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Update from Richmond: Senate Bills "Crossover" to House

Senator McPike and Father Creedon talking on the Senate floor in early 2017.

Dear Neighbors,

Greetings from Richmond! We have completed nearly two-thirds of the 60 day Legislative Session, and there is much to discuss. I hope you will join me at one of the following two town halls this weekend:

Manassas Town Hall with Delegates Lee Carter & Danica Roem
Saturday, February 17, 2018
1pm to 3pm
Bull Run Regional Library, Community Room B
8051 Ashton Ave, Manassas

Dale City Town Hall with Delegate Elizabeth Guzman
Sunday, February 18, 2018
3pm to 5pm
Beville Middle School
4901 Dale Blvd, Dale City

Bills that passed this week:

Earlier this week, the Senate passed  SB 170, a school discipline bill that prevents the suspension of children grades Kindergarten through third grade, unless there was a criminal act or serious aggravating circumstances.  A report from the Legal Aid Justice Center shows the disparities in suspensions, with African Americans being 3.6 times more likely to be suspended than white students. Additionally, students with disabilities are 2.4 times more likely to be suspended than students without disabilities. Of the 27,147 out-of-school suspensions in the study, one-fifth of them were given to student in pre-k to fifth grade, and most were for relatively minor, non-violent, subjective behavior issues. We have to find ways to help children through difficult behavior, instead of setting them down a path where they miss school and fall behind.

My SB 663 brings transparency to the pricing of air ambulance services in the Commonwealth through disclosure to the consumer. This bill requires the state to collect information on if air ambulance services are in or out-of-network for various insurance plans and collect a good faith estimate of a range of pricing. Hospitals would then disclosure this information to patients, who are not in life-threatening situations. There are vast disparities across the Commonwealth on the range of costs that a patient may be charged depending on where the air transport is requested and which service company responds to the call.  Here is a story in the local paper of a Lynchburg family that discovered their son’s air transport was not covered by insurance, so they received a bill for the transport alone that was over $40,000. In non-emergency situations, patients should have all the facts necessary to make the best choice for their care.

My SB 664 has passed the Senate and is going to be heard in the House of Delegates. This bill creates another opportunity for students, who have passed their SOL or end of course assessment, to take real-world certification courses that could be used to bolster their resume. Wouldn’t it be great if more students came out of high school with certificates in CPR/First Aid, OSHA 10, Microsoft Office, Cisco, or other certificate courses?  These certificates make our students more employable and help grow our economy.

SB 868 will be heard on the House floor next week. Stroke is the 4th leading cause of disability in the Commonwealth. This bill asks the Virginia Department of Health to collect and analyze data on stroke care to better inform the Stroke Triage Plan so we may tailor our regional stroke care plans to improve outcomes for stroke patients.

Also this week, the Senate passed SR 23, a resolution honoring the memory of Father Gerry Creedon. Last year Father Creedon opened the Senate session with prayer, and one year later he joined us again in spirit as we honor his memory. Father Creedon was an active member of our community participating in Social Action Linking Together (SALT), Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE), and founding Catholics for Housing and Gabriel Homes for people with disabilities. He was a kind and charitable man - a role model to each of us - and he will be greatly missed in our community.

Issues to still be resolved:

This weekend, the Senate Finance committee is meeting to publish the Senate version of the biennial budget. It is through the budget process that I am optimistic we will come to a compromise agreement to expand access to healthcare in the Commonwealth and identify the funding for Metro and other transit services. More to come on these important issues as the budget is revealed.

The General Assembly is in session until mid-March, so please feel free to contact my Richmond office at (804) 698-7529 or via email district29@senate.virginia.gov in the coming weeks. It is my privilege to serve you in Senate of Virginia. Please use  this link to read and track my legislative initiatives this year. There are many issues that the General Assembly will consider in the coming weeks, and I will continue to update you on their progress. Please also follow me on Facebook and Twitter for real time updates from Richmond.

Sincerely,
Jeremy