House Bill 1512, provides that each public institution of higher education is required to count credit for successful completion of American Sign Language courses at institutions of higher education toward satisfaction of foreign language entrance, placement, and course credit requirements.

In 2011, Delegate Bell sponsored legislation that required institutions of higher education to accept American Sign Language as a foreign language for their entrance requirements. House Bill 1512 expands this to allow it to fulfill the foreign language course credit requirements at their public college or university. This legislation passed the House of Delegates 98-0.

“I believe that passage of this legislation will encourage more students to take an interest in American Sign Language and will open up a host of educational opportunities for both hearing and deaf students” said Delegate Bell.

Delegate Bell has also prioritized the safety of our children during his time in the House of Delegates.  For that reason, he patroned House Bill 1485.  This bill amends the current code relating to offenders who have been convicted of crimes that prohibit them from being within a certain proximity to children.  Under current code, qualifying offenders are prevented from loitering or residing within 100 feet of any premises defined as a school, child day program, playground, athletic field or facility, or gymnasium. They are also prevented from working or engaging in any volunteer activity on the property of a school or daycare center.   This legislation would expand the list of qualifying offenses to include any offense under the law of any other jurisdiction that is similar to such qualifying offense.   This legislation passed in the House on a vote of 95-1.

The other bills patroned by Delegate Bell that passed by the House of Delegates this session include: HB 1400 (virtual education), HB 1440 (farm use vehicles), HB 1483 (OT – Licensure), HB 1484 (OT – qualified mental health professional), HB 1604 (foster care, reasonable efforts to prevent removal of child), HB 1795 (Adoptive and foster placements; Mutual Family Assessment home study), HB 2394 (pawn brokers), HJ 548 (National Suicide Prevention Week), HJ 780 (Self-Care month)

Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell represents the 20th District, which includes Highland County, portions of Augusta and Nelson Counties, and the Cities of Staunton and Waynesboro.  He is currently serving in his fourth term.

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Statement from Delegate Bell regarding Governor McAuliffe's Virtual Education Legislative Proposal


Staunton, VA – Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell issued the following statement regarding Governor McAuliffe’s virtual education legislative proposal.

“Today, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that he will be putting forth legislation that will “expand access to virtual education by requiring each school division to provide a free, full-time virtual learning option to students in grades K-12.” 

“I have met and discussed full-time virtual education with Governor McAuliffe on multiple occasions, and I am thrilled to see him embrace this as a viable option. His actions, however, prove to be yet another inconsistency in his history of inconsistencies on this issue.  Just last year he vetoed my legislation that established a full-time virtual program in Virginia, after signing a substantially similar bill with a re-enactment one year before.

"While I appreciate the Governor’s renewed interest in virtual learning, I believe that this legislation takes the wrong approach. By keeping virtual education in local school divisions we would create artificial barriers and limit rather than increase a parent’s choice.  One of the beauties of virtual education is it strips away boundaries. By limiting a child to a virtual program in their local school division, we allow for inequities that wouldn’t exist in a statewide virtual program.

"This year I have re-introduced last year’s legislation, which is now HB 1400.  I look forward to continuing this discussion in the 2017 General Assembly Session.”

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Delegate Bell Files Legislation to Expand Hate Crime Status to Police, Firefighters, and EMS

Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell announced today that he has

filed legislation for the 2017 Session that would expand Virginia hate crime laws to

include Police, Firefighters, and EMS personnel.


House Bill 1398, filed earlier this week, will expand the already existing definition of

hate crime for the purpose of reporting hate crimes within the Department of State

Police to include acts against persons employed as law-enforcement officers,

firefighters, or emergency medical services personnel. It already includes crimes

committed on the basis of race, religion, and ethnic origin.


“According to the FBI, forty one law enforcement officers were killed in the line of

duty in 2015” said Delegate Bell. “These are husbands and wives, mothers and

fathers, sisters and brothers, which were targeted because of their uniform. First

responders across the Commonwealth make sacrifices for us each day, and we must

find better ways to keep them safe.


“Adding police officers and other first responders makes logical sense. Officers

recently attacked in Dallas and other areas across the country were attacked not

because of who they are, but because of the uniform they wore” Bell continued. “I

hope that this will give them an extra layer of protection and will serve as a step in

the right direction toward ending violence against our emergency personnel. We are

seeing Democrats and Republicans across the nation put forth similar legislation,

and I hope that Virginia can serve as a leader in this area.”


In May, Louisiana became the first state in the nation to grant police officers

protected status. Other states, including Kentucky, Massachusetts, and New

Jersey, are considering similar legislation.


Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell represents the 20th

District, which includes Highland County, portions of Augusta and Nelson counties,

and the Cities of Staunton and Waynesboro. He is currently serving in his fourth


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Virtual Education Legislation Passes in State Senate

Virtual Education Legislation Passes in the State Senate RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia Senate has passed legislation to establish a statewide virtual school to provide full-time virtual school programs here in Virginia.

This legislation, patroned by Delegate Dickie Bell (R-Staunton), passed the House on February 16 with a vote of 58-40-1 and has now passed the Senate on March 7 with a vote of 23-17.

This legislation will establish the Virginia Virtual School, which is for full-time virtual only. Students who attend this school will be subject to the same Standards of Quality, including SOLs and standards of accreditation, of any other brick and mortar school.

Special education services for students needing it can also be received through the school. Most importantly, this bill allows any student in Virginia to enroll in the School should their parents choose, and gives the parents the flexibility to choose any approved multi-division online provider.

The Senate Finance committee made a series of amendments to the bill. These amendments change the membership of the board of the Virginia Virtual School, delay the start of the school until the 2017-2018 school year, and direct the Department of Education to review the statewide use of online learning, including virtual courses and programs and develop a proposed methodology for estimating the cost of fully online programs. They will report these findings to the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees by November of 2017.

Delegate Bell requested today that the House reject the Senate amendments and request a committee of conference to hammer out the House and Senate differences.

“I am pleased that the State Senate has shown bipartisan support for full-time virtual learning here in the Commonwealth” said Delegate Bell. “This is a huge step forward for school choice and shows that the General Assembly trusts parents to make the best choices for their children. Every child is unique and we have a responsibility to teach them in an environment that best meets their unique needs. For some children this is virtual and I am pleased that we are on the right path. Over 30 states have already established statewide full-time virtual schools, and I believe Virginia should be next. While there are some differences in the versions of this legislation that passed in the House and Senate, I remain confident that we will be able to hammer out the differences, make compromises, and send the best bill possible to Governor McAuliffe’s desk.”

Delegate Bell carried similar legislation in the 2015 Session, which passed both Houses and was signed by the Governor with re-enactment language. Several improvements to the bill were adopted by the House Appropriations committee, putting the bill in a stronger posture.

Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell represents the 20th District, which includes Highland County, portions of Augusta and Nelson Counties, and the Cities of Staunton and Waynesboro. He is currently serving in his fourth term.

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