The (fourth) "Updates from Alfonso - 2015 General Assembly Session"
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2015 General Assembly Session is moving quickly. Last week, we reached the crossover deadline, where all legislation had to be passed by its chamber of origin or the bill was automatically defeated for the year.
I am proud to report that my bills to address retaliatory evictions, ban powdered alcohol in Virginia, and improve the definition of a small business are all moving forward. In addition, the General Assembly recently passed legislation that I introduced and worked on with Delegate McClellan and Delegate Sullivan to expand Virginia's net-metering cap from 500 kilowatts to 1 megawatt for nonresidential solar projects in Virginia.
Finally, last spring I was approached by constituents who shared with me the horrific story of their struggle to provide their son with quality, in-home nursing care. After meeting with the constituents, I reached out to the Board of Nursing and the Office of Licensure and Certification, which oversees home health care organizations in Virginia.
Through extensive conversations, we identified an opportunity to improve Virginia Code. The legislative fix would add home health organizations to the list of health care institutions, hospitals and assisted living facilities currently required to report misconduct or substance abuse rendering a health care professional unsafe or unfit to care for patients or residents.
I am happy to report that Senator Favola's version of the bill was passed by the General Assembly this week.
While this is an important step forward, we need to be doing more in Virginia to attract top nursing talent to work in the home care industry by providing competitive wages, benefits, and continued training opportunities.
Again, I urge you reach out to me if you have questions or concerns about any piece of legislation. You can reach me at my Richmond office by phone at (804) 698-1049 or by email at DelALopez@house.virginia.gov. I look forward to hearing from you.
Alfonso H. Lopez
Member, 49th District
Virginia House of Delegates
Speaking out Against Dangerous Weapons
This week, I gave a speech on the floor of the House of Delegates opposing legislation that would have allowed the sale of blackjacks, brass knuckles, throwing stars, switchblades, and ballistic knives in Virginia.
These dangerous weapons do not belong in our community. If this law were passed, our children would be able to legally buy these weapons at any age.
After my speech, the bill was passed by a vote of 56-42. However, this drew a wave of media attention over the following 24 hours that compelled the House of Delegates to reconsider the vote. When it was reconsidered the measure was overwhelmingly defeated by a vote of 83-17.
Opposing Cuts to Rapid Re-housing
Last week, the House Appropriations Committee released their amendments to the State Budget. The bottom line is that this budget did not go far enough to provide adequate funding for housing, K-12 education, preschool, or closing the coverage gap.
When we debated the bill on the floor of the House of Delegates, I spoke out against cuts to Virginia's critically important rapid re-housing program. This program has been instrumental in fighting homelessness in Virginia, but the House budget would have cut its funding by $500,000. Despite the value and effectiveness of this program, the House of Delegates voted to keep it significantly underfunded.
This budget does not reflect our community's values and priorities, which is why I voted against it on the floor of the House of Delegates.
Reducing Carbon Pollution and Combatting Climate Change
Recently, the House of Delegates passed a resolution opposing the EPA's Clean Power Plan.Before the bill was passed, I offered an amendment that would have recognized that climate change is a real and manmade problem that we need to address.
If Virginia is going to take a stand against the EPA's plan to reduce carbon pollution, we need to at least acknowledge the problem that the Clean Power Plan seeks to address and offer our own solution to reducing carbon pollution and combatting climate change.
Virginia is already 79% of the way to meeting our carbon reduction goals under the EPA's plan. Rather than opposing the Clean Power Plan, we should be looking for ways the Commonwealth can go further than the EPA's proposed regulations.
Reducing carbon pollution and combating climate change are not just about avoiding the negative consequences of inaction. We have an opportunity to create a tangible economic benefit for the Commonwealth of Virginia through investments in clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency. These industries have the potential to create thousands of new jobs in Virginia and revitalize our economy, but only if we take action now to halt climate change in Virginia.
While my amendment was rejected, I will continue to advocate for measures that defend against the imminent threat of climate change. We cannot afford to continue kicking the can down the road. The General Assembly needs to protect and preserve our environment for future generations.