The 2019 session of the General Assembly is officially underway! Throughout this 46-day “short session,” I will send out a weekly email detailing several points from the week. I welcome your feedback and will strive to reply to any questions you have in a timely manner.
This year’s session holds special significance for representative government. 400 years ago, in 1619, the General Assembly first met in Jamestown. Our legislature, as well as those who can vote for their representatives, has continually evolved from that first session to the legislature we know today.
I am honored to serve as Speaker and preside over this year’s historic session. I had the opportunity to address the members of the House during the opening session. Click here to see my opening remarks.
The 2019 Commemoration Committee is planning a series of events this year recognizing Virginia’s rich history. You can view a list of events here.
State of the Commonwealth
On Wednesday evening, the Governor delivered his State of the Commonwealth address to the members of the House and Senate. The Governor’s address signified his desire to work together across party lines on issues on which we can agree.
Portions of the Governor’s address did concern me, particularly several comments on public safety. In his speech, he correctly stated that Virginia’s recidivism rate was one of the lowest in the entire country. Just after that, he proposed major changes in criminal law. This fits an emerging pattern that suggests Democrats are going to seek fundamental changes to a criminal justice system that has made Virginia one of the safest states in the nation. I am committed to ensuring that our dedicated law enforcement officers have the resources and support they need to do their job.
The Governor also spoke on his proposed budget amendments. His budget is built on $1.2 billion in new taxes primarily paid for by middle-class Virginians. I worked closely with Delegate Tim Hugo to draft a tax reform plan that will keep more of your money in your pocket. For starters, our plan increases the state’s standard deduction for both married and single filers. Additionally, our plan saves 600,000 Virginians from a hidden tax increase by allowing filers to itemize on their state taxes regardless of whether they did so on their federal taxes. This plan will fully implement the federal tax cuts at the state level, protecting a middle class family that itemizes from what could be an $805 tax increase or providing an additional $115 in tax relief to a family that chooses the standard deduction. Tax reform and the budget will be thoroughly debated during this session.
Following the Governor’s address, Delegate Bob Thomas (R-Stafford) and Senator Steve Newman (R-Bedford) delivered the official Republican response. Our party is focused on creating jobs, expanding economic opportunity, and keeping taxes low. You can view the Republican response here.
Last year I formed the House Select Committee on School Safety to thoroughly study security protocol in public schools and ensure that we are doing what we need to in order to keep our schools safe. Virginia has been recognized constantly as a leader in school safety, however, we must be ever vigilant in the changing world in which we live.
Following months of work, the bipartisan committee produced twenty four priority recommendations, many of which have already been introduced as bills. I am hopeful, for our children’s sake, that these bills will pass and be signed into law by Governor Northam.
I will keep you apprised of the latest developments of these bills in my weekly email newsletters.
Visitors to the General Assembly
I was glad to welcome Rev. Dr. Felix Amofa to the Capitol to deliver the invocation for the House of Delegates. Father Amofa serves the congregation of St. Gabriel Catholic Church in western Chesterfield. Joining him were Dennis & Marcia Sugumele, constituents who reside in Chesterfield.
My 2019 survey is now live! I ask that you take a few minutes to complete my annual survey. This ten question survey hits just some of the issues that will come before the General Assembly this session. If there’s an issue important to you that is not included on the survey, please let me know. This survey and your additional comments allow me to better represent our community.
Telephone Town Hall
As I have in years past, I will once again hold a telephone town hall on Thursday, January 17 at 7 pm. The feedback received during previous telephone town halls has been valuable as I cast votes on bills of significance to our community. I will call participants at 7 pm. This format allows for both interactive poll questions and a Q&A session from the comfort of your own home.
I look forward to hearing from you concerning matters coming before the General Assembly. You can call my office at (804) 698-1066; email me at DelKCox@house.virginia.gov; or write to me at PO Box 406, Richmond, VA 23218. In addition to my weekly email newsletters, you can stay up to date by liking my Facebook page and following me on Twitter.