Crossover is now behind us. From here forward, my colleagues and I in the House of Delegates will be considering bills filed by Senators. And when I’m not listening to senators tell me all about their legislation, I’ll be busy explaining my bills to them.
That’s the way Virginia’s General Assembly works, and it is essential to successfully considering a large volume of bills in a short period of time. Some states have much longer sessions with full-time legislators. We have sessions that last just 60 days and our legislators usually have an additional job back home. To preserve the model of the citizen-legislator, we must have a system for considering bills that operates efficiently and expeditiously. Ours does.
This session, eight of my bills have passed the House and were sent to the Senate for consideration. One, House Bill 58, passed the Senate weeks ago and became the first bill of this year’s session to be signed into law. Although we just completed crossover, the Senate acted quickly on House Bill 80, which will clarify that the personal property tax exemption for pollution control equipment and solar panels becomes effective when the items go into service rather than when they are certified. Manufacturers that have been burdened with mandates by the EPA to use this equipment see lags of over 12 months getting certification. It has already been sent to the Governor for his consideration.
I have six other bills being considered by the Senate, and I’ll be explaining those bills to Senate committees over the next two weeks. I’ll keep you posted on the progress of those measures during the next two weeks.
The day before crossover, advocates of educational choice and reform suffered a setback. The measure to give voters the chance to enact an amendment to the Constitution that would have facilitated the creation of more charter schools failed in the Senate.
While I find it disappointing that this measure failed, I find it more distressing that it was necessary in the first place. Virginia currently allows charter schools to operate. It has a framework, albeit a cumbersome one, for their approval by local school boards. But despite this, Virginia has just nine charter schools. Places like New York and Massachusetts have hundreds – many with long waiting lists for entrants.
What has been the hold-up here? Well, local school boards have been less than thrilled to approve these educational endeavors. Even though they have been working in other localities throughout our nation for more than a decade, Virginia lags well behind the rest of the nation in offering its parents education choice. I will continue to work to change this.
The Realtors came to Richmond this week. From across Virginia, Realtors came to visit their legislators and remind them of the importance of a strong economy. In our case, we had many members of the Lynchburg Association of Realtors and the Roanoke Valley Association of Realtors stop by our offices in Room 411 of the General Assembly Building.
We love seeing friendly faces from home, so please visit us if you’ll be coming to the Capitol during the next three weeks. In the week ahead, we’ll be approving the House’s version of the 2016-2018 biennial budget. I’ll have details on it to report in next week’s column. Until then, have a great week.