The 2019 General Assembly Session has adjourned “Sine Die”.
Today is Monday, and if all went well the 2019 General Assembly Session will have adjourned “Sine Die” on Saturday, February 23rd or Sunday, February 24th! However, when this article was submitted to the Progress Index on Friday, the House and Senate Budget Conferees had not presented a compromised budget for the full House and Senate to adopt.
If all goes as expected we will have agreed to a budget that includes: fully funding the state share of a 5 percent raise for K-12 teachers; increased funding for the Housing Trust Fund by $3m, bringing the annual allocation to $7m/yr; providing $15 million for the expansion of broadband (internet services) to rural and underserved communities; allocating $1.3 million for additional legal aid and housing eviction prevention attorneys; supplying $12 million to increase funding for school counselors in support of my bill SB 1406; furnishing an additional $21 million for my “at risk - add on” budget amendment to support students in school divisions with high levels of poverty; increasing student financial aid at Virginia public universities by $15.5 million more than current levels; $480,000 for Virginia State University and $3.5 million for Virginia’s community colleges; assigning an additional $300,000 for the graduate engineering program at Virginia State; allotments of $234,000 for two agricultural education instructors to enhance the agricultural education programs offered at Virginia State; an additional $1.0 million in operating support for the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Prince George County; budget language for decriminalizing the simple possession of marijuana and allows for the expungement of prior misdemeanor convictions; preventing the suspension of driver's licenses for nonpayment of child support so that the defendants ability to remain employed is not hindered; contributing $500,000 for the construction of a permanent monument commemorating the 400-year anniversary of the First Landing of Africans at Point Comfort in 1619; establishing a new Director of Diversity and Inclusion within the Department of Human Resources Management; contributing $3.8 million in enhanced funding for the Department of Elections to improve security of elections infrastructure, and improvements on administration of elections by furnishing a 3% salary adjustment for General Registrars to improve the integrity of our elections.
This past week we passed by unanimous consent a commending resolution in recognition of William H. Talley III, a respected business leader, generous philanthropist, and a champion for higher education who has dedicated a lifetime of service to the Petersburg community and the Commonwealth. We also passed by unanimous consent a memorial resolution in recognition of the Honorable Oliver A. Pollard, Jr., an esteemed judge, greatly admired native and resident of Petersburg, and beloved husband and father, who died on June 10, 2018.
The highlight of the week was being joined by the Tuskegee Airmen Incorporated this past week. The Tuskegee Airmen consists of a renowned group of African American pilots, navigators and personnel who were the FIRST black military aviators in the U.S Army Air Corps in WWII. The group came with one of the original Tuskegee Airman, Dr. Harry Quinton of the Tidewater Chapter!
The Dance Team has worked very hard this Session to address the varied issues and concerns of our constituents, businesses and special issues groups from our district. We are proud of our body of work. The majority of our bills have cleared the House and Senate and have been sent to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law. We will return on April 3rd for his Veto Session and any final amendments to the legislation passed by the General Assembly. All signed bills that do not have an emergency clause (these bills become law as soon as the Governor signs them) become law on July 1, 2019.
I am grateful for the support team and staff that have driven this office to a new level of achievement. Over the last 30 days, we have accomplished our legislative tasks while continuing to manage our constituent services throughout all six of our localities. We will resume regular business hours in our district office in Petersburg on Monday March 5th. As always, I welcome you to visit us in either office, by phone at 804-862-2922 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our office has received hundreds of correspondence this session via telephone and email from constituents across the district that desire to share their opinion on pending legislation. I am grateful for those who have chosen to voice their concerns. Thank you for the opportunity to continue serving you in the Senate of Virginia!
As always, please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have questions or concerns related to the 2019 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)]