By House Delegate Jim LeMunyon (R, VA-67)
Letter to Constituents
The 2017 regular session of the Virginia General Assembly has concluded. We return for one day, April 5th, to consider Governor McAuliffe’s vetoes and amendments to bills. More than 700 bills have passed the House of Delegates and Virginia Senate and have been or will soon be submitted to the Governor, including 12 that I introduced related to improving transportation, education, and public access to government records and meetings. You can view the outcome of legislation I introduced here.
I will follow up in the near future with information specific to certain issues, but want to touch on a few session highlights here.
Amendments to the 2016-18 state budget were approved this morning before adjournment. The budget is balanced without any new taxes or fees. Among other provisions, the amended budget provides record state funding for Fairfax and Loudoun County schools, $654 million and $347 million, respectively for the 2017-18 school year. This includes state matching funds for a 2 percent pay increase for teachers. I and other members worked with the Appropriations Committee to secure the pay raise funding, and I’m pleased that committee members agreed that our reasoning was compelling.
The budget amendments also provide for a $33.2 million increase in behavioral health care funding for a total of $801.8 million for budget year 2017-18. This includes addressing the serious heroin/opioid addiction problem in Virginia, along with other legislation passed related to this issue. This increase will expand community-based mental health and substance abuse treatment services to transition individuals from more expensive state facility care and promote recovery. In addition, funding will enhance care at state mental health hospitals and assist in safely discharging individuals back into community care. Thanks to many residents of our area who have expressed interest in this issue.The House and Senate also passed legislation, H.B. 2136, establishing the Metrorail Safety Commission, legislation I introduced at the request of Governor McAuliffe. This bill includes additional provisions aimed at fixing Metro’s governing and financial structure that led to the need for the Safety Commission.
Long-time House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell announced this week that he will not seek re-election. Republicans selected Delegate Kirk Cox as Speaker-designate for the 2018 session, and Delegate Todd Gilbert, as Majority Leader-designate, should Republicans retain the majority in 2018. These are capable members of the House who, like me, share a commitment to civility in politics, understand how to govern effectively, and respect the rights of the Democratic minority in the House of Delegates.
Lastly, I’d like to thank my legislative aide, Marti Meersman, and our interns Megan Healy (University of Richmond) and Nadia Elgendy (Christopher Newport University) for all they did to make things happen and get things done for the people of Virginia’s 67th legislative district during the 2017 session.
As always, I welcome your comments and questions. Please contact me at (703) 264-1432 or firstname.lastname@example.org legislation or issues of interest to you.