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RPS Legislative Advocacy Update - January 21, 2020 - Day 14/60

Week three of the General Assembly session started yesterday on the MLK Jr. holiday and the Capitol was busy will thousands of gun-rights advocates. While most news from the day focused on that topic, the legislature still held its normal committee meetings to consider other legislation.

This past Friday was the final day for legislators to introduce new bills for consideration during this session. Between the House and Senate, legislators have introduced 3,096 bills and resolutions - all of which must be considered by February 11. That date is called Crossover and means that the chamber that introduced the bill must have advanced it to be considered by the other chamber, or the bill is considered dead. Since there are almost 3000 bills still pending with 16 working days left until crossover, the legislature must move at a rapid pace of considering an average of 185 bills per day until then. While legislators and advocates get most of the attention during this critical time, the Division of Legislative Services is also under strain as demonstrated by the abrupt retirement of a longtime staff attorney.

Legislation 

School construction continues to be one of the issues that legislators are grappling with how to address. Senator McClellan has introduced SB 888 to create a Commission on School Construction and Modernization and other members have introduced several other proposals, including a multi-billion dollar bond referendum that voters would get to have their say about in this fall’s General Election. Check out this coverage from the Roanoke Times for more details about the proposals under consideration.

Budget

RPS is following dozens of bills related to casinos and gaming. Some are a reaction to the significant decrease in lottery revenues this year due to unregulated games of skill that have popped up in convenience stores across the state. Multiple casinos have also been proposed across Virginia, including a new proposal in Richmond. All of these proposals have the ability to be taxed, providing much needed revenues to go towards education funding. We are asking the General Assembly to prioritize this aspect of these proposals and ensure that funding from the lottery and gaming continues to support public education.

What can you do today? 

RPS is holding an Advocacy Training and Workshop this Wednesday, January 22 at Blackwell Elementary School. Please attend and invite other education advocates to join us. We will be providing information on how to visit the General Assembly, tips for writing letters to legislators and preparing testimony, and making handmade advocacy posters. Check out the details on Facebook and join us to advocate for fully funding public education!