On July 1 many new laws went into effect. Listed below are a few changes that may impact your daily life:
Virginia voters elect just three non-federal statewide officeholders every four years—governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. Unique to the Commonwealth is the fact that our governor cannot run for reelection after one single term. Because lieutenant governor is largely a part-time ceremonial role, the attorney general—who is allowed to stand for reele tion—has a potentially large stage from which to gain media coverage and advance an agenda.
While the budget dominated the news during the regular and reconvened sessions this year, more progress was made on the biotechnology front. If you have read this column in the past you know this is an area of great interest to me. In 2008, I chaired the Joint Subcommittee Studying Biosciences and Biotechnology, which laid the groundwork for advances made in 2009 and now 2010.
The recently ended legislative session may be remembered most for its difficult, no-win budget decisions. As you probably know, Virginia is facing its worst budget crisis in a generation. In the face of an additional $4.2 billion shortfall over the next two years, the budget passed by the General Assembly contained serious cuts to core services of government, including education, healthcare, assistance for the disabled, and public safety. Everything state government does has been downsized.
After much thought and discussion over the last couple of years, I introduced HBll00 on behalf of the Kingstowne Residential Owners Corporation and all homeowner associations across the state. The bill provides qualified immunity for HOAs when a contract has been entered into with a local government to transfer the operation and maintenance of a stormwater retention facility.
It is February 5, the busiest time of the year. Every bill must be considered in the body of its origin by February 16. If a bill passes the House, it will have a month to move through the Senate and land on the Governor's desk. When not working on my bills, I am voting in committee or on the floor. Bigger than any single bill, however, is the current budget crisis coming after Governor Kaine cut almost $8 billion from the current two-year budget.
With "Blizzard 2009" having come and gone the weekend before Christmas, the Washington area was left with nearly two feet of snow on top of cars, sidewalks, driveways, and rooftops. The warmer days that followed allowed most of the snowfall and ice to melt, some of which will eventually make its way to the Chesapeake Bay. But before it gets there, some will have sat and seeped in the drainage ponds that dot the housing developments and wooded areas in Fairfax County. These ponds are intended to trap sediment and the chemicals that adhere to the sediment.
When we arrive in Richmond on January 12, for the annual winter session of the Virginia General Assembly, my colleagues and I will be faced with the worst budget shortfall in post-war memory. The economic downturn that has plagued states across the country will soon require the trimming of another $3 billion or so from Virginia's two-year budget. In talking with residents of the 43"^ district, the number one question has been, "What are you going to cut?"
I want to thank the residents of Kingstowne-and all residents of the 43rd District-for reelecting me last month and sending me back to Richmond for another two-year term. My pledge to you is to remain focused on the issues that you care about most: creating jobs, protecting education, and finding transportation solutions.
The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) is a coordinating body for the Commonwealth's institutions of higher learning. SCHEV makes policy recommendations to the General Assembly on many topics, including the issue of college affordability. SCHEV does not have the power to set tuition, which is ultimately the jurisdiction of each university's board of visitors. Tuition, however, is directly related to the amount of appropriations provided by the legislature.