Crossover week, last week, marked the halfway point of the 2014 legislative session in Richmond.
Going forward, each house in the General Assembly will consider bills which originated in the other body.
As a freshman legislator, I am fortunate to be in a minority from my class to have carried multiple legislative initiatives which passed in the House of Delegates.
What follows below are summaries of some of the measures for which I am either the chief patron or co-patron and are now before the Senate.
HB 1116, my first bill, extends the state scenic river designation of the Banister River for several miles within Pittsylvania County.
This legislation, brought at the unanimous request of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors, affords official recognition of the river’s natural and historical characteristics, including the portion that marks the birthplace of Rachel Donelson Jackson, wife to President Andrew Jackson.
Beyond the added tourism appeal, this designation enhances private property rights by forcing state and federal government agencies to consider the river’s scenic value prior to taking any action which might bear on the river’s historic or scenic quality.
HJ 196, a joint House resolution, directs the Commission on Youth to study the use of federal, state, and local funds for the public and private educational placements of students with disabilities.
Specifically, the use of funds derived from Medicaid and the Community Services Act for private residential placements will be examined.
Local and statewide data showing the extent to which youth are placed in segregated settings will also be gathered.
Furthermore, the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of more integrated alternatives will be evaluated.
In addition to identifying methods to promote the least restrictive means for a child’s special education services, this study will help detect incentives leading to unnecessary segregation and subsequently facilitate high standards for sound fiscal accountability and the responsible use of taxpayer funds.
HB 1084 provides for the recovery of compensatory damages and attorney’s fees when a person is forced by local government to litigate against an unconstitutional denial of any approval or permit to which the person should have been entitled.
Beyond making such persons whole, this legislation will have a prescriptive effect of dissuading local governments from violating individual constitutional rights.
I have previously written about HB 706, legislation which would provide the General Assembly with standing on behalf of the commonwealth when the governor and attorney general fail to defend the law.
Last week’s ruling by a federal judge seeking to invalidate Virginia’s constitution relating to marriage was made in the absence of any defense by elected representatives of the people of the commonwealth and manifestly proves the necessity of this legislation.
Make no mistake, this court ruling, issued in the middle of the night and purportedly reasoned on a phrase misattributed to the United States Constitution, is merely the latest of the transparently agenda-driven outcomes designed to bypass the legislative process and the will of the people.
Del. Les Adams of Chatham represents the 16th District, which includes most of Pittsylvania County as well as Martinsville and part of Henry County.