House favors transportation bill

Published 8:57 pm Friday, February 4, 2011

By Chris Jones

With Crossover only a few days away, the pace at the General Assembly has reached a sprint as we work to complete action on all House bills. Crossover, which falls on Feb. 8 this year, is the last day that the House of Delegates can act on a House bill.

On Wednesday, all bills that have passed the House will be sent to the Senate for consideration, and we will begin to consider all Senate bills that have passed the Senate. If a bill hasn’t passed the House by Tuesday, then that particular bill will not pass the General Assembly this year.

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Transportation bill passes House

One of the issues before the House this week was the Governor’s transportation plan. House Bill 2527, which contained major components of the Governor’s transportation plan, passed on a 65-33 vote on Friday.

The biggest components of the bill accelerate previously approved transportation bonds and deposit those funds into a transportation infrastructure bank. Let me be clear — this bill does not create new debt for the state. The debt that is being accelerated has already been incorporated into our budget.

By accelerating the bonds, we will be able to take advantage of near record-low interest rates and low construction costs. This acceleration will ultimately save the state in both construction and interest rate costs.

This legislation will allow the needed projects in our area to be built for much less and much faster than we otherwise would have. The infrastructure bank and accelerated bonds will go a long way to make roads better in our area and throughout the Commonwealth.

“Top Jobs” reform bill passes

Another one of Gov. McDonnell’s major reform initiatives was his higher education bill. The “Top Jobs of the 21st Century” higher education reform bill unanimously passed the House of Delegates on Wednesday. The 26-page bill puts the recommendations of the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education, Reform, Innovation, and Investment into Virginia law.

The Commission, which brought together stakeholders from both the public and private sectors, focused on advancing reforms that will increase access for Virginia students at our colleges and universities at an affordable price and ensure that our students are receiving a top-class education that prepares them for the jobs of the future.

Virginia Retirement System

Early in the session I introduced House Bill 2465, seeking a restructuring of the underfunded Virginia Retirement System. This week, the House Appropriations subcommittee of Compensation and Retirementof which I have the opportunity to chair, voted to incorporate my bill, HB2565, into Delegate Lacey Putney’s bill, HB2410, a bill with very similar language.

The actions of the subcommittee reflect a compromise needed to move the legislation forward. I view the task of reforming VRS as a process that will take several years to accomplish. Last year the General Assembly took the first step, HB1189, which changed the benefit structure for new state employees hired after July 1, 2010. If we are successful this year in passing HB2565, this will be the second step in the process.


I once again invite you to participate in the online survey on my website, to provide me with your comments and opinion during this session.

As always, my staff and I are here in Richmond to serve you. We want to hear what you think about the legislation pending before the House, or if there’s anything we can do to help you in dealing with a state government agency. My office can be reached at (804) 698-1076 or via the Internet at If you are planning to visit Richmond during Session, I encourage you to visit me in Room 720.

Thank you again for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.

S. Chris Jones represents Suffolk in the Virginia House of Delegates. He can be reached at