By Senator Lynwood Lewis
Listen to this update:
With the halfway point of General Assembly session in sight, both the Senate and the House are chugging along with lengthy committee dockets and floor calendars. This past week, several of my bills passed the full floor of the Senate with bipartisan support.
SB693, our Virginia Waterways Maintenance Fund to address our shallow-channel dredging needs, passed unanimously and will move to the House to be heard following Crossover on February 13. Delegate Bloxom is carrying the Companion Bill on the House side, HB575, and it will be heard in Appropriations this week in its final step before hopefully moving on to a full floor vote.
Our Bill to help address the opioid crisis, SB399, passed the Senate unanimously as well. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, this legislation would enable the creation of local and regional review teams to study each individual death suspected to be caused by opioids. Maryland has implemented these review teams and has seen success in developing a greater understanding as to where the gaps are in addressing what is now an endemic health crisis. SB399 is now in the House, and with significant bipartisan support in Richmond to find solutions for our opioid epidemic, I suspect it will be met with approval there also.
While our efforts in nonpartisan redistricting were again throttled in Committee this week, the week also saw the passage of our Spaceport Bill I touched upon in last week’s column, higher education legislation and legislation that will promote small business growth. Additionally, my bill to create a cabinet-level position to address coastal resiliency and flooding adaptation has faced some hurdles but we are still pushing forward. It’s of critical importance that we have a one-stop shop to address what has become one of the most pressing issues in coastal Virginia, as well as to put the Commonwealth in the best position to receive federal funding.
Outside of my own Bills, conversations continue in Richmond around big-ticket issues like Medicaid Expansion, teacher pay and, of course, our Budget for the 2018-2020 biennium.
In addition to hearing and moving forward on legislation, we’ve seen a growing list of visitors. From representatives of the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce to Riverside Shore Memorial nurses, advocates for nonpartisan redistricting to Northampton County School Board Members, our days continue to get busier and busier with more and more visits from folks back home. This is always one of the best parts of the General Assembly Session, and I do encourage anyone who is able to come see us in Richmond.
If you’re not able to make the trek to Richmond – and even if you are – I encourage everyone to reach out to us in Richmond and to continue to monitor the activities of the legislature on the General Assembly website VirginiaGeneralAssembly.gov. I can be reached at our legislative email District06@senate.virginia.gov and while in Richmond by telephone at (804) 698-7506. Please do not hesitate to contact me on issues with questions about legislation or on issues of concern.