I hope everyone had an enjoyable Independence Day.
In this Update, I share recent important rulings from the Supreme Court of the United States, discuss Governor McAuliffe’s proposal to reinstate parole, highlight a Panel I hosted on Virginia’s higher education system, share the latest “In Due Course” article outlining key 2015 Virginia legislation, and highlight my activities around the district.
Supreme Court Rulings: Marriage, Health Exchanges
The Supreme Court recently ruled on two very important cases: Obergefell v. Hodges that addressed marriage and King v. Burwell that addressed subsidies for healthcare exchanges.
First, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the 14th Amendment requires states to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state.
I have been a longtime supporter of traditional marriage and am naturally disappointed by the Supreme Court ruling. Moving forward, it is paramount that the religious liberties of all Virginians be respected. While we must and will abide by the law, we must also ensure that the God-given and Constitutionally-guaranteed right to the free exercise of religion is not diminished in light of this ruling.
Second, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 to uphold Obamacare and the IRS’ contradictory system of applying subsidies to all healthcare exchanges, both federally and state-run. This ruling comes despite the bill’s explicit wording that tax subsidies shall be provided for those purchasing insurance on an exchange “established by the State.”
Obamacare in Virginia has resulted in fewer hours for part-time workers, cancelled health care plans, skyrocketing premiums, and higher out-of-pocket medical costs. I believe we must continue to work to do what we can to keep health care costs under control and provide flexibility to families and businesses. We need to remain committed to strengthening our health care safety net without expanding our broken Medicaid system.
Gov. McAuliffe announces Commission to reinstate Parole
Governor McAuliffe recently announced a commission to explore the reinstatement of parole. This would allow a return to an opaque system where, regardless of the sentences deemed appropriate and publicly announced by a court of law, a felon could be set free by a small and unelected group after serving as little as one-fifth of their original sentences.
Currently, Virginia employs a “Truth in Sentencing” system, which requires convicted felons to serve at least 85% of their sentences before the possibility of parole is allowed. Critics of this system argue that it holds nonviolent offenders deserving parole for too long, but this is simply not true
In 2013, 80.8% of Virginia state prison beds were occupied by violent felons. On the other hand, only 2% of inmates, most of whom were already on probation at the time of their sentencing, were cases of simple drug possession.
Gov. McAuliffe is intent on changing the present system despite an expansive Virginia Senate study, released less than a year ago, determined that Virginia’s two decades old parole abolition remains a success. The results suggest that this policy to reduce violent crime is working. Under the state’s truth-in-sentencing guidelines, Virginia’s violent crime ranking, stood third-lowest in the country in 2013.
We always want to improve criminal sentencing in Virginia, but reinstituting parole is a step in the wrong direction. You can share your thoughts with Governor McAuliffe by clicking here.
SCHEV Panel on Experiences of VA Graduates
At the June 9th State Council of Higher Education of Virginia’s (SCHEV) Summit on Quality & Value in Virginia’s System of Higher Education, I was pleased to lead a panel of post-graduate students on their experiences in college and how it prepared them for the workplace.
The panel covered several topics important to the welfare of Virginia’s higher education institutions. Panelists discussed what Virginia institutions do well, what they can improve, and how their undergrad and graduate experiences helped shape their career-paths and employment in the labor market afterwards.
The discussion helped attendees gain a better insight into the challenges college graduates face today and how to address these issues in the future.Overall the event engaged institutions, government, and the private sector in an effort to develop a unified vision that recognizes both the inherent value of higher education and its instrumental value as an engine of economic and personal prosperity.
“In Due Course” outlines new changes to Virginia’s laws
The 2015 issue of “In Due Course” has been released by the Division of Legislative Services. “In Due Course” is a selection of legislation passed by the 2015 Session of the General Assembly that is likely to affect the daily lives of the citizens of Virginia. I wanted to pass this on as a good summary of key legislation that will have an impact across Virginia.
Virginia Selective Service Award
Director of the Virginia Selective Service, Brig. Gen. Bob Flores, USAR (retired), right, presents Delegate Cox with a Selective Service System coin. COL Bill Flanagan, USA (retired), chief of staff for Del. Cox, left, is also pictured with his coin.
I was delighted when Virginia’s Director of Selective Service, Brig. Gen. Bob Flores, USAR (Ret.), presented the Selective Service System recognition coins during his visit to my office in mid-June.
I’m grateful that someone like General Flores is working to make sure our country is ready for any national emergency that might require a rapidly expanded military effort – his office has done a wonderful job of fulfilling that role. Click here to read the news story in The Progress-Index.
Around the District
The last few weeks of door knocking have been very productive. I’ve enjoyed running into so many former students and their parents in the Birkdale neighborhood of Chesterfield. Additionally, knocking on doors in the Highlands and Woodland Pond with Board of Supervisors candidate Cliff Bickford and School Board candidate John Erbach was extremely rewarding. I look forward to visiting Gates Bluff and Stoney Glen in the near future.
I enjoyed attending the Chesterfield Business Council’s “Summerfest” event. Several elected officials, including my good friend from the adjacent 62nd District Del. Riley Ingram, joined me in attendance alongside some 50 small and local business owners. It was a great opportunity to connect with local business leaders looking to grow their companies alongside the community.