Governor McDonnell Signs Delegate Bell's Legislation

STAUNTON, VA – Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) announced today that Governor McDonnell has signed into law a number of House Bills that he patroned for the 2013 General Assembly Session.

 

The bills signed into law include House Bills 1335, 1344, 1349, 1406, 1646, 1683, and 2151.  One more of Delegate Bell’s bills, House Bill 1440, is being amended by the Governor.

 

“I’m pleased that the Governor has agreed with the General Assembly regarding each of these bills.” said Delegate Bell.  “I’ve worked hard during my tenure in the House of Delegates to patron legislation that will benefit all Virginians, and I believe this year we have accomplished that. I’m grateful that this legislation gained bipartisan support in the General Assembly, and has now been signed into law.” 

 

House Bill 1335 allows the senior judge, for good cause, to appoint a temporary member to the electoral board in order to maintain a quorum.

 

House Bill 1344 permits local school divisions to ensure that individualized education program (IEP) teams consider the specific communication needs of children who are deaf or hard of hearing and address those needs as appropriate in the child's IEP.

 

House Bill 1349 defines "dental hygiene" as duties related to patient assessment and the rendering of educational, preventive, and therapeutic dental services specified in regulations of the Board and not otherwise restricted to the practice of dentistry. The bill defines "dental hygienist" as a person who is licensed by the Board of Dentistry to practice dental hygiene. The bill also clarifies the licensure requirement for a dental hygienist of graduation from a dental hygiene program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and offered by an accredited institution of higher education.

 

House Bill 1406 encourages each school board to annually provide parent educational information on eating disorders for public school students in grades five through 12. The bill also requires the Department of Education and the Department of Health to develop and implement policies for providing parent educational information on eating disorders.

 

House Bill 1646 provides that foster care services shall include independent living services provided to a former foster child who is over the age of 18 years but who has not yet reached the age of 21 years, and that a former foster child receiving such services shall be eligible for funding through the Comprehensive Services for At-Risk Youth and Families program.

House Bill 1683 adds community-based mental health services to the list of services for which expenditures must be reported by the Office of Comprehensive Services for At-Risk Youth and Families.

 

House Bill 2151 makes a number of changes to the processes to which teachers are evaluated and to the grievance process. It requires teachers and administrators to be evaluated every year, either informally or formally, and include student academic progress as a component. The legislation includes a measure that gives local school boards the option of extending the probationary process for a new teacher from three to five years to allow more time to evaluate performance. Perhaps most importantly, the legislation streamlines the grievance process for teachers by a series of changes to the hearing process. It includes a shortened timeframe and the appointment of a single impartial hearing officer instead of a three-member panel. Additionally, the passage of this legislation will result in a 2% raise for teachers

 

Delegate Bell patroned 13 pieces of legislation during the 2013 General Assembly Session.  Of those, 8 passed in both houses and 7 have already been signed by Governor McDonnell.

 

Governor McDonnell is expected to sign House Bill 1440, a bill that enacts a charter for the Town of Monterey in Highland County, repealing the former charter of 1952, as amended.  Governor McDonnell has made some technical recommendations for this legislation, and is expected to sign it after the amendments are agreed to by the House of Delegates and Senate.

 

 

Unless otherwise noted, these bills will go into effect July 1, 2013.  

 

       Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell represents the 20th District, which includes parts of Nelson and Augusta Counties, Highland County, and the Cities of Staunton and Waynesboro.

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House Bills 1646 and 1683 Pass in the State Senate, HJR 536 Passes in the House

RICHMOND, VA – Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) announced today that House Joint Resolution 536 has passed in the House of Delegates.  Additionally, House Bills 1646 and 1683 have passed in the Senate. 

House Resolution 536 would amend the Virginia constitution to include Virginia’s existing Right to Work laws as part of the constitution.  Current law provides that a citizen cannot be denied the employment or continuation of employment for failing to join a union or other labor organization.  This amendment would make Virginia’s Right to Work law permanent by adding it to the constitution.

“I am thrilled to see House Joint Resolution 536, the Right to Work amendment, has gained a great deal of support in the House of Delegates.”  said Delegate Bell.  “The Right to Work law is vital to the success of Virginia’s workforce, and is an important factor in Virginia’s continued high rankings as one of the best states for business.  By adding the existing Right to Work law to the Constitution of Virginia, we are ensuring that it will stay part of Virginia law for many years to come.”

House Joint Resolution 536 was initially referred to the Constitutional Amendments subcommittee of the Privileges and Elections committee.  It was reported out of the subcommittee with a vote of 5-0.  It was then reported out of the Privileges and Elections Committee with a vote of 17-5.

In order to amend the Virginia constitution, the amendment must past both bodies of the Virginia General Assembly twice, with an election in between.  It would then go on the ballot as a referendum for the voters to decide.

Additionally, today House Bills 1646 and 1683 passed in the Senate.

House Bill 1646 clarifies eligibility requirements for funds from the state pool of funds for comprehensive services for at-risk youth and families, making clear that a child who has been placed through an agreement between his parents and a public agency other than the local department of social services, or who is receiving foster care services to prevent foster care placement, is eligible for funds from the state pool.

House Bill 1683 adds community-based mental health services to the list of services for which expenditures must be reported by the Office of Comprehensive Services for At-Risk Youth and Families.

Both bills were initially referred to the Committee on Health, Welfare, and Institutions, where they were reported out unanimously. They passed on the house floor with a vote of 98-0.  They were then reported out of the Social Services Subcommittee and the full Rehab and Social Services subcommittee unanimously.  They passed on the Senate floor today with a vote of 40-0.  They will now be sent to the Governor for final approval.  

“I am very pleased to see House Bills 1646 and 1683 pass with unanimous support. These bills help ensure that they funds spent under the Comprehensive Services Act are appropriately spent.”  said Delegate Bell. “I’m pleased that this legislation received bipartisan support in both bodies, and I am pleased to see it move on to the Governor for final approval.”

             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 2nd term.

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House Bill 2151 Passes in the House of Delegates

Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) announced today House Bill 2151 has passed in the House of Delegates.

     This legislation, known as the “Educator Fairness Act” is a heavily amended version of the Teacher Contract legislation that Delegate Bell presented last year.

          House Bill 2151 makes a number of changes to the processes to which teachers are evaluated and to the grievance process.  It requires teachers and administrators to be evaluated every year, either informally or formally, and includes student academic progress as a component.  The legislation includes a measure that gives local school boards the option of extending the probationary process for a new teacher from three to five years to allow more time to evaluate performance. It does not, however, eliminate the continuing contract.  

           Perhaps most importantly, the legislation streamlines the grievance process for teachers by making a series of changes to the hearing process.  It includes a shortened timeframe and the appointment of a single impartial hearing officer instead of a three-member panel.  This hearing officer will preside over an administrative hearing, and issue a written recommendation to the school board.  The grievance procedure will allow for an expedited decision to inform the teacher regarding their employment status.  Additionally, the passage of this legislation will result in a 2% raise for teachers.

          This legislation is the result of a collaborative effort of all stakeholders, and was supported by the Virginia Education Association, Virginia School Boards Association, Virginia Association of Superintendents, the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals, and the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals.  Additionally it gained the support of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership.  

          “I am extremely pleased to see this legislation pass in the House of Delegates with bipartisan support.  We began working on this bill immediately following the 2012 Session, and had extensive meetings with a number of stakeholders.  The extensive involvement of the education community has helped make this legislation possible. ” said Delegate Bell.  “Through their cooperation and advice, we have put forth a piece of legislation that will place great emphasis on enhancing the quality of our teachers.  It will allow Virginia to recruit and retain the best educators, and ensure that our educational system continues to rank among the nation’s best.  Additionally, it is a step in the right direction for treating and paying educators like the professionals that they are.  I am pleased with the actions of the House, and I am hopeful that this legislation will continue to gain support as it moves over to the State Senate.”

      House Bill 2151 was initially referred to the Teachers and Administrative Action subcommittee of the Education committee where it was reported out with a vote of 8-0.  It was then reported out of the full committee with a vote of 17-0.  It passed in the House today with a vote of 84-14. 

     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 2nd term.

      

 

 

 

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House Bills 1646 and 1683 Pass in House of Delegates; House Bill 2151 Reports from Subcommittee

 

RICHMOND, VA – Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) announced today House Bills 1646 and 1683 have passed in the full House of Delegates. Additionally, House Bill 2151 has been reported out of the subcommittee on Teachers and Administrative Actions.

     House Bill 1646 clarifies eligibility requirements for funds from the state pool of funds for comprehensive services for at-risk youth and families, making clear that a child who has been placed through an agreement between his parents and a public agency other than the local department of social services, or who is receiving foster care services to prevent foster care placement, is eligible for funds from the state pool.

     House Bill 1683 adds community-based mental health services to the list of services for which expenditures must be reported by the Office of Comprehensive Services for At-Risk Youth and Families.

     Both bills were initially referred to the Committee on Health, Welfare, and Institutions, where they were reported out unanimously.  They passed today on the house floor with a vote of 98-0.  

     “I am very pleased to see House Bills 1646 and 1683 pass with unanimous support in the House of Delegates.  These bills help ensure that they money spent under the Comprehensive Services Act are spent wisely and properly.” said Delegate Bell. “I’m pleased that this bill was successful in the House, and I hope that it will be well received when it crosses over to the Senate.”

     Additionally, Delegate Bell’s House Bill 2151 was heard in the Teachers and Administrative Action Subcommittee of the Committee on Education yesterday, and reported out with a vote of 8-0.  This legislation is a heavily amended version of the Teacher Contract legislation that Delegate Bell presented last year.

          House Bill 2151 makes a number of changes to the processes to which teachers are evaluated and to the grievance process.  It requires teachers and administrators to be evaluated every year, either informally or formally, and include student academic progress as a component.  The legislation includes a measure that gives local school boards the option of extending the probationary process for a new teacher from three to five years to allow more time to evaluate performance.  Perhaps most importantly, the legislation streamlines the grievance process for teachers by a series of changes to the hearing process.  It includes a shortened timeframe and the appointment of a single impartial hearing officer instead of a three-member panel.  Additionally, the passage of this legislation will result in a 2% raise for teachers. 

          “I am delighted to see this legislation reported out of the subcommittee with an 8-0 vote.  We began working on this bill last year almost immediately after Session, and all of our stakeholders have come to the table.  The Superintendents’ Association, School Boards’ Association, and the VEA all came forward with valuable amendments that have made this the best legislation possible.” said Delegate Bell.  “Through their cooperation and advice, we have made this legislation beneficial to students, teachers, and administrators alike. I am pleased with the results of the subcommittee meeting and I hope that it will continue to gain support as it moves through the legislative process.”

      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 2nd term.

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Delegates Bell, Cline, and Landes to hold Joint Town Hall Meeting in Stuarts Draft

DELEGATES BELL, CLINE, AND LANDES TO HOLD JOINT TOWN HALL MEETING

 

STAUNTON, VA – Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) announced today he will be joining Delegates Cline and Landes to host a joint Town Hall event.

      The joint town hall meeting will take place at 7:00 pm at Guy K. Stump Elementary School in Stuarts Draft on Wednesday, January 2.

      The Town Hall meeting is open to the public, and the public is encouraged to attend. The legislators will provide an overview of the 2013 Session and will take questions and comments from those in attendance.  You can contact Delegate Bell’s office with any questions. 

      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.

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Delegate Bell Awarded Child Advocate Award by Virginia Council on Private Education

STAUNTON, VA – Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) announced today that he has been awarded the 2012 Child Advocate Award by the Virginia Council for Private Education at a Luncheon reception in Richmond today. 


A spokesman for the Council, Matthew Stanley, remarked that "This award is in recognition for Delegate Bell's constant advocacy for children; for their health and safety, their education, and for those with disabilities. This is an award that we do not give every year, but only when there is a legislator that we feel has gone above and beyond in their advocacy for children."


“I am extremely honored to receive this recognition from the Virginia Council for Private Education.” said Delegate Bell “Children’s issues, including child abuse, children’s mental health, and improved education opportunities for all of Virginia’s students have been a top priority for me throughout my tenure in the House of Delegates. I believe these are vital issues that must be addressed. I’m very grateful that the Council for Private Education has recognized these efforts.” 

Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell represents the 20th District, which includes parts of Nelson and Augusta Counties, Highland County, and the Cities of Staunton and Waynesboro.
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Statement of Delegate Dickie Bell Regarding the Governor’s Announcement of FY 2012 Surplus Figures.

STAUNTON, VA – Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) today issued the following statement in response to Governor Bob McDonnell's announcement of FY 2012 surplus including agency savings:

 

           “Just last month Governor McDonnell announced $129. million in FY 2012 surplus revenues.  Earlier today, in a joint meeting of the House Appropriations and Finance Committees and the Senate Finance Committee, he announced an additional $319.3 million in agency savings.  This brings us to a total FY 2012 surplus of $448.5 million.  This is the third straight year that the Commonwealth has produced a budget surplus.  Just three years ago, our Commonwealth was in dire fiscal distress, facing a budget shortfall of nearly $6 billion.  We have gone from that shortfall in 2010 to nearly 1.4 billion in surpluses and budget savings over the past three years, all without a tax increase.  This is an incredible accomplishment. These continued surpluses are great news for Virginia, and one of many reasons that Virginia continues to be one of the best states to do business.”  said Delegate Bell.

 

“Though this budget surplus brings with it many benefits, perhaps one of the most significant items that we will be able to address is a 3 percent performance based bonus to state employees on December 1.  Because our state employees were able to work together and use their innovation to be frugal, while not sacrificing service, they achieved the cost savings necessary to fund this bonus.  Our state employees have once again risen to the occasion and made this possible for themselves.”

 

“In addition to the one time state employee bonus, the Appropriations Act and the Virginia Constitution, and the Code of Virginia determines how this surplus must be allocated. An additional 78.3 million will be set aside for deposit to the Revenue Stabilization fund bringing the Rainy Day Fund balance to $689 million.  Another $30 million will go to the Federal Action Contingency Trust Fund. We will be able to return $132.3 million to higher education and non general fund accounts, 16.9 million to the Virginia Water Quality Fund, $20.9 million to the Transportation Trust Fund, and finally $17.2 million will be set aside to cover our obligations resulting from the natural disasters occurring over the course of FY 2012.

 

“Though Virginia is faring better than many other states in our nation, the economy is still very uncertain.  Many Virginians are still struggling to live within their means, and having to make extremely tough choices. When they have to face the challenge of balancing their books, they should be able to expect this from the Government as well.  And fortunately over the past three years they have been able to see this from Governor McDonnell.   He has spent the last three years working to produce not only a balanced the budget, which is a constitutional requirement, but budgets that have produced three consecutive surpluses. Virginians want to see this type of responsibility in Government, and this is what they deserve.” 

 

Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell is now serving his 2nd term.  He represents parts Nelson and Augusta Counties, Highland County, and the Cities of Staunton and Waynesboro.

 

 

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Delegate Bell Commends Governor McDonnell for VTC Announcement

STAUNTON, VA – Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell (R-Staunton) today commended Governor McDonnell on his recent announcement that the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) will award will award matching grant funds in the amount of more than $660,000 to 45 local tourism initiatives as part of VTC’s Marketing Leverage Grant program.  The grants help local and regional tourism entities attract more visitors by leveraging local marketing dollars. The local organizations match the state grant funds by a minimum of 3:1 to create marketing projects such as Web sites, social media, and advertisements.

The grants that will be beneficial to our area are as follows:

  • $12,500 awarded to the City of Waynesboro-Tourism Office for Comprehensive Destination Marketing, research, Feasibility and Strategic Planning
  • $25,000 awarded to the Shenandoah Valley Travel Association for the Shenandoah Valley Regional Branding Initiative (SVRBI)
  • $4,000 awarded to the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum for Stay and Play
  • $5,000 awarded to the Hermitage Hill Farm and Stables for promoting the Shenandoah Valley as a Premier Wedding Destination
  • $5,000 awarded to the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce for Good Times, Tastes, and Traditions Fall Celebration
  • $5,000 awarded to the Shenandoah Valley Art Center Inc. for River City Fall Foliage Weekend
  • $5,000 awarded to Nelson County Tourism for Virginia Cider Association
  • $5,000 awarded to the Artisans Center of Virginia for the Artisan Trail Network: Bedford and Shenandoah Counties and “Virginia’s Western Highlands Artisan Trail”
  • $5,000 awarded to Waynesboro Downtown Development Inc. for the Virginia Chili Blues n’ Brews Festival
  • $3,000 awarded to Waynesboro Parks and Recreation for Park to Park Half marathon promotion.

 

            “I am thrilled that these grants have been awarded to so many well-deserving local organizations.  Tourism is so important to our economy here in the Valley, and to the economy of the Commonwealth as a whole.” said Delegate Bell.  “I am optimistic that these grants will help stimulate new tourism marketing and help support the economy in the Valley and throughout Virginia.”

            The objective of VTC’s Marketing Leverage Program is to increase visitor spending by leveraging limited marketing dollars, stimulate new tourism marketing through partnerships and extend the “Virginia is for Lovers” brand.  To apply for a grant a minimum of three entities must partner financially.  Partners may consist of Virginia cities, towns, counties, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, other local or regional destination marketing organizations, private businesses, museums, attractions, cultural events, and other not-for-profit entities.  In total, VTC awards approximately $1 million annually - matched and leveraged on average three to one by partner dollars - to more than 80 communities across the Commonwealth.

            More information about these grants can be seen at the Governor’s website at the following link http://www.governor.virginia.gov/News/viewRelease.cfm?id=1378

            Elected to the House of Delegates in 2009, Delegate Bell is currently serving in his 2nd term.   Delegate Bell represents the 20th District, which currently includes Highland County, portions of Augusta and Nelson Counties, and the Cities of Staunton and Waynesboro.

 

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Delegate Bell Commends Governor, Augusta County, and McKee Foods Corporation on Expansion in Augusta

Staunton, VA – Today, Governor McDonnell and Secretary of Commerce and Trade, Jim Cheng, announced that McKee Foods Corporation will invest $19 million to expand production at its manufacturing facility in Stuarts Draft in Augusta County. Delegate Richard P. “Dickie” Bell commended the Governor, Augusta County, and McKee Foods Corporation on this expansion, which will add 78 new jobs to our area.

“McKee Foods has been one of the major employers in Augusta County for over two decades, and their announcement today further cements this fact.  In a time of extreme economic uncertainty, I am extremely pleased that they have been able to expand when many corporations are instead being forced to downsize.” said Delegate Bell.  “I am especially grateful that Governor McDonnell saw the need to place $200,000 of the Governor’s Opportunity Fund into this expansion. I know that the impact that this expansion has on the economy of our area will be great. I look forward to their continued success.”

Headquartered in Collegedale, Tennessee, McKee Foods Corporation represents a group of companies that provide a livelihood for more than 6,000 employees, and has annual sales in excess of $1 billion. The company’s products are available across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and on U.S. military bases around the world. While McKee Foods Corporation is best known for its line of Little Debbie® brand snack cakes, product lines also include Sunbelt®, Heartland® and Fieldstone™ Bakery.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Augusta County and the Shenandoah Valley Partnership to secure the project for Virginia. Governor McDonnell approved a $200,000 grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund to assist Augusta County with the project. The company is also eligible to receive a Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit. Through its Virginia Jobs Investment Program, the Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide funding and services to support the company’s recruitment, training and retraining activities.

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.

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Delegate Bell Commends Governor, Augusta County, and McKee Foods Corporation on Expansion

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