Richmond Report - Committee Work

As we conclude the end of our first full week of session, the pace of work here at the General Assembly has increased.  My colleagues and I spend a great deal of time meeting in committees and subcommittees as we consider a little over 2,000 bills introduced in the General Assembly this year.  Most of the work occurs in the fourteen House committees and eleven Senate committees, which divide their workloads into smaller subcommittees.  With Crossover (the halfway point when each chamber must complete work on its own legislation) fast-approaching, depending on the workload, some of these committees and subcommittees begin meeting at 7:00 am and can finish well after 9:00 pm.

My bills are now making their way through these subcommittees and committees, and I am hopeful for their passage.  This year, I am continuing my work on a couple of initiatives that I have been involved in over the last couple of years. 

The first is my plan to make college more affordable for working Virginians and families.  Two years ago, I enacted legislation which established a degree program whereby an undergraduate student in Virginia may complete, through the use of online, community college, or public or private college or university courses, the course credit requirements to receive a bachelor's degree at a tuition cost of around $16,000 for four years.  Over the last two years, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), as well as George Mason University and Old Dominion University, have been working to implement this new online degree program. 

I am pleased to say that this year I am working with Majority Leader Kirk Cox on legislation to establish the Online Virginia Network Authority as an educational institution in the Commonwealth to act as the coordinating and administering entity for the delivery of each online course, credential program, and degree program offered by a public institution of higher education in the Commonwealth. 

More often, I hear from folks in my district discuss the need for affordable and accountable higher education options for both themselves and their children.  I am hopeful that we in the General Assembly are doing what we can to achieve this goal. 

In addition to my work on higher education, I have also been working with a group of parents who have started an organization called Decoding Dyslexia to find ways to assist teachers and parents in assisting students who are dyslexic. 

Last year, my bill required the Board of Education regulations governing teacher licensure to require every person seeking initial licensure or renewal of a license to complete awareness training, provided by the Department of Education, on the indicators of dyslexia and the evidence-based interventions and accommodations for dyslexia.  This year, I have introduced a bill (HB 2395) to require one reading specialist employed by each local school board to have training in the identification of and the appropriate interventions, accommodations, and teaching techniques for students with dyslexia or a related disorder and to serve as an advisor on dyslexia and related disorders.  Many parents I have heard from regarding this issue have spoken of the need for early intervention and diagnosis, and it is my hope that this change will address that need.

You may follow my legislation, or that of any other member of the Virginia General Assembly, by visiting In addition, you can click here to watch the live session of the House of Delegates, which typically begins at Noon each day.

As always, I look forward to hearing and seeing folks from back home in the district. If you will be visiting the Richmond area during Session, I would love for you to come see me and stop by my office. While I may be in session or committee meetings, you can call or email to set an appointment to ensure that I will be available. If you would like to reach me or need assistance, please contact me at my Richmond office at 804-698-1024 or by email at Additionally, written correspondence can be sent to P.O. Box 406, Richmond, Virginia 23218. 

Ben Cline