This year's Election Day is just a few days away. Voting is the engine that drives our democracy, so please be sure to vote! To those of you who have already voted absentee, I thank you. Remember that your local registrars will be open this Saturday for in-person absentee voting. As local office hours may vary, please check with your local office for hours. For all the other registered voters, please be sure to vote on Tuesday!
Polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and you can find your polling location here. You will need to show one acceptable photo identification card (photo ID) whenever you vote in person. Acceptable forms of identification may be viewed here.
Attention Albemarle County Voters
Albemarle County voters who formerly voted in the Belfield Precinct, at St. Anne’s- Belfield School, will now vote at the Jack Jouett Precinct, located at Jack Jouett Middle School, 210 Lambs Lane, Charlottesville.
Some Albemarle County voters who formerly voted in the Brownsville Precinct, at the Brownsville Elementary School, and some Albemarle County voters who formerly voted in the Crozet Precinct, at the Crozet Elementary School, will now vote at Western Albemarle High School, at 5941 Rockfish Gap Turnpike, Crozet. This is the new Mechums River Precinct.
Please contact the Voter Registration Office, at 434-972-4173, should you have any questions.
Proposed Constitutional Amendments
There are two proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot this year. First, "Should a county, city, or town be authorized to provide a partial tax exemption for real property that is subject to recurrent flooding, if flooding resiliency improvements have been made on the property?" and second, "Shall the real property tax exemption for a primary residence that is currently provided to the surviving spouses of veterans who had a one hundred percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability be amended to allow the surviving spouse to move to a different primary residence and still claim the exemption?" Additional information, including explanations of the amendments, may be viewed here.
I am supporting both proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot this November. I believe the first will promote people to do the right thing; make improvements to address flooding issues. Without this amendment, individuals could potentially be penalized for making improvements. Based on the recent concerns with flooding, and as long as the General Assembly would apply this to all regions of Virginia allowing this exemption, I do believe that it merits passage by the voters. Additionally, while it allows localities to provide this exemption, it does not require them to do so.
Regarding the second proposed amendment, the sacrifice made by our men and women in uniform is immeasurable. This amendment provides relief to surviving spouses. Nothing can be done to address the ultimate sacrifice made by these men and women. This amendment provides relief to surviving spouses, which is a small recognition of the tremendous loss they have endured. I encourage you to join me in voting in favor of both of these amendments.
On Tuesday you will have the opportunity to vote in the most important midterm election of our lifetimes. Under a Republican Congress and Administration, we have seen the largest tax cuts of the 21st century, historic regulatory reforms, and extensive economic growth. We need to keep building on this positive momentum, and I strongly encourage you to vote for the Republican ticket.
5th District: Denver Riggleman for Congress
A decorated Air Force Veteran, Denver Riggleman is a successful businessman who will focus on bringing jobs to the 5th District and Virginia. He will provide commonsense leadership in Washington. His opponent is a progressive’s progressive, whose extreme views will harm the District and Virginia as a whole.
6th District: Ben Cline for Congress
Having served with Delegate Cline in the General Assembly, I know he will serve the 6th District providing the same conservative leadership and excellent representation we have enjoyed from Congressman Bob Goodlatte. While we are losing a stalwart of Congress in Congressman Goodlatte, I know Ben will ably fill his place as our 6th District Congressman.
U.S. Senate: Corey Stewart for U.S. Senate
Unfortunately, our current U.S. Senator Tim Kaine seems more focused on his national ambitions that he is serving the people of Virginia. I have been especially frustrated by his lack of effort to address the tremendous needs for Interstate 81 improvement. His response to Members of the General Assembly's request for assistance in this area has been disappointing, to say the least. Corey Stewart will work to support the pro-growth, commonsense conservative agenda Republicans in the U.S. Senate are providing and he will focus on the needs of Virginians.
Open Enrollment for Individual Health Insurance in Virginia
The Virginia health insurance market for 2019 has improved for some individuals compared to their current 2018 plans. For Virginians to take full advantage of an improved competitive market, the Bureau of Insurance of the State Corporation Commission encourages you to update your marketplace account through the federal exchange during open enrollment from November 1st to December 15th.
SCC Commissioner of Insurance Scott A. White has stated, “Allowing yourself to be automatically re-enrolled in the same or a similar plan by doing nothing is a poor choice this year. The “wise choice,” he says, “is to explore all plan options available to you because certain areas of Virginia have more insurance companies offering lower priced plans. Failure to act could cause you to pay significantly more than necessary.”
The only way consumers who qualify for premium subsidies can ensure they will pay the correct premium for their 2019 coverage is to update their federal marketplace account information and research all available plan options. As plans, premiums and available subsidies change every year, this step is essential.
For some qualifying Virginians, the subsidy amount for a 2019 plan will not be as generous as it was in 2018. Updating your marketplace account is the only way to ensure your 2019 premium amount and the financial assistance for which you qualify is correct. Go to: www.healthcare.gov.
Additional information regarding 2019 open enrollment may be found at:
- Health Coverage Plan Comparison Tool
- Individual Health Insurance Fact Sheet
- Individual Health Insurance Enrollment Information
- Which carriers will offer on-exchange in my area?
- View final 2019 rate summary information
2018 Virginia Education Summit
I would like to thank Senator Stephen D. Newman, R-Forest, Chairman of the Senate Education and Health Committee, and the Hunt Institute, who once again joined me in hosting the 5th Annual Virginia Education Summit, which took place on October 15th and 16th. The Summit brought together leading experts and practitioners from around the country and our state and focused on issues from K-12 to postsecondary education and the workforce.
This year’s Summit explored topics such as early childhood; teacher development and retention; school leadership development; leadership and excellence in action; school funding; higher education and liberal arts in the 21st Century; career pathways and innovative approaches to postsecondary and workforce readiness; and continuing education. We heard from a host of education leaders and experts, including Virginia’s First Lady Pamela Northam, Education Secretary Atif Qarni, and a number of members of Virginia’s General Assembly. This was an excellent opportunity to discuss the most pressing issues facing education so we can continue to build excellence for all students in Virginia. You can view key takeaways from this year's Summit here.
We increasingly rely on the internet for almost all aspects of our lives, whether it’s shopping for insurance or a loan, banking, investing or paying utility and other bills. According to the Department of Homeland Security, 56 percent of American adults own smart phones. More than half of adults use online banking services and almost one-third of them do so using their mobile devices. Although the internet and apps are useful and convenient when managing money, they also can leave users vulnerable to cyberthreats such as fraud and identity theft.
The State Corporation Commission (SCC) encourages Virginians to protect themselves personally and financially when surfing the internet or conducting business online. The SCC offers the following cybersecurity safety tips:
- Passwords – Creating a strong password is your first line of defense when safeguarding important financial information. To create a strong password, use eight or more characters with a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers. Avoid using children’s names, pets’ names or birth dates. Refrain from using simple number combinations for PIN codes such as 1234 or 1111.
- Multi-factor authentication – Enable stronger authentication whenever possible. Most financial accounts will have multi-factor authentication to verify a user’s identity and authorization to access an account (i.e., a text with a one-time code to access an account). These small additional steps could prevent hackers from getting into your personal accounts and retrieving sensitive personal and financial information.
- Regularly manage your account – Check your financial accounts regularly. Review bank, investment, credit card, and other statements weekly to catch fraud or identity theft in the early stages. Always confirm purchases made on your credit or debit cards. Review money spent using any applications on your mobile device, such as Uber or Lyft.
- Use caution before revealing sensitive information – Be conscientious about which apps, websites and connected devices you use, and how and where you plan to use them. Know how a device works, as well as the network connections the device uses and how those connections transmit and store information. You don’t want to give out information unintentionally, especially for accounts carrying sensitive financial data. Don’t click on links or open attachments in unsolicited or suspicious emails. If a website, application or email asks for your social security number or bank account information, double-check its credibility, source and whether it’s secure before giving out personal information.
- Back Up Your Data – Protect your data by backing it up on an external hard drive, cloud-based storage or other appropriate recovery methods. This reduces your vulnerability to cyberthreats such as ransomware.
To learn more about cybersecurity and how to stay safe online, please visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website here. If you are a victim of cybercrime, contact your local authorities and file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov. If you have questions or concerns relating to insurance, securities or financial institutions, the SCC may be able to help. You can reach them toll-free at (800) 552-7945 or at (804) 371-9967 or visit www.scc.virginia.gov.
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 540.255.5335 or by email at email@example.com. Our address is Post Office Box 12, Verona, Virginia 24482.
Please visit my website at www.stevelandes.com for my latest press releases and newsletters. Also, be sure to “like” my Facebook Fan Page or you can now follow me on Twitter @steve_landes by clicking the buttons below:
Thank you again for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.