With the General Assembly hurrying to complete the years legislative work in a short 46-day session, it can be hard to keep up with whats going on in Richmond. Thats why, as the 2011 session draws to a close, I want to update you on the work Ive been doing as your delegate and other developments from Richmond that may impact you and your family.
One of the pieces of legislation I passed will establish the Solar Resource Development Fund which will provide low-interest loans to help Virginians cover the upfront costs of installing solar energy systems, ensuring that more customers have the opportunity to power their homes with cheap, clean, renewable energy.
In addition, Im proud to have passed a bill to create a state plan to aid victims of human trafficking, a modern-day form of slavery. It includes provisions for identifying trafficking victims, assisting them in applying for state and federal benefits, and coordinating the efforts of state agencies and non-profits in delivering health, housing, education, job training and legal services.
We made progress on a number of other important priorities, including providing prenatal care to pregnant legal immigrants and combating school bullying. Finally, I will continue to fight for measures to prohibit discrimination in state employment and clean up waterways by encouraging reusable bag use.
Here are a few other highlights of this years General Assembly session:
Transportation: Governor McDonnells $3 billion transportation funding plan has passed both chambers, with a few major differences. Most notably, the House version takes $150 million from core services like education, public safety, and health care. The discrepancies will have to be worked out in a conference committee, where I hope more funding will be added for transit and rail.
Education: The House Republican budget would cut K-12 funding by $93 million, which I oppose, while the Senate budget would restore $100 million for schools after years of harsh cuts.
Immigration: The House passed a package of bills targeting immigrants, including one that would bar undocumented immigrants from attending college. The Senate has killed all except a bill requiring state contractors to check workers residency status and another revoking drivers licenses of those who are deported.
Autism Insurance Coverage: I cosponsored legislation mandating that health insurance plans at companies with 50 or more workers cover treatment for children with autism. The bill passed both the House and Senate and now heads to the governor.
HPV Vaccinations: An effort to repeal the requirement that girls receive vaccinations against the human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer, made it through the House but was killed by the Senate.
I want to thank all of you who have sent emails and letters, called, or visited my office here in Richmond to share your views. It is my honor to represent the people of Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax in the General Assembly.
The writer represents Alexandrias 49th District in the Virginia General Assembly House of Delegates.