General Assembly Report by Rob Bell
The Virginia General Assembly has finished the majority of its work. Bills that passed both the Virginia House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate have now been sent to Gov. Tim Kaine for consideration.
The more significant legislation from the 2008 session includes:
• The most sweeping overhaul of Virginia’s mental-health commitment laws in 30 years.
• Reform of the payday-lending industry, including rate caps and limits on the number of loans, sought by both religious and consumer protection groups.
• A new requirement that law enforcement consult with federal officials to ensure that any illegal immigrant criminals can be deported after serving their sentence.
• An abolition of the abusive driver fees.
• Increased penalties for teen-agers who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
• Increased school safety by ensuring better background checks on teachers, especially those moving to Virginia from other states.
Not all our work is finished, however. The budget negotiators continue their efforts to reach a compromise on Virginia’s biennial budget. One of the remaining sticking points is the House of Delegates’ opposition to starting new government programs at the same time that Virginia is borrowing money and tapping into the Rainy Day Fund. Also outstanding is the election of judges throughout the state. We are all hopeful to have these issues concluded as soon as possible.
I have now moved my office back to Charlottesville and will be commuting to Richmond as necessary. I would welcome your comments or feedback at: Delegate Rob Bell, 2309 Finch Court, Charlottesville, Va.22911, DelegateRobBell@embarqmail.com, 434.245.8900
Rob Bell represents the 58th House District in the Virginia General Assembly.