Update from Richmond: Week 9

The House of Delegates adjourned sine die, meaning without a set time to reconvene, on Saturday following the completion of its regular 60-day session. Despite the predictions in January that the General Assembly would become a body of constant partisan bickering, I consider this session to have been productive and results oriented. While the legislature did not pass a state budget, we will return in a few week to do so in a special session.

Budget Update

The House and Senate adjourned sine die as scheduled on Saturday, but without an agreement on a new two-year state budget. When we return in a special session, which we expect the governor to call shortly, we will start with a fresh discussion on a new budget. The General Assembly will reconvene at the call of the Speaker and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules.

Working out a final budget agreement is a process that sometimes takes more time than we have in a short, 60-day session. We will take a little time to let everyone go home and then begin talking about our next steps. We have until the end of June to adopt a budget, but it’s important to get it done as soon as possible to give school boards, local governments and state agencies certainty as they write their own spending plans. We have some time, but need to work diligently. The sooner we get a plan the better it is for our Triple-A bond rating. The bond rating agencies will watch us carefully to see how we handle our budget discussions.

Even without the budget completed, the 2018 session was still productive and successful. We advanced our Practical Solutions to Everyday Issues agenda, reached bipartisan agreements with the governor on criminal justice and regulatory reform, and defeated $770 million in tax increases proposed by Democrats.

House Accomplishments

The House of Delegates successfully advanced several major priorities as part of the “Practical Solutions to Everyday Issues” agenda, including legislation to address our teacher shortage, lower the cost of medical prescriptions, create avenues to get students into good paying jobs, and honor our veterans who gave so much to our country.

House Republicans also worked with Governor Northam to advance ideas important to both parties, announcing significant, bipartisan compromises on regulatory reform and criminal justice. The regulatory reform compromise will eliminate or steamline criminal justice and occupational licensing regulations by 25% over the next three years. On criminal justice, the House agreed to raise the felony larceny threshold to $500 in exchange for Governor Northam’s support for stronger restitution enforcement laws. Other accomplishments include adoption reform to help children find loving families sooner, legislation to help workers get the training they need to find a good-paying job, bills to fight the opioid crisis, and reforms to address transportation congestion and the aging Metro system.

House Republicans also stood up to protect taxpayers from significant tax hikes. Democrats introduced several tax increases that disproportionately affected millennials. One bill introduced by Democrats sought to tax things like Netflix, Pandora, and Hulu, while a separate proposal would tax Uber and Lyft. Other tax increases defeated by Republicans sought to institute the so called “Death Tax” and a tax on certain watercrafts.

Even without the budget completed, the 2018 session was still productive and successful. We advanced our Practical Solutions to Everyday Issues agenda, reached bipartisan agreements with the governor on criminal justice and regulatory reform, and defeated $770 million in tax increases proposed by Democrats.

Veterans Initiatives Passed with Bipartisan Support

The General Assembly passed several pieces of veteran-friendly legislation this session. Virginia has one of the largest veteran population in the country, and I’m committed to making Virginia the most veteran friendly state in the Union. Here are a few highlights of veterans legislation that is now headed to the Governor’s desk:

  • HB 2 allows spouses of active duty military personnel who posses an out-of-state teacher’s license to be authorized to teach in Virginia immediately upon establishing permanent residence in the Commonwealth. Not only will this ease the hassle on military families moving, it will help solve the teacher shortage in Virginia.
  • HJ 76 designates the third full week of March as Women’s Veterans Week.
  • HB 71 authorizes a referendum to amend the Constitution of Virginia to extend tax breaks to surviving spouses of disabled veterans.

Select Committee on School Security

In case you missed it, earlier this week I announced the formation of the House Select Committee on School Security. The last select committee of the House took place when Abraham Lincoln was President over 150 years ago. This committee, which I will chair, will look at ways to protect our students while at school. The committee will meet over the summer and will produce recommendations for the General Assembly to consider during the 2019 session. To read the full press release, click here.

Returning to our Colonial Heights Office

As session is now complete, my staff and I will now work primarily out of our district office in Colonial Heights. To get in contact with our district office, call (804) 526-5135 or email DelKCox@house.virginia.gov. My staff and I stand ready to assist you with any problems you might be facing with a state agency.

 

It has been my pleasure to serve the residents of Chesterfield and Colonial Heights in Richmond during this General Assembly session. I look forward to the coming weeks as I speak with civic organizations throughout the district, providing them with an update on this General Assembly’s accomplishments. I will continue to send periodic email updates on matters of importance to our district. I encourage you to stay up to date with district happenings by liking my Facebook page and following me on Twitter.

Sincerely,

Kirk Cox