To the Constituents of the 19th House District:
The General Assembly has concluded its third week of the 2022 Session. House Republicans continue to work with Governor Youngkin and his administration to return decision-making power back in the hands of the people, where it belongs. Allowing for Session to be held in-person has returned the body to its original posture of robust debate in committee meetings and on the House floor, all while taking into consideration the health concerns of members and the public. After a year of on-screen meetings and votes, the process is once again working as it should.
With a Republican majority in the House and a Democratic majority in the Senate, we are working to ensure that common sense reforms are making their way to the governor’s desk. This includes legislation that restores public safety. HB4 addresses students’ safety by restoring required reporting for violent, sexual, and other serious crimes in schools. It passed this week through the House Committee on Education. HB833 seeks to keep communities safe by establishing a data driven mechanism to tackle gang violence. My bill, HB1030, addresses highway safety by reverting secondary driving offenses back to primary offenses. This bill is identical to one of my colleagues who serves on the Public Safety Committee, with which it has been assigned, and as such has been conformed into one bill that will continue to advance through the committee.
We are also working with Governor Youngkin to bring innovation in education to Virginia. Just this past week, the governor announced his plan to create “lab schools” in conjunction with our colleges and universities to develop new and better ways of teaching the next generation. The staggering number of job vacancies throughout Virginia in the STEM and health sciences fields requires taking a different approach to our education system, and this is a step in the right direction.
As for my other legislation, I am happy to report that HB463 passed unanimously out of Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources – Natural Resources Subcommittee. This bill repeals the Department of Wildlife Resources boat ramp access fees that were enabled by passage of HB1060 in the 2020 Session. After my budget amendment in 2021 initiated a stakeholder group to study potential consequences, it was decided that these fees would not fix the issue they intended to address: fixing the parking issues at boat landing sites across the Commonwealth. Repealing these fees will relieve the burden on our tour guide businesses and those individuals who simply want to enjoy some of the most beautiful rivers in the country.
HB482 is a bill that establishes performance standards for VDOT as it relates to the approval and subdivision and commercial developments. These metrics will ensure that developer projects are reviewed in a timely manner. It reported out of Transportation 22-0.
HB477 sought to add prostate screening coverage for men aged 50 and over, and to men aged 40 and over who are at high risk for prostate cancer according to American Cancer Society Guidelines. Though this was left in Commerce and Energy Committee, the idea will be incorporated into an overall health care coverage study. Just like with mammograms, prostate screening is something that can help prevent a treatable disease from becoming a life-threatening one.
I look forward to updating you on the forthcoming weeks of Session. As always, if my office can be of assistance to you and your family, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at DelTAustin@House.Virginia.gov.