Archive for May, 2011

The 2011 Virginia General Assembly Session

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Delegates Bell and Toscano spoke at the May 11, 2011 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held at the Charlottesville Senior Center. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV Secretary Bill Davis.

Rob Bell

Rob Bell

An honors graduate of the University of Virginia and the University of Virginia Law School, Rob Bell served as a state prosecutor for five years. He prosecuted over 2,400 cases, working with the police and crime victims to bring criminals to justice.

Representing the 58th House District (County of Greene and parts of Albemarle, Fluvanna, and Orange Counties), Rob has written laws that crack down on drunk driving. He was named the 2005 Outstanding Legislator by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)-Virginia. He is also interested in school safety. In recent years, he has written laws to ban criminal sex offenders from school property during school hours and to require additional background checks on school personnel. In 2008, Rob helped overhaul Virginia’s mental health laws in light of the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

An Eagle Scout, Rob was an active volunteer with the Boy Scouts and with the public schools prior to his election in 2001. Rob’s wife, Jessica, is a school teacher. She is currently staying home to raise their children, Robbie and Evelyn. The Bells live in Albemarle County and are members of Aldersgate United Methodist Church.

David Toscano

David Toscano

David Toscano was elected to his first term in the Virginia House of Delegates in November 2005 representing the 57th House District (City of Charlottesville and part of Albemarle County). David was born in Syracuse, New York, in 1950, the first of five children. He was educated in the public schools, received a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University in 1972, a Ph.D. from Boston College in 1979, and a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1986. He has taught at various colleges and universities, including Boston College, the University of Maryland (European Division), Piedmont Virginia Community College, the University of Virginia, and James Madison University. He is an attorney with Buck, Toscano & Tereskerz, Ltd., specializing in family law and real estate. David served on the Charlottesville City Council from 1990 to 2002 and as Mayor from 1994 to 1996. David is a resident of the City of Charlottesville, where he lives with his wife of 30 years, Nancy A. Tramontin, and their son, Matthew. David serves on the Courts of Justice, Transportation, and Science and Technology Committees in the House of Delegates. He is also a member of the Disability Commission, the Joint Commission to Study Math, Science and Technology Education in the Commonwealth, and the Joint Subcommittee to Study Land Use Tools in the Commonwealth. He is also a member of the United Way Board and the Chamber of Commerce.

Program Summary

At the May 11 SSV meeting, Delegates Rob Bell and David Toscano, provided their perspectives on the 2010 General Assembly session. Both delegates discussed how Virginia’s budget is smaller than it was years ago. Indeed, in 2007 the budget was $17 billion and then went down as low as $14.7 billion and now is up to $16.6 billion. Even though the total pie is smaller, spending on Medicaid and schools is up leaving even less for everything else. Toscano noted that even though Medicaid is the single fastest growing part of the budget, Virginia ranks only 49th with regard to Medicaid reimbursement rates.

Delegate Bell cited the work on legislative changes to the protective order laws. Given such situations as that of Yeardley Love, legislators determined that it should be easier to get an order against someone even if you are not married to that person. The new law enables an individual to get a protective order regardless of the relationship between the parties.

Delegate Toscano talked about the significance of the redistricting process and asked members of the audience, “Do you know what district you’re in now?” Both districts have changed.

Areas requiring major legislative attention cited by the delegates included transportation, the Virginia Retirement System fund (which is $17 billion in arrears), and higher education.