Greetings to the Constituents of Virginia's 19th House District:
This week, the General Assembly completed what is supposed to be the eighth and final week of the 2020 Session. Unfortunately, as Saturday’s deadline passed, we still did not have a budget, and had numerous bills to consider and vote on. While not unprecedented, the situation we find ourselves in is not one that should instill confidence in Virginians.
Thankfully, this Sunday, members who were working on a state budget agreement announced that they have found common ground and will be submitting their version of the $135 billion, two-year spending plan to our offices on Monday. We will have two days to read the budget before returning to the Capitol on Thursday to debate and vote on the final report.
Once our work here is complete on Thursday, we will await the Governor’s actions on our legislation. He may either veto or amend all bills. We will meet one more time on April 22nd to consider his actions and decide if the General Assembly accepts or rejects his changes.
As for my legislation, I am pleased to report that my bill to expand membership to organizations such as the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority has been enrolled and communicated to the Governor for his signature. The deadline for which is April 7th. As I have said before, increasing participation in these authorities will help facilitate the expansion of broadband in our region and the Commonwealth and is vital for increasing economic and educational opportunities in the areas that need it most.
My bill to implement bonding for the improvements to Interstate 81 was incorporated into the Speaker’s transportation omnibus bill. The ability to bond this project will expedite the first 63 improvements by ten years and is crucial in addressing the safety and reliability issues as quickly as possible.
I am happy to report that my bill to create a funding mechanism to attract airline service in our region was agreed to in conference and passed the House and Senate this past Saturday, March 7th. This bill will help Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport and airports throughout the Commonwealth to attract new flights and new business. I am hopeful that the Governor will understand the economic development benefits that this fund will have for areas across Virginia and look forward to it being signed into law.
A bill to create The Office of the Children’s Ombudsman passed, of which I am chief co-patron, also passed through both bodies on Sunday. This newly created office will oversee all aspects of the foster care system and ensure that it is protecting children as effectively as possible.
As always, please contact my office to let me know your position on current issues. I can be reached on the Richmond office phone number (804) 698-1019 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The General Assembly Building continues to be renovated and my office is now located at Room E405 in the Pocahontas Building on 900 East Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219.
Delegate Terry L. Austin
19th House District