The 2018 General Assembly session is nearing our halfway mark as crossover is on Tuesday, February 13th. The House is making progress on several key issues as we prepare to begin considering legislation passed by the Senate. Tuesday is the last day for the House to act on its legislation.
On Thursday, Governor Ralph Northam and Speaker Kirk Cox 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 found that there was 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 that was collected from defendants but never delivered to the crime victims. That money was just sitting in state coffers not being delivered. Last year, the House and Senate passed a bill introduced by Delegate Rob Bell to address the unpaid restitution but Governor McAuliffe vetoed it. The commitment from Governor Northam to sign this piece of legislation is a significant step for crime victims.
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.
This is just getting out of hand. You work hard for your money and I believe you should be able to keep it. Every time Democrats want to raise money to pay for something they think the answer is just to raise your taxes. I completely disagree with that and I will always stand up against unnecessary tax increases.
One of my biggest priorities has always been ensuring there is less government intrusion on your everyday life. On Monday, Speaker 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 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 (which was the idea of my colleague Delegate Michael Webert) has the potential to reap positive benefits for Virginians for years. I am very excited about this program and I look forward to it removing many of the barriers that holds back development and job creation.
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 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 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 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 Cox, Chairman Hugo, Chairman 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, generates 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.
Several constituents have asked about the three executive orders that Governor Northam has already set forth. Below is a brief description of each, and the full text can be found here:
Executive Order Number One prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, political affiliation, or against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities in Virginia state government. Executive Order Number Two designates certain powers to his Chief of Staff in the event of a state emergency where the Governor is incapacitated or cannot be reached. Executive Order Number Three gives his Chief of Staff the power to declare a state of emergency, to call the Virginia National Guard to active service for emergencies or disasters, and to declare the Governor unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office when the Governor cannot be reached or is incapacitated.
I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office over the coming months. I value the feedback you provide on a continual basis as it helps me do a better job of representing you. You can email me at DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov or call me at (804)698-1059. You can also join the conversation on my social media page, www.facebook.com/DelegateMattFariss.
I will be providing you Weekly Updates during the 2018 General Assembly Session and will be meeting with constituent groups after Session to report on the Session and take questions.