We are wrapping up the fourth week of the 2016 General Assembly Session. This was a busy week in the House on an issue that I know is very important to you and your family: jobs and economic growth.
The House is moving forward on several major pieces of legislation to foster private-sector job creation, encourage long-term economic growth, and protect small businesses. I continue to hear from constituents that these must be our top priorities. Be assured the House is committed to ensuring the Commonwealth is prosperous.
Virginia’s economy continues to struggle. The Commonwealth is recovering at a slower rate than the national economy and registered zero percent growth in 2014. That is why this week we rolled out a comprehensive agenda to promote a pro-business climate, incentivize economic growth, and protect small businesses. My House colleagues and I are introducing specific proposals that will help improve our economy and give your family a better opportunity to succeed. To read more about our jobs agenda, click here. [http://virginiahouse.gop/2016/02/02/house-republicans-outline-jobs-agenda/]
This week the House Appropriations Committee heard a presentation reviewing the Commonwealth’s spending for performance and ongoing economic development incentives. Virginia has spent $679 million on economic development since 2010. The presentation revealed that annual incentive payments grew 298 percent since the 2004-2006 biennium.
This presentation detailed our commitment to improving the economy of the Commonwealth. Also, it reminds us that we must carefully guard taxpayer dollars. The committee is taking steps to carefully review all economic development spending and ensure that we are wisely investing your tax dollars. We must ensure that proper oversight is part of every economic deal to protect scarce taxpayer dollars. You can read more about this report here: [http://virginiahouse.gop/2016/02/01/virginia-spent-679-million-on-economic-development-incentives-since-2010/]. Our partners in the private sector can help ensure bottom-up, free-market growth and opportunity through the Go Virginia initiative. This partnership can help vet and secure our economic development dollars are spent wisely.
GO Virginia is a business driven initiative to facilitate more collaboration between the business community, higher education and local governments. There are two bills in the House to establish an innovative new economic development model and encourage local governments to work together to create jobs. The goal is to create good paying jobs in high demand fields and make our economic development dollars go further. This is not just another jobs program but will establish the framework and infrastructure for real, long-term economic growth.
House Majority Leader Kirk Cox gave a detailed overview of GO Virginia on the House floor this week. You can watch the speech here: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HXqthPTJIQ]
The House is focused on helping our veterans find the jobs they need and are trained to do. Introduced by Delegate Stolle (R-Virginia Beach), HB825 establishes a pilot program in which military medical personnel may practice medicine under the supervision of a licensed physician. Military medics and corpsmen receive extensive health care training while on active duty. Once they transition to civilian life, their military health care experiences do not easily translate into comparable certifications and licenses required for health care jobs. As a result, many veteran medics are unable to gain employment.
Virginia has already made progress on efforts to translate veterans’ military experience into academic credit. However, significant hurdles still exist with health care licenses. This legislation will create a pilot program to help military medics smoothly transition to a medical career in the private sector without having to go through training they have already received in the military. The House passed the bill this week. You can read more about it here: [http://virginiahouse.gop/2016/02/02/house-passes-delegate-stolles-legislation-to-help-veterans/]
This week my bill, HB 1358-Gas emissions from landfills, was heard in Natural Resources Subcommittee. During this time, the subcommittee voted that this bill be continued to 2017 by voice vote. Although I voted against tabling this bill, Region 2000 has gotten the message. This is a serious issue and plan to take the following steps: A) Install a landfill gas collection and control system. Region 2000 is committed to having the system fully in place and operational by December 31, 2016. B) Install an odor neutralizing system. Installation of this system will begin in early spring, and should be operational by June 1. C) A reduction in sludge. The landfill currently accepts sludge from both Lynchburg and the Town of Altavista. The City is working to reduce the amount of sludge that it takes to the Campbell landfill in two ways. The plan is to take a significant amount of the sludge to the landfill in Amelia. The second is to land apply another portion of the sludge in March or April. This leaves about 300 wet tons per week that will continue to go to the Campbell landfill. The sludge coming from Lynchburg will be treated with lime to reduce the pH and produce Class B biosolids and this should also help reduce the odor at the landfill.
I was also pleased to have students from Cornerstone Christian Academy visit the General Assembly last Monday. I enjoyed talking with the bright students, in between the farm talk with a few, and look forward to seeing them achieve their goals.
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 my job of representing you better. You can email me at DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov or call me at (804)698-1059. You can also join the conversation on our social media page at www.facebook.com/DelegateMattFariss.