Neighbors, I would like to wish you and your family a very happy Fourth of July weekend. Whether you are traveling, watching the Dale City Independence Day Parade, or enjoying the fireworks display in Manassas, please be safe in all your celebrations.
Also, tomorrow - July 1 - marks the day that many new laws go into effect in Virginia. You can read about many of them here, or scan below for a quick overview of key issues that the General Assembly worked on this past legislative session.
It is my honor and privilege to serve in the Senate of Virginia on behalf of the 29th District. I am humbled that you have put your trust in me, and I will never stop working to earn it.
ECONOMIC GROWTH: The Commonwealth has launched Go Virginia, which brings education, business, and civic leaders together to create jobs and coordinate efforts regionally.
MENTAL HEALTH & SUBSTANCE ABUSE: The Commonwealth faces a looming crisis in mental health and a growing epidemic of opioid addiction. This year, $28 million was allocated for behavioral and mental health, including $5 million for supportive housing. Multiple steps were also taken to combat opioid addiction, including requiring an electronic prescription that is capped at 7 days as well as increasing the availability of life-saving drugs to reverse the effects of an overdoes.
TRANSPORTATION: The Commonwealth has announced a $1.4 billion public & private sector investment in the Atlantic Gateway Project to bring road and rail improvements to I-95 Corridor, including adding capacity for VRE on the Fredericksburg and Manassas lines. Additionally, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) began a study of Route 28 from Manassas to Fairfax to identify the best long run solutions, factoring in congestion relief, cost, environment, and impact to local community.
EDUCATION: On the SOL Innovation Committee, Senator McPike advocates reducing the number of required SOL tests, while also better connecting students to careers through certifications in technical trades and the IT field. Additionally, the Governor signed Senator McPike's bill to require lead testing of drinking water in schools. Drinking water is currently tested at the utility plant, but lead can enter the water in high concentrations from a faucet or a fixture.
FIRST RESPONDERS: The Governor signed Senator McPike's bill to amend the Line of Duty Act to provide benefits to firefighter trainees that die during training. This will save the family of first responders like Cecilia Turnbough, a member of Dale City Volunteer Fire & Rescue, from spending thousands of dollars and waiting 3 years to finally receive the benefits she earned. Additionally, the Commonwealth has allocated a salary increase for State Police, including incentives to keep experienced troopers from leaving.
VETERANS: A New Veterans Care Center, named in honor of the Puller family, will be build in Vint Hill area of Fauquier County. This 120-bed facility will provide skilled nursing care, Alzheimer's/dementia care, and short term rehabilitation for veterans in Virginia.
ENVIRONMENT: A new law puts a moratorium on the closing of coal ash ponds until May 2018 to allow time to study alternatives to removing & storing this harmful pollutant found at Possum Point in Dumfries.
REDISTRICTING REFORM: While several bipartisan efforts to reform the redistricting process were passed by the Senate, these measures did not make it to the House floor for a vote. Senator McPike will continue to fight for transparency and competitive redistricting in Virginia.