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Focus on Fairfax
Jan. 15, 2018
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
With a crack of the gavel, the 2018 General Assembly session was called to order at noon on January 10th.  Although closely divided, with 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats, I was pleased that our new Speaker of the House struck a bi-partisan tone in his acceptance speech.  Likewise, in his inaugural speech, newly sworn-in Governor Ralph Northam talked about the need to eschew the politics of division and to follow our inner moral compass.
To date, almost 1,400 bills have been introduced in the House alone.  We rely on the committee system to effectively work our way through all of the legislation.  I am pleased that the Speaker has reappointed me to three committees, including Education, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and General Laws.  General Laws deals with a wide range of issues including housing, procurement, regulation of professions and occupations, Freedom of Information Act, and alcohol and tobacco.
2018 Constituent Survey
Over the next two months, we will debate a wide range of issues and adopt a new budget that will set spending priorities for the next two years.  Please take a few moments to share your thoughts on some of these issues by filling out my 2018 Constituent Survey.  Last year I received over 1,200 responses.  I hope to have even more responses this year.  Your input is invaluable as I decide how to vote.
Progress on Legislative Transparency
One of my priorities is to make our General Assembly as transparent and accessible as possible.  This year I am pleased that we have taken three steps to make it easier for you to track what is going on in Richmond.
Probably the most important item is that committees can now be viewed using live video streaming and will be archived for later viewing.  Click here for instructions on how to access both committee and full House videos.
We will also be recording all votes in committees and subcommittees.  Previously, a vote to table a measure - which can effectively kill a bill - was not recorded.  Thanks to a change in the House rules, a motion to table will be recorded like any other motion.
Finally, a link to each delegate's proposed budget amendments has now been included on his or her General Assembly page.  Previously, the page only included bills, even though budget amendments can be as, if not more, important.  This new function came at my request and I was very pleased that the Clerk of the House was able to get it up and running for the 2018 session.
My Legislation
So far this session I have introduced 17 bills and expect to introduce at least three more.  I'm looking forward to sharing more about these bills, as well as how they fared in committee, over the next few weeks.  In the meanwhile, here are a few sneak peaks.
Security Freezes (HB86) - This bill prohibits a credit reporting agency from requiring a person to pay a fee to place a security freeze on a credit report.  Currently, a credit reporting agency may charge a $10 fee unless he or she has already been the victim of identity theft.  In light of massive data breaches over the last year I find it absurd that someone needs to pay money to take this proactive measure.
Protecting Children from Abuse (HB150) - This bill was introduced to address an issue highlighted by an NBC4 investigation in Arlington.  It requires a local social services department to notify a school board without delay if the subject of a founded complaint of child abuse or neglect was, at the time of the investigation, an employee of a school division in Virginia. 
Regulatory Transparency (HB297) - This bill requires state agencies to provide a public input process when developing regulatory guidelines.  While regulations must go through an extensive public input process, there are no such requirements for guidelines - even though they can be as very impactful on the regulated community.
Career Investigation (HB632) - This bill requires the Board of Education to develop curriculum in career investigation.  This can be implemented in local schools as either a separate course or integrated into other courses.  Virginia has thousands of well-paying jobs in career and technical education that go unfilled each year.  This bill will help ensure that students have a better understanding of their career options.
Homeowner Associations (HB923) - This bill increases transparency by requiring the cover letter provided at the time of sale to highlight restrictions associated with HOA membership, including limitations on the ability to operate a home businesses, rent the home or unit, own a pet, or modify architectural elements.
Human Trafficking Hotline (HB926) - This bill expands the types of businesses that must post the National Human Trafficking Hotline.  Tragically, human trafficking happens right here in Virginia.  Posting the hotline has proven highly effective at increasing tips to law enforcement.
Virginia Alternative Energy and Coastal Protection Act (HB1273) - This is a Governor's initiative that directs the State Air Pollution Control Board to establish a carbon dioxide cap and trade program to reduce emissions from electric generation facilities.  The bill also directs Virginia to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which will lower costs by creating a much larger market for credit trading.  Finally, revenue generated from the sale of credits will go to the Virginia Shoreline Resiliency Fund, energy efficiency programs, and job training and economic diversification programs in Southwest Virginia.
In addition, as mentioned in my last newsletter, I have submitted legislation (HB1417) to take HOV I-66 inside the Beltway back to pre-tolling hours.
As always, please don't hesitate to contact me if you would like to weigh in on legislation.  It is an honor to serve you!

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David Bulova
Delegate, 37th Virginia House District
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