This coming Tuesday is “Crossover” which marks the halfway point of the 2017 session. Both the House and Senate must complete work on their bills prior to adjournment on Tuesday. After that time they may only consider bills from the other chamber. We are also hard at work on the House budget proposal which will be released on Sunday alongside the Senate’s budget proposal. Once both chambers release their budgets, I will begin to work with my fellow Conferees in the House and Senate to finalize a budget to be sent to the Governor for his signature.
I still need your feedback if you have not completed my constituent survey! Please take a moment to let me know your priorities regarding some of the issues we are tackling this year in Richmond:
After reviewing Governor McAuliffe’s budget proposal, my colleagues and I identified several shortcomings we plan to address in our proposal. The Governor’s budget does not include teacher pay raises and instead offers a 1.5% bonus to teachers; however, it does not require those funds to be applied towards pay raises. Instead, it requires school divisions to provide a local match, should they elect to provide the 1.5% bonus.
In 2016, the adopted budget sent 29% of lottery funds, or $157 million, back to local school divisions. This mechanism gave local schools more flexibility by eliminating the requirement to match funds or mandate how those funds are spent. This year we look to expand this investment by further restoring the amount of lottery proceeds that are returned to school divisions. Our goal is to increase the proceeds the Commonwealth returns from 29% to 40% and enable school divisions to provide pay raises and/or offset costs associated with the Virginia Retirement System without mandates or local matches.
This past Monday, I presented my HB 1763 on the floor of the House of Delegates and spoke about our efforts to combat distracted driving in Virginia. If enacted, this bill would directly engage high school students by encouraging them to participate in a statewide public awareness campaign. Students would participate by entering a contest to design a license plate that promotes awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. I am also supporting House Bill 1834 and House Bill 1606 which will increase penalties for improper use of handheld devices while driving and prohibit use of mobile devices in work zones, respectively.
To view my floor speech on House Bill 1763, click here: https://www.facebook.com/tag.greason/videos/10210291712763027/.
Below is a quick update on two of my bills that have been taken up for consideration in committee this week:
HB 1662 – Public Institutions of Higher Education; Course Credit; Dual Enrollment Courses – This legislation is designed to lower higher education costs, increase transparency and give students and their parents more information about what coursework will best help reduce the credit hours needed to earn a degree from one of Virginia’s public universities. Much like we did in 2015 with HB 1396, this legislation requires colleges to collaborate with the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia in coming up with a standard policy of acceptance for dual enrollment courses and mandates that the acceptance policy be published online.
HB 1663 – Graduation Requirements; Verified Units of Credit; Satisfactory Score on the PSAT Examination – As we begin to reshape how we prepare our high schoolers for college or entry into the workforce, this bill is designed to give students the opportunity for more flexibility. Students who meet the national benchmark on the PSAT can earn up to two of the verified credits required for graduation thereby giving the student additional time during their junior and senior year to pursue coursework in more specialized or challenging areas.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and input on any of my legislation or any bills that will come before the General Assembly for consideration. I can be reached anytime email@example.com or 804-698-1032. You can also follow my work on Facebook, Twitter (@TagGreason), and