The pace has picked up in the General Assembly this week. Bills have been assigned to House committees and are moving through subcommittees; the first pieces of legislation have passed the House; and all proposed budget amendments have been submitted.
On Wednesday, approximately 50 House Members presented their proposed budget amendments to the Appropriations Committee. Almost200 budget amendments were heard over several hours. It is now the job of the Appropriations Committee to consider these amendments and report a balanced budget to the full House of Delegates on February 16.
House Bill 789, of which I am a co-patron, was approved by the Labor and Commerce Committee on Thursday. This bill will regulate so-called “payday lenders,” a predatory industry that traps borrowers in cycles of debt. HB789 will define payday loans as short-term loans, limiting the interest rate and fees that can be charged. I am proud to be a co-patron of a bill that will contribute to the financial security and independence of short-term borrowers.
My bill, HB1246, passed the full House unanimously on Friday. HB1246 will issue bonds to finance the development of Virginia’s public colleges and universities. This will allow our institutions of higher learning to renovate residence halls and academic buildings, attracting and retaining more students. Virginia Tech will use these funds to invest in a new Innovation Campus in Crystal City in partnership with Amazon HQ2.
I am also proud to be a co-patron of SB72, a bill to fund 59 new public defenders and establish a public defender office in Prince William County. The current system of court-appointed attorneys is not adequately serving our County. A public defender office for Prince William will improve due process and fair defense.
A Visit from Miss America
Camille Schrier – Miss America, Virginia Tech class of ’18, and a Doctor of Pharmacy student at VCU – visited the General Assembly on Wednesday for Pharmacy Day. Ms. Schrier’s social impact initiative as Miss America is “Mind Your Meds: Drug Safety and Abuse Prevention from Pediatrics to Geriatrics.” Virginia can be very proud of her work on this initiative and in encouraging girls to study the STEM fields.