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Focus on Fairfax
Jul. 16, 2017
Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

I hope you are enjoying the summer! In the next week, constituents across the 37th District will be receiving in their mailboxes my annual Report from Richmond. The report is a selection of new laws passed during the 2017 General Assembly session that are likely to impact the daily lives of people in our community. Most of these went into effect on July 1st.  As a loyal Focus on Fairfax subscriber, I am pleased to give you a sneak peek!
Although this year was a short-session, the General Assembly considered literally hundreds of bills.  These addressed a wide-range of issues, including Virginia's growing opioid epidemic, the affordability and accessibility of higher education, fracking, the regulation of short-term rentals (such as Airbnb), voting requirements, and redistricting reform - just to name a few.  Seven of my bills passed the General Assembly and have now been signed into law.  This includes HB1552, which requires our schools to provide parents and students with information on career and technical education opportunities, and HB1619, which establishes a long-term framework for protecting the Chesapeake Bay while allowing for new economic development.  In response to a recent investigation, I also introduced successful legislation (HB2432) to strengthen the process for revoking a teaching license for sexual misconduct and related offenses.
As always, don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or would like to discuss a specific issue!  
This year the General Assembly was faced with closing a $1.2 billion budget shortfall caused by lower-than-expected payroll taxes and sales tax receipts. The Virginia Constitution requires us to balance the budget each year. Despite painful cuts, the General Assembly held the line or restored funding in some key areas:
  • Increased funding for K-12 education over last year's budget. This includes an increase of approximately $840,000 for Fairfax County Public Schools and the state's share of a 2% pay raise for teachers.
  • Three percent salary adjustment for state employees. Higher increases were provided for high turn-over positions, including State Police and health care workers in low paying positions.
  • Over $30 million in new funds targeted to mental health and substance abuse programs.
  • Funding for two circuit court judges in Fairfax County.
The budget also directs 50% of any surplus into a cash reserve to be used solely to offset further reductions in state or federal revenue.
Bullying (HB1709).  Requires a public school principal to notify the parents of any student involved in an alleged bullying incident of the status of any investigation within five school days of the allegation.
Driver Education on Traffic Stops (HB2290). Requires public school driver education programs to include instruction about appropriate interaction with law enforcement during a traffic stop.
Notice of Tuition Increase (SB1376).  Prohibits the governing board of a public institution of higher education from approving an increase in undergraduate tuition or mandatory fees without first providing the public a projected range of the increase, an explanation of the need for the increase, and notice of the date and location of the vote at least 30 days prior to any action.
Solar Energy (HB1565). The Governor signed into law 11 bills designed to promote the use of solar and other renewable energy options. HB1565 allows local governments to create green development zones where businesses can receive special taxing and zoning treatment for energy efficient buildings and facilities.
Right to Re-sell Tickets (HB1825). Prohibits the issuance of tickets for professional events and productions in a way that prevents the purchaser from being able to re-sell the ticket on another lawful internet ticketing platform. The law also prohibits a person from being denied admission to an event based solely on the basis that the person is holding a re-sold ticket from another platform.
Access to Electronic Records After Death (HB1608). Allows a fiduciary to manage digital property such as computer files, web domains, and virtual currency, but restricts access to electronic communications such as email and text messages unless the original user consented to such access in a will, trust, or other record.  Different rules apply to minors, where parents may obtain access to electronic communications under certain circumstances (my bill from 2013).
Short-Term Rentals (SB1578). Authorizes a local government to adopt an ordinance requiring the registration of persons offering property for short-term rental (such as Airbnb). The law defines short-term rental as the provision of any room suitable for lodging for less than 30 consecutive days in exchange for a charge.
Opioids/Dispensing of Naloxone (HB1750). Allows a pharmacist to dispense naloxone in the absence of a patient-specific prescription pursuant to a standing order of the Commissioner of Health. Naloxone is used to reverse the effects of an opioid drug overdose. Several additional laws were passed to limit prescriptions on substances containing opioids and to better train doctors on managing opioid prescriptions. Opioid overdoses have skyrocketed in Virginia.
Contraception (HB2267).  Requires any health benefit plan amended or delivered after January 1, 2018 that provides coverage for hormonal contraceptives to cover up to a 12-month supply at a time.
Evidence Recovery Kits (HB2127). Requires victims of sexual assault to be advised by the investigating law-enforcement agency of their rights regarding the storage and preservation of physical evidence recovery kits.
Slow Drivers in the Left Lane (HB2201). Known as the "Dawdler Law," adds a mandatory minimum fine of $100 to Virginia's existing law that requires slower traffic to move to the right.
Moving a Vehicle After an Accident (HB2022). Makes it mandatory for the operator of a vehicle after an accident or breakdown to move the vehicle from the travel lanes provided that it is safe to do so, the vehicle is movable, and there are no deaths or injuries involved.  Moving a vehicle under such circumstances was discretionary under the previous law.
Washington Metrorail Safety Commission Interstate Compact (HB2136). Establishes an interstate safety oversight commission for Metro that will be responsible for reviewing, approving, and enforcing efforts to improve the safety of the Metro system.
Transportation Fund Lock-Box (HJ693). Proposed amendment to the Virginia Constitution prohibiting the use of transportation funds for other purposes. The General Assembly may borrow funds with a two-thirds vote only if it is repaid within four years with interest. The amendment must be passed again by the 2018 General Assembly and then will be presented to the voters in November 2018 for ratification. 
Redistricting reform was a major focus of debate during the 2017 session.  Virginia is one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation, which has resulted in a large number of non-competitive legislative districts.  I support amending the Virginia Constitution to create an independent, non-partisan redistricting commission. Multiple bills were introduced this session.  Unfortunately, while several were passed in the Senate, all attempts were killed in House committee.
Want more information on legislation debated during the 2017 General Assembly?  The Division of Legislative Services publishes 2017 Session Highlights, which provides an overview of significant legislation introduced during the 2017 session - including legislation that didn't pass.  You can also download the 2017 Session Summary, which is an overview of all bills considered during the session sorted by subject. You can see my voting record on all legislation by clicking here
It is an honor to represent you in the House of Delegates!

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David Bulova
Delegate, 37th Virginia House District

PS --On Thursday, July 27th from 7-9 p.m. I will be holding my annual Summer Serenade fundraiser at Blenheim in the City of Fairfax.  This year will feature homemade Italian dishes from my wonderful mother-in-law. I hope you can join us!  Click here for more information.
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