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The General Assembly reconvened on Wednesday, April 3rd to vote on the Governor’s vetoes and amendments to 64 bills that passed this session as well as amendments to the budget bill for the current biennium.
Thank you to the constituents who reached out to let me know your priorities for our community. Below are highlights from this year’s Reconvened Session. As always, feel free to connect with me by emailing DelKTran@house.virginia.gov or calling 703-828-7173.
The General Assembly sustained all 17 vetoes that the Governor made. This includes legislation that would have either created “catastrophic” health insurance plans or short-term, limited duration plans that would leave many under-insured and severely undermine the Affordable Care Act. I will continue to fight for opportunities to expand access to affordable and comprehensive healthcare.
We also sustained vetoes on legislation that would impede Virginia’s ability to fight climate change. We must ensure our state government is able to take action to reduce our carbon footprint, expand renewable energy usage, and secure a healthy future for our next generation. That is why this year, I passed one of the few bills to expand renewable energy by making it easier for local governments to generate green energy and save taxpayer dollars.
You can find a full listing of the bills that were vetoed here.
Last year, the compromise to fund metro unfortunately took over $100 million from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), which addresses infrastructure needs in our community. Ensuring NVTA has adequate resources is a top priority for me and many other Northern Virginia Delegates and Senators. I am pleased to share we approved amendments to House Bill 2718 to provide about $20 million a year for NVTA well as create dedicated funds to making safety and other infrastructure upgrades to Interstate 81.
I also heard from many constituents about expanding the prohibition on using handheld devices while driving. The Senate passed amendments to Senate Bill 1768 that would, in effect, create a statewide ban on using handheld devices. However, House Speaker Kirk Cox ruled those amendments were not germane, and as such, I unfortunately was unable to vote in support of them. Distracted driving continues to pose serious safety risks to drivers in Virginia, and we must address this issue.
You can find more on amendments that we voted on here.
We considered many amendments to the biennial budget as well. I am glad to report both chambers approved a $4 million increase to the Virginia Housing Trust Fund to create and preserve affordable housing. Ensuring that we take steps to end homelessness and displacement is key, particularly as we face increased costs of living in our region.
We also approved an amendment to end the suspension of driver’s licenses for nonpayment of court fees. This helps break a cycle where affected individuals are unable to go to work to pay their fines, leaving many in very difficult circumstances.
While the House of Delegates passed an amendment to provide crucial funding for 2020 Census outreach in Virginia, the Senate defeated this amendment. Census data is used to allocate nearly $18 billion in federal funds to Virginia. For every Virginian that is undercounted, it is estimated we lose $2,000 in federal funds per person per year. An undercount would cut our share of federal investments across Virginia and shift that burden to our state and local governments.
You can find more information on the amendments to the budget that we voted on here.
I hope you will join me at my “Town Hall on the 2019 Legislative Session” with Senators George Barker and Dave Marsden on April 11, 2019 at 6:30pm to 7:30pm at Newington Forest Elementary School (8001 Newington Forest Ave, Springfield, VA 22153).