Delegate Peace Receives a Grade of A+ from State Chamber for Support of Business and Job Creation

-- VA Chamber of Commerce Names Peace a Champion of Free Enterprise --

For the past five years, following the General Assembly Session, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce has developed a Legislative Report Card based on the priorities of Virginia's business community. The Legislative Report Card recognizes legislators for their support on initiatives that will help move Virginia forward creating jobs and economic growth, and additionally provide analysis of a legislator's support for the business.

Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) was very pleased to be informed that this year, based on his voting record, he received a grade of "A+" from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. Peace's voting record indicated strong support for business community priorities.  In fact, Peace earned a 100 in 2016.

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, and promoting job creation and a high quality of life in Hanover, King William and New Kent counties.”

“The Virginia Chamber this year tracked more than 600 pieces of legislation and rated 125 bills that would either improve or harm Virginia’s business climate,” said Barry DuVal, President and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “We applaud those legislators who advanced the goals of the Chamber’s Blueprint Virginia this year and in doing so made Virginia a better place in which to live, work and do business.” Now in its fifth year, the 2016 legislative report card includes for the first time legislators’ lifetime grades along with their grades for the most recent legislative session.

According to their website, the mission of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce is to be a non-partisan, business advocacy organization that works in the legislative, regulatory and political arenas to act as the catalyst for positive change in all areas of economic development and competitiveness for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Please visit the Chamber website: http://www.vachamber.com/

Delegate Chris Peace Honors Frank Siblings of Hanover

-- Peace raises awareness of autism, presents memorial resolutions to honor Matthew and Tyler Frank – -- Praises Hanover County Public Schools and Hanover County Sheriff’s Office --

Central Virginia- Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) was delighted to host Joanna Frank, mother of Tyler and Matthew Frank at the Capitol recently to raise awareness of autism and to present her memorial resolutions to honor the legacy and lasting impact her sons had on the Hanover community. April is Autism Awareness month.

Mrs. Frank is a strong and courageous mother and zealous advocate for services for autistic children. The Franks moved to Hanover County in 2000 with twin sons in need of supportive services.  The family was one of the first families in Hanover County to appeal to the Commonwealth for what was then known as an MR support waiver; Tyler Frank and his twin, Mathew, were the first children in Hanover to receive this waiver, which would later open the door to add other children to the waiver program and receive in-home services and specialized educational services through Hanover County Public Schools.

Her sons’ disabilities inspired their mother, Joanna Frank, to begin a number of programs in Hanover County seeking to give the boys an equal opportunity to obtain an education, play, grow, and exist as any other child would. These programs would also benefit many other children living in the community with similar disabilities.  The presence of Tyler and Mathew Frank inspired Hanover County schools to create autism programs in elementary, middle, and high schools.

In 2000, Mathew Frank was the first person in Hanover County to receive a Project Life Saver watch, which also contained a GPS tracking device to help local police find individuals with disabilities if lost. Each month a deputy from Hanover County would visit Mathew Frank to change the batteries on the device.  These were his favorite visits.

“These special young men helped initiate specialized autism training for police officers, school resource officers, and first responders in Hanover County. Each individual with autism is unique and requires specialized approaches to intervention from community helpers; these programs have helped educate and equip hundreds of Hanover County community helpers to safely interact and assist individuals and their families with autism and other similar disabilities,” stated Peace.  “I applaud the Hanover Sheriff’s Office and the Hanover County Public Schools for their efforts in ensuring the safety, health, and well-being of these children in our community.”

Autism spectrum disorder is the result of a group of complex neurological disorders that affects the normal functioning of the human brain and can be exhibited by anyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 68 births in the United States in their 2014 ADDM autism prevalence report.  For more information visit Autism Society of Central Virginia at http://ascv.org/.

 

Del. Jen McClellan, Joanna Frank, and Del. Chris Peace

Peace Champions Tea Party Legislation Protecting the First Amendment, Free Speech

Anti-SLAPP measure advances through General Assembly Central Virginia- In the fall of 2015, Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) was approached by several members of the Mechanicsville Tea Party, including Larnie Allgood and Major Mansfield, along with others from across the Richmond Region, Don Blake, Sylvia Wright, and Baird Stokes to name a few. He was asked to patron Anti-SLAPP reform legislation. Peace did not hesitate in agreeing to patron such legislation vital to protecting citizen participation in government processes at the local, state, and federal levels.

A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

Delegate Peace’s bill, House Bill 690, is a measure to allow the court to award reasonable attorney fees and costs in any suit dismissed pursuant to the immunity provided to an individual at a public hearing, or where a nonsuit is taken. This policy was incorporated into House Bill 1117 (Loupassi) and passed the House by a vote of 98-0 and the Senate by a vote of 39-1.

Sylvia Wright, catalyst behind the first amendment protection states, “On Feb 22, 2016 - combined antiSLAPP bills were passed by the VA Senate. Since it already passed the House, the approved format should now move forward for signoff by the Governor and be enacted as law on July 1, 2016. My sincere thanks to all who extend support for this legislation, especially Chris Peace as he is the delegate who worked with me to acquire this important change.”

Speaking to the passage of the bill, Delegate Peace asserted, “We must continue to ensure that our Constitutional rights are protected. Any limit on a citizen’s freedom of speech is unacceptable. Everyone has a right to redress their government.”

Peace continued, “I thank the leadership of the Mechanicsville Tea Party for bringing this important issue to my attention. I look forward to continuing conversations with citizens about legislative solutions that increase the quality of life of residents of the 97th District.  Should you have a legislative idea, a question about process, or just want to discuss issues, please call my office to set a meeting.”

Henrico resident, Baird Stokes was quick to thank the Delegate for his quick action, “I was impressed at how quickly Del. Peace understood the issue and identified a course of action to further protect citizens and their right to participate in the actions of government. He has shown a commitment to the protection of freedom of speech and upholding of our Constitutional principles.”

Delegate Chris Peace is frequently rated one of Virginia’s most business-friendly conservatives. 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.

 

Major Mansfield, Treasurer, Mechanicsville Tea Party, testifies in support of antiSLAPP measure in House Ccommittee

Local school leaders from across Virginia applaud House proposal to restore lottery fund distribution

Education leaders from across the Commonwealth are applauding the Virginia House of Delegate’s plan to restore lottery fund distributions to local school divisions.  The House budget sends 31 percent of lottery funds, or $272 million, back to local school divisions.  This mechanism gives local schools more flexibility by not requiring matching funds or mandating how the funds must be spent.  This is part of the House’s $897.1 million education package, which is larger than the budgets proposed by Governor McAuliffe and the Senate.  The House budget also funds the state’s share of a two percent teacher pay raise in the second year of the budget. “I am proud of the investments the House is proposing across the spectrum in K-12 education, but the restoration of lottery proceeds distribution this year is a game-changer for local school divisions,” said Appropriations Chairman S. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk). “Our budget sends 31% of lottery proceeds, which is $272 million, back to localities with no local match.  This proposal gives local school leaders the flexibility to meet their own unique needs and reduces the tax burden on local governments by not requiring local matching funds.  Our goal is to fully restore the 40% distribution, which was the policy prior to 2010.”

“We believe that parents, teachers and local school leaders are in the best position to make educational decisions. Our budget proposal emphasizes flexibility,” said Appropriations Committee Vice-Chairman R. Steven Landes (R-Augusta). “By restoring the distribution of lottery funding, we are sending more money to our local schools with fewer strings attached.”

"The foundation of the House's budget proposal is a critical investment in school divisions across the Commonwealth," said Chesterfield School Board member Dianne Smith.  "The increased funding over the introduced budget in lottery funding recognizes that each school division has unique and diverse needs.  School leaders continue to seek increased flexibility in the funds we receive, and these principles are a cornerstone of this proposal."

“The House budget provides much needed programmatic flexibility for additional resources to invest in our top priorities,” said Virginia Beach School Board Chair Dan Edwards.  “The loss of lottery funds in 2010 hurt our ability to meet the unique needs of Virginia Beach’s Public schools.  Restoring this funding will give us badly needed new revenue.  By not requiring a local match, the House is removing a significant obstacle for local schools.  This proposal will give our schools real dollars that will yield positive results.”

“Every budget cycle, we face mandates on how to spend our education dollars. The flexibility that the House’s budget proposal includes allows us to direct the funds to the most needed areas without having to raise taxes or find matching funds. The House’s budget goes one step beyond the Governor’s proposal to support local public schools. I want to thank our leaders in the House for their support and leadership on this issue,” said Gene Bishop, Floyd County School Board Member.

The Hanover Regional Governor’s School for Career and Technical Advancement Announces Inaugural Session

Applications now being accepted for a three-week summer residential program for gifted Career and Technical Education students. ASHLAND, Va. – Hanover County Public Schools is pleased to announce that the Hanover Regional Governor’s School for Career and Technical Advancement (HRGS-CTA) will hold its inaugural session at the University of Richmond this summer from July 3-22, 2016. The HRGS-CTA is the first of its kind in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is intended to serve as a model that can be replicated throughout the state to meet the ever-growing demand for career-ready students.  Application materials are now available at www.hcps.us.

“It’s truly an honor for Hanover County Public Schools to develop this program in order to better serve the educational needs of students and the workforce needs of communities throughout Virginia. I’m very grateful for the efforts of Delegate Chris Peace who first introduced the legislation that resulted in a $100,000 planning grant from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), as well the efforts of my predecessor, Dr. Jamelle S. Wilson, who played a key role in advancing these efforts in the region.  I’m equally grateful for the exceptional efforts of the workgroup who developed this proposal, led by Dr. Jonathan Lewis.  I look forward to watching their plan come to life this summer as students from the region embark on this unique learning experience, which will be graciously hosted by our partners at the University of Richmond,” said Dr. Michael Gill, Superintendent of Schools.

HRGS-CTA is a regional three-week summer residential program designed for gifted Career and Technical Education (CTE) students who have demonstrated accomplishment, aptitude, and interest in CTE curricula and careers. The program will focus on the development of workplace readiness and entrepreneurial skills. Skills will be cultivated and honed through group problem solving activities, guest speakers from the business and academic communities, visits to regional businesses leaders, and mentorship experiences designed to highlight workplace readiness. Participants will enjoy a fast-paced, exciting and relevant hands-on experience with students and staff who share their passion for career and technical education.

Applicants must be from Regions 1 and 3 school divisions and be rising juniors who are enrolled in at least one CTE course with a grade of “B” or better and expect to continue in the CTE program during their final two years of high school; or rising seniors who have completed at least one credit in a CTE course and/or are currently enrolled in a CTE course with a grade of “B” or better and expect to continue in the CTE program during their final year of high school.

Participating school divisions will send their top three candidates to the HRGS-CTA Selection Committee by March 23, 2016. Each school division will be guaranteed one student participant, with 40 total students selected. Applicants will be notified of selections by April 11, 2016.

Virginia Delegate Chris Peace Recognizes debra of America February 17 2016

State Lawmaker leads passage of a House Resolution commending debra of America for its service to the rare disease community

RICHMOND, VA (February 17, 2016) -- Today, Brett Kopelan, Executive Director of debra of America, issued the following statement upon unanimous passage of an Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) Awareness House Resolution (House Resolution No. 127) introduced by Delegate Chris Peace of the Virginia General Assembly.

"We thank Delegate Peace and the other co-patrons for leading this important effort of promoting EB awareness in the Commonwealth of Virginia. His work to draw attention to Virginians about EB's dire effects upon those living with and caring for all Virginians impacted by EB in the Commonwealth are to be commended. This Resolution is a positive step for raising needed awareness towards the development of a cure or treatment to overcome this devastating disease. debra of America is honored to receive the House of Delegate’s recognition as a leader in the fight to cure the worst disease you’ve never heard of."

Virginia House of Delegates, Christopher K. Peace issued the following statement:

“I am delighted to offer this resolution commending debra of America for their efforts to increase awareness of and support to individuals with Epidermolysis Bullosa, a rare, genetic connective tissue disorder characterized by extremely fragile skin. As the father of a son with EB, I applaud debra of America for providing much needed support of our children and their parents.”

House Resolution No. 127 calls attention to the history of debra of America’s work to support families impacted by EB through funding research and providing services. It also draws attention to burdens associated with this rare disease that impacts approximately 25,000 Americans and one in every 20,000 children born in the United States. A copy of House Resolution can be found here.

About debra of America: Founded in 1980, debra of America is a non-profit organization which provides comprehensive support to those with Epidermolysis Bullosa. It is the only national organization in the United States to offer free Programs and Services to affected individuals and their caregivers and fund research for an EB cure and treatment. EB is a rare, genetic connective tissue disorder characterized by extremely fragile skin and the development of recurrent, painful blisters, open sores, disfiguring scars, disabling musculoskeletal deformities, internal complications, and shortened life-span. Research indicates that one in every 20,000 children in the U.S. are born with the disease. There is currently no known EB cure or treatment. For more information, visit: debra.org

About the Virginia General Assembly: The Virginia General Assembly is the oldest, continuous law-making body in the New World. According to its website, it dates from the establishment of the House of Burgesses at Jamestown in 1619. It is a legislative body comprised of elected representatives who serve in a part-time capacity in the House of Delegates and State Senate. Delegate Christopher "Chris" Peace has served as a Delegate from the 97th House District since 2006 representing Kent County and parts of Hanover and King William's Counties in Virginia.

Social Media:  Facebook/Twitter: @debraofamerica, Hashtag: #EBawareness

FOR MEDIA COVERAGE: Casey Fitzpatrick, Events & Communications Director: 212-868-1573 x105, casey@debra.org

 

 

Delegate Peace Highlights District Focused Legislative Successes at Session’s “Half-time” 2016

Del. Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) reports on several legislative successes at what is officially termed, “Crossover.” At this mid-point of the legislative session, several items on Del. Peace’s legislative agenda passed the House and will now be heard by the Senate of Virginia. House Bill 1312, which passed unanimously on February 16th, creates a special license plate in memory and honor of the late Hanover educator Meg Menzies.  Peace’s bill will direct DMV to issue license plates for supporters of Meg’s Miles, raising awareness of safety of runners.  Menzies was tragically killed while running on Route 54 with her husband, an Ashland police officer.  “This legislation and subsequent plate will generate more awareness of drunk and distracted driving as well as honor Meg’s memory,” said Peace.

“Not just as an accomplished athlete, but as a devoted mother, sister, daughter and wife, in her short life of 34 years Meg was able to make a tremendous impact to people all over the Richmond region as a mentor for fellow athletes, and others for good will. This license plate is meant to provoke conversation and a sense of community whether it be runners, walkers, families, people of faith and anyone wanting to make a difference in the world around them,” expressed Ryan Hudson, who helped organize special plate initiative.

On behalf of Virginia’s state recognized tribes in King William County and others across the Commonwealth, Del. Peace introduced House Bill 814. HB 814 is a measure to authorize the Secretary of the Commonwealth, as liaison to these tribes, to establish a Virginia Indian advisory board to assist him in reviewing applications seeking recognition as a Virginia Indian tribe and to make recommendations to the Secretary, the Governor, and the General Assembly on such applications and other matters relating to recognition. The bill sets out the membership and powers and duties of any Virginia Indian advisory board established by the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Speaking to passage of the bill, Stephen Adkins, Chief of the Chickahominy Tribe, “HB 814 provides a much needed, credible process for according state recognition to Indian groups seeking recognition as Virginia Indian Tribes. As described in HB 814, an advisory council, which includes scholars/experts in subject matter required to distinguish between Indian groups and Indian tribes, will vet documentation and provide objective feedback to inform the legislature’s decision regarding granting state recognition to Indian Groups.”

“As Chief of the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe, I think House Bill 814 is the only proper way to deal with recognition issues with Tribes and Tribal Groups of Virginia. A Virginia Indian Advisory Board is the only logical way to review these requests and make educated recommendations to the General Assembly,” stated Frank Adams, Chief of the Upper Mattaponi Tribe.

Eli’s Law, introduced as House Bill 682 patroned by Peace, was incorporated into House Bill 177 and passed by a vote of 99-0. Eli’s Law will require those who commit malicious bodily injury or aggravated malicious bodily injury against a child under 13 years of age to be placed on the Virginia Sex Offenders & Crimes Against Minors registry.  Placement of offenders on the register alerts parents and businesses to take extra precautions to ensure that children are not placed in dangerous situations.

Speaking in committee, Peace commented, “I think that common sense tells you that if you’re going to take an infant child and bash its brain in then you’re going to be pretty likely to commit some other type of crime later. I think public notice is the minimum that we would expect in certain circumstances such as that.”

Talking about the passage of Eli’s Law, Mechanicsville constituent, who is the child’s mother, Courtney Maddox stated, “My son, nearly lost his life to abuse in 2010. I went to Delegate Peace after noticing there was no law that requires those who nearly kill children, to be placed on the Crimes Against Minors registry. [Peace] took this very seriously and he created legislation known as Eli's Law. I thank him for seeking to protect our most valuable resource, our children. I thank Chris, for all he is doing for our families, our community and most of all, our children.”

Another important Peace measure passed unanimously, House Bill 668 provides that a court shall consider the circumstances and factors that contributed to the dissolution of the marriage, specifically including any ground for divorce, in determining the nature, amount, and duration of a spousal support award. This legislative idea was brought to Peace by a constituent who was a victim of domestic violence.  She pressed charges on her assaulter who was subsequently convicted and incarcerated.  When she divorced her assaulter while he was incarcerated, the judge awarded him spousal support.  Peace felt that no victim should be compelled to pay their attacker and took steps to prevent this from happening in the future with this common sense legislation.  “To allow otherwise is truly insult to injury,” said Peace, an attorney.

Also passing at Crossover, by a vote of 97-2, House Bill 675 will allow Auxiliary Grant (AG) beneficiaries to live in supportive housing closer to communities in which they reside. This bill will allow individuals with disabilities and/or specialized housing needs a broader choice of housing options to meet their needs.  An AG is an income supplement for individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and certain other aged, blind, or disabled individuals who reside in a licensed assisted living facility (ALF) or an approved adult foster care (AFC) home.

“Virginian’s deserve access to quality, affordable healthcare, and this measure will increase portability and choice in this vulnerable population primarily those with mental illness,” said Delegate Chris Peace (R-Hanover), yet far too often, local communities are denied increased access to basic services.”

“Decisions made by unelected bureaucrats lead to less choice and higher costs. Delegate Peace has been a champion for reforming our COPN laws so that local communities and private businesses partner in the selection of services needed in their backyard while allowing competition to drive costs down.”

At the beginning of the 2016 session, Delegate Peace joined several other senior Republican members of the Virginia House of Delegates to introduce legislation to reform Virginia’s Certificate of Public Need (COPN) laws. Policies spanned from full repeal to various other significant reforms to COPN, to create a more free-market healthcare system, improve access to quality and affordable care for patients while controlling costs. COPN measures passed and will now be heard by the Senate.  Peace is the chief co-patron of House Bills 193 and 350.

“As you can see from these bills, working to enact common sense policies to increase the quality of life of residents of the 97th District and across the Commonwealth is top priority for me.  I am proud to have taken repeated steps forward as we meet the half way point of the 2016 session.  I urge you to contact your Senator to encourage his support of these important measures,” said Peace.

 

House Passes Peace Career & Technical Education Bill on Behalf of King William County Public Schools

--Delegate Peace is committed to educational opportunities in Virginia’s Schools—- Bill requested by King William County Public Schools -

Central Virginia – Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) announces passage of House Bill 682 by a vote of 98-0. HB 682, creates a waiver program for teacher licensure requirements as it pertains to trade and industrial education programs.

The measure allows any division superintendent to apply to the Department of Education for an annual waiver of the teacher licensure requirements for any individual whom the local school board hires or seeks to hire to teach in a trade and industrial education program who has obtained or is working toward an industry credential relating to the program area and who has at least 4,000 hours of recent and relevant employment experience, as defined by the Board pursuant to regulation. The Department of Education shall establish a procedure for submitting, receiving, and acting upon such annual waiver applications.

Speaking to the bill, King William County Public School Interim Superintendent Stacy Johnson stated, “As we add CTE courses to our program of studies, it is imperative that we hire instructors who have a wealth of knowledge and experience in their field. These types of instructors do not always follow, or want to follow, the traditional path to obtaining a teaching license. This legislation allows us the flexibility to hire part-time instructors who have the necessary work experience and knowledge but also have the desire to train the future workforce.”

"The passage of this bill will enable King William County Public Schools and Bridging Communities Regional Career and Technical Center and Governor's STEM Academy more flexibility in securing instructors with industry credentials and experience. They will be more likely to accept a position without the previous constraints in licensing for K-12. We thank Delegate Peace for listening and creating legislation that is most helpful to us," asserted Kathy Morrison, Chair, King William School Board.

When speaking about the bill, Delegate Peace said, “Our commitment to a strong future requires an educated workforce. An educated workforce is also key to a competitive workforce, so to that end, one of my goals is to foster an environment where students can get the best education possible which fits their individual career goals. CTE students are not second-class students.”

He continued, “While some students will attend Virginia's universities or community colleges, there are other students who would benefit from a career readiness program that provides technical training for jobs in high paying manufacturing fields. This bill will ensure these students have access to these valuable classes.”

House Republican legislators pass legislation to reform Virginia’s Certificate of Public Need Laws

Chief Co-Patron Chris Peace commends his colleagues, Dels. O’Bannon and Byron on its Passage RICHMOND, VA – At the beginning of the 2016 session, Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) joined several other senior Republican members of the Virginia House of Delegates to introduce legislation to reform Virginia’s Certificate of Public Need (COPN) laws. Policies spanned from full repeal to various other significant reforms to COPN, to create a more free-market healthcare system, improve access to quality and affordable care for patients while controlling costs.

Virginia is one of 36 states with certificate of public need (COPN) laws. Currently, Virginia regulates far more than those states with almost 20 different services, including but not limited to general acute care services, diagnostic imaging, ambulatory surgical centers, capital expenditures, and facilities construction. Under current law, if a healthcare provider wants to build a new facility, add new CT or MRI services, or change the services it provides, it must go through a lengthy and costly application process with state regulators who determine if there is a “public need” for such a service.

The application process can take nine months or longer which on its face is a barrier to market. It nearly derailed a stand-alone emergency department being pursued in New Kent and initially rejected the moving of imaging equipment within Bon Secours from a location at Reynolds Crossing (Glenside/Broad) to Short Pump. “The COPN system is the epitome of central planning and lacks common sense,” according to Del. Peace.

“Virginian’s deserve access to quality, affordable healthcare,” said Delegate Chris Peace (R-Hanover). “Yet far too often, local communities are denied increased access to basic services such as outpatient emergency rooms, CT scanners or MRIs by healthcare regulators based on decisions made by unelected bureaucrats. Virginia should reform our COPN laws so that local communities and private business to partner in the selection of services they need in their backyard while allowing competition to drive costs down.”

Passed today, HB 193 creates a three phase process to sunset most of Virginia’s COPN laws over a three year period. Phase one includes eliminating COPN for imaging services. Phase two would eliminate COPN for ambulatory and outpatient surgery centers. The third phase would eliminate COPN for hospitals and all other categories. The legislation leaves an exemption for nursing homes, open-heart surgery facilities, and tissue transplant services. The final major piece of the bill includes strict charity care requirements for all providers. The bill requires charity care contributions to be tracked, monitored, and enforced by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Additionally, HB 350, changes numerous administrative processes to make the program more efficient and transparent. It adds an expedited 45 day review period for noncontroversial projects, and is based on the recommendations approved by a work group convened by Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel in 2015. Speaking to the bill, Del. Kathy Byron stated, “Despite an onslaught of negative ads and paid phone calls, a majority of Delegates understood we have to act to lower healthcare costs.”

HB 193, chief co-patroned by Peace, passed the House by a vote of 52-46. HB 350, also chief co-patroned by Peace passed by a vote of 94-4. The measures will now head to the Senate for consideration.

“We are now one step closer to meaningful COPN reform in Virginia,” asserted Del. John O’Bannon.

House Republican legislators introduce legislation to reform Virginia’s Certificate of Public Need Laws

Three Republican members of the Virginia House of Delegates are introducing legislation in the 2016 General Assembly session to reform Virginia’s Certificate of Public Need (COPN) laws.  Delegates John O’Bannon (R-Henrico), Kathy Byron (R-Bedford) and Christopher Peace (R-Hanover) are proposing eight legislative ideas to repeal or reform COPN, create a more free-market healthcare system, improve access for patients, and control costs. “As a physician, I see firsthand the negative effects that burdensome COPN regulations are having on healthcare in Virginia,” said Delegate John O’Bannon (R-Henrico).  “COPN laws limit competition, which means fewer choices and higher costs for Virginia families.  Reforming COPN is the best way to improve access for patients, expand healthcare services and keep costs under control.  I look forward to working with my colleagues this coming session to enact meaningful reform.”

Specifically, Delegate O’Bannon’s proposal would create a three phase process to sunset most of Virginia’s COPN laws over a three year period.  Phase one includes eliminating COPN for imaging services.  Phase two would eliminate COPN for ambulatory and outpatient surgery centers.  The third phase would eliminate COPN for hospitals and all other categories.  The legislation leaves an exemption for nursing homes, open-heart surgery facilities, and tissue transplant services.  The final major piece of the bill includes strict charity care requirements for all providers.  The bill requires charity care contributions to be tracked, monitored, and enforced by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

“In my district, and in rural communities across Virginia, access and affordability are the biggest healthcare challenges facing patients,” said Delegate Kathy Byron (R-Bedford), Chairman of the Health Insurance Reform Commission.  “The Federal Trade Commission says COPN ‘laws undercut consumer choice, stifle innovation, and weaken markets’ ability to contain health care costs.’  Virginia needs comprehensive COPN reform to allow the free market to create competition, increase choices, and reduce costs.”

Delegate Byron will introduce several measures aimed at reforming COPN laws, including legislation related to repealing the COPN requirements for ambulatory surgery centers, medical equipment, and LASIK equipment.  Delegate Byron will also introduce a bill that would enact an immediate repeal of Virginia’s COPN laws but would protect rural hospitals and nursing homes by exempting them from the repeal.

“Virginian’s deserve access to quality, affordable healthcare,” said Delegate Chris Peace (R-Hanover).  “Yet far too often, local communities are denied increased access to basic services such as outpatient emergency rooms, CT scanners or MRIs by healthcare regulators based on decisions made by unelected bureaucrats.  Virginia should reform our COPN laws so that local communities can decide which services they need in their neighborhoods, and allow for competition to drive costs down.”

Delegate Peace will introduce legislation to repeal the COPN requirements for CT scanning, MRI, MSI, PET scanning and nuclear medicine imaging provided the medical provider meets the following criteria: has the appropriate accreditation, adheres to the American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria or other evidence-based national standards to discourage utilization, registers equipment with the Commissioner and regional health planning agency and meets certain equipment standards that will be left up to the regulatory process, and provides the same amount (at a minimum) of the average percentage of indigent care provided in the health planning region in the previous year in which the physician’s office resides. If the physician is unable to meet this requirement, the option to provide a monetary contribution instead remains. Peace has also introduced legislation that would enact an immediate and partial repeal of Virginia’s COPN laws.  This bill would exempt nursing homes, open-heart surgery centers, and tissue transplant services from the repeal, and would enact strong charity care requirements to ensure the most vulnerable have access to vital healthcare services.

Republican legislators participating in the press conference included Delegate John O’Bannon (R-Henrico), Delegate Kathy Byron (R-Bedford), and Delegate Chris Peace (R-Hanover).

Virginia Farm Bureau Federation AgPAC endorses Chris Peace for Re-Election

Delegate Christopher K. Peace received the endorsement of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation (VFBF) AgPAC, a political action committee of Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, in the race for the 97th House District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Expressing appreciation of the endorsement, Peace said, "I'm honored to have received this endorsement; it is a strong vote of confidence from the farmers of the Commonwealth. Agribusiness is an important part of Virginia's economy. I am focused on working with my colleagues in the General Assembly and the agricultural community to get Virginia's economy moving again. By embracing a solution-oriented approach, I will work to enact the right policies at this critical time to assure a more prosperous future for farmers and every other sector of Virginia's economy. I support the right to farm and forest."

Peace is among 87 candidates that Virginia VFBF AgPAC has endorsed for House seats. Endorsements were made based on the recommendations of local committees of farmers.

“Each of these candidates has demonstrated a clear understanding of the needs and challenges farmers are facing and/or have proven their support through their favorable voting records while holding positions in the General Assembly.  We believe these candidates will help agriculture and forestry maintain its vitality as the number one industry in Virginia”   said Wayne F. Pryor, chairman of VFBF AgPAC and VFBF president. “We look forward to working with them in the 2016 Virginia General Assembly.”

The non-partisan VFBF AgPAC was created by Farm Bureau in 1999 and employs in-kind contributions to support candidates who can best support agriculture and Farm Bureau issues. A full list of candidates endorsed by the committee can be viewed online at www.VaFarmBureau.org

 

Pictured: Hanover farmer, Wayne Kirby, Del. Peace, and King William farmer, J.N. Mills