At the time of this writing, the House of Delegates has nearly completed consideration for each of the bills proposed by its members.

The measures that passed out of committee have been debated on the floor and will soon be sent for deliberation in the Senate.

Some of these bills, which I supported, will be of particular benefit to Southside Virginia should they become law.

One important bill, which gained unanimous support in the House, is HB 1692.  This proposal introduced the concept of a “flat-fee degree” program for Virginia’s public institutions of higher education. 

I have previously written about the problem of rising tuition costs for our students who seek to attend college or university, and have described some of the measures aimed at relieving that burden.  This legislation provides an additional solution.

Specifically, this proposal would offer alternative tuition or fee structures at fixed rates to incoming Virginia freshman who enroll full-time in an undergraduate program with the intent to earn a degree that leads to employment in a high-demand field.

The fields to be designated as “high-demand” will be specific to the various state regions and reflective of the needs of each particular location.

The idea is that better options in higher education will lead to more economic success for individuals who in turn enhance the needed economic development in their regions.

Also important to furthering economic development is the very serious matter of maintaining and improving our system of roads and the state’s transportation infrastructure. 

Last week, a major piece of legislation in this area was advanced with the passage of HB 1887.

This bill significantly revises the way highway allocations are formulated by providing an objectively determined percentage of funds to each district instead of relying on the discretionary methods previously employed.

This is to be accomplished by dividing state funds according to three allocations, one of which is a district grant program which will ensure that funds for each district can only be used for projects recommended by their respective local governments.

For Southside Virginia, this means that our previously neglected back roads will have a much better chance at timely repair.

Near the conclusion of our work last week in Richmond, I received news of the passing of Pittsylvania County’s Frances Hallam Hurt.

As many of you already know, Mrs. Hurt was a remarkable person and notable civic leader.

It was my privilege this week to share some of her accomplishments on the House Floor and to move the assembled body to adjourn in her honor and memory.

Del. Les Adams of Chatham represents the 16th District, which includes most of Pittsylvania County along with Martinsville and part of Henry County.

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