Photo: Delegate James Edmunds in Agriculture Sub Committee
The pace has definitely picked up here in Richmond and meetings are lasting longer each day. Legislation is passing through sub-committees at a rapid pace, which makes your emails even more important so that I can get a good feel on proposed legislation. Today I will focus on some of the bills we are working on.
HB 222 Modification to State and Corporate Income Tax
I have been working with Delegate Will Morefield, from Southwest Virginia, over the summer to craft HB 222 (and I am co-patron of the bill) into something that would benefit rural areas and help to create jobs.
Briefly, if passed as it is now written, this bill will allow a new company (one that had no property or payroll in Virginia) that locates in designated localities and (i) invests at least $5 million in new capital investment and creates at least 10 jobs, or (ii) creates at least 50 jobs in a qualified locality, to be issued grants or loans from the Commonwealth Opportunity Fund and Tobacco Commission to pay their estimated tax liability for nine years.
I feel that this will be a powerful incentive in luring new company locations and will give our area a competitive edge over locations that do not have this advantage.
Protecting your Second Amendment rights
I continue to be a strong advocate for Second Amendment rights. Delegate Kathleen Murphy (D) has proposed a change to House rules which would prohibit guns in the House Gallery. I strongly oppose this proposed rule. Under the current rules, only citizens who have a concealed carry permit are allowed to carry a weapon in the House Gallery. Concealed carry permit holders are responsible gun owners and account for less than 1% of all crimes committed with a gun. I plan to vote against anything that would restrict your rights.
House and Senate leaders announce formation of joint subcommittee to review problems from 2017 elections
We are all aware of some issues that arose in last fall's general election. Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox and Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment announced the formation of a Joint Subcommittee on Election Review. The Subcommittee will consider issues related to the conduct of elections that were brought to light following the November 2017 elections, including absentee balloting, the assignment of voters in split precincts, and recount law and procedures. One of the most sacred rights offered to the people of Virginia is the right to vote in a fair and free election. I thank Speaker Cox and Senate Majority Leader Norment for their leadership on this issue, and I will keep you updated with the findings of the joint subcommittee.
I pledge to stand against proposed tax hikes
Some Democratic legislators have introduced bills that amount to tax increases. These bills would implement a tax on video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, reinstate the so called "death tax", and implement a statewide hotel tax. I don't believe anyone really needs any more taxes on hotels, Netflix and the assets of family members after they die and I will fight against these bills.
I voted for three adoption bills this week that will help more children find loving adoptive parents. House Bills 241, 227, and 291 all passed through the House with bipartisan support. One bill in particular, HB 227, requires courts to consider the results of a national criminal history background check conducted on the prospective adoptive parent. The legislation is in response to a case out of Virginia Beach where a young female was found dead from an overdose. After an investigation it was learned that her adoptive parent had a long felony criminal history.
Another bill shortens the length of time, from three years to two years, that a child must live with a close family member before adoption proceedings can begin. The third bill simplifies access to adoption files regarding court orders for adoptees and/or adopters so they can more easily obtain personal vital records.
The Sportsman's Caucus, which I chair, met this Thursday to discuss the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries white-tail deer management plan. The story of deer management in Virginia is a great success story. Deer restoration was started in 1926 and the total population has increased from around 50,000 in the entire state of Virginia in 1938 to over one million deer now.
The economic impact of deer hunting in Virginia is over $500 million per year with over 6,000 jobs related to the industry.
This week's Rural Caucus featured the new Secretary of Education Atif Quari. A group of school superintendents from across rural Virginia made a presentation to the group highlighting the constant challenges faced in rural areas. I look forward to working with the new administration, and this new group of school superintendents, on those challenges.
Additional funds have been requested by several legislators for rural, at-risk students and this concept has picked up bi-partisan support. I am hopeful that some version of the funding plan will get support.
I met with a group of teachers from Halifax County this week as well as a student from Randolph Henry High School in Charlotte County, Alexa Moore, and Mark Estes from the Halifax County Service Authority.
Quote of the Day:
I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. Will Rogers
As long as I am I public office, I will represent you with integrity and humility!