At the close of the 2017 Virginia General Assembly session in February, we asked legislators across the Richmond region for their take on this year’s high and low points. They will reconvene April 5 to consider Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s recommendations and vetoes. Ten responded; here’s what they had to say.
From left: Delegates Lashrecse Aird, Lamont Bagby, Jeff Bourne and Betsy Carr and Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant
Del. Lashrecse Aird
D-63rd District (Petersburg and parts of Chesterfield, Dinwiddie and Prince George counties and Hopewell)
High: A budget that protects K-12 funding and provides raises for teachers, public safety officers and other state workers.
Low: We were unable to reach a compromise on the application of disciplinary measures in our schools.
Del. Lamont Bagby
D-74th District (Charles City County and parts of Richmond and Henrico County)
High: Passage of my HB 1924 to establish guidelines for local school boards to consider alternatives to short-term and long-term suspension.
Low: Efforts to limit the number of days for long-term suspension were not successful.
Del. Jeff Bourne
D- 71st District (parts of Richmond and Henrico County)
High: Having my wife and two children stand with me on the floor of the House of Delegates chamber while taking the oath of office.
Low: Our failure to approve a bill to reduce the days a student could be “long-term suspended.”
Del. Betsy Carr
D-69th District (parts of Richmond and Chesterfield County)
High: Increased citizen engagement. We had over 400 people visiting our office during the session. This year was the most that we’ve had.
Low: Socially divisive legislation that passed and the things that didn’t pass, like non-discriminatory housing.
Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant
R-12th District (parts of Henrico and Hanover counties)
High: Passage of my SB 1234 to establish Passport Credits: requirements that can be taken at a community college and will be recognized by any public four-year college in Virginia.
Low: We were unable to fund a study to develop a strategic plan to address access to health care.
From left: Del. Jimmie Massie, Sen. Jennifer McClellan, Delegates John O'Bannon and Chris Peace, and Sen. Glen Sturtevant
Del. Jimmie Massie
R-72nd District (part of Henrico County)
High: Closing the $1.2 billion budget deficit with no tax or fee increases, to include pay raises for state employees and teachers.
Low: All the good bills the governor has/will veto — especially school choice bills.
Sen. Jennifer McClellan
D-9th District (Charles City County, parts of Richmond, Hanover and Henrico counties)
High: My swearing in to the Senate.
Low: The passage of HB 2000, a bill prohibiting localities from adopting “sanctuary” policies. This undermines community policing and sends immigrants a message that they are not welcome.
Del. John O’Bannon
R-73rd District (part of Henrico County)
High: A budget that addresses core needs of Virginia. I’m very proud of what we have done to fight the opioid and heroin epidemic.
Low: We were not able to get any [Certificate of Public Need] reform done. This would increase access to lower-cost services.
Del. Chris Peace
R-97th District (New Kent County, parts of Hanover and King William counties)
High: I’m pleased that my [budget] amendment to direct $7.5 million in competitive grants to community wealth building programs was successful.
Low: The passage of SB 1578, requiring registration of "Airbnb" properties.
Sen. Glen Sturtevant
R-10th District (Powhatan County and parts of Richmond and Chesterfield)
High: A budget that gives the Virginia State Police, state employees, teachers and local law enforcement officers raises in spite of the $1.2 billion shortfall.
Low: Having my check register bill (SB 795) fail in the House after earning bipartisan support in the Senate.