Notwithstanding the title of my monthly column, I’d like to use the better part of this month’s Richmond Report to tell you a little bit about the role of your Delegate when the General Assembly is not in session. Of course, technically the General Assembly is still in Session – albeit a Special Session called by the Governor to pass a budget. A special session that began on March 24 and has been going ever since.
We did convene the House of Delegates three times during the special session. The first time was to pass the so-called “caboose” budget, which re-allocated unappropriated revenue from the 2012-2013 biennial budget so we could finish up the fiscal year without carrying too high of a balance. During the second we rejected a proposal from Governor McAuliffe that would have expanded Medicaid, instead insisting on passing a new House budget identical to what was rejected by the Senate during the regular session. Finally, we met once at the call of the Speaker of the House and for less than an hour before referring the Senate’s budget proposal – which includes a compromise proposal to provide healthcare to 400,000 Virginian’s without expanding Medicaid – to committee where it remains.
As we go to press, the House is in recess, subject to the call of House Speaker William J. Howell of Stafford County. As far as I know no action has been taken by either the House or the Senate that moves us any closer to passing our biennial State Budget in time for the new fiscal year which begins July 1, 2014.
Although we seem unable to accomplish much this spring as a collective body in Richmond, I am finding work as your Delegate to the General Assembly much more productive now that I am back home in Falls Church. Although I’ve resumed a full time schedule running my business, I carve time out of almost every day to work with constituents on matters where the Commonwealth has jurisdiction.
I recently met with several Merrifield business owners and officials from the Virginia Department of Transportation to address concerns about the difficulty motorists were having making left turns around the newly widened intersection of Gallows Road and Lee Highway in Merrifield. VDOT has already taken steps to improve the timing of those signals and is working with my office on a plan to improve the traffic flow to and from those businesses located closest to the intersection.
I’ve also been busy meeting with and recommending several Falls Church residents to the Governor for appointment or reappointment to state boards, authorities and commissions. Over the last few weeks I have delivered legislative wrap-ups to nearly a dozen local business and civic groups and civic associations, delivered remarks at the recent first annual Taste of Merrifield in the Mosaic District, and had the great pleasure of recognizing the owners of the Henderson House at this week’s meeting of the City Council, presenting a richly deserved Commending Resolution honoring the 100th anniversary of the home’s construction.
If you would like me to appear at a meeting of your civic association, civic group or other organization here in the Falls Church area, I would love to hear from you. My local legislative office phone number is (571) 327-0053 or you can request a meeting via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am already beginning work on my legislative agenda for the 2015 General Assembly Session, and would love to hear from as many of you as possible about the challenges you face in your daily lives that you think a change in Virginia law could help you to overcome.
I hope to have some more news on the State Budget for next month’s column, as well as an update on new laws which go into effect across the Commonwealth July 1. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing many of you this Monday at the annual Falls Church Memorial Day parade.
Delegate Simon represents the 53rd District in the Virginia House of Delegates. He may be emailed at DelMSimon@house.virginia.gov