Update from Richmond: Week 4

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.

Proposed “Netflix Tax” Killed by House Republicans

Republicans in the House once again stood up for Virginia taxpayers this past Monday, killing a bill to raise taxes on hardworking Virginians. House Bill 1051 was introduced by a Northern Virginia Democrat and would have instituted a tax on streaming video services such as Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, 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.

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

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 members and staff. This is an important topic and one that was a top 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 course upon hiring and every two years thereafter. Republicans unanimously voted for the bill.

Last fall, as instances of sexual harassment were being reported in state capitals across the nation, I wrote an open letter to the Capitol Square community here in Virginia stating that “everyone who steps foot on Capitol Square will be treated with the dignity and respect he or she deserves.” To read my full letter, click here.

Reforming the State Board of Elections

On Thursday, the House of Delegates 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 presently 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.

Visitors to the Capitol

I enjoyed sitting down and talking with Lena and Adam, middle school students from Chesterfield County who are participating in the 2018 House Page Program. Over 100 applicants applied for this prestigious program, of which only 40 were chosen. This is a testament to their drive, leadership, and character. I was proud to endorse their application and look forward to working with them while they serve as an integral part of the House during session and get a front row seat to watch the legislature at work.

Speaker Cox with House pages Lena and Adam of Chesterfield County.

4-H students came from across the Commonwealth to Richmond this week for their annual lobby day. As an organization, 4-H is committed to mentoring today’s youth to become tomorrow’s leaders. I ran into two 4-H members on my walk from my office to the Capitol and had a great discussion on what the organization means to them.

Speaker Cox with 4-H members from the 66th district.

Lastly, I enjoyed meeting Jennifer Procise and Steve Koehler from Swift Creek Mill Theatre to discuss the arts. Virginia’s arts organizations, like Swift Creek Mill Theatre, play a vital role in our state’s tourism industry and are a source of jobs and entertainment for Virginians. My first job in high school was at Swift Creek Mill Theatre, and Julie and I always enjoy going back to lend our support.

Speaker Cox discussing the arts with Jennifer Procise and Steve Koehler of Swift Creek Mill Theatre.

Links of Interest

Below are several links to a few news stories covering this week’s events in Richmond.

 

I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office during session. 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 delkcox@house.virginia.gov or call me at (804) 698-1066. You can also join the conversation on our social media pages by liking my Facebook page or following me on Twitter.

Sincerely,

Kirk Cox