Del. James H. Dillard II (R-Fairfax), one of the legislature's longest-serving lawmakers, announced Thursday that he will not seek reelection this year after more than 32 years in the House of Delegates and seven years as chairman of the House Education Committee.
The announcement was not a surprise. Dillard, 71, had widely signaled his intention to return to private life. A moderate Republican with an independent streak, Dillard broke with his GOP leaders last year to support a tax increase compromise.
Del. James H. Dillard II, shown last month, will leave with more than 32 years of service in the House.
(Steve Helber -- AP)
Dillard has represented the 41st District since 1972. In that time, he focused on education and environmental policy. In the past several years, he has been outspoken in declaring President Bush's No Child Left Behind school accountability program to be a failure.
Anticipating Dillard's decision, several candidates in both parties have been jockeying for position as the June 14 primaries approach. Dillard's term ends in January.
Health Care for Domestic Partners
The General Assembly has passed legislation that would allow private companies in the state to offer health care insurance to employees who want to add loved ones other than their spouses or dependent children.
The legislation opens the door for Virginia companies to allow domestic partnership benefits, including same-sex partnerships. Virginia is the only state that does not permit private companies to allow employees to share health care benefits for those who are not their spouses or dependent children. Senate Bill 1338, sponsored by Sen. Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax), passed the Senate, 26 to 14, this month. It passed the House yesterday, 49 to 48.
Opponents said the bill does not reflect mainstream thinking in Virginia regarding same-sex partnerships, because it would allow insurance companies to add same-sex domestic partners to an employee's health insurance plan. They also said that such insurance plans are expensive.
Social Services Chief Resigns
Virginia's top social services official has resigned from Warner's administration.
Maurice A. Jones, commissioner of the Department of Social Services, will leave in mid-March, he said. He declined to say where he will be working after he leaves his state post.
Warner hired Jones in January 2002 to be his deputy chief of staff and named him commissioner later that year. As commissioner, Jones oversaw a department that regulates foster care, assisted living facilities and welfare programs.
In 2003, several state and local social service employees involved with the distribution of food stamps were terminated after allegations that they had committed fraud. The investigation continues.
Jones, 40, is a former corporate lawyer and lives in Northern Virginia.
Staff writer Chris L. Jenkins contributed to this report.