Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Weekly Column: 2014 Session Focuses on Ethics, Medicaid and U.S. 1

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, The Mt. Vernon Voice and Patch in the week of January 12, 2014.
2014 Session Focuses on Ethics, Medicaid and U.S. 1
On January 8, 2014 ,the 2014 General Assembly Session was gavelled into session and I took my third oath of office. 
The biggest issues on the horizon right now are ethics reform and the expansion of Medicaid.  Governor McDonnell’s problems over the last twelve months have shown a spotlight on Virginia’s inadequate gift, disclosure, and campaign finance law. 
Two months ago, I wrote a column with six changes that are critical including reporting gifts and transactions between special interests and elected officials’ family members and businesses, caps on gifts to elected officials including local government officials, campaign contributions limits, disclosure of all activity during twelve month periods, restrictions on spending campaign money on personal expenses, and creating an independent ethics commission with audit and enforcement powers.
Last week, a bipartisan group of legislators announced the preliminary agreement about ethics reform but it did not go far enough.  The group is now considering feedback provided my members, including myself, to make the reforms tougher.  Hopefully, the final proposal will be meaningful. 
The expansion of Medicaid is absolutely critical for the 44th District.  The 44th District has the largest population receiving healthcare from Medicaid of all 26 delegates from Northern Virginia.  This include 9,000 children – if you are under 18 and live in the West Potomac or Mt. Vernon High School pyramids  there is a 1 in 3 chance you receive your healthcare from Medicaid.  Each one of those children has parents with no health insurance. 
INOVA Hospital is providing healthcare without reimbursement for many of these families and everyone ends up paying for it – especially if you have private health insurance.  Charity medical care also consumes are huge amount of the General Fund which takes away money for secondary education, higher education, and other priorities. 
Virginians are also paying tax dollars to the Federal Government that now go to other states.  The Federal Government has agreed to pick up 100% of the cost of the Medicaid expansion now and 90% in the out years.  Leaving billions of Virginians’ federal tax dollars sitting on the table to be gobbled up by other states while hard working low income Virginians go without health insurance is political malpractice.  I am hopeful we can broker a compromise on that issue. 
I have introduced over thirty bills of my own this session and about ten budget amendments including funding the next phase of the study to start engineering transit improvements to U.S. 1. 
If you would like more updates on Richmond you can follow me on Twitter (@ssurovell), “Like” my Facebook Page, sign up for email updates on my website (www.scottsurovell.org) or read my online newsletter – The Dixie Pig (scottsurovell.blogspot.com). 
Also, please take a moment to complete my 2014 Constituent Survey.  You can find a link on my website – www.scottsurovell.org/survey
I would also encourage you to come and visit our historic State Capitol which was designed by Thomas Jefferson and constructed in 1804.  It is the second oldest capitol in continuous use in the United States.  You can call my office to set up a tour.

Thank you again for entrusting me to serve as your state delegate.  I look forward to your feedback.

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