Virginia General Assembly Report

Tom Bolvin
State Delegate 43rd District

March 3, 2003

The 2003 session of the Virginia General Assembly adjourned on February 22nd, bringing one of the most challenging sessions in recent memories to a close. Faced with the daunting challenge of needing to pare $2.1 billion from the budget, members of the House and the Senate were able to agree to necessary budget amendments and also pass significant legislation to improve the quality of life for all Virginians in areas of education, public safety, transportation, and social services for the needy. The budget and passed legislation are now being reviewed by the Governor for his signature, veto, or an amendment to the legislation. Members of the House and Senate will reconvene on April 2nd for the one-day "veto session" to address the Governor’s actions on the passed legislation.

On the Transportation Committee on which I serve, we passed legislation banning drivers licenses for illegal aliens, an important piece of legislation in light of the fact that several of the hijackers on the 9-11 flights had Virginia drivers licenses. The Commonwealth of Virginia should not be granting an ID to an illegal alien that can serve as a "passport" to other legal activities, in addition to boarding an airplane. My colleagues, Delegate Dave Albo of Springfield and Senator Jay O’Brien of Clifton, were the chief sponsors of companion bills from the House and Senate. I was pleased to be a co-patron to this important piece of legislation and also serve as one of the final conferees who negotiated the final version of the bill. I certainly hope the Governor will sign the bill into law.

I was disappointed that the primary seat belt legislation failed this year. I am a strong proponent of traffic safety issues and thought this legislation would go a long way towards increasing the usage of seat belts and ultimately saving more lives. Virginia’s current secondary enforcement of seat belt usage will continue. While the measure failed this year, those of us who supported the measure will try again next year.

Due to fiscal conditions, money for additional transportation spending was limited. The only piece of legislation that provided more money for our area was a bond package offered by the Transportation Chairman, Jack Rollison of Woodbridge. The House passed this legislation but unfortunately the Senate failed to do likewise.

In public safety, we passed significant legislation that created a statewide Amber Alert; created a child pornography registry & increased penalties for offenders; and funded a sexually violent predators program that will keep these predators off of our streets. We also passed legislation that defined conditions for determining mental retardation for capital crimes; a significant piece of legislation due to a recent Supreme Court ruling that mentally retarded individuals cannot be executed.

One other important public safety bill that was defeated was the "Guns in Restaurants" bill. While I am a supporter of the right to keep and bear arms, I voted against this measure that would have allowed concealed weapons permit holders to bring a concealed weapon into a restaurant that serves alcohol. I don’t believe that guns and alcohol mix. I was glad to vote against it and see the bill defeated.

On the budget, we were able to fully fund state support for secondary education for localities. The result is that Fairfax County will not lose any Standards of Quality money this year, even though we were faced with the huge requirement to save $2.1 billion in the state budget. This was a primary goal of the Republican-led Assembly and we are proud of the fact that we were able to accomplish this. Teachers will also receive a 2.5% pay increase from our budget. Two attempts by several House members from Northern Virginia to increase our share of state support for secondary education failed unfortunately.

On a personal matter, I was pleased to once again serve in my second year as Chairman of the important Education Subcommittee on Teachers and Administrative Actions. In addition, I received my second appointment to serve as a Chairman of another important subcommittee—the Transportation Subcommittee on Traffic Safety. My seniority and leadership on the Education and Transportation full committees can only serve to help my constituents of the 43rd district.

It is difficult to write in this limited space about the many bills we addressed during the session. I invite you to see a more conclusion summary at my web page, www.tombolvin.com. As always, I appreciate the letters, email messages, and calls to my office made during the legislative session. Your opinions are important to me so please continue to communicate your thoughts and ideas with my office throughout the year. My local district office phone number is 703-719-7301 and my email is del_bolvin@house.state.va.us. Finally, it is an honor and privilege to serve you in the House of Delegates and your trust and support are greatly appreciated.

Tom Bolvin

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