I’m continuing my weekly series highlighting 51 unique accomplishments by the Republican-led House of Delegates. I’ll be sending weekly emails about our successful efforts, as well as daily posts on my Facebook and Twitter pages. If you missed last week’s email, you can read it here.
Our tax reform package was the highlight of this year’s legislative session. It provides nearly $1 billion in tax relief for Virginia families. In addition to tax reform, here are some more of our legislative accomplishments:
#25 – Virginia Independent Redistricting Commission
This year the Republican-led House of Delegates put forward a responsible and reasonable plan to allow all future redistricting plans to be handled by an independent commission, without taking the constitutional authority away from the General Assembly.
If the current ongoing redistricting fight has taught us anything, it is that the plan developed fully by the legislature can have broad bipartisan support and still get tied up in endless legal battles for nearly a decade.
The current maps were supported by Republicans and Democrats, including then-Senator Northam, a majority of the Black Caucus, and approved by the Obama Justice Department – yet Democrats are still tying up the plan in federal court trying to get it overturned.
By establishing the “Virginia Independent Redistricting Commission” a bipartisan group of citizens will work together to develop redistricting plans to submit to the General Assembly for an up or down vote. The Commission will be required to use objective criteria to develop its plan, including an effort to strive for political parity when developing a map. If we’re going to have a fair map, we should have a fair map. This constitutional amendment will have to be passed by the legislature again next year before being sent to the voters for consideration in November of 2020.
#26 – Protecting Student Athletes
Participating in sporting activities is important for many students, but ensuring they participate in sports in a safe way must be a top priority.
This year, legislation by Delegate Dickie Bell reinforces the symptoms and dangers of concussions to student-athletes and parents so they can watch out for signs that someone may have a concussion. This legislation also sets forth criteria for return to play and requires local school divisions to biennially update its policies and procedures regarding the identification and handling of suspected concussions in student-athletes.
Governor Northam has already signed this legislation.
#27 – Preventing Cap-and-Trade Programs
This year Delegate Charlie Poindexter carried legislation that would prohibit the Governor from joining RGGI, a regional carbon tax program that would limit carbon emissions and drive up electricity costs program without General Assembly approval.
Studies have shown that programs like RGGI would increase electricity rates for hard working Virginians and will further hamper economic growth at a time when we desperately need policies to get Virginia moving again.
The staff for the SCC says that RGGI compliance would cost Dominion Energy $3.3 to $5.9 billion, which in return would be costs passed along to consumers. The average customer would see a $7 to $12 increase on their electric bill every month.
Far-reaching decisions that affect people’s everyday lives should not be made without the legislative processes and authority vested in the people’s elected representatives to the Virginia General Assembly. The people’s elected representatives should debate and decide whether to join RGGI.
The legislation passed both the House and Senate but was regrettably vetoed by Governor Northam.
#28 – Protecting our Communities
Illegal aliens who commit violent crimes in the Commonwealth shouldn’t be allowed to stay once they’ve completed their jail terms. It’s just common sense. Republicans were proud to support legislation form Del. Charlie Poindexter that would have required local jails to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement when such criminals were to be released.
The reasoning behind this common-sense measure is clear. The Richmond Times Dispatch recently reported on a heinious sexual assault in Richmond allegedly committed by an an illegal immigrant. Federal officials might never know that such a predator is about to be released unless local officials take the simple step of notifying them.
Unfortunately, Democrats once again sided with Governor Ralph Northam and voted to uphold his veto of this common-sense legislation.
#29 – Expanding Access to Telemedicine Services
As our economy becomes more interconnected and traditional services take on new forms, shouldn’t we find ways to make healthcare more accessible?
This year the Republican-led General Assembly passed legislation to expand access to telemedicine services in Virginia. This would allow patients to simply video conference with their doctor or physician from the comfort of their home to receive medical care.
This will increase health care access for those who may not have a means of transportation to otherwise visit a doctors office. The legislation also requires health insurance plans to cover the service.