Home  |  About Barbara  |  Issues  |  Blog  |  On The Trail  |  Contact Us  | 
COMSTOCK FOR DELEGATE BLOG

The Comstock Connection 2/1/13
Friday, February 1, 2013

Delegate Banner




In This Issue
Virginians for the Arts Advocacy Day
New Funding For School Security
Key Legislation
Virginia Tech Hokie Day
In The 34th District
Contact Me

Richmond Office:
General Assembly Building
Room 407
Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 698-1034

District Office:
PO Box 6156
McLean, VA 22106
(703) 772-7168
February 1, 2013

Dear Friends,

We are approaching the halfway point in the session which is referred to as "crossover" so I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on the General Assembly's 2013 session in Richmond. As always, please don't hesitate to contact my office on issues of concern to you. During session, I can be reached by email at delbcomstock@house.virginia.gov or by phone at 804-698-1034.

Virginians for the Arts Advocacy Day At The Capitol

As Founder and Co-Chair of the House Arts Caucus, I enjoyed the opportunity to speak to members of the Virginians for the Arts on Thursday, January 31st for their Art's Advocacy Day. Virginians for the Arts advances the arts in Virginia by increasing public awareness of the important contributions the arts make to the life, culture and economy of the Commonwealth. VFTA advocates for public funding for the Virginia Commission for the Arts, which makes grants that are essential to the arts organizations across the Commonwealth.

I welcomed the opportunity to recognize members of Virginians for the Arts, the Arts Council of Fairfax County as well as representatives from Wolftrap. Thank you for all your work to bring a vibrant arts community to the Commonwealth. Another special thanks to Dominion who sponsored the Arts Advocacy breakfast in Richmond and is a great corporate citizen in supporting the arts and providing grants for our local arts groups.

House Republicans Propose $31 Million In New Funding For School Security

In our current budget, we have proposed $31 million in new funding for school security including $1.7 million for the existing School Resource Officer Grant Initia­tive and $30 million to create a revolving fund to provide for security infrastructure projects in schools through­out the Com­monwealth. The $1.7 million appropriation for school resource officers would be the largest single appropria­tion in the history of the program.

The budget will also include the creation of a $30 million revolving grant program consisting of $6 million annually over five years. This program will pro­vide competitive grants of up to $100,000 per year to school divisions for security infrastructure improvements.

Additional funding for the School Resource Officer Initiative was a recommendation of Governor Bob McDonnell's task force on school safety. The House of Delegates will consider the Governor's additional recommendations once they have been made.

Key Legislation

I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on a number of bills I've introduced and am sponsoring this session dealing with jobs and the economy, transportation, education, and health. I invite you to review these bills on the Virginia's Legislative Information System website.

Jobs And The Economy

  • Datacenters (HB 1699): I introduced this bill working together with the Northern Virginia Technology Council to help us continue to promote and expand our data center industry in Virginia by allowing localities to provide tax incentives to data centers. This will build on my successful legislation last year that provided state tax incentives to keep this important industry here in the Commonwealth. We have already had companies relocate or expand here in Virginia as a result of our legislation last year. The data center industry is projected to grow by hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years. This bill would help Virginia take the lead in a 21st century marketplace. Data center jobs and investment are a critical element in diversifying Virginia's technology economy and attracting private sector jobs as federal spending and procurement decreases. The bill has passed out of the Finance Committee and will be voted on early next week on the House floor.
  • Banking (HB 1573): This bill, which passed the House this week with bipartisan support of 92-7,would allow banks and financial institutions to provide customers with a one time waiver of conditions on their contracts without that being used against them in a court as a waiver of the underlying contract. This allows the banks to be more flexible in helping their customers and providing more flexibility. Status: Passed the House on 1/16/13, 92-7.
  • Secret Ballot (HB 1385): This bill provides for the use of secret ballots in any procedure authorizing or selecting a labor organization to represent workers. This legislation strengthens workers' rights and workers' freedoms and will ensure individual workers always have a say in their representation. Employees who want to form a union, still have every right to do so but the process to establish a union must be open, transparent and fair and the fundamental right to a secret ballot should always be protected. Status: Passed the House on 1/29/13, 69-30.
  • Employee Privacy Protection (HB 1931): This bill is intended to prevent workers from being exposed to intimidation and coercion by those seeking private personal information from employees. This bill says that employers cannot be forced by a union or third party to provide employee emails, phone or cell information or work schedules. This bill will protect employee privacy. Status: Passed the House on 1/29/13, 67-32.

Education

  • School start date (HB 1467): This bill would allow local school boards to make the decisions on setting the school calendar and determining the opening of the school year and eliminates the post-Labor Day opening requirement. Current law prohibits schools across the Commonwealth from opening their doors before Labor Day unless they obtain a waiver from the state. While 77 of the 134 school districts in the state of Virginia have the ability to set their own school calendar through waivers and exemptions, Fairfax and Loudoun still are not among those districts. HB 1309 would allow county school boards, who do not have a waiver, to set their own school calendar. My bill was rolled into HB 1467 which was passed out of the full Education Committee on 1/30/13 by 15-6 and will be voted on the House floor early next week.
  • Class size standards of quality (HB 1556): This bill addresses class size by providing equity across the County in class size. The legislation changes the way the school district can average their class size from a divisionwide ratio to a schoolwide ratio. The Committee committed to send a letter from the Chairman to the State Board of Education to ask them to look into this issue and address concerns raised by parents of students in local public schools throughout Fairfax and Loudoun County. I also am working with a Class Size Working Group that I have established with parents throughout the district to develop this letter and get many of our concerns and issues addressed.
  • High School To Work Partnership Program (HB 2101): This bill creates a High School to Work Partnership program. This would require each local school division's career and technical education administrator work with the guidance counselor office of each public high school to partner with local businesses to create apprenticeships, internships, and job shadow programs in a variety of trades and skilled labor positions. Status: Passed the House on 1/24/13, 99-0.
  • Educator Fairness Act (HB 2151): This bill that would bring the Teach for America program to Virginia and legislation to encourage the creation of more charter schools. Status: Passed the House on 1/24/13, 84-14.

Human Trafficking

  • Penalty for solicitation of a minor in prostitution (HB 1606): I am Chief Co-Patron of this bill to make soliciting a minor a Class 5 Felony in the state of Virginia. This is one of the bills that our bipartisan human trafficking coalition is working together to provide stricter penalties for human trafficking. This bill has passed out of the Appropriations Subcommittee for Public Safety.
  • Multijurisdiction Grand Juries for Human Trafficking Cases (HB 1870): This bill would allow a multijurisdiction grand jury to investigate human trafficking activities in cases where the suspect received money for procuring another individual to engage in prostitution. Status: Passed the House on 1/22/13, 98-0.

Mental Health

  • Mental Health (HB 1609): I Co-Patroned this legislation which aims to improve mental health treatment coordination for students enrolled in higher education institutions. This legislation will improve coordination between public four-year higher education institutions, mental health facilities, and local hospitals. It aims to create a safer and more supportive environment for students in providing needed mental health services. A companion bill, SB 1342, was introduced by Senator Chapman Petersen. Status: Passed the House on 1/31/13, 99-0.

Lyme Disease

  • Lyme Disease Information Act (HB 1933): This bill that I worked on with the National Capital Lyme Association requires physicians to provide each patient for whom a test for the presence of Lyme disease is ordered with a notice about Lyme disease, about testing for Lyme disease, and about the high propensity of false negatives in these tests and the need to contact a physician with questions or concerns if symptoms of Lyme disease persist. Because of the high false negative rates for the test, sufferers of this disease often go weeks, months, or even years with continued Lyme and not proceeding with appropriate treatment. The bill has passed out of the Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee and will be voted on early next week on the House floor.


A special thank you to all of those who traveled to Richmond for the hearing on our Lyme Disease bill (shown above). This has truly been a grassroots effort that we continue to move forward.

Virginia Tech Hokie Day At The State Capitol

This week, I had the pleasure of meeting with local students who attend Virginia Tech for their annual student advocacy day at the Capitol. A special thanks to constituents and Virginia Tech students Sean Stallings, Connor Adams, and Kiersen Commons for visiting my office. Good luck on your studies!

In The 34th District: McLean Rotary Club's Chocolate Festival and Chinese New Year Festival

I enjoyed celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year Festival on Saturday, January 26th with several hundred neighbors and friends at Luther Jackson Middle School. The day was complete with dragon and lion dances, delicious food, workshops on Chinese cooking and language, and health and business booths from great local sponsors.

And the McLean Rotary Club's Chocolate Festival was packed on Sunday, January 27th. I'm here with Angela Lee (photo on the left) - we met up at the Chinese Festival too. Angela knows all the best places!

I try to be accessible to my constituents in as many ways as possible. For more information, please visit my website, www.delegatecomstock.com, where you can read my blog for up-to-date information on Virginia, click to follow me on Facebook or Twitter. You can reach me during the 2013 Legislative Session by email at delbcomstock@house.virginia.gov or by phone at 804-698-1034. Please don't hesitate to contact me about issues that concern you.

Sincerely,

Signature
Delegate Barbara Comstock

Paid for and authorized by Friends of Barbara Comstock.








Paid for by Friends of Barbara Comstock.