January 24, 2015

Dear Friend,

During this first full week of the 2015 Virginia General Assembly session, my colleagues and I have deliberated over a number of bills that touch on important issues such as education, public safety, and transportation reforms. In particularly, I would like to share with you highlights of a few bills that I am working on this session.

Senate Bill 896, which passed on the Senate floor and will soon be considered by the House of Delegates, clarifies the appeal process for child labor violations. The existing laws are unclear about when the contest should be filed, how the case proceeds through court for resolution, and who is responsible for bringing the case to court. Accordingly, I introduced SB 896 to assist with reducing the period of time for appeals. This could ultimately lessen the potential exposure to danger for our children.

Another bill of mine, Senate Bill 881, passed unanimously in the Senate and will be heard next week in the House Committee on Commerce and Labor. SB 881 codifies the Department of Labor’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), which is modeled off of the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Agency’s (OSHA) VPP program. The VPP rewards membership to employers who have shown an impressive degree of commitment to the safety of their employees. Codification of the VPP would safeguard the program, which is crucial given VPP’s de-emphasis at the federal level. The bill would allow the Virginia VPP to continue to provide safety and morale benefits to employers and employees alike.

I have also introduced Senate Bill 1024, legislation that would streamline Virginia’s registered apprenticeship program. A registered apprenticeship program includes a classroom component and practical on-site training. Currently, the Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) oversees the actual apprenticeship, while the Virginia Community College System is responsible for the theoretical component. Virginia is the only state that does not have a unified system. Considering that it has been the recognized agency for registered apprenticeships since 1938, I believe that DOLI’s experience and infrastructure makes it the most logical place for the program. This change would reduce redundancies and promote efficiency within the apprenticeship program, ultimately resulting in both educational and economic growth.

The need for Senate Bill 781 was brought to my attention by members of the bicycle association. If passed by the General Assembly and approved by the governor, this bill will allow drivers to cross a double yellow line in order to pass a pedestrian or a device moved by human power, including a bicycle, skateboard, or foot-scooter, provided such movement can be made safely.

Lastly, 85% of those who voted in the November 4, 2014 election in Norfolk supported the referendum for an elected school board. As such, I have submitted legislation that repeals the code section that governs the appointment of members of the Norfolk School Board in order to transition to an elected school board. The initial election of school board members will take place in May of 2016.

For additional details on the aforementioned legislation or to review other bills that I have introduced this session, please visit http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/.

As always, it is a great pleasure to represent you. If you have any comments or concerns that you would like to share, please contact me at (804) 698-7505 or district05@senate.virginia.gov.

Sincerely,

Kenny Alexander