In an effort to create more open lines of communication between constituents and their elected representatives, this month we’re trying something new. We’ve invited Delegate Dave LaRock of the 33rd District to provide his views on the upcoming session. And we’re inviting you to ask him questions. We’ll see if this works—either by continuing this in print or online. And if it works, we’ll invite other elected officials to join the dialogue.
Our aim is to promote a conversation without merely providing a soapbox for politicians. And to allow readers to ask questions in a civil manner.
Go ahead. Ask questions. Be tough; just be kind. Send them to ObserverForums@vaobserver.com.
It’s an honor to serve you as Delegate of Virginia’s 33rd House District. I’m writing to give you an update on some of the issues I’ve been working on, but also to invite you to contact me with any questions, concerns, or requests for assistance that you may have. My top priority is to help Virginia’s economy continue to recover. I believe improving our Commonwealth in these following areas is key to making Virginia a viable place for businesses to grow and for families to live and work.
Health Care Services
As you probably know, the House and Senate voted together to opt out of a statewide Medicaid expansion. I strongly support this decision because of the severe negative financial implications this would have had for Virginia, and because I believe we’re capable of doing better. The fact remains, though—thousands of Virginians still need access to quality health care and are struggling to afford it. I’m excited about the possibilities that are opening up through the free clinics serving our district, and I supported increasing the amount of state aid they received in our last budget. These clinics do an excellent job of providing services to needy families without the layers of bureaucracy that are attached to a federal program, and they rely for the most part on donations from folks right here in our community.
If you know me personally, you know that I have a passion for smarter transportation spending. This is especially relevant in a district where so many of our residents commute to jobs far from their homes. I supported a successful effort to obtain federal financing that will help freeze rates on the Dulles Toll Road, a corridor on the eastern end of the district that is widely used by commuters and for business travel. Beyond that, I’m working to improve Virginia’s entire transportation funding structure by making sure that every project that the Commonwealth funds is subject to a uniform rating system first. Our current system has huge holes in our project rating requirements, and this encourages wasteful spending. As our spending gets smarter, our roads will gradually get better with fewer taxpayer dollars required – I think this will be a significant economic boost to the state.
I think it’s always best to let parents make choices for their kids. I have opposed efforts to move education away from parental control (such as making Virginia schools submit to federal “common core” education standards.) Saying “no” isn’t enough though. I believe Virginia’s education system will grow stronger as parents are given more and more control over their children’s education, and that’s why I’m working to bring meaningful educational choice to our Commonwealth. Parental choice in education has been tried with success by a variety of other states, and making it happen in Virginia will mean better educational outcomes, more skilled employees for businesses to hire, and a more attractive environment for workers and companies considering a move into the state. This year, I also supported a budget allocation of $6 million for upgrades to school security like hallway cameras, buzz-in systems and automatic locks on classroom doors; $67,223 of this funding is going to Boyce Elementary, D. G. Cooley Elementary and Johnson Williams Middle School. Education matters to our economy, and I will continue to make it a top priority.
A recent report shows that proposed EPA regulations will mean power plant closures and higher electric bills for everyone in Virginia, with a net cost that could exceed 6 billion dollars. At a time when our economy is still struggling to recover, this is simply bad economic policy. I’m looking into joining other states in a lawsuit against the EPA to block these regulations. This situation could have substantial implications for Virginia, not just for families struggling to keep the heat on in winter, but for employers that have to consider utility costs in evaluating Virginia’s viability as a place to do business. These regulations are a job killer, and they need to go.
The next session isn’t far off. I believe that addressing these issues (and others) will put Virginia on a course to economic prosperity, give our citizens the good jobs we need, and improve the quality of life of our neighbors, families, and children. As I said before, if you have any comments, requests, or suggestions, don’t hesitate to call me at (540) 751-8364. I will do my best to help.