Legislative Session Highlights 2009
December 30, 2009
I have worked hard to address the issues facing our district and to support causes that deserve attention. My efforts in the 2009 legislative session focused on tax reform, consumer protection, child safety, women’s health, support for children with autism, insurance reform and support for our sheriffs.
•a bill to require sunset provisions for all new taxes and fees;
•a bill to provide insurance coverage for autism;
•a bill to make it a Class 4 misdemeanor to leave young children unattended in a vehicle;
•a bill to permit certain pre-trial hearings to be conducted by video conference to relieve current costs to local sheriffs who must transport criminal defendants around the state;
•a bill to add consumer protections making it harder to lose health insurance coverage;
•a bill to authorize additional nursing facility beds in a Green House nursing home demonstration project;
•a study of ways to modernize and improve organization of local governments;
•a bill to require licensure of certain women's surgical centers consistent with health standards applicable to other healthcare facilities;
•a bill to provide liability coverage for drivers who provide volunteer services to non-profits;
•a bill to permit local school boards to set their school calendar;
•a bill to expand use of purchase development rights and expansion of that authority in counties around the Commonwealth;
•a bill to require licensure of business brokers to protect consumers consistent with real estate broker licensure;
•a bill to extend authority currently provided other localities to the town of Leesburg for land development review; and
•a resolution related to recycling in public areas.
Session Highlights 2008
The General Assembly considered more than 3,300 bills this session. A much smaller number of bills actually passed. Just as important was some of the legislation that did not pass. The General Assembly killed a state wide tax increase, defeated a bill to revoke Virginia's status as a Right to Work state and defeated a bill that would have authorized consideration of uranium mining in Virginia.
Highlights of important reform measures that I worked to pass this session:
Pay day lending reform which set fee caps and interest rate caps. This critical consumer protection was long overdue for an industry that targets vulnerable consumers and sentences borrowers to an unbreakable cycle of debt.
The "puppy mill" bill which regulates commercial dog breeding and incorporates licensing and inspections in an effort to prevent death and cruelty to animals.
Dulles Greenway legislation that provides important regulation of toll increases. It requires that proceeds may go only to refinancing existing debt and it puts a cap on tolls after the current SCC order expires in 2012.
Illegal immigration bill to authorize Virginia jail officials to contact Federal law enforcement to determine legal status of detainees.
Presumption of no bail for illegal aliens to help end problem of "catch and release" for illegal aliens who continue to commit crimes.
Making hiring of illegal aliens grounds for suspension of a business license in Virginia.
Authorizes Virginia Resources Authority to finance energy efficiency projects for local government.
Bill to streamline permitting process for alternative and renewable energy facilities.
Requires local governing bodies and school boards to annually publish their approved budgets online and or make a copy available to the public.
Reform of Virginia's mandatory outpatient treatment laws to address shortcomings in mental health system exposed by Virginia Tech shootings.
Bill that closes loophole through which Virginia Tech gunman was able to purchase firearms by adding to the section requiring reporting to Virginia of involuntary commitment of people who were subject of temporary detention and who later agreed to voluntary commitment.
Parental notification of mental health treatment requires any college or university to require the notification of a parent when student receives mental health treatment if it is determined that there is substantial likelihood that student might cause harm to himself or others.
Extension until July 1, 2009 of the "sunset" on the rules to allow clean fuel cars to use HOV lanes regardless of the number of passengers in the vehicle.
Mortgage reform which authorizes SCC to impose a fine on mortgage lender for violating mortgage laws and require criminal background checks for lenders.