Public Comments for 02/01/2023 Appropriations - Higher Education Subcommittee
HB1861 - Virginia Museum of Transportation; established, report, membership, board of trustees.
Dear Mr. Chairman and Distinguished Committee Members, Thank you for the opportunity to support HB1861 to elevate the Virginia Museum of Transportation to state agency status. I absolutely appreciate the bi-partisan support this Bill has received thus far in both the Virginia House and Senate. I know time is of the essence, so I will be brief, placing my comments in bullet point fashion. - The Virginia Museum of Transportation has been serving Virginians as well as visitors throughout the world for 60 years this spring. During this time, the museum has improved its collections, its educational programs, its buildings, and much more. It is a treasure, and one that is valued by the hundreds of thousands of visitors and students who have been through its doors. - Despite the cursory appearance of our online 990 filings, the Museum is financially strong with over $500,000 in both restricted and unrestricted funds in the bank excluding funding approved by last years General Assembly. If you back out depreciation, and one-time costs associated with exhibits covered by restricted private funds, it's easy to see that the museum has a positive cash flow. -Over the past 25 years the museum has received no state funding yet has always met all of its financial obligations. While we understand how easy it is to assume so, we are not coming to you for a bail out. -The museum serves over 100,000 visitors annually (approximately 35,000 are students there for educational purposes). We serve even more visitors during historic locomotive excursions. - Over one in ten jobs in the U.S. are related to transportation. The Virginia Museum of Transportation plays a much needed role in introducing our young people to the past, present, and future of transportation, which as you know is undergoing substantial changes at present. We need sharp interested young people choosing sciences and other avenues of education which support our transportation systems, and do so with our ecology in mind. The transportation sector represents more than 10% of our National Gross Domestic Product. Its importance cannot be overstated. - The museum is a significant tourism draw. Its most recent steam locomotive excursions drew tens of thousands of visitors to the Commonwealth as the J 611 steam locomotive built here in Virginia coursed its way through cities in the state. - I could go on. However, it suffices to say that Virginia deserves a state supported transportation museum to curate its rich transportation history, teach current transportation technologies, and challenge the future. State agency level transportation museums such as the North Carolina Transportation Museum are able to give students and visitors a transformative experience. We should do no less. The current Virginia Museum of Transportation is the oldest, largest, and most diverse entity of its kind in the Commonwealth. It has been the states official Transportation Museum for over three decades. It has improved its offerings every year. It is time to take the next step that will put the Virginia Museum of Transporation on par with other similar institutions across the country. We will make you proud of a decision to do so.
Becoming a state agency would be instrumental in helping move the Virginia Museum of Transportation forward. It would allow us to reach beyond the 35,000 students that we currently see each year. The additional funds would be beneficial in providing technology upgrades, building improvements related to energy consumption, improvements to our collections and restoration work, enhanced educational programming that we could make available to students across the state., and more. Agency status would allow the museum to serve as central support for the many similar, yet smaller museums across Virginia.
The Roanoke Regional Chamber strongly supports HB 1861. The Virginia Museum of Transportation (VMT) is a tourism draw for thousands of visitors each year and as an official state agency, the Museum would be eligible for increased support and able to expand its offerings. As Virginia's official transportation museum, this move makes sense and would ensure that the VMT has the additional support it needs to continue to attract more visitors. Thank you for your consideration and for your support of the VMT.
Madam Chairman and fellow committee members I am asking for your support of HB1861 introduced by Delegate Chris Head. The Virgnia Museum of Transportation serves between 30,000 and 35,000 students annually through onsite educational programs and field trips. It serves roughly 60,000 additional visitors as well and thousands more when interactive locomotive excursions are ongoing. The Museum has been the Commonwealths Official Museum for over 30 years. it needs official status to give it the agency access and other resources to achieve a superior educational experience. One in ten jobs are in the transportation sector, and changing technology requirements for environmental improvements are changing rapidly. Its an extremely important area for learining. I have been associated with the Museum as a board member and volunteer for over 30 years because its important to our young people and our state. There is no other like it in Virginia. It deserves to be on par with other state transportation museums such as the North Carolina Transportation Museum. It should have virtual programs available to classrooms across Virginia and the country. This will never happen without the modest investment state agency status requires. The museum is truly amazing and is by far the largest and most comprehensive in the state. I apologize for not being present to testify, but given the Bills late assignment we only became aware of its scheduled hearing this morning late last night. It simply was impossible. I hope you will report this Bill out to the full committee so that further debate may occur and any of your questions may be answered. Sincerly, William T. Cox Executive VP Virgnia Museum of Transportation
As a mother to 5 children, some who are lgbtqia+ this is harmful to all of my children. My straight kids have more rights than my non straight children. How is this justifiable? At what point are all people created equal? Why am Ibfirced to have different survival conversations with each of my children because of laws like these? Why are my LGBTQIA+ kids worth less than my straight kids to my state government? At what point will you work to protect all of my children equally?
Madam Chairman and Committee members, I am writing in hopes that you will give your full support to HB1861 patron Delegate Chris Head, which establishes the 60 year old Virginia Museum of Transportation as an official agency of the state. The Virginia Museum of Transportation has been Virginias Official Transportation Museum for many decades. During that time hundreds of thousands of students and many more visitors have participated in the museums field trips, educational programs, and enjoyed their many exhibits and steam excursions. Its exhibits are truly world class, representing several centuries of every mode of transportation, and often the only remaining examples of great technological achievements. What is showcased there has inspired untold numbers of young people and sparked the interests of its visitors. Today the transportation sector of our economy is responsible for over ten percent of our nations Gross Domestic Product and employs one in ten Americans. Additionally, current efforts to clean our air and curb climate change are substantially aimed at transportation of all types. It follows that the need to expose young people and the public at large to all facets of transportation history, present, and future is one of highest order. Your Virginia Museum of Transportation fills this need. It can however do it better and should. Technology is at the core of todays learning experience, and the museum is in substantial need of a complete technology overhaul. Everything from dedicated wifi, new audio visual equipment, monitoring cameras, security, and so much more is needed. There is a need to build a virtual museum experience available to all Virginians regardless of where they live. So much is needed. It bears mentioning that the Museum is an excellent venue to draw much more tourism to the state. Its exhibits and steam excursions hold so much promise. State agency status will give the Museum the resources and the access to expertise within its other agencies to make it a world class educational experience like so many other state transportation museums across the country. It can also then serve as support for the many smaller museums and institutions throughout Virginia and the country. It is a treasure, and one with so much potential. A relatively modest investment on the part of the state in a well established broad based institution such as the Virginia Museum of Transportation will pay dividends for years to come. Virginia deserves to have such an institution to be the equal or rival others in other states. Please support this effort. Sincerely, Tom Cox National Director Antique Automobile Club of America
I am writing today as a long standing member of the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the Virginia Museum of Transportation, asking for your support of HB1861. The Museum is located in the historic Norfolk & Western Railway freight station built in 1918, which is on the national register of historic places, located in the City of Roanoke. The Museum is celebrating its 60th anniversary, having been established in 1963, and has been recognized by the General Assembly as Virginia’s official transportation museum for over three decades. The Museum is by far Virginia’s largest transportation museum and the most comprehensive with its collections spanning several centuries and all modes of transportation. The Museum’s educational component is the core of its existence, and it serves 35,000 Virginia primary education students annually by way of field trips and other educational programs. Additionally, the Museum has a long-standing working relationship with nearby Virginia Tech and currently displays a large number of vehicles, particularly those associated with the University’s "Smart Road", electric vehicles, and other transportation technology programs. The Museum also serves over 50,000 other visitors annually from across Virginia, the U.S., and from around the world. There is a clear need to expose students and the general public to both the history and future of transportation, particularly given the need for an evolution of thought as all segments of transportation are changing rapidly with the implementation of environmentally friendly technologies and increased attention given to mass transit. Contrary to generally accepted thought, the Museum embraces not only the past, but also the present and future. The Museum is also a significant tourism attraction. It brings tens of thousands of visitors to Virginia every year to view its collections and many thousands more when locomotive excursions are ongoing. The attendant positive multimillion-dollar economic impact supports restaurants, hotels, shopping, etc., creating significant tourism tax revenue. For over two decades, the Museum has supported itself through admissions, special events, fees, and the support of its Board as well as corporate and private support. However, it still lacks basic technologies to assist in its educational missions, requires significant upgrades in its HVAC systems, collections restoration, substantial building maintenance, restoration, and national marketing. State agency status would bring the Commonwealth’s official transportation museum into the next century, creating better educational opportunities through improved technology, professional curation, and expanded virtual programs available to students across the state. It would allow the stories of Virginia’s transportation-related pioneers, such as Wendell Scott (the first African American Nascar driver), to be told and inspire. Virginia deserves to have a state-sponsored transportation museum to equal or better those in nearby states such as North Carolina and Pennsylvania (which together draw well over a half million visitors annually). As a Virginia state-sponsored entity, the museum would gain the consistency and state-wide resources necessary to fulfill its educational mission and become a center of support for similar, but smaller, museums as well as for primary and secondary educational institutions throughout. The investment is modest, yet consequential.
Attached is a letter in support of HB1861.
HB2272 - Norfolk State University & Va. State University; reduced rate tuition charges for certain students.
HB 1387-NO HB1399 NO HB 1800 - NO HB 2272- yes
HB1916 - this fixes problems when boards don't act HB2272 - this will help African Americans (and possibly other minorities too) that should they need to go on to other educational institutions to finish training/education, they don't have a huge debt already from undergrad and therefore be less financially burdened when they become employed in their field. HB2425 - Good idea.
"I support HB 1396 as introduced, and it deserves a vote." Thank you for your hard work and dedication to the School Choice fight! Quick Links: Join the Rapid Response Team of Virginia for Educational Freedom School Choice petition to legislators Donate to Virginia for Educational Freedom For Our Children, Natassia Grover Director Virginia for Educational Freedom PS- It is vital that you sign our Petition for School Choice today. The thing politicians fear most is large numbers of angry voters, and your signature on the petition will be added to the thousands that have already signed. This Petition will be delivered to the House Educational Committee, and they will be told they must support full and complete School Choice. So click here to sign! Copyright © 2023 Acton Advocacy Group, All rights reserved. Fighting to restore freedom in education in the Commonwealth Our mailing address is: Acton Advocacy Group 11895 Folly Lane Lovettsville, VA 20180 Add us to your address book