The 2019 General Assembly session officially gaveled in on Wednesday. This year will be a short session, only 46 days, where we will tackle important issues such as tax cuts, improving access to higher education, and improving healthcare. Every week during session I will be providing you with a newsletter recapping what happened in Richmond the previous week. There is much to be done and we have just over 6 weeks to complete our work. I am eager to work on your behalf to craft and advance legislation for the betterment of Virginians!
The Governor’s State of the Commonwealth Address
On Wednesday, Governor Ralph Northam addressed a joint gathering of General Assembly members. I appreciate Governor Northam addressing the members of the General Assembly. I look forward to working with Governor Northam in areas upon which we can agree, such as providing safety improvements and congestion relief for Interstate 81. However, there were some proposals and ideas put forth by Governor Northam that I will strongly oppose. Please know I am committed to focusing on finding areas on which we can agree. Once again, my legislative efforts and focus will be on promoting economic development, providing the best education for Virginia’s students, and increasing healthcare access, affordability, and choice.
I have heard from many of you across the 25th District and throughout the Commonwealth and one thing is crystal clear. The time to act on Interstate 81 is now! We need safety improvements and congestion relief on Interstate 81. The federal government has failed to provide the assistance we need, so today I introduced legislation, which enjoys the support of a bipartisan group of Delegates and Senators, as well as Governor Northam, to address the problems of Interstate 81.
The bill creates the Interstate 81 Improvement Fund with funds that can only be used for critical improvements to the Interstate 81 corridor. It also creates the Interstate 81 Committee to oversee this important process. We are very early in the process, but I am eager to work with my colleagues to move a bill through the General Assembly, which the Governor can sign, enabling the Virginia Department of Transportation to begin much-needed work on Interstate 81 projects.
Standing Firm Against Governor Northam’s $1.2 Billion Middle-Class Tax Hike
Governor Northam has proposed a policy that will lead to higher taxes being paid by more than 600,000 middle-class families. This is a completely unacceptable proposal that I reject and to which I stand in firm opposition. Under his proposal, many middle-class families will no longer be able to deduct mortgage interest, property taxes, or healthcare expenses on their state taxes. House Republicans are offering a responsible plan to stop Governor Northam’s middle-class tax hike and provide targeted tax relief to middle and low-income Virginians, without cost to the state. The proposal will fully implement the federal tax cuts at the state level, protecting middle-class families that itemize, from what could be roughly an $805 tax increase or providing an additional $115 in tax relief to a family that chooses the standard deduction. You work hard for your money and as your Delegate, I am committed to making sure you can keep more of it! You can view a short video about our two tax proposals HERE.
Keeping Our Children Safe in School
Last year Speaker Cox formed a select committee to study school safety in Virginia. Virginia has constantly been recognized as a leader in school safety. We must be ever vigilant in the changing world we live in. House Republicans are prioritizing two-dozen recommendations from the House Select Committee on School Safety, of which I am a member and served as Chairman of the Student Behavior and Intervention Subcommittee. We have led the effort this year to find innovative ways to keep our children safe and are confident we can find common ground with the governor to implement them. This year, I have introduced House Bills 1615 and 1729, which both resulted from the Committee's recommendations. Stay tuned and I will continue to keep you updated as these and other school safety-related bills advance through the legislative process.
Happy Birthday to the Virginia House of Delegates!
On Wednesday, the Virginia House of Delegates gaveled in the 2019 General Assembly Session, reaching a historic milestone of 400 years of uninterrupted lawmaking for the people of Virginia. Established in 1619, the House of Delegates, formally the House of Burgesses, is the oldest continuously elected lawmaking body in the New World. Marking this historic milestone Speaker Kirk Cox addressed the 100 members of the House of Delegates. If you would like to watch his speech on opening day, please click HERE.
DOME: The Database of House Members
2019 is a seminal year in Virginia history and American democracy as it marks the 400th anniversary of the House of Delegates/House of Burgesses/Virginia General Assembly. To help mark the 400th anniversary in 2019 of the first meeting in Jamestown of elected members of the House of Burgesses (antecedent to today’s House of Delegates and forerunner of the now bicameral [since 1643] Virginia General Assembly), the House Clerk’s Office has unveiled the culmination of a truly ambitious, multi-year project – DOME, the Database of House Members. DOME offers online biographical and legislative service information on each of the 9,721 House Members, including our two newest delegates, since the first Burgesses convened July 30, 1619.
DOME is organized into four broad categories: Burgesses and Delegates; Speakers and Clerks; Legislative Sessions and Committees; and State Capitol Locations. You can view DOME at https://history.house.virginia.gov/.
While DOME is more than 90% complete, work is still underway to improve functionality on mobile devices, expand content and enhance overall navigation of the new, searchable website. The official final release of DOME will take place later in Spring 2019 or after the conclusion of the 2019 Regular Session.
Pre-Session Survey and Town Hall Meetings
I want to thank all of you who completed our 2019 Pre-Session Legislative survey online or returned your survey by mail. We are currently working on tabulating the results and we will be sure to share them with you once we have completed that task.
I am also grateful to all of you who came out to Harrisonburg and Weyers Cave to share your views with me at our recent Town Hall meetings. I appreciate Delegate Tony Wilt, R-Harrisonburg, having joined us at the Harrisonburg Town Hall and know he enjoyed it as much as I did! It was unfortunate I was unable to make our scheduled Crozet Town Hall, but I am pleased to announce we have rescheduled the meeting for 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 9th at the Crozet Library.
Charlottesville’s Owen Streed Appointed to House Page Program
Owen Streed of Charlottesville has been accepted the Virginia House of Delegates Page Program. Owen began participating in the page program on January 9th and will serve through February 22nd for the 2019 General Assembly Session. He has an impressive resume and a background that demonstrates he has the skill set required to be a successful page. I would like to thank Speaker Cox for appointing a student from the 25th District to be a part of this exceptional program. I am excited for Mr. Streed and the other members of the incoming page class who will have an opportunity to participate in state government and see the legislative process in action.
Owen is a student at Henley Middle School in Crozet, Virginia, and the son of proud parents William and Kristin Streed. He enjoys traveling, reading, and a variety of sports including skiing, mountain biking and lacrosse to name a few. Owen has a love for history and politics and is a member of Henley Middle School’s Model UN Team and is active with the Junior Scholastic Bowl. Owen has expressed his excitement for this unique opportunity to participate in our state government and is looking forward to broadening his horizons and the unique experiences that await him at the Virginia General Assembly.
Each year the Speaker of the House of Delegates appoints 13 and 14 year-olds from across the Commonwealth to serve as House pages during the regular session of the General Assembly. These young people assist the members of the House of Delegates, the House Clerk's staff, and other legislative staff in the daily duties required for the successful operation of the House of Delegates during the session.
In Case You Missed It
As always, 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 email@example.com. 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.