Monday, March 2, 2009

Virginia Speaker of the House of Delegates Highlights Legislative Agenda at End of Session 2009

Commonwealth of Virginia

Speaker's Office
Virginia House of Delegates

February 28, 2009
Contact: G. Paul Nardo (804) 698-1228, or

Highlighting the achievements of House Republicans to deliver practical solutions to the issues of concern to Virginians struggling through tough economic times, Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) today underscored the positive results of the policy initiatives advanced by House Republicans accomplished during the legislative session. The House of Delegates today adjourned sine die, bringing an end to the “short” 2009 General Assembly Session.
“House Republicans understand that as citizens are hurting in the midst of this difficult economy, they expected their elected leaders to make the tough decisions that will help Virginia’s economy recover and regain prosperity,” noted Speaker Howell. “I’m pleased with the successful accomplishments of the strong reform agenda of House Republicans this session. On a wide range of issues, our positive proposals have received broad, bipartisan approval because they were based on sound principles and practical ideas.

“Creating jobs and helping spur economic recovery, protecting our most vulnerable citizens, ensuring the safety of our neighborhoods and communities, reducing congestions on our roads and educating our children are all major components of the comprehensive package House Republicans developed and advanced through the legislative process this year. The breadth and depth of the proposals offered is reflected in the success that the vast majority of our bills achieved. Working in a bipartisan manner with members of both bodies, House Republicans have delivered significant and positive change.

“Before this session began, House Republicans displayed strong leadership. We advanced sensible reforms, announced efficiencies and transparency measures and laid out a vision of innovation and progress. Now at the end of session, we have built on those impressive efforts with an outstanding package of reforms. There is no doubt in my mind that Virginians will benefit from the legislative successes we have achieved.”

Below is a partial list of measures, supported by the House Republican Caucus and grouped by topic, that were approved by the House of Delegates and their final legislative outcome.

Economic Recovery, Jobs & Prosperity

HB 1600 (Del. Putney – Bedford) Passed House 90-8 Passed Senate 35-5
Expedites seven significant higher education capital projects worth over $230 million to start construction one year sooner in order to stimulate creation of 3,400 new jobs and advance higher learning opportunities.

HB 1600 (Del. Putney – Bedford) Passed House 90-8 Passed Senate 35-5
Supports efforts to increase economic development and marketing efforts in Virginia by providing an additional $2.7 million for tourism to leverage millions in private sector investments and restoring $500,000 to the Economic Development Partnership.

HB 2575 (Del. Putney – Bedford) Passed House 99-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Extends by ten years the successful major business facility job tax credit and expedites the drawdown of those credits over the next two years to stimulate job creation.

HB 2550 (Del. Cox – Colonial Heights) Passed House 92-0 Passed Senate 38-0
Provides innovative financing for large, job creating economic development projects that create over 400 new jobs and invest over $250 million in Virginia communities.

HB 2583 (Del. Merricks – Pittsylvania) Passed House 99-0 Passed Senate 38-1
Retains a portion of local government deposits in Virginia financial institutions, increasing their capital holdings by almost $400 million so they can reinvest in local jobs and stimulate the local credit market.

HB 2437 (Del. Byron – Campbell) Passed House 88-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Allows manufacturers' corporate income tax to be based on sales, phased in by 2013, helping Virginia remain competitive to retain and create some 9,000 high-paying manufacturing jobs.

HB 2056 (Del. Hamilton – Newport News) Passed House 96-0-1 Passed Senate 40-0
Provides economic grant incentives for workforce training programs and facilities to support an advanced workforce training program in Hampton Roads that creates 1,000 new jobs.

HB 1600 (Del. Putney – Bedford) Passed House 90-8 Passed Senate 35-5
Provides $1.5 million for the Virginia Jobs Investment Program to support training programs for a major automotive supplier that will create 318 new jobs and invest $194 million in Virginia.

HB 1938 (Del. Peace – Hanover) Passed House 99-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Increases to $2,000 the amount of the livable tax credit for Virginians purchasing a new home or retrofit an existing residency to improve accessibility.

HB 2262 (Del. Kilgore – Scott) Passed House 99-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Strengthens the Attorney General’s enforcement authority under the Mortgage Lender and Broker Act to go after predatory mortgage lenders using fraud and deception.

HB 2031 (Del. D. Marshall – Danville) Passed House 98-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Requires the licensure and registration of mortgage loan originators and establishes licensing procedures and criteria to ensure consumer protection.

HB 2132 (Del. Miller – Manassas) Passed House 98-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Allows localities to cooperate with school divisions to offer residential housing assistance grants and other arrangements to provide affordable housing alternatives to teachers and other educational staff.

HB 2096 (Del. Orrock – Caroline) Passed House 98-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Encourages charity organizations like Habitat for Humanity to build affordable housing by allowing localities to waive building permit and other local fees.

HB 2354 (Del. Landes – Augusta) Passed House 99-0 Killed by Senate Committee
Allows for the temporary suspension of any mandate on a local government by a state agency if it would help alleviate the localities’ fiscal hardships.

HJ 647 (Del. O’Bannon – Henrico) Passed House 98-1 Passed Senate 31-9
Increases the amount that can be appropriated to the Rainy Day Fund to strengthen Virginia’s ability to effectively weather future economic downturns.

HJ 640 (Del. Saxman – Staunton) Passed House 56-43 Killed by Senate Committee
Protects Virginia’s Right-to-Work Statute in the Constitution so that Virginia remains the best place to do business during these tough economic times.

Government Reform & Transparency

HB 1634 (Del. Saxman – Staunton) Passed House 78-14-3 Killed by Senate Committee
Closes the loophole on fundraising by elected officials while in legislative session in order to eliminate the influence of campaign contributions on the consideration and outcome of legislation.

HB 1883 (Del. Nixon – Chesterfield) Passed House 98-0 Killed by Senate Committee
Strengthens the transparency and oversight of lobbyist registration by increasing reporting and reforming compliance procedures.

HB 1738 (Del. Purkey – Virginia Beach) Passed House 98-0 Killed by Senate Committee
Expands to two years the period for which a former legislators and executive branch official must wait until becoming a registered lobbyist, closing the revolving door.

HB 2463 (Del. O’Bannon – Henrico) Passed House 95-3 Killed by Senate Committee
Creates an Efficiency Review Commission to systematically review every agency of state government to make certain that they are necessary and are performing their work efficiently and without redundancy.

HB 2285 (Del. Cline – Rockbridge) Passed House 99-0 Passed Senate 38-0
Improves state spending transparency through Virginia’s searchable database website to include information on state revenues, appropriations and expenditures.

HB 2657 (Del. Griffith – Salem) Passed House 99-0 Killed by Senate Committee
Prohibits use of Commonwealth’s publicly owned Executive Mansion for partisan political fundraising.

Energy Independence & Alternative Resources

HB 2404 (Del. Bell – Albermarle) Passed House 98-0 Killed by Senate Committee
Creates VA Universities Clean Energy Development & Economic Stimulus Foundation to assist in identifying and administering development of alternative energy sources to create jobs and promote energy independence.

HB 2531 (Del. Kilgore – Scott) Passed House 61-14 Passed Senate 37-1
Encourages energy conservation, primarily by businesses, by examining development of energy conservation and demand-response targets that can be accomplished by cost-effective demand-side management portfolios.

HB 2152 (Del. Rust – Fairfax) Passed House 99-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Provides for relief from capacity charges that discourage renewable energy generation without increasing the cost of energy to the consumers.

HB 2175 (Del. Hogan – Halifax) Passed House 90-7 Passed Senate 32-5-1
Breaks down barriers in the regulation process for completing small renewable energy projects so more projects can be built faster and at a lower cost, helping to reduce electric grid consumption.

HB 2172 (Del. Hogan – Halifax) Passed House 97-2 Passed Senate 40-0
Streamlines the regulatory process for renewable energy generation projects so they can be connected more easily into the existing electrical grid for aid in addressing overall energy demand through the use of alternative energy resources.

HB 2371 (Del. Nutter – Montgomery) Passed House 97-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Encourages consumer-driven choices for commercial costumers generating renewable power by providing real-time, dynamic energy rates so utilities can bring that renewable power into their overall grid to lower overall costs and satisfy demand.

HB 2268 (Del. Poindexter – Franklin) Passed House 96-0 Passed Senate 37-2
Expands the definition of renewable energy to encourage new alternative energy projects with greater use of organic, biomass sources to meet rising energy demand.

HB 1633 (Del. Saxman – Staunton) Passed House 58-41 Killed by Senate Committee
Directs the royalties from exploration of domestic energy sources that will create local jobs to transportation improvements, Chesapeake Bay clean-up, renewable energy research and home energy assistance.

HB 2001 (Del. Cosgrove – Chesapeake) Passed House 98-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Expands the eligibility of the Biofuels Production Incentive Grant Program to include advanced biofuels that are made from winter cover crops, cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin oil, and algae.

HB 2002 (Del. Cosgrove – Chesapeake) Passed House 98-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Encourages the production of sustainably produced biofuels made from traditional agricultural crops as part of Virginia’s comprehensive energy plan.

Health Care

HB 1600 (Del. Putney – Bedford) Passed House 90-8 Passed Senate 35-5
Restores the 200 MR Waiver slots cut by Governor Kaine in his budget amendments and funds an additional 200 slots in order to reduce the urgent waiting list for the MR Waiver program.

HB 1600 (Del. Putney – Bedford) Passed House 88-11 Killed by Senate
Dedicates $1.5 million in additional funding for critical and cost-effective early intervention services for children with developmental delays, including children with autism and autism spectrum disorder.

HB 2024 (Del. D. Marshall – Danville) Passed House 95-1 Passed Senate 40-0
Reduces the number of uninsured Virginians by allowing small businesses that do not currently offer health insurance to their employees to offer plans with the choice of what mandates to cover.

HB 1598 (Del. Hamilton – Newport News) Passed House 96-0-2 Passed Senate 40-0
Revises the criteria for issuance of a Certificate of Public Need which will result in increased competition in the delivery of health care services, opening greater access to high quality care.

HB 2044 (Del. Nixon – Chesterfield) Passed House 96-0-1 Passed Senate 40-0
Creates an advisory committee of health care and technology experts to assist in developing standards for health care information systems that reduce medical errors, reduce costs and save lives.

HB 2674 (Del. Cox – Colonial Heights) Passed House 92-0
Sets out an aggressive goal of eliminating the urgent care waiting list for the home and community-based MR Waiver program that grows by one family within the next 10 years (by 2018-2020 biennium).

HB 2061 (Del. Hamilton – Newport News) Passed House 99-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Reforms process for placing juveniles in outpatient mental health treatment services and monitoring those cases.

HB 2557 (Del. Nixon – Chesterfield) Passed House 97-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Applies any mandate imposed on small businesses to the state employee health insurance plan and requires information on cost and utilization of any proposed mandate.

K-12 & Higher Education

HB 1600 (Del. Putney – Bedford) Passed House 88-11 Killed by Senate
Lessens the possibility of schools having to layoff younger teachers and helps schools divisions better
manage their budgets by establishing a Teacher and Support Staff Enhanced Retirement Incentive Plan.

HB 2464 (Del. Morgan – Gloucester) Passed House 98-0-1 Passed Senate 40-0
Continues and improves upon the 2005 landmark restructuring of Virginia’s higher education system

HB 1965 (Del. Saxman – Staunton) Passed House 50-47 Killed by Senate Committee
Creates income tax credit for businesses that support public school scholarships for families that decide to send their students to the school of their choice, including services used for children with autism spectrum disorder.

HB 2104 (Del. Janis – Henrico) Passed House 59-39 Killed by Senate Committee
Provides a grant for families in Virginia with a child who has autism spectrum disorder to use at a private school if their child is demonstrating substantial unmet academic or development progress in a public school.

HB 2018 (Del. Rust – Fairfax) Passed House 72-24 Killed in Senate Committee
Creates a permanent, perpetual School Construction Revolving Fund to better assist local school districts in financing construction and renovation. Leveraging innovative public-private financing and expertise will help build needed classrooms faster, at lower costs and in a more dynamic way.

HB 2304 (Del. Griffith – Salem) Passed House 97-2 Passed Senate 40-0
Maintains the one year period in which anyone aggrieved by a decision on special education program placement, eligibility or other matters made in a due process hearing may appeal to a circuit court.

HJ 678 (Del. Tata – Virginia Beach) Passed House 95-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Requests Virginia’s public higher education administration study methods to attract students to the Virginia Community College system for teacher preparation programs.


HB 1579 (Del. Oder – Newport News) Passed House 67-31 Killed by Senate Committee
Increases transportation funding for Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and other regions of the Commonwealth by dedicating a portion of future growth in existing revenue sources so Virginia can reinvest in its roads, rail and transit, increase mobility and strengthen the flow of job-creating commerce.

HB 2066 (Del. Hamilton – Newport News) Passed House 68-29-1 Killed by Senate Committee
Improves the Public-Private Partnership Transportation Act by streamlining the regulatory process to increase the number of public-private projects that could be built faster and at a lower cost.

HB 2079 (Del. Oder – Newport News) Passed House 65-31-1 Killed by Senate
Expedites improvements and expansion of two transportation projects critical to Hampton Roads – the Downtown Tunnel/Midtown Tunnel/MLK Extension project and the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel.

HB 2019 (Del. Rust – Fairfax) Passed House 96-0 Passed Senate 39-0
Directs the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) to designate corridors of statewide significance in the Statewide Transportation Plan and localities to include them in their comprehensive plans.

HJ 620 (Del. Oder – Newport News) Passed House 99-0 Killed by Senate
Locks-up from legislative raids the Transportation Trust Fund by an amendment to the Constitution of Virginia so money dedicated and supposed to go to transportation actually is used for transportation.


HB 2351 (Del. Landes – Augusta) Passed House 91-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Dedicates a portion of future surplus funds to the Natural Resources Commitment Fund and increases the share allocated from the Fund to the Agriculture Best Management Practices Cost-Share Program.

HB 2168 (Del. Abbitt – Appomattox) Passed House 97-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Improves the ability to clean up Virginia’s waterways from storm-water nonpoint pollution through a nutrient offset program that allows compliance through offsets in the same tributary.

HB 2165 (Del. Lohr – Rockingham) Passed House 98-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Streamlines the ability of Virginia farms to undertake small-scale conversions of renewable biomass from feedstock produced on the farm for energy production.

HB 2646 (Del. Poindexter – Franklin) Passed House 92-7 Passed Senate 40-0
Establishes a market based betterment loan program to address onsite sewage system or alternative discharging sewage systems in order to reduce threats to public health and ground and surface waters.

HB 2565 (Del. Knight – Virginia Beach) Passed House 98-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Encourages localities to develop lease of development rights, transfer of development rights and agricultural and forestal district with assistance from the Office of Farmland Preservation.

Law Enforcement & Public Safety

HB 1600 (Del. Putney – Bedford) Passed House 90-8 Passed Senate 35-5
Protects children from online predators by appropriating $2.0 million to the Northern Virginia and Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces.

HB 2402 (Del. Bell – Albermarle) Passed House 99-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Combats identify theft in cases where people obtain money, loans and credit through the use of identifying information of another person.

HB 1868 (Del. Janis – Henrico) Passed House 97-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Increases permanently the penalty for underage drinking and driving to a Class I misdemeanor to deter reckless behavior by young people.

HB 2041 (Del. Iaquinto – Virginia Beach) Passed House 91-7 Killed by Senate Committee
Removes drunk drivers from Virginia roadways by requiring the instillation of an ignition interlock system so convicted drunk drivers will not put other law-abiding Virginians in harm’s way.

HB 1693 (Del. Albo – Fairfax) Passed House 98-0 Passed Senate 28-12
Strengthens Virginia’s DUI laws by requiring mandatory jail sentence when a blood alcohol test is
done at a hospital.

HB 2358 (Del. Gilbert – Shenandoah) Passed House 75-21 Passed Senate 24-13
Redefines the “triggerman rule” as it applies to capital murder cases to include accessories and principles in the second degree in cases dealing with terrorism and murder for hire.

HB 2638 (Del. Pogge – James City) Passed House 75-22 Passed 29-11
Expands the death penalty for those convicted of the murder of law-enforcement officers including auxiliary police officers and deputy sheriffs and fire marshals and assistant fire marshals.

Other Important Issues

HB 1732 (Del. Cox – Colonial Heights) Passed House 97-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Develops and deploys an automated system for the electronic preparation of veterans’ disability claims (similar to “Turbo Vet”) so more of our veterans can receive their disability payments in a timely manner.

HB 1727 (Del. Cole – Spotsylvania) Passed House 97-0 Passed Senate 39-0
Establishes an interstate compact to remove barriers to educational success imposed on children of military families because of frequent moves and deployment of their parents.

HB 1712 (Del. Janis – Henrico) Passed House 96-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Conforms Virginia’s absentee ballot laws to similar federal laws to make certain that all absentee ballots from active duty military personnel are counted.

HB 1877 (Del. Cosgrove – Chesapeake) Passed House 96-0-1 Passed Senate 40-0
Allows law enforcement officers including firefighters, EMS personnel and other first responders to vote by absentee ballot.

HB 2579 (Del. Byron – Campbell) Passed House 62-36 Killed by Senate Committee
Adds an ultrasound to the information given a woman considering an abortion under informed consent to give better assurance on the gestation age than the current approach of guessing.

HB 2634 (Del. Cline – Rockbridge) Passed House 64-34 Killed by Senate Committee
Requires that any person, who seeks an abortion past the first trimester, must allow their unborn child to receive anesthesia so that they do not feel the pain that is ending their lives.

HJ 648 (Del. O’Bannon – Henrico) Passed House 97-0 Passed Senate 40-0
Amends the Virginia Constitution to allow for exemption from property taxes for disabled veterans.

HJ 725 (Del. Bell – Albermarle) Passed House 68-31 Killed by Senate Committee
Protects private property rights by amending the Virginia Constitution to narrowly define under what circumstances eminent domain powers can used for public use.

Please Note: This list is not intended to be a complete compilation of all Republican-sponsored legislation in the 2009 Session. Additional House Republican initiatives are included in the Conference Report for the Amendments to the 2008-2010 Biennial Budget (HB 1600).

For more details about any bill listed above, please contact the office of the delegate who patroned the measure or click on the bill number, which is linked to the General Assembly’s Legislative Information Service and provides more information on the legislative measures.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Virginia State Delegate Ken Melvin Announces Retirement

Virginia House Democratic Caucus

February 24, 2009

CONTACT: Claire Wilker, (804) 644-1966

Delegate Ken Melvin Announces Retirement

Portsmouth Lawmaker Concludes Distinguished Career

Today, Delegate Ken Melvin of Portsmouth announced that he would be retiring from the House of Delegates after 24 years of service. As one of the longest serving members of the House Courts of Justice Committee, Delegate Melvin has earned a reputation as an arduous defender of civil rights and a strong voice for the disadvantaged.

"Ken Melvin has one of the sharpest legal minds of anyone I've ever had the privilege to work with," said House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong. "He has devoted his career to the equal and fair distribution of the law, and this House will not be the same without him. I thank him for his service, and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors."

"I have had the joy of working with Ken for over two decades," added Caucus Chairman Ken Plum. "He has served this body with honor and distinction, and we will dearly miss his perspective and innumerable contributions. The Commonwealth is a better place thanks to his work."

Delegate Ken Melvin was elected to the House of Delegates in 1985 and is a senior member of the House Finance, Courts of Justice, and Commerce and Labor Committees. The 80th House District encompasses parts of Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Norfolk.

Virginia State Senator John C. Watkins on 2009 General Assembly Session

John C. Watkins
10th District
Senate of Virginia

Contact: Lorraine Waddill, Legislative Assistant
(804) 698-7810

February 24, 2009

John Watkins Talks About Guns and REAL ID

As the 2009 session of Virginia’s General Assembly is approaching its close, I’d like to tell you about some of the issues that were in the headlines and of interest to a great number of the citizens of the 10th Senatorial District.

There were three primary pieces of firearms legislation, one of which I sponsored. SB 1166, which passed the Senate and was ultimately killed in a House subcommittee, would have done two things. It would have placed in statute a Freedom of Information exemption for information filed by firearms purchasers that is required in order for a background check to be performed. My bill would have retained the privacy of those forms and that information. Secondly, it raised the fee for the background check from $2 to $5 in state, and from $5 to $8 for out of state background checks.

This was a modest increase in a program that has not been increased since its inception back in 1989. Other background checks, i.e., to obtain a concealed weapons permit, permits for loan originator applications, and other business filings are considerably higher and usually run somewhere in the $30 to $50 range.

The number of background checks performed by the State Police has risen from roughly 40,000 in 1990 to 240,000 last year. This system has resulted in the apprehension of some 10,000 people who were trying to illegally purchase weapons here in Virginia. Without the additional funds, our State Police will be forced to reduce other public safety priorities to provide for the background checks needed for gun purchases.

The second piece of legislation was the “gun show loophole,” which was introduced by Senator Marsh. I voted against this legislation. I was concerned that the way the statute was drawn it could be broadened to prevent the ability of individuals to sell or barter a weapon with neighbors, friends or relatives. It also included all hunting weapons.

The third piece of legislation is still in debate at this time. This bill would require localities that come into possession of confiscated weapons to sell or auction these weapons. I think we should not put localities in the business of selling firearms. Localities should have the discretion to request proposals for the purchase of valuable weapons, but they should also have the discretion to destroy every day handguns, etc., that repeatedly are utilized in criminal activity. This legislation should be voted on in this final week of the legislature.

Another topic of high interest this session was the REAL ID Act, considered at this year’s session as Senate Bill 1431.

Federally mandated REAL ID has been an issue at the General Assembly over the last five years. This specific legislation would have mandated Virginia not to adhere to any of the regulatory structure of REAL ID. This requirement would thwart any attempt by the Commonwealth to establish legal identity mandated by state law six years ago because of the issues surrounding immigration. It would seem counterproductive to me to abandon the requirements for legal presence at this time.

As the federal regulations continue to proceed with the implementation of REAL ID, many of the practicalities of its implementation are moving the Department of Motor Vehicles in a preferred direction. The state will ultimately control the data bases that have the information on Virginia citizens. This is not unlike many license and registration systems that currently exist in Virginia with the State Corporation Commission and the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, as well as the Health Department.

With that in mind, I would indicate this legislation has been modified to protect much of the REAL ID information and to limit some of the types of information that are retained. Full implementation of REAL ID for individuals under 50 years of age will take place fairly soon. For those of us older than 50, it will be phased in later years.

The major hurdle that remains to be overcome is that the federal government is going to require a compliant system for identification in order for one to board an airplane, even for domestic flights, a ship and perhaps any form of mass transit in the future. I think it is important that we all keep in mind that one-third of the highjackers who attacked New York and Washington, DC on 9/11 had Virginia identification. We have had to make significant changes in order to avoid anything like that from ever happening again.

I voted in favor of SB 1431. It is now in the House of Delegates and will be voted on during this final week of the General Assembly.

To learn more about any other legislation of interest to you, please visit the General Assembly web site at: As always, I value your opinions and suggestions, and invite you to call or write to me on issues of concern to you.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Speaker Bill Howell Encourages Swift Budget Negotiations & Resolution

February 20, 2009
Contact: G. Paul Nardo (804) 698-1228, or

– House Budget includes Funding to Accelerate Economic Recovery & Job Creation –

In the latest effort by House Republicans to assist in the economic recovery of Virginia, Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) today issued a statement encouraging House and Senate budget negotiators to act expeditiously to complete their work on amendments to Virginia’s current 2008-2010 state budget. Speaker Howell appointed the six House budget conferees three weeks ago and the House fulfilled their duty to pass a budget on time last week.

“At a time when Virginia’s families and businesses are concerned about their jobs and economic future, elected officials now in Richmond must be vigilant and ready to produce a fiscally responsible balanced state budget that addresses those concerns,” said Speaker Howell. “To fulfill the General Assembly’s obligation to all Virginians during this economic recession, it is imperative that budget negotiators not delay the hard work necessary to craft a reasonable and responsible state spending plan. Despite these difficult circumstances, I am optimistic that the conferees will be able to forge a compromise that balances the budget without earmarks, creates jobs and restores economic prosperity to Virginians by the scheduled adjournment of this Session on February 28.

“In a strong, bipartisan vote last week, the House passed amendments to the 2008-2010 budget that advanced a multitude of practical solutions to the challenges facing Virginians. I’m pleased that we were able to aggressively address the urgent care waiting list for the community based MR Waiver program, encourage increased tourism and the clean jobs that sector creates, bolster the services provided to the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens with autism and autism spectrum disorder, and expedite capital projects at our public institutions of higher education to stimulate job creation and expand educational and economic opportunities. I regret that the budget amendments adopted by the State Senate did not make these critical issues a priority.

“It is important that budget conferees begin to address these and other important budgetary matters without delay and as soon as possible. Although House budget conferees have indicated that they are ready to begin meeting today, anytime tomorrow or Sunday afternoon, Senate budget conferees do not want to begin meeting for the first time until Sunday at 6:00 PM.

“Because I, like all Virginians, want to see the people’s business done not only thoughtfully but on time, I am hopeful that the Senate conferees will avoid any further delays and meet with their House counterparts to help resolve Virginia’s serious fiscal challenges before the end of next week.”

Thursday, February 19, 2009

State Senator Creigh Deeds, D-25 (Candidate for Governor) on Redistricting Reform

Contact: Sen. Creigh Deeds
(804) 698-7525

February 19, 2009

With just nine days left in this legislative session, I presented nine of my Senate bills on Tuesday to my colleagues in the House of Delegates. One of my bills that came up in committee was my proposal for redistricting reform, which is near and dear to me. At an early morning hearing, I presented my Senate bill to take politics out of the drawing of legislative and congressional districts. Despite receiving unanimous support for my proposal in the Senate, four Republicans on the subcommittee defeated my proposal.

While I was disappointed with this outcome, the fight for bipartisan redistricting is not over. Government ultimately belongs to the people, not elected officials. Our broken redistricting process allows for legislators to protect their own interests by drawing districts that protect incumbents and political majorities. When I'm Governor, Virginia voters will be the ones to choose their elected officials instead of allowing legislators to choose their voters. I will create a bipartisan redistricting commission and use the veto and amendment process to create competitive congressional and legislative districts.

I mentioned last week that we are facing the largest budget shortfall in Virginia history. We have received both good news and bad news since I last wrote. Word came over the weekend that Virginia tax revenue fell by more than 15 percent during the month of January—the largest drop in more than ten years. Earlier this week, good news came our way when President Obama signed the federal stimulus package. Stimulus money will help us address the budget shortfall and will keep Virginia moving forward, especially the funding that will be set aside for investment in our transportation infrastructure.

The choices we face aren't getting any easier, but we are going to come out of this session with a balanced budget. During the budget process, I will continue to stand up for you in Richmond. I will fight to protect Virginia jobs, make health care more affordable, and keep our investment in education all across the Commonwealth.

I'm pleased to serve on the Privileges and Elections; Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources; Transportation; and, Courts of Justice Committees. If you ever have a question, comment or concern about bills before me in the General Assembly—whether you were tracking them on Richmond Sunlight or read about them in your local newspaper—please contact my legislative assistant Davis Walsh at (804) 698-7525 or at

Very Truly Yours,

Creigh Deeds

P.S. There are only nine days left in this session. I want to hear from you.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Virginia House of Delegates Republican Caucus Makes Economic Recovery & Prosperity Initiatives Announcement

February 18, 2009
Contact: Mike Hazlewood (804) 698-1093

Delegate Phil Hamilton Highlights General Assembly’s
Economic Recovery & Prosperity Initiatives

Delegate Phillip A. Hamilton (R-Newport News), vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee, today addressed the House of Delegates regarding several of the economic recovery and prosperity initiatives passed during recent years by the Virginia General Assembly, including the current 2009 session.

Delegate Hamilton’s remarks to the House of Delegates are as follows:

“Even with President Obama signing the ‘American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009’ yesterday in Denver, the economy continues to be the most pressing problem facing all levels of government.

“On Monday of this week, we learned that the Virginia budget was facing another projected $821 million revenue loss for the current 2008-2010 biennium. The good news was that this short term additional revenue from the federal government would more than likely mean that no more reductions would be needed in the state budget.

“While the federal plan provides short term revenue that backfills current state revenue reductions, the plan provides little evidence that it will actually stimulate the economy or create new private sector jobs for American workers.

“Too little money is returned to the taxpayers – the consumers who actually stimulate the economy through the purchase of goods and services – or to the small businesses that serve as the backbone of our economy by creating the private sector jobs that keep the American economic engine moving forward.

“Because this economic downturn has been predictable for the past several years, the Virginia General Assembly has passed several comprehensive economic growth and recovery initiatives that focus on improving the public infrastructure and creating incentives for job creation within the private sector.

“In 2007, the General Assembly passed legislation that provided for $3 billion in bonds over 10 years for transportation construction. The General Assembly also increased the vehicle registration fee, the per gallon diesel fuel tax, and dedicated one-third of the insurance premiums tax to Virginia’s Transportation Trust Fund. While there may be a need to do more, this additional revenue provides more funding to address improvements to Virginia’s transportation infrastructure.

“More specifically, this legislation provided significant funding to improve rail transportation from the ports in Hampton Roads to connections with the Heartland Corridor which is a major transportation artery for the transport of goods across America. This is another important component of the legislation that should work to stimulate growth and job creation in Virginia’s economy.

“In 2008, the Higher Education Bond package that the Virginia General Assembly passed provided $2.6 billion for capital projects on Virginia's colleges and universities and other state facilities.

“Legislation also passed that authorized up to $350.5 million in revenue producing capital projects at certain institutions of higher education.

“So far during the current 2009 General Assembly Session, the House and Senate have passed the Advanced Shipbuilding Performance Grants program.
“The House has passed legislation to extend the Major Business Facilities Job Tax Credit until 2020 and approved the Major Employment and Investment projects legislation that authorizes the Virginia Public Building Authority and the Virginia Resources Authority to finance economic development initiatives performed by state and local government entities.

“In each instance, all of these state initiatives provide a real incentive to private business and industry for high impact regional economic development projects in which the private entity makes a significant capital investment, creates hundreds of new, full-time jobs, and is expected to have a substantial direct economic impact on surrounding communities.

“In addition, the House budget included $3 million more to promote tourism, $12.5 million for detailed planning to accelerate five major capital projects on various public college campuses, and $1.5 million for workforce development.

“Rather than just talk about the need for an economic stimulus, the Virginia General Assembly has been proactive in creating an environment that clearly says that ‘Virginia is Open for Business.’

“Ranked as the 'best managed' state in the nation and the best place to raise and educate a child, our Commonwealth has a solid record for working to actually stimulate the Virginia economy without increasing government spending that does little more than create more public-sector jobs.

“As a right to work state with positive tax and regulatory policies, Virginia is poised to weather this economic downturn for both the short and long term benefit of the Commonwealth and the citizens we are proud to serve.”

Monday, February 16, 2009

Virginia House of Delegates Raised Over $6,400 for Komen Foundation for Cancer Research

Contact: Heidi Schlicher
(804) 698-1174
Virginia House of Delegates
February 16, 2009

Virginia House of Delegates Raise Over $6,400
for Komen Foundation for Cancer Research
Delegates, Staff, and Visitors raise donations for Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure
through Valentine’s Day Office Decorating Contest, Bake Sale and Auction

The Virginia House of Delegates has raised over $6,400 for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation - Race for the Cure. On Thursday, February 12, 2009 delegates and staff decorated their offices for the annual Virginia House of Delegates Valentine’s Day Decorating Contest and asked employees and visitors to donate money to the office with the best decorations. “Each dollar acts as a vote,” said Sharon Crouch, director of the Virginia House of Delegates Information Systems. “No donation is too small and definitely not too big.”

All of the money raised will be donated to the Komen 5k Race for the Cure which takes place in May at Kanawa Plaza in downtown Richmond. Anna Hanback, House Human Resources Director and a breast cancer survivor, helped organize a bake sale and auction which raised nearly $5,000 alone. That’s a sizable increase from the $500 raised at the first such event six years ago. The total funds raised through the bake sale, auction and decorating contest will be donated under her Race for the Cure Team, “Anna’s Bananas.” “I am so touched by the generosity we have seen this year,” noted Ms. Hanback, who has been a breast cancer survivor for six years and was joined by another 40 survivors at this year's events. “I am so glad that we were able to raise money for this wonderful cause.”

Offices decorated included Delegate John Cosgrove, of Chesapeake, who sang “love songs” to individuals who donated money at his office. Also among those whose offices decorated was that of Delegate Joe Morrissey with the theme “Fightin’ Joe Fights for the Cure,” and included the old fashioned “Rockem’ Sockem’” games for contributors to play.

The 2009 contest winner, which raised the most money for office decorations, was the House Information Systems whose theme was “Go Green for Valentine’s Day – Love our Planet – Renew, Reuse, Recycle.” All of the decorations were made from recycled and reused materials including Target bags, candy wrappers, and toner packaging.

“I am pleased with the outpouring of support by the House of Delegates’ members, staff and guests for the ongoing efforts to find a cure to breast cancer,” remarked Virginia Speaker of the House William J. Howell. “In these tough financial times for Virginians, it is reassuring to see people digging deep and continuing to contribute hard earned dollars for worthwhile efforts, like the Komen Foundation for Cancer Research, to fight this terrible disease.”