60th District Digest Jan. 20, 2017
- The 2017 General Assembly session officially began last Wednesday, January 11th and is the “short session” (46 days) because in odd years our primary responsibility is to make adjustments to our biennial budget. However, this week has been a flurry of meetings and visits.
- As in previous years, I received my committee assignments and I will be serving on all the same committees as last year. The list includes: Health, Welfare and Institutions, Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources, and Militia, Police and Public Safety. I am also chair of the Natural Rescores sub-committee that is under the full Agriculture committee.
I have introduced a total of seven bills and three resolutions this session and have provided a short description of my legislation below.
- Four bills pertain to proposed changes to various hunting regulations:
- Authorizes the use of a slingbow for hunting when a hunter is already licensed for bow and arrow.
- Allows the optional wearing of blaze pink hunting apparel. I hope this will encourage more women to become involved in hunting. In addition, science proves that blaze pink is easier to see by humans and more difficult for deer to see.
- Separate game tags for big-game hunting.
- A bill that would require landowners to obtain a license, at no cost, to hunt their own property. This bill will help the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries track the total number of hunters in the state.
- A technical bill about membership on the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center’s Board of Directors and non-credit workforce training courses offered.
- A bill that would allow vehicles manufactured by TMI Autotech in South Boston to be driven on public highways.
- I also have three resolutions to honor the work of the Halifax County Cancer Association, Tri-County Community Action Agency and the bravery of Barbara Haymes.
- In addition, I have also co-patroned several bills but I want to specifically talk about two of them today:
- HB 1537 is a bill that allow soldiers who are being deployed to get out of certain long-term contracts, such as cell phones, TV, rent, and alarm systems. I don’t think anyone who is defending our country should be penalized in that manner.
- HB 1564 is a bill that would create the Red Tape Reduction Commission to review current state regulatory requirements and establish a baseline before creating any additional regulations. This will aid small businesses by reducing burdensome regulations.
A new transparency measure was announced on the first day: the video archiving of each day’s session. The new archive, available from the Virginia General Assembly website, will allow the public to view the floor proceedings of the House during the 2017 session on demand. The House also has created a search feature that will allow viewers to search by bill or by member.
In August of last year, Governor McAuliffe announced over a $1 billion shortfall. The shortfall is a result of a lagging economy that generated less tax revenue than expected. Unfortunately, the “New Virginia” economy Governor McAuliffe is always championing has been steadily replacing high paying full time jobs with lower paying part time jobs. Virginia’s economy has lost more than 4,000 jobs, weekly wages are down, and part-time employees are up by more than 20,000 since 2015. Virginia’s constitution requires a balanced budget. Last month Governor McAuliffe unveiled his proposed budget to the General Assembly. The Governor’s budget proposal is just the first step in a long process. It is now time for the House to develop our budget. Our goal is to craft a responsible, conservative budget that strategically invests in the core functions of government while protecting precious taxpayer resources. We will invest in key priorities, but we must do so in a fiscally prudent manner.
Last week I sent out my 2017 Legislative Survey. I hope that you have taken a few minutes of your time to respond to those questions. This is important because I want to know what is most important to the citizens of the 60th District as I address legislation this session. Thank you for taking the time to participate!
Quote of the Day:
I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. Will Rogers