Beginning with a rush of visitors on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, week two of this year's session was punctuated by numerous committee meetings and ever-lengthening floor sessions. Many bills moved through subcommittee and full committee before reaching the House floor for a full vote. Highlighted below are updates on several key issues and information about my legislation.
Making college more affordable
Tuesday's State of the Union address included President Obama's plan to target 529 college savings accounts for taxation. While the President pursues policies to make it more difficult for families to save for college, Virginia Republicans are working to lessen the burden of college expenses. Many of you have contacted me to express concern about the rising cost of higher education, and I am pleased to share information about Republican initiatives to reduce these expenses.
Earlier today, the House of Delegates passed legislation capping expensive college athletic fees and making it easier for small schools to cut wasteful spending. House Bills 1895 and 1897 will now be heard in the Senate.
During the upcoming weeks, the House Higher Education Subcommittee will also hear Delegate Nick Rush's legislation providing for "flat-fee" college degrees. Details about House Bill 1692 are available on the Legislative Information System.
Did you know that Virginia is home to over 780,000 veterans? In James City and York Counties, there are 18,971 veterans. Virginia has a critical need for additional veterans care centers. As my colleague Del. Chris Stolle noted, "Maine has a bed in a veterans care center for every 200 veterans in the state. Virginia has a bed for every 2,000 veterans."
I believe that we have a responsibility to care for the veterans who have served and sacrificed on behalf of our country. For this reason, I am pleased to report that legislation funding new care centers in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads advanced from committee. The large veteran population in our region will benefit from these additional services. Likewise, existing centers in Richmond and Salem will be better able to meet the needs of veterans in those regions.
Interested in direct involvement in state government? Apply to serve on one of Virginia's state boards or commissions. To view lists of the board and commission seats that will expire in 2015 as well as the remaining vacancies from recently expired terms, visit www.commonwealth.virginia.gov.
Defending the Virginia Constitution
Recently, my legislation requiring Virginia's Attorney General to defend the state's Constitution has garnered media interest. The 2014 General Assembly session was marked by conflict stemming from Attorney General Herring's failure to defend the Constitution. Regardless of one's perspective of Virginia's marriage amendment, the Attorney General took an oath to defend the Commonwealth's Constitution. Attorney General Herring's failure to do so set a dangerous precedent, paving the way for future Attorneys General to selectively decide which portions of Virginia law merit defense.
House Bill 1573 codifies that the Attorney General or his designee must defend the Commonwealth. Links to media coverage are provided below: