This week has been highly productive. I continue to be so pleased to see that overall, General Assembly members are willing to work together on many issues and to listen to one another about differing points of view. I am also enjoying the many visits, calls and letters from constituents and am glad to have the opportunity to listen to your concerns. This is the last week before Crossover, when all of the bills passed in House of Delegates are sent to the Senate and vice versa.
A bit of trivia: Since I am number 100 in seniority, I recently learned that I am expected to order pizza for the entire House of Delegates on Monday. What a tradition, right?
Promoting Driver Safety
This year, several bills were introduced in the General Assembly to expand the rules on who can drive in Virginia. My bill, HB 1082, with the support of Governor McAuliffe, the DMV, police, and several community groups would close a gap in existing state law to allow all people living here legally to apply for a temporary driver’s license. Examples of groups who currently cannot drive but are here legally include: battered spouses; parents and children who have been granted relief under the Violence Against Women Act; victims of severe forms of human trafficking; those who are here because they were tortured in their home country or are at great risk of being tortured if they were sent back to their home country.
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My legislation would give an additional 6,200 people the opportunity to apply for a temporary driver’s license and could have been implemented by this summer with no fiscal impact. Although the Transportation subcommittee decided to table all of our bills yesterday, I am pleased that we are moving forward with a study which will likely produce a stronger bill for next session, incorporating parts of all the driver’s license bills from this year. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the stakeholders to increase safety and driving access for people living in our community.
Movement on Gun Violence Prevention
You’ve probably heard about the huge bipartisan compromise agreement to prevent gun violence. Under the agreement, concealed carry reciprocity with other states will be reinstated, and a bill to limit firearm possession for people subject to protective orders will finally be passed. This is legislation that has failed multiple times in the past. We can all celebrate the fact that this compromise helps take guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. I believe there is more work to do to decrease gun violence, but this is a step in the right direction. It would not have been possible if our Attorney General Mark Herring had not been willing to take a tough stand. I also appreciate the enormous amount of effort that our stakeholders, grassroots activists, and individuals have made to bring the conversation to the forefront. Keep up the good work!
Yesterday, after months of negotiations and countless conversations between the administration and us the General Assembly, Governor McAuliffe announced a new bipartisan compromise on the I-66 project. It will immediately begin the widening of I-66 and will provide additional funding for the purchase of new buses and vanpools, expanding our transportation options so that folks traveling on I-66 inside the beltway will have other multimodal choices.
All funds raised inside the beltway will be dedicated to improve our local transportation system immediately. We worked for months to improve this plan. I am grateful to Governor McAuliffe and Transportation Secretary Lane for listening to our concerns. It’s a compromise for sure, but it is also a huge investment in our infrastructure and should greatly decrease travel time and congestion on I-66. To see the details of the plan, visit http://inside.transform66.org/
Fresh Produce for our Foodbanks
I’m co-sponsoring HB 1093 which will provide tax credits for farmers who donate fresh produce to area foodbanks. This is a wonderful, common-sense incentive that’s a win-win for our growers and our low-income neighbors, particularly helping our seniors and working families who’ve been hit hard by the economic downturn and are still facing difficulty. I’m happy to say that it was passed in the House of Delegates today.
Despite the positive attitude I carry, it’s not all sunshine and roses here. Even with the many bread-and-butter challenges the Commonwealth faces today, the General Assembly continues to spend time fighting out social controversies. We will be considering several of the most divisive bills over the next few days. There are numerous attempts to curtail reproductive rights and attacks on our LGBTQ community. For example, HR 19 is a “personhood” resolution, which would recognize fertilized eggs as persons under the law, making abortion and most forms of contraception illegal. HB 1090 would defund Planned Parenthood in the guise of stopping abortions, but would actually end up simply hurting women with limited resources. HB 385 would have prohibited school boards and local governments from passing antidiscrimination policies. HB 781 would have forced transgender individuals to use incorrect bathrooms or locker rooms creating not just embarrassing situations, but also potentially putting people at risk of violence. Thankfully, these last two bills were stopped.
I have had conversations about these issues with many of you and continue to believe that politicians should not be making these most personal and private decisions for families. Rather than alienating people and rehashing culture wars, as legislators, we should be finding ways to spur economic development, to strengthen our schools and to make Virginia more inviting, rather than vilifying and isolating our family, friends, and neighbors. I will continue to fight discrimination, stand by a woman and her right to choose, and continue to find common ground on common-sense solutions that make Virginia a better place for everyone.
Visiting the Capitol
While the General Assembly is in session, feel free to stop by my Richmond office in room 715 of the General Assembly Building. Be sure to keep an eye on the day’s schedule, which can be found at the GA’s website, and also call at 804-698-1086 to get on my calendar.
If you have a matter that concerns state government, contact my Richmond office during session at 804-698-1086 or send an email to DelJBoysko@house.virginia.gov. Even if it’s with another government level, we can help you get connected with the appropriate person.