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During the third week of the 2018 General Assembly Session, the Senate addressed a number of criminal justice reform measures. 

Week three of the 2018 General Assembly Session has ended, and February is right around the corner.

Teachers are the single most important factor in the quality of a child’s education. Unfortunately, Virginia is facing a severe and growing shortage of qualified teachers.  In some high-poverty divisions, the shortage is reaching crisis levels. The number of unfilled teacher positions across Virginia has increased by 40 percent over the past 10 years. In 2016, two months into the school year more than 1,000 fully funded positions remained vacant.

Last week was the first full week of the 2018 General Assembly Session, and things are moving quickly. This week, I provide an update on my legislation and the budget amendments I have sponsored. 

Last week, the 2018 Virginia General Assembly Session convened for 60 days.  It was a historic week!  In the House of Delegates, 19 new members as the Republican majority shrunk to 51-49.  We also said farewell to Governor Terry McAuliffe, who gave his final State of the Commonwealth on Wednesday night, highlighting the significant accomplishments of the past four years. And on Saturday, Ralph Northam was sworn in as the 73rd Governor of the Commonwealth, Justin Fairfax was sworn as the 40th Lieutenant Governor, and Mark Herring was sworn in for a second term as Attorney General. 

Against this historic backdrop, the General Assembly began work on thousands of bills and the state biennial budget.  

Last week, the 2018 Virginia General Assembly Session convened for 60 days.  It was a historic week!  In the House of Delegates, 19 new members were sworn in, and the Republican majority shrunk to 51-49. On Saturday, Ralph Northam was sworn in as the 73rd Governor of the Commonwealth, Justin Fairfax was sworn as the 40th Lieutenant Governor, and Mark Herring was sworn in for a second term as Attorney General.  
 
Against this historic backdrop, the General Assembly began work on thousands of bills and the state biennial budget. I look forward to providing an update on this an other issues over the next six weeks.
On Monday, Governor McAuliffe unveiled the two-year budget covering July 2018 through June 2020. 

You can read the Governor's remarks at the joint money committees meeting here. You can read the Richmond Times-Dispatch's article on the budget here.

Last month we saw a Democratic wave election in which Ralph Northam, Justin Fairfax, and Mark Herring were elected Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General, respectively, and Democrats in the House of Delegates climbed from 34 to 49!   
 
Majority control in the House is still up in the air, as four races go to recount.  In HD-94, Democrat Shelly Simonds trails Republican David Yancy by only 10 votes!  In HD-40, Donte Tanner trails Republican Tim Hugo by 106 votes.  And in HD-28, where 147 voters were given the wrong ballot, Democrat Josh Cole trails Republican Bob Thomas by only 82 votes.  Locally, in HD-68, Republican Manoli Loupassi requested a recount after conceding to Democrat Dawn Adams twice.  Dawn leads by 336 votes.  
 
In local upsets, Courtney Lynch was elected to serve as the Brookland representative on the Henrico County Board of Supervisors, flipping control of the Board to Democrats for the first time in decades.  In Chesterfield County, which voted for a Democratic Governor for the first time in over 50 years, Jenefer Hughes was elected to serve as Commissioner of the Revenue.
Tomorrow Virginians will go to the polls to vote for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Members of the House of Delegates, and a number of local offices.
 
Make sure that you are election ready by making a plan to vote today!
 
Polls will be open on tomorrow from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.
 
Finally, bring proper photo ID with you to the polls. You can see a list of acceptable forms of photo ID here. If you don't have one of these forms of ID, or it has expired, you can apply a for free Virginia Voter Photo ID Card at your local registrar's office. 
To see more information on voting in the 9th Senate District, including a list of local registrar offices, visit the "Voting in the 9th District" page of my website.
The Washington, D.C. to Richmond Southeast High Speed Rail (DC2RVA) Project is a joint project between the Federal Rail Administration (FRA) and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) to improve intercity passenger rail service in the north-south corridor between Washington, D.C. and Richmond, VA. 
 
The purpose of the DC2RVA Project is to increase capacity to deliver higher speed passenger rail, expand commuter rail, and accommodate growth of freight rail service in an efficient and reliable multimodal rail corridor. The DC2RVA Project will enable passenger rail to be a competitive transportation choice for intercity travelers between Washington, D.C., Richmond, and beyond. It extends 123 miles along an existing rail corridor owned by CSX Transportation (CSXT) from the Long Bridge across the Potomac River in Arlington, VA, to Centralia, VA in Chesterfield County, south of Richmond.  
 
Last month, FRA and DPRT published a Tier II Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which can be found here.  The Draft EIS provides an overview and comparison of the alternatives under consideration, including recommendations for a preferred alternative in
each corridor segment.  
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