On transportation, education, economic development, and more: Your Prince William County delegation is hard at work in Richmond fighting for the best interests of our communities. Real progress is being made as a result of the 2019 election. 2020 is an important election year, too. On Tuesday, March 3, please don’t forget to vote in the Presidential primary. You can find more information about voting in Prince William County here: https://www.pwcvotes.com/.

Budget Updates

This week the House of Delegates and the state Senate each passed their own budget bills. That doesn’t mean Virginia’s budget is settled business. This can be a confusing time in the General Assembly session, so here is some clarification: The House and Senate never craft identical budgets and never vote to pass the other chamber’s budget before conforming it to match their own. So how does Virginia always end up with one unified budget? That negotiation  happens in “conference committee,” where members of the House and Senate come together to consolidate divergent spending plans. The conference committee is conventionally composed of members from the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees. This session’s conference committee members are: Myself, Vice Chair Sickles, Delegate Betsy Carr, Delegate David Bulova, Delegate Roslyn Tyler, Delegate Kirk Cox, Delegate Barry Knight, Senator Janet Howell, Senator Dick Saslaw, Senator Tommy Norment, Senator Emmett Hanger, Senator Louise Lucas, Senator George Barker, and Senator Mamie Locke. The 14 of us will spend the next few days merging the different budget bills, then reporting our work to each chamber on Thursday, March 5. After the House, Senate, and Governor all approve of our report, the result will be the final budget.

Legislative Progress

House Bill 1249, the Manufactured Home Lot Rental Act, passed out of the Senate’s General Laws and Technology Committee 10-0 (with one abstention) on Thursday and will now move to the full Senate floor. HB1249 will grant more legal protections to mobile home park residents facing eviction, including the right to organize for community ownership of the park. Virginia Public Media published a story on HB1249 and the unique legal vulnerabilities of manufactured home owners and park residents on Tuesday.

House Bill 1250, the Community Policing Act, and House Bill 1251, ending surprise billing in Virginia, are both headed to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee for a hearing next week. House Bill 1495, helping public schools recruit retired law enforcement personnel as school security officers, passed the Senate on Feb. 20 and is now in conference.

Visitors at the General Assembly

This week, I was visited by George Mason University’s interim president, Anne Holton. Ms. Holton is also Virginia’s former Education Secretary and former First Lady to then-Governor Tim Kaine. I enjoyed discussing GMU and Virginia’s higher education system with such a strong champion for education. This year the General Assembly is making record investments in higher education across the Commonwealth. These investments will enable our institutions to continue as leaders in research and innovation while making post-secondary educational opportunities accessible to all.

I am grateful to Ms. Holton for her service as interim president of GMU. We both look forward to welcoming GMU’s new president, Dr. Gregory Washington, whose selection was announced on Monday. He is the current dean of UC-Irvine’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering. Dr. Washington is a first-generation college student and will be the first African American president of GMU when his tenure begins on July 1, 2020.

I am grateful for your ongoing support. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need my assistance or have questions about the 2020 General Assembly session.