The General Assembly just concluded their first full week of session. The 100 member House has introduced over 1,000 bills and the 40 member Senate has introduced over 700 bills. Over the next two weeks the 14 House committees will be doing a lot of the heavy lifting to hear the bills before action could be taken on the House floor.
Earlier this week, I gave a speech on the House floor detailing the overall legislative agenda put forth by the House Republican Caucus. You can view my speech on YouTube by clicking here.
Republicans Lead on Job Creation
Our jobs agenda has one main goal: make it easier for people to work. We have several caucus members who are carrying regulatory reform legislation. The current regulatory system is broke. Onerous permitting requirements have made it extremely difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to do business.
Now, not all regulations are bad or should be done away with. That said, regulations should be transparent, fair, and impose minimal financial burdens on businesses and families.
Several members have submitted bills to strengthen public input requirements on newly proposed regulations, create accountability for those agencies that think they should be exempt from public input, and in general scale back the tremendous amount of regulatory burden working professionals currently experience.
We will also have comprehensive legislation to reform the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEPD), the state agency tasked with marketing Virginia to potential new businesses.
Last December, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission published the worst, most disappointing report on a state agency within the last 20 years. In their briefing, they highlighted that VEDP has operated without using basic practices necessary for effective management and marketing. Further, VEDP’s unstructured and inconsistent approach to administering state incentive grant programs leaves the state vulnerable to fraud and poor use of limited resources.
Essentially, the Commonwealth’s marketing agency was operating without a marketing plan.
The systematic deficiencies at this state agency must be addressed. They are supposed to be our key management and marketing agency of Virginia’s economic development activities, but have been grossly mismanaged to the detriment of our economy. It is time to restore accountability and General Assembly oversight. Until reforms have been made, their state funding will be withheld.
We are refiling several commonsense jobs bills that Governor McAuliffe groundlessly vetoed in 2016. In fact, we’ve already passed legislation to strengthen franchisee business owner’s ability to effectively run their own business. HB 1394 (Del. Head, R-Roanoke) prevents franchise employees from being considered as an employer of the franchisor for the purposes of determining union membership, passed the House 67-31.
Caucus members are carrying legislation that supports coal workers, prevents the Governor from unilaterally submitting a State Implementation Plan as part of the Clean Power Plan, and ensures that government contractors are not forced to pay artificially high wages or benefits.
All member budget requests have been made submitted and made public on the state budget website. The House and Senate will deliberate on their respective requests and come up with their own version of the budget before conferring to pass a joint budget in late February.
I carefully considered what budget requests I wanted to submit this year. One of the most important is funding to reduce the developmental disability waiver waiting list by adding an additional 693 waiver slots for top priority recipients. Additionally, a request was submitted for Chesterfield County Public Schools to plan with Virginia State University for the development of a college partnership laboratory school in support of Ettrick Elementary.
As previously noted, in August of last year Governor McAuliffe announced over a $1 billion shortfall. He chose to make up some of that shortfall with fee increases. For example, loggers will have to pay a $100 water quality inspection notification fee. When loggers begin to harvest timber, they are required to notify the Department of Forestry (DOF). DOF then inspects the logging operation for compliance with the silviculture water quality law. This new fee for a notification they are already providing can hurt their business. Another example is an increase in the annual restaurant permit renewal fee from $40 to $285.
In closing, we pledge to pass a structurally balanced without fee or tax increases.
Visitors to my Office
Each week I receive many visitors to my Richmond office. I always enjoy hearing from citizens on bills under consideration by the General Assembly. If you’re visiting the Capitol, stop by my office in room 607 and say hello!
Top photo: Del. Cox with Colonial Heights optometrists Dr. Farley (left) and Dr. Polo (right).
Bottom photo: Del. Cox with students and professors from VCU School of Dentistry led by Chesterfield dentist Dr. Sam Galston.
Top photo: Del. Cox with members of the Virginia Bankers Association.
Bottom photo: Del. Cox with members of the American Legion, including members of Post 284 in Colonial Heights.
Top photo: Del. Cox with supporters of HJ750, a bill to establish August 17th as Coats Disease Awareness Day, led by Elke Gibbs.
Bottom photo: Del. Cox with representatives of the Arc South of the James in support of Virginians with disabilities.
During session, you can contact me at my Richmond office by phone at 698-1066; by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by mail at PO Box 406, Richmond, VA 23218. I appreciate your views on legislation that will help me do a better job for the people I represent.
Please visit my Facebook page and my Twitter page. These pages, along with my website, have information/links to the 2017 General Assembly session to include my legislation, visitors’ photos, my legislative survey, videos of floor remarks, and related topics.
Please forward this update to your fellow veteran friends and neighbors.