Friday, February 08, 2013

From Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling: 'Crossover'

 Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling addresses a packed SWAC Political Breakfast in Staunon in October.

From Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling....

This was a busy week in the Virginia General Assembly.  Tuesday was “crossover”, the date by which each house of introduction has to finish bills introduced by their members.  Bills approved in the house of introduction then “crossover” to the other house for their consideration. 

Crossover is always one of the busiest days of the session, and this year was no exception.  The most controversial legislation tends to be put off to the last minute, and that means that there are a lot of important bills debated on “crossover.”

With the Senate evening divided,  I am often called on to cast the deciding vote on the issues of greatest controversy.   On “crossover” alone, I had to cast seven tie-breaking votes.  I thought I would write and provide you with a summary of the most important tie-breaking votes I have cast this year:

Governor McDonnell and I have proposed a number of bills this year as a part of our All Students initiative.  The All Students initiative is designed to improve the quality of the educational opportunities we are providing to our children at the K-12 level.  I was pleased to cast the tie-breaking vote to advance two critical parts of our All Students initiative:
  • SB1207 - A-F School Grading … This legislation requires the State Board of Education to develop an A-F grading system for every public school in Virginia. This easy to understand system will help parents fully understand the performance of their child’s school.  This legislation is an important part of our effort to bring more  accountability and transparency to Virginia’s public schools.
  • SB1324 – Opportunity Educational Institution … This legislation enables the state to intervene when a local public school continues to fail.  The management of any public school that has repeatedly been denied accreditation can be transferred to the state based Opportunity Educational Institution, or to a charter management organization.  Management of the school will return to the local school division after  achieving full accreditation. This is an important means of last resort to ensure equal access to a quality education for every student.  It sends the clear message that failure will not be tolerated.
Election Reform
Last year, the General Assembly passed comprehensive election reform to tighten voter ID requirements at the polls.  However, more needs to be done to ensure integrity in the electoral process.  This week, I cast the tie-breaking vote in support of two important bills that will help us achieve this goal:
  • SB719 – Voter ID … This legislation tightens voter ID requirements by removing utility bills, bank statements, government checks, paychecks, etc. from the list of acceptable forms of ID that can be provided at the polls. This is a reasonable effort to tighten voter identification requirements and assure greater integrity in the voting process.
  • SB1265 – Photo ID … This legislation requires every voter to show photo identification at the polls before casting a ballot.  Anyone who doesn’t have an ID can obtain one free of charge from their local Registrar, or by visiting a DMV office. 
You can read more about the election reform bills in the Virginian-Pilot and the Washington Examiner. Both of these bills have a delayed effective date of July 1, 2014.  This will give us plenty of time to obtain approval of these changes from the U.S. Department of Justice and educate voters on the new requirements.

There are still two weeks left in the General Assembly session, and a lot of important issues yet to be resolved.  I assure you that Governor McDonnell and I will continue to focus on the big issues facing Virginia and do everything we can to provide more opportunity for our citizens.

If you have any questions on these or other issues pending before the General Assembly, please feel free to contact my office.


Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling

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