Delegate Steve Landes hosts town hall to talk upcoming session

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- On Tuesday evening, Delegate Steve Landes met with people in Crozet to learn about what issues Albemarle County residents care.

Landes says that his biggest focus of the new year will be on the annual budget.

"The most important thing we have to deal with is the house and senate version of the budget that the governor introduced. At this point, that's $104 billion, so we got to come up with a $102 bIllion shortfall," he said.

Those in attendance mentioned Medicaid and other health-related issues as being a big concern. Landes says a big problem with that issue is that he doesn't know what will happen to the state of national health insurance.

"There's nothing we can really do unless the president and Congress act very quickly on any changes they could make to health care. There's talk about appealing or replacing the Affordable Care Act, and obviously that would affect and change Virginia's health system," he said.

Over the past couple years, local governments have received less funding, and Landes says the General Assembly hopes to change that.

"As state revenues decline, localities have seen that same impact. The state hasn't been able to meet its fair share, especially for education among other areas. But, we're hoping to mitigate that this session, and have no cuts that will affect other localities," he said.

January is also an important month for local lawmakers because the special election of the 22nd Senate District will decide which party has majority in the state senate. The seat was formerly held by Tom Garrett (R), who now serves as the Fifth Congressional District representative.

Landes says that he is confident the senate will remain controlled by Republicans.

"In a special election, there's always a lower voter turnout, so anything can happen, but I do think the seat does lean towards the Republican party. It's been a Republican seat for years," he said.

He will host one more town hall on Thursday in Harrisonburg. The event will start at the Rockingham County Administration Building at 6:30 p.m.

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