Delegate Chris Peace Introduces Bill Memorializing Fallen Firefighter

-- Bridge naming will honor the bravery and sacrifice of Hanover County’s late firefighter Lt. Bradford T. Clark --

Central Virginia- On October 11, 2018 Hanover County Lt. Bradford T. Clark tragically died in a collision while responding to an emergency roadside assistance call.  Hanover- Company 6 was on the scene providing assistance to distressed motorists on I-295 near Pole Green and Meadowbridge Road when a tractor trailer struck the parked firetruck from behind.  Lt. Brad Clark was killed and three other firefighters were injured.

At the request of the Clark family, on October 31st, Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) filed House Bill (HB) 1633 which will be heard in the 2019 General Assembly session.  HB 1633 proposes naming the bridge over Interstate 295 at Pole Green and Meadowbridge Roads in honor of the fallen firefighter.  Delegate Peace is actively recruiting the other members of the Hanover County delegation to the General Assembly to sign on as co-patrons. Peace also reached out to Hanover County and has requested the Board of Supervisors immediately adopt a resolution in support of the bridge naming. The Lieutenant Bradford T. Clark Memorial Bridge will serve as a reminder of the dedication and sacrifice of a fallen hero and to recognize the service of all firefighters and emergency responders in our community.    

Additionally, Peace has approached the Clark family and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for additional measure to authorize the creation of a “Brad Clark memorial license plate” that would provide resources to support greater awareness of motorists moving over on the highways and by-ways of the state. Once authorized by the General Assembly, DMV will need at least 450 prepaid applications within 30 days of the effective date of the authorization. 

A few years ago, Peace successfully passed legislation to create a special license plate to honor the legacy and memory of Meg Cross Menzies, a Hanover mother and avid runner.  The 2016 success of HB 1312 authorized the issuance of special license plates for supporters of the safety of runners bearing the legend MEG'S MILES.

Plans are also in the works for legislation to enhance the penalties for failing to adequately move over for safety personnel.  If you are interested in being added to the list to reserve a specialty plate please email Delegate Chris Peace at info@chrispeace.com. Reference ”Brad’s Plate” in the subject line. Standard plates cost $35 and personalized plates are $45.

97th District School Divisions Receive School Security Equipment Grants

 -- Del. Chris Peace applauds grant funding for increased school security --

Central Virginia –As a member of the House Select Committee on School Safety, Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) applauds the recent announcement of $6 million in School Security Equipment Grants being awarded to protect students and teachers in schools across the Commonwealth. 

The Virginia Department of Education and Department of Criminal Justice Services developed the criteria utilized in allocating the awards to local school divisions.  The criteria places priority on schools most in need of modern security equipment, schools with relatively high numbers of offenses, schools with equipment needs identified by a school security audit, and schools in divisions least able to afford security upgrades.

“I am proud that the House of Delegates led the effort in recent years to invest in school safety, providing over $30 million in funding to hire school resource officers and invest in security infrastructure, as well as passing legislation to allow local schools to hire retired law enforcement to protect our children,” stated Del. Peace. 

Peace continued, “In 2013, the House passed HB 2343, creating the School Security Infrastructure Improvement Fund and Local School Safety Fund.  This recurring grant fund allows the Department of Criminal Justice Services to offer grants of up to $100,000 per locality and require a 25% local match. Localities are allowed to use the money to fund upgrades to school security like hallway cameras, buzz-in systems and automatic locks on classroom doors. Additionally, since 2013 we appropriated approximately $6 million per year for school security infrastructure grants.”

The 97th District divisions awarded the school security equipment grants are as follows: Hanover County — $94,752 for John M. Gandy Elementary, Oak Knoll Middle and Pearson’s Corner Elementary, King William County — $88,000 for King William High, and New Kent County —$94,782 for New Kent Middle

The grants will pay for video monitoring systems, metal detectors, classroom locks, electronic-access controls, visitor-identification systems, direct communications links between schools and law enforcement agencies, and other security upgrades in 443 schools and other instructional facilities.

Delegate Christopher K. Peace Appointed to Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Board of Trustees

-- Speaker of the House appoints Peace to historic preservation board--

 Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) was recently appointed to serve on the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation (JYF) Board of Trustees.  The board is a state agency, consisting of members of the General Assembly and other state officials, as well as gubernatorial appointees and board-appointed members.  Members provide advice and counsel to Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation staff members and serve as a governing board for the foundation.

According to their website, the mission of JYF is to educate and to promote understanding and awareness of Virginia’s role in the creation of the United States of America.  The Foundation is an educational institution of the Commonwealth of Virginia and administers two living-history museums. Jamestown Settlement interprets the cultures of 17th-century colonial Jamestown, America’s first permanent English settlement, and the Powhatan Indians.  The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown interprets the impact of the American Revolution on the people of America and the development of the new nation.

Peace has a legislative record of working to preserve our rich and storied history across the Commonwealth.  In 2007, he successfully carried legislation to establish the Road to Revolution State Heritage Trail.  The Road to Revolution state heritage trail honors the first Governor of Virginia, Patrick Henry and pays homage to Henry’s leading role in liberating Virginia from Colonial rule to independence.  The Trail brings a considerable number of tourists to Central Virginia, as well as contributes to joint marketing and economic development efforts of localities.

“I am honored to serve on the Jamestown-Yorktown Board of Trustees.  We have a rich heritage and history in Virginia.  We must collaborate and find inclusive and creative opportunities for promoting these valuable resources to increase tourism revenue and highlight our important place in the foundation of our Nation,” stated Peace.

Peace’s historic preservation legislative record includes but is not limited to co-sponsoring a resolution Commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Robert E. Lee, passing legislation to create the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission to establish a commemorative commission to honor the life, achievements, and legacy of Virginia Indians on the grounds of Capitol Square, passing a bill to create the Civil War Site Preservation Fund for the purpose of awarding grants to preserve endangered Virginia Civil War historic sites, passing legislation to establish the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 State Heritage Trail and co-sponsoring legislation to protect our war monuments and memorials.

Virginia Chamber of Commerce Names Delegate Chris Peace a Champion of Free Enterprise

Peace recognized for support of business and job creation

The Virginia Chamber of Commerce recently named Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) as a Champion of Free Enterprise for his support of pro-business policies during the 2018 legislative session.  The Free Enterprise Award recognizes legislators for their support for the principles and initiatives outlined in the Chamber’s long-term economic development plan, Blueprint Virginia 2025.

“We are pleased to recognize these legislators for their work to make Virginia the best state for business,” said Barry DuVal, president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “The recommendations in Blueprint Virginia 2025 outline the business community’s plan to put us on track for long-term economic growth. The support of public policy leaders is key to ensuring Virginia continues to grow and prosper, and we are thankful for the leadership of these legislators.” 

Speaking to his strong pro-business record, Peace stated, “I am glad to know that I am rated one of Virginia’s most business-friendly conservatives. My voting record shows a consistent focus on opposing tax increases, protecting family values, defending the Constitution, promoting job creation and a high quality of life in Hanover, King William and New Kent counties.”

The Virginia Chamber of Commerce is the largest business organization in the Commonwealth, with more than 26,000 members. The Chamber is a non-partisan, business advocacy organization that works in the legislative, regulatory, civic and judicial arenas to act as the catalyst for positive change in all areas of economic development and competitiveness for Virginia. In December 2017, the Chamber released an update to its long-term strategic economic development plan, Blueprint Virginia 2025, which engaged over 6,000 business and community leaders to lay out a plan to getting Virginia back to the top of national business climate rankings. Learn more at www.vachamber.com.

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Delegate Chris Peace appointed to Select Committee on School Safety

            Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox announced on Thursday the formation of the “House Select Committee on School Safety” to review state and local policy on school safety and make recommendations for consideration by the General Assembly during the 2019 Session. Delegate Peace was appointed by Speaker Cox to serve on the Select Committee.

             “Ensuring our children are safe while attending school should be our number one priority in the Virginia House of Delegates,” said Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) “I applaud Speaker Cox for the formation of this Select Committee, and I look forward to working with the other members to propose meaningful solutions.”

             This is the first select committee formed in the House in 155 years. Select Committees are reserved for matters of considerable significance that cross the jurisdiction of conventional and established standing committees. Speaker Cox sent a letter to the Clerk of the House of Delegates on Thursday outlining the scope, membership and workplan of the Committee.

           "The House of Delegates led the effort in recent years to make our schools safer, but the tragedy in Parkland, Florida shows us that we must be ever-vigilant when it comes to school safety. We are taking a bold and significant step today to make school safety a top priority of the House of Delegates,” said Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights). “Delegate Peace will bring a unique perspective to the Select Committee, and I look forward to the ideas he will contribute to the important work ahead of the committee.”

         In his letter to the Clerk, Cox specifically limited the committee’s scope of work to strengthening emergency preparedness, hardening school security infrastructure, implementing security best practices, deploying additional security personnel, providing additional behavioral health resources for students, and developing prevention protocols at primary and secondary institutions across the Commonwealth. The committee will not discuss issues related to guns or broader behavioral health policy that are being considered by other commissions or standing committees. The committee also will not consider security at institutions of higher education, many of which already have rigorous security requirements and are governed by national accrediting agencies that set guidelines for their security. 

             Peace continued, “I have heard from many families across our district about their concerns. Children and teachers deserve to learn in an environment free from fear for their safety. As the Chairman of the House Budget Committee on Elementary & Secondary Education, I am dedicated to finding the state share of necessary resources to support our school divisions in our shared important goal for improved safety on school campuses everywhere. I am honored that the Speaker thought well enough of me for this important Committee, and I look forward to the work ahead.  The House of Delegates has led the effort in recent years to invest in school safety, providing over $30 million in funding to hire school resource officers and invest in security infrastructure, as well as passing legislation to allow local schools to hire retired law enforcement to protect our children.”

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Peace Appointed to House Budget Conference Committee

-- First from Hanover to serve on this prestigious committee --

Central Virginia-  The Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates recently appointed Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) to the important House conference committee for the state budget bills. Six members of the House of Delegates serve on this committee which negotiates with the Senate conference committee members on the content of a 2019-2020 final budget.

“We have a dedicated team of conferees who work well together and understand the necessity of having a balanced and responsible budget,” said Speaker Cox. “This team will be able to articulate the House’s position clearly to our colleagues in the Senate as we begin to finalize the budget. I appreciate all of their hard work on behalf of the House and I encourage our conferees to begin work with their Senate colleagues as quickly as possible so we can reach a final agreement on the budget.”

Delegate Peace, who was selected as the lone Richmond regional representative, says "[t]he problems we must solve together are great, but I am confident that our team will put the needs of all Virginians first. I am humbled by the Speaker's faith and Chairman Jones' confidence. This further opportunity to serve our beloved Commonwealth is a great honor."

At the beginning of session Peace was appointed Chairman of the House General Laws committee.  The General Laws committee considers matters related to housing, real estate, alcohol and beverage control, Freedom of Information Act, as well as procurement maters.  In his capacity as Chairman, Peace was excited to appoint his Hanover colleague Delegate Buddy Fowler to his first Chairmanship since being elected.  Fowler serves as Chair of the General Laws Subcommittee #1 dealing with important issues related to veterans. 

“Serving as Chair of subcommittee #1, Del. Fowler has shown strong leadership and dedication to the work of the committee.  Working with Buddy on this committee has shown to be a benefit to residents of our native county, Hanover,” stated Peace.  

Historic Horse Racing Measure Advances to Governor

-- One step closer to re-opening Colonial Downs --

As Chief Co-Patron of House Bill (HB) 1609, New Kent’s Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R) is extremely happy to announce the measure is on the way to the Governor.  HB 1609 passed the House by a vote of 79-21 and the Senate by a vote of 31-9.  This bill provides a means by which the important goal of creating jobs and generating additional revenue for New Kent County through the re-opening of Colonial Downs may be achieved.  Historical horse racing is a crucial step toward revitalizing horse racing in the Commonwealth and re-opening of the track. 

HB 1609 establishes historical horse racing (HHR) as a form of horse racing in the Commonwealth that creates pari-mutuel pools from wagers placed on previously conducted horse races and is hosted at (i) a racetrack owned or operated by a significant infrastructure limited licensee or (ii) a satellite facility that is owned or operated by (a) a significant infrastructure limited licensee or (b) the nonprofit industry stakeholder organization recognized by the Commission and licensed to own or operate such satellite facilities. Under the provisions of this bill, revenues generated on pari-mutuel pools by wagering on historical horse racing, will be distributed to the Virginia Racing Commission, and a portion to the locality in which the racetrack is located.

“Ongoing discussions between “Revolutionary Racing” and Virginia horse industry representatives have identified this pathway to resuscitate historic horse racing in Virginia.  By combining the national and international horse racing experience of Revolutionary Racing with the talents of our Virginia horse racing industry, we can re-open Colonial Downs and create opportunities for major investment, including but not limited to capital projects and 500 jobs,” stated Delegate Peace.

The closure of Colonial Downs negatively impacted New Kent County, reducing the local government’s budget by $402,200 in Fiscal Year 2015 et seq.  Prior to its closure, Colonial Downs was a major revenue source in the form of tourism dollars for schools and revenue sharing for roads. 

Peace continued, “Horse racing is a vital component to the continued economic growth of New Kent County and the Richmond Region.  As the only Delegate representing New Kent, I can tell you that a reopened Colonial Downs is in the best interest of our citizens.”

Rodney Hathaway, New Kent County Administrator, in an e-mail to Peace asserted, “We (New Kent County) thank you for your leadership and assistance with this project, and look forward to a new beginning at Colonial Downs.”

Peace Statement on Projects of Importance to New Kent County

I wanted to take a moment to update New Kent residents on recent developments concerning issues of importance to our shared community.  Over the past several months numerous citizens, New Kent County leaders, as well as first-responders have expressed to me grave concerns over the deteriorating conditions of Route 60 in New Kent County.  As construction work begins on Interstate 64 from I-295 to Interstate 64 Exit 205, traffic is projected to increase significantly on State Route 60 as travelers attempt to avoid congestion and delays on I-64.  This progress comes at a cost and will have an adverse impact on the currently treacherous conditions of State Route 60.

The need for maintenance and resurfacing of Rt. 60 has reached a critical point.  Due to the many patches that have been applied over the years and uneven pavement sections, these safety issues often cause travelers swerve to miss bumps and suddenly slowdown in an effort to avoid damaging their vehicles.  To that end, I introduced an amendment to the state budget to require the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to prioritize the resurfacing and maintenance of State Route 60 in New Kent County. 

My amendment prompted fervent discussions at VDOT on how to address our concerns in a timely manner.  I had a highly productive meeting with the VDOT Commissioner first thing Friday, February 2.  He assured me that Calendar Year (CY) 2018 resurfacing and maintenance efforts on Rt. 60 will begin in April and be completed by November 2018.  Our efforts have made Rt. 60 a priority.

The initial round of resurfacing and maintenance will begin with the paving of five sections totaling 21.08 lane miles.  The Commissioner also outlined further Rt. 60 resurfacing and maintenance projects for both CY2019 and CY2020.  I want to say a special thank you to County Administrator, Rodney Hathaway, Sheriff Joe McLaughlin, and Supervisor Ron Stiers for making the trip up to the General Assembly to testify in the Appropriations committee in support of prioritization of Rt. 60, and to Chairman Evelyn for his leadership on this matter.

On another important note to the County, in December, I testified in strong support of the Certificate of Public Need (COPN) application submitted by VCU Health System to establish an outpatient imaging center with CT services at a freestanding emergency department in New Kent County.  On January 22, 2018, this project received a staff recommendation in support of the CT scanner application that paves a way for greater access to care in the County.

This project will be extremely beneficial for New Kent County, its residents and future patients.  The VCU Health Bottoms Bridge Emergency Center will be a hospital based department of VCUHS and will serve as an extension of VCUHS’s existing emergency services.  With this project, VCUHS is seeking to extend clinical services into New Kent to fulfill an unmet geographic need for the provision of emergency and imaging services for New Kent and surrounding communities. 

House Bill 1402, introduced in this General Assembly session, could have required a second COPN application for the brick and mortar of the freestanding emergency department.  I successfully amended the bill in committee to grandfather COPN projects currently in the application process to ensure our project does not get delayed.  This project will significantly improve access to outpatient CT services, as well as bringing other high-quality services provided by VCU Health System to the area.

It remains an honor to serve as the Delegate for the 97th District and work to solve problems for New Kent County.

Measure to Establish a Higher Education Substance Use Advisory Committee Passes House

Central Virginia- Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) is pleased to announce the unanimous, bi-partisan passage of House Bill (HB) 852. 

HB 852 will establish and appoint members to the Virginia Institutions of Higher Education Substance Use Advisory Committee.  The Committee will work to develop and update a statewide strategic plan for substance use education, prevention, and intervention at Virginia’s institutions of higher education. 

This bill is a recommendation of the Virginia Commission on Youth (COY) of which Peace is former Chairman.  COY findings, and a Virginia ABC study, found that little to no data on current college student alcohol and drug use trends and behaviors are available statewide.  The Advisory Committee will provide oversight on these findings and continue to make recommendations as the work of the Committee advances.

Speaking to the passage of the bill, Delegate Peace asserted, “Currently, there is no specified prevention office in Virginia that has a focus on college-aged substance use.  It is imperative to highlight Virginia’s commitment to this issue, and signify to college administrators the need to come together and collaborate on this topic.”

DeDe Goldsmith, COY member and parent, states, “This legislation is critically important to give administrators and students the tools they need to attack recreational drug use on college campuses head-on.  Our young people learn best by and from each other, and they have come up with unique ways of doing so.  HB852 will ensure that their good works are available statewide at our college and universities to help reduce the medical emergencies that are increasingly prevalent among the student population.  Currently, substance use and abuse education programs are implemented from the top down and are ineffectual.

My daughter, who was an honors student at a state school, died because she lacked the honest, fact-based information she needed to make an informed decision about the risks that are associated with even incidental drug use. This will help get the right information to the right people by the right people.”

The bill will now be heard in the Senate. 

Delegate Chris Peace’s voting record shows a consistent focus on opposing tax increases, protecting family values, defending the Constitution, and promoting job creation and a high quality of life in Hanover, King William and New Kent counties.

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Free Financial Aid Advisory Services Available to Students and Families

Informational Release from Delegate Chris Peace, 97th District

Central Virginia - Students in public high schools in Hanover, King William, and New Kent can receive free professional advising on how to pay for college, technical training, or other education after high school.  My goal, as your representative in the General Assembly, is to ensure that any student who wishes to pursue college or technical education after high school can do so regardless of their financial circumstances.  No student should be denied an education after high school due to the inability to pay.  

Here’s how it works: students can arrange for a private one-on-one session with a GRASP Advisor through their high school counseling office.  Parents are encouraged to attend as well.  GRASP stands for GReat Aspirations Scholarship Program, Inc., and their advisors are knowledgeable about how to finance a college or career education after high school.  GRASP Advisors help students prepare and submit the FAFSA (the required application to be awarded financial aid), compare financial aid offer letters, apply for scholarships, and fulfill admission requirements.  “The members of GRASP helped me with scholarships and explained to me how financial aid worked,” one King William County student recently remarked, “They are very helpful and encouraging towards high school students.”

The Virginia General Assembly has supported this free service by creating the Neighborhood Assistance Act, which provides tax incentives for private donors who, along with foundations and school divisions, provide the funding for GRASP and similar programs.  As a result, every year GRASP Advisors are able to help thousands of Virginia students access higher education.

Last school year, 470 students from seven high schools in Hanover, King William, and New Kent benefitted from GRASP’s individual financial aid advising.  Thanks to the Neighborhood Assistance Act and the generosity of individual and corporate donors, GRASP also awarded $22,000 in direct scholarships to students from these schools.

To learn more about these services or find an upcoming financial aid event in your area, visit the GRASP website at www.grasp4va.org or contact info@grasp4va.org.

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Delegate Peace Speaks at Naturalization Ceremony

Peace Offers Welcoming Remarks to America’s Newest Citizens

Central, VA –  On June 7th, at Historic Polegreen Church, where as a young man Patrick Henry worshiped with his mother under Reverend Samuel Davies.  Seventy-one of America’s newest immigrants were naturalized as citizens in a special ceremony.  People of many different ages and forty different countries raised their hands, renounced prior allegiances, and swore an oath to become citizens of the United States of America.

Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) offered welcoming remarks to those receiving the Oath of Allegiance, communicating the history of the Historic Polegreen Church, which is a monument to the preservation of civil liberties and religious freedom. 

Sharing from his own family’s immigrant history, Peace stated, “Your immigrant story enhances the value of our country.  Our shared stories and history are a common bond that unites us.  You today, are writing a new chapter in the history of this place.”

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) naturalizes individuals.  During the 1st Quarter of Fiscal Year 2017 (October 1 to December 31, 2016), 112,640 naturalization applications were approved by USCIS, 822 residents of Virginia became United States citizens.  More information about the naturalization process and is available on the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov.

 

 

Community Services Board which serves New Kent to Offer Same Day Access

Peace supported legislation to provide funding to increase same day access to mental health and substance use services

Passed during the 2017 General Assembly session, House Bill 1549, supported by Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) will increase availability of same day services to citizens through the Henrico Community Services Board (CSB) which serves New Kent County.  Recently announced by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, the Henrico CSB will receive state funding to begin offering same day, in-person screening for mental health/and or substance use concerns in July 2017. 

Individuals seeking help for a mental health and/or substance use concern, may walk in, without appointment, and speak with a staff member face-to-face, rather than initiating contact over the phone. If the individual appears to qualify for a CSB services, they may be able to receive a more in-depth assessment for services that same day. Each CSB assessment clinician is trained to assess for substance use disorders as well as mental health and co-occurring disorders.  Same day access is considered a best practice in behavioral health, and the CSB staff will work diligently to make this system change.

Same day access is a best practice that virtually eliminates “no show” appointments, increases adherence to follow-up appointments, reduces the “wait time” for appointments, and makes more cost-effective use of staff resources. Implementing Same Day Access requires a change in CSBs’ business practices, such as scheduling, documentation, caseload management, and utilization of shorter term, more focused and practical therapies. It is the best lever to begin shifting care away from crisis response when individuals are more at risk to themselves and to others and towards preventative care when symptoms are more manageable.

Speaking to this important change, Peace says, “Often when people recognize that they need help, there may be a brief window of time when a person is willing to track down and receive help. If a person has to wait too long for services, the chance to help may be lost. This is an important step toward increased positive outcomes for citizens.”