Sine Die is near!
Hopefully when you read next Sunday’s report from the Capitol we will have adjourned “sine die”, which denotes the official ending of this year’s regular session.
Up to this point, both houses have voted on appointments to fill all vacant judgeships. Both chambers have also voted on their budgets and as expected rejected each other’s versions and placed them into conference. For this reason, budget conferees have been appointed and we are still on a solid course to complete this Session on time. I was very pleased to see that for the first time in the history of our General Assembly both the House and Senate have African Americans serving as budget conferee members: Senator Louise Lucas (D) from Portsmouth (serving for the first time) and Delegate Luke Torian (D) from Prince William (has served for several years). The goal of the conferees is to ensure that the merged budgets best address the majority of Virginian’s top priorities. We will provide you with a budget update in our final article for this year’s session.
At the beginning of this session, I introduced 20 pieces of legislation and 32 budget amendments that would favorably impact our district. We were pleased to see 17 of our bills and more than half of our budget amendments make it to the House for final deliberation.
Most of my key legislative priorities for this session have been successfully fulfilled. Last week, my bills that improve education, the economy, access to healthcare and the environment successfully passed through the House and Senate and will be signed into law.
The two significant pieces of legislation that I am most excited about are my $28.5 million “at risk - add on” budget amendment (currently funded at $21 million in the Senate budget) funding to support students in school divisions with high levels of poverty and the $12 million to support SB 1406, which reduces the number of school counselors from a 1:500 counselor to student ratio to the national standard of 1:250. This ratio will allow teachers to primarily focus on teaching and allows counselors to fully perform their role as behavioral health counselors to students. I am hopeful that the conferees will consider increasing this number closer to my original request of $36 million.
Here is a glance at some other significant pieces of legislation passed last week in the Senate:
-Budget language that funds the full detailed planning for the replacement of Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County.
-SB 1195: Directs the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet to appoint a joint task force charged with creating a report of a standardized process for interested localities to establish School Based Health Centers by December 1, 2019.
-SB 1355: Coal Ash removal and encapsulation agreement between the administration, environmental representatives and Dominion Energy Virginia to safely close all coal ash ponds.
-SB 1196: Real property tax exemptions for the elderly and disabled.
We will continue to keep you updated on the status of all remaining bills that are important to our district and the Commonwealth.
One of the major highlights of last week was joining my colleagues of the Richmond City delegation, Mayor Stoney, and Superintendent Kamras at a press conference to share our enthusiasm about our legislative body of work on public education funding. We discussed the need for equitable funding of Richmond Public Schools and all underserved public schools across the Commonwealth.
We were also pleased to welcome students and faculty from two of my alma maters last week: Students from John Tyler Community College accompanied by President, Dr. Ted Raspiller, and students from Virginia State University who were accompanied by President Makola Abdullah and Mr. Osubi Craig. Welcoming these two groups of bright young people to the Capitol was truly the highlight of my week!
As always, please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have questions or concerns related to the 2019 General Assembly session. We can be reached by phone at 804-698-7516 or by email at email@example.com. You may also contact us about scheduling a visit to the Capitol during the General Assembly session.
Rosalyn R. Dance
Senator, Sixteenth Senate District
Virginia State Senate
[The 16th Senate District includes Chesterfield County (Part), Prince George County (Part), Richmond City (Part), Petersburg City (All), Dinwiddie County (Part), Hopewell City (All)]
District Phone: 804-862-2922
Capitol Phone: 804-698-7616
Mailing Address: PO Box 2584 Petersburg, VA, 23804
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