It’s hard to believe, but we are already into February! We are just over a week away from Crossover, which is the time when all the bills passed by the House head to the Senate and all of the Senate bills come to the House. The House has already passed several major pieces of legislation and we look forward to that work continuing.
House Republicans are leading by example in passing a bill by Delegate Roxann Robinson which will require sexual harassment prevention training for all General Assembly employees. This is an important topic and one that was a priority for me this year. In light of recent news reports across the country regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, this legislation assures our constituents that we take the issue seriously.
The extensive course will be administered by the Clerk of the House and the Clerk of the Senate. Elected Delegates and Senators as well as staff members of both bodies will be required to take the training courses upon hiring and every two years thereafter. Republicans unanimously voted for the bill while 10 Democrats voted against it.
Republicans in the House once again stood up for Virginia taxpayers Monday, killing a bill to raise taxes on hardworking Virginians. House Bill 1051 was introduced by Democrat Delegate Vivian Watts and would have instituted a tax on streaming video services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Pandora. This bill would have disproportionately affect millennials who enjoy these streaming services, as well as every family who enjoys a movie night together at home. Republicans unanimously voted to defeat the tax increase proposal. Over the past 15 years the Republican-led House has defeated more than $30 billion in tax increases.
On Thursday, we passed legislation reforming the State Board of Elections to guarantee the nonpartisan administration of elections in the Commonwealth. The bill, which passed with unanimous Republican support, increases from three to six the number of members on the Board, requiring three to be from the party that won the most recent gubernatorial election and three from the party receiving the next highest number of votes.
Why is this important? As we saw this past election cycle with Delegate Bob Thomas the State Board of Elections, which is controlled by Democrats, delayed Thomas’s election certification on a party line vote. It took a federal judge intervening to force the board to declare Thomas the rightful winner. If the board was evenly split those decisions would not be partisan.
I have enjoyed seeing many of you visit me at my Capitol Office and I hope more will continue to stop by over the course of the 2018 General Assembly Session. As always, 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)698-1159. You can also join the conversation on our social media pages at www.facebook.com/DelegateMattFariss.
I will continue providing you Updates during the 2018 General Assembly Session and will be meeting with constituent groups after Session to report on the Session and take questions.