We are just about at the halfway mark for the 2018 General assembly session, as tomorrow is the last day for the House to act on its legislation. The House continues to make progress on several key issues as we prepare to begin considering legislation passed by the Senate.
Governor Northam and Speaker Cox Announce Bipartisan Compromise on Grand Larceny Threshold and Legislation to Protect Crime Victims
Last Thursday, Governor Ralph Northam and Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, stood side-by-side and announced a bipartisan compromise to raise the felony larceny threshold to $500 and adopt into law legislation to ensure that crime victims are paid the restitution duly owed to them. A Crime Commission study recently identified over $230 million in unpaid and overdue restitution, which is money defendants owe to victims for things like medical expenses, owed to victims across the Commonwealth. More recently, WRIC8 reporter Kerri O’Brien found that $8 million in restitution was collected from defendants, but never delivered to the crime victims. That money simply sat in state coffers, never being delivered. Last year, the House and Senate passed a bill introduced by Delegate Rob Bell, R-Albemarle County, to address the unpaid restitution, which Governor McAuliffe vetoed. The commitment from Governor Northam to sign this piece of legislation is a significant step for crime victims.
Republicans Stand Up Against Democrats So-Called ‘Uber Tax’
Last week the House Finance Committee defeated bills that would impose taxes on streaming services like Netflix and Pandora. Now, Democrats have suggested implementing a tax on popular rideshare services like Uber and Lyft. My Republican colleagues and understand you work hard for your money and we believe you should be able to keep it! Democrats view raising taxes as the answer to funding programs they favor. I reject that notion and I will always stand up against unnecessary tax increases.
Delegate Michael Webert Introduces Regulatory Reform Legislation
I have always prioritized ensuring less government intrusion on the lives of Virginians. On Monday, Speaker Kirk Cox reached an agreement with Governor Northam to establish a regulatory reform pilot program with a goal to reduce or streamline regulatory requirements by 25% over the next three years. This bipartisan legislation will show hard working entrepreneurs, innovators, and small and large businesses that removing the bureaucratic red tape that hinders the creation of good paying jobs is important.
We’ve seen positive effects of regulatory reform on our national economy during the last year, and this pilot program contained in House Bill 883, crafted by my colleague Delegate Michael Webert, R-Fauquier County, has the potential to reap positive benefits for Virginians for years. I am very excited about this legislation and I look forward to it removing many of the barriers that hold back development and job creation.
Practical Solutions to Everyday Issues
The House of Delegates has now passed the three major pieces of the “Practical Solutions to Everyday Issues” agenda. In November, House Republicans filled the first three bills of the 2018 General Assembly Session with the purpose of advancing practical solutions to everyday issues.
- House Bill 1, sponsored by Delegate Tony Wilt, R-Rockingham County, will protect sensitive data, such as the email address and telephone number, of students enrolled in Virginia public colleges and universities from being released to the public without their consent.
- House Bill 2, sponsored by Delegate Dickie Bell, R-Staunton, will allow a spouse of any member of the armed forces, who has a valid out-of-state teaching license, to enjoy licensure reciprocity in Virginia. This means that an individual who is currently a licensed teacher in another state and married to a member of the military could seamlessly transition into a Virginia classroom if their family is transferred to Virginia.
- House Bill 3, which I sponsored, ensures that students who attempt to cut down on the cost of college by completing dual enrollment courses in High School will actually receive the credit they are due. There should be less secrecy surrounding what colleges will and won't accept as transfer credits.
House Bills One, Two, and Three are now headed to the Senate for consideration.
Speaker Kirk Cox, Caucus Chairman Tim Hugo, Appropriations Chairman Chris Jones and House Republicans are putting forward a thoughtful and serious plan to reform and invest in Metro without raising taxes. We understand how important Metro is to Virginia’s economy, specifically the Northern Virginia business community. It’s a core asset to the region, generating over $600 million in tax revenue, and is responsible for the continued economic success of the region. Chairman Hugo’s House Bill 1539 will inject over $100 million annually in Metro by redirecting existing regional transportation funding to WMATA’s capital needs. The most important thing is this responsible proposal will not raise taxes on any hard working Virginians.
Legislation I have introduced continues to advance in the General Assembly. Here is a quick look at where my bills stand. House Bills 3, 344, 347, 761, 775, 776, 916, and 1540 have all passed the House of Delegates and are now being considered by the Senate. House Bill 760 was reported from the House Committee on General Laws with an amendment, House Bill 774 was referred to the House Committee on General Laws, House Bill 896 was continued to 2019, House Bill 910 was referred to the House Committee on General Laws, House Bill 1125 was reported from the House Committee on Education with a substitute and House Bill 1148 was reported from the House Committee on Appropriations with a substitute. You can view a complete listing of the legislation I have sponsored this session here.
House District Advisory Committee Meeting
As a special thank you to members of the 25th House District Advisory Committee (HDAC), I want to invite HDAC members to come to Richmond and experience the Virginia General Assembly. I have selected Thursday, March 1st as the day for our visit. We will be meeting in Room E 200 B of the Pocahontas Building, located at 900 E. Main Street in Richmond, at 9:15 a.m. Our other local legislators have been invited to stop in for a visit and we have invited some special guests as well! While here you will have the opportunity to view session, hopefully from the Gallery of the House of Delegates in the Capitol and take a tour of the Capitol.
If you would like to attend our March 1st HDAC meeting, please respond by February 26th. You may do so by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org (please put Attention: Pam in the subject line) or you may call our Administrative Assistant, Pam Stump, at 804.698.1025. If you are not an HDAC member, but are interested in joining, please contact my Communications Director Will Wrobleski by email at email@example.com or by phone at 603.660.8811. I look forward to seeing you!
Committee meetings and finishing up work on legislation as Crossover approaches kept me extremely busy. I did enjoy a visit with Dr. Frank Friedman, President of Piedmont Virginia Community College and students from PVCC, including Crozet's Nathan Ridings (pictured below), and Betsy Myers of the Virginia Chapter of the American Foundation for the Prevention of Suicide (pictured right.
My staff visited with Jennifer Kitchen of Staunton, Don Stock, Joan Echols, Janet Vitiello, Laura Sprung, Brock Green, and other members of One Virginia 2021, Jon Nafziger of the Jefferson Area CHIP and a large contingency from Augusta County including Board Supervisors Carol Bragg, Pam Carter, Gerald Garber, Terry Kelly, Marshall Pattie and Mike Shull, and County Administrator Tim Fitzgerald (pictured below).
In Case You Missed It
This week’s staff spotlight is on my Communications Director Will Wrobleski. Will was my campaign manager in 2015 and since served as my Communications Director. Originally from New Hampshire, he earned a Bachelor of the Arts at the University of Vermont, majoring in Political Science, and a Masters of Public Administration at the University of New Hampshire. Will has a decade of experience in the federal government, having worked for U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont and Congressman/U.S. Senator John E. Sununu of New Hampshire.
Along with his work in the House and Senate, Will worked on a number of federal campaigns, including Governor Romney’s first presidential run and campaigns for the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, and consulted for groups such as the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. Having moved to Virginia in 2013, Will ran the successful reelection campaign of Delegate Ed Scott, in Virginia’s 30th House District of the General Assembly and was a Membership Representative for the National Federation of Independent Business.
Will lives in Richmond and enjoys spending time with his fiancé, Petrina Jones and their dog Harley. He’s an avid sports fan, rooting for the New England teams he’s followed since childhood. Will’s hobbies include playing guitar and hiking with Petrina and Harley in the Commonwealth’s state parks.
My Legislative Director, Judy Wyatt, Communications Director, Will Wrobleski, and I are here to serve you. If you need help with a state government agency or issue, we can be reached by phone at 804.698.1025 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our address is Post Office Box 406, Richmond, Virginia 23219. For scheduling requests, please contact my Administrative Assistant Pam Stump in my Richmond office.
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Thank you again for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.