Join Delegate Wilt for a call night on Tuesday, October 28 from 6:30 until 9:00 at the Harrisonburg Victory Office, located at 182 Neff Avenue, Harrisonburg. There will be pizza and door prizes provided! Come out and support our candidates in this final week before Election Day!
Election Day will be here before we know it and the key race in Virginia this election season is certainly heating up! Ed Gillespie is quickly gaining momentum and favor among voters in the final days leading up until the election. Mark Warner has had a difficult past few weeks and even his allies won’t let him run from his record.
President Obama came out just this week and said that although he may not be actively campaigning with Democratic Senate candidates, you can be sure that they all fully support his agenda. They say that past performance is the best predictor of future results. Given that Mark Warner has voted with the President 97% of the time, we can be certain the President’s statement applies to Senator Warner.
While Ed Gillespie is running on a strong positive message of support for policies that will create economic growth, he will need our help to get him across the finish long. It’s not too late to get involved with the campaign by going door to door, volunteering at our local headquarters or giving your time on Election Day.
I want to use this opportunity to provide you with some election related information that might be useful as you prepare to cast your vote. In addition, I also have a request that I hope you will consider to support a project at one of our local schools.
If you are going to be away on Election Day, it is not too late to vote absentee. You can vote in person absentee at your local registrar’s office during normal business hours. In addition, for the convenience of voters the registrar’s office will be open on Saturday, October 25 and Saturday, November 1 from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm for in person absentee voting. You can also still vote absentee by mail, though you must act quickly. Tuesday, October 28, 2014 is the last day in which an absentee ballot can be mailed. If you have specific questions on voting absentee, either by mail or in person, I would encourage you to contact your registrar’s office. I have listed their contact information below.
For more information on absentee voting, please click here
Rockingham County Registrar: (540) 564-3055
Harrisonburg Registrar: (540) 432-7707
New Voter ID Requirements
It is important to note that effective July 1, 2014, a photo ID is now required for voting in Virginia. Voters must present one of the following acceptable forms of identification:
*Valid Virginia Driver’s License
*DMV-issued photo identification card *Other government-issued photo identification card
*Valid United States Passport *Valid college or university student photo identification card (issuer must be an institution of higher education located in Virginia)
*Valid Employee photo identification card
If you do not have an acceptable form of identification you can get a valid ID free of charge from your voter registration office.
For more information on the new photo ID requirement in Virginia, please click here.
Constitutional Amendment on the Ballot
As you may or ay not be aware, in addition to voting for our Senator and Congressman, all Virginians will also have the opportunity to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment.
The question on the ballot will be:
Shall Section 6-A of Article X (Taxation and Finance) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to allow the General Assembly to exempt from taxation the real property of the surviving spouse of any member of the armed forces of the United States who was killed in action, where the surviving spouse occupies the real property as his or her principal place of residence and has not remarried?
The proposed amendment would authorize the General Assembly to exempt from taxation the real property of any surviving spouse of a member of the armed forces of the United States who was killed in action, as determined by the U.S. Department of Defense. The exemption from taxation would cease if the surviving spouse remarries. The exemption would apply regardless of whether the spouse was killed in action prior to the effective date of this amendment but would apply only to those real property taxes to be paid on or after the effective date of legislation passed by the General Assembly. The exemption from taxation would apply to the surviving spouse’s principal place of residence, even if he or she moves to a new principal place of residence. The exemption would not require the surviving spouse to have been residing in the Commonwealth at the time his or her spouse was killed in action.
Legislation exercising the authority granted to the General Assembly in the proposed amendment was passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor McAuliffe on April 7, 2014, but will become effective only upon approval by the voters of the proposed amendment.
As you may remember, in 2010 Virginians voted to amend the constitution to allow a property tax exemption to any veteran who has been determined by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to have a one hundred percent service-connected permanent and total disability. The amendment we will vote on this year would allow the General Assembly to extend that same property tax exemption to the surviving spouses of a veteran that was killed in action.
When I vote on November 4, I will be voting “yes” on this proposed amendment. I hope that you will review the information above and give the proposed amendment your full consideration. For more information on the amendment, including the complete language of the amendment, click here.
Help Turner Ashby Secure a $100,000 Grant!
As you might have read in the DNR recently, a grant proposal submitted by TA PE teacher Cindy Ferek has been selected as one of only three finalists for the East Coast to receive a $100,000 grant from Farmers Insurance to create a mile long paved trail around the school property! This paved trail would allow special needs students with physical disabilities to gain access to parts of the grounds that they might not be able to access otherwise. It would also be utilized as an innovative driver education instruction course. In addition, this trail would be open to the public at large.
Whichever proposal has the most votes from the public by November 30 will be selected as the recipient. Help Mrs. Ferek and TA by going to thankamillionteachers.com and voting for her proposal. You can vote every 24 hours and all you need to enter is a valid email address!
Please note that our Harrisonburg district office phone number has changed. It is now (540) 208-0735. Please be sure to update your records to reflect this change.
Also, if you were not already aware, we recently changed office locations. We are now located at 420 Neff Avenue, Suite 130, Harrisonburg, VA 22801. Please feel free to stop by anytime to visit our office. My legislative aide, Chad Funkhouser, is generally available during business hours to assist you.
I hope you had a wonderful Independence Day! I enjoyed seeing many of you at the Harrisonburg parade in the evening, thanks to everyone that came out.
Valley Business Summit
As you might recall, last year several area legislators along with local business and economic development organizations hosted a business summit at Blue Ridge Community College to help entrepreneurs learn about various resources and strategies for starting and growing their business. Due to the great success of the event last year, we have decided to host it again this year on Monday, August 4.
The event will remain FREE and open to the public, but a RSVP is required. The format is going to largely remain the same, although we will be hearing from some different speakers on varying topics important to business owners. We will again have a feedback forum at the conclusion of the event for state legislators (including myself) to hear your suggestions and concerns related to the business climate in the Commonwealth.
The Business Summit will begin with registration from 7:30 am to 8:00 am and is set to conclude around noon. Again, it’s free to attend, but a RSVP is requested by July 28. Click here to learn more about the event and to RSVP.
As of July 1, the majority of legislation that passed into law during the 2014 General Assembly Session went into affect. Every year the Division of Legislative Services issues a publication that outlines the legislation that might have the most effect on the daily lives of citizens. You can click here to view that document.
Please understand that this is by no means a complete list of bills that passed into law during the 2014 session. For more information about legislation from the 2014 Session, please visit lis.virginia.gov. You can also contact our office if you have any questions.
VA Follow Up
Thank you to everyone that honored my call to action in June to contact your federal representatives to express your extreme displeasure with the way that our veterans are being treated by the veterans administration. The gross mismanaged that recently became public simply cannot be tolerated. I too contacted key federal officials expressing my concerns, and was pleased to receive a prompt response that seemed encouraging. As I said before, I hope congressional leaders will continue to pursue the inequities at the VA to ensure that they will be corrected.
Return to Session
Speaker Howell recently announced that we would be returning to session in September to take up the Medicaid expansion debate. As my colleagues and I advocated, Medicaid expansion should have never been tied to the budget, but should have been considered as a separate issue all along. While I still have significant concerns with expanding the program, I look forward to returning to Richmond to fully consider any and all proposals. I will be sure to keep you updated as more details become available.
The Commonwealth of Virginia officially has a budget in place for the upcoming biennium. The Governor signed the budget on June 21. However, before signing he issued eight line-item vetoes that we returned to Richmond to address Monday evening.
Of the eight, two were ruled out of order, one was overturned by the House but ultimately sustained by the Senate, and five were not taken up.
The Governor attempted to veto language in the budget that explicitly states that only the General Assembly has the ability to expand the Medicaid program. This language makes it quite clear that the Governor has no authority to take action unilaterally (which he has indicated that he will attempt to do). The other veto considered unconstitutional by the Speaker eliminated funding for new judgeships. Had this veto been allowed to stand, it would make it harder for citizens to access the justice system. The Constitutional right to a speedy trial should not be abridged simply out of political spite. We already have desperate need, especially locally, for additional judgeships to handle the ever increasing caseloads.
Speaker Howell rightfully ruled these two line-item vetoes out of order because they did not comply with the requirements for line-item vetoes outlined in the Constitution of Virginia. His decision was based on past rulings by both the Speaker of the House and the Supreme Court of Virginia. Case law established by the Supreme Court of Virginia in two rulings (Commonwealth v. Dodson and Brault v. Hollerman) outline various restrictions on the Governor’s line-item veto authority. Overall, with both of these vetoes the Governor attempted to veto a specific provision or language within a broader item. Based on these past rulings, he does not have this ability without vetoing the entire item. Since the Speaker ruled these two vetoes out of order, they will not be enrolled in the final version of the budget. To view a statement issued by the Speaker which outlines his decision in more detail, please click here.
The Governor’s veto that was overturned by the House but upheld by the Senate eliminates the funding and support for the newly created Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council. This Council was a significant portion of the ethics reform package that the Governor actually signed into law earlier this year. It simply does not make sense that the Governor signed the legislation, but decided to eliminate the funding piece! Nonetheless, the Senate was unsuccessful in obtaining the votes necessary to override this veto and therefore it stands.
As the Governor indicated in a press conference Friday, he intends to pursue unilateral expansion of Medicaid. Like I mentioned previously, he does not have that ability and any attempt to do so would be a power grab beyond the scope of his executive authority. This should be deeply concerning to all citizens who support our representative democracy, regardless of their position on Medicaid. If we go down a path of allowing our Governor to act via executive fiat whenever they feel necessary, this blots out any voice from the representatives of the citizenry, the legislature!
While cumbersome, our system of check and balances created by our nation’s founders is designed specifically to prevent unilateral action by one branch of government. Each legislative initiative must be thoroughly vetted, it must pass judicial muster, and must meet the ideals and vision of the executive. Subsequently, every idea emanating from each respective branch must also face equal scrutiny by the other coequal branches. No one branch is greater than the sum total.
We have seen time and time again throughout history that without strict adherence and respect for a system of checks and balances, a government becomes a regime, a legislature becomes a figurehead, and the judiciary become puppets. This ultimately leads to a path where the citizenry can easily become servants.
So while the Governor’s supporters may be delighted with his intentions to act unilaterally, at what cost does this come in the long run? If we set this dangerous precedent, it’s reasonable to assume that it would not be that long before they are on the opposite side of executive overreach. Who will rise to their defense when all defense has been eliminated?
I stand ready to join with my colleagues in the House to challenge any action by the Governor to expand the Medicaid program without proper authority of the legislature, as required by the state constitution.
Yesterday officially marked the halfway point of session, otherwise known as “crossover.” It’s the last day that the House can consider legislation that originated in the House and the last day that the Senate can consider legislation that originated in the Senate (the exception being the budget bills).
While I still want to take this opportunity to offer some crossover highlights, I know what’s likely on most folks mind is the approaching winter storm. It is expected to impact the Shenandoah Valley beginning as early as Wednesday afternoon. Depending upon the track of storm, it appears that we will get 5+ inches with possible wind guest up to 20 MPH. For your convenience, I have provided some resources in the section below that I thought may be useful to you.
Before getting behind the wheel, call 511, go to www.511virginia.org or download the 511 mobile app to get the latest road condition information
You can also call 800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623) to report road hazards or ask road-related questions at VDOT’s 24-hour Customer Service Center
For more winter travel information, go to www.virginiadot.org/travel/snow.asp
If you lose power, be sure to report the outage to your respective provider.
Dominion – 1-866-366-4357
Shenandoah Valley Electric Coop. – 1-800-234-7832
Harrisonburg Electric Commission – 540-434-5361
Please make sure to use 9-1-1 only for true emergencies.
For general information about the storm and the response effort, dial 211 or visit www.vaemergency.gov
Please stay safe!
SOL Reform Legislation Passes House
One prominent topic of this year’s session has been Standards of Learning (SOL) assessment reform. The new administration has stated that this is a priority for them, and it is something that many members of the General Assembly have made a priority as well.
When Virginia first adopted the SOL’s a number of years ago, we were pioneers in assessment and accountability. We set high standards, and created accountability among educators.
While I believe that our SOL’s have served us well, it has become apparent to educators, parents and legislators that some changes are needed. For that reason, Delegate Tag Greason introduced House Bill 930. I was pleased to sign on as a co-patron to this legislation. This bill has passed the House and will now move to the Senate for consideration.
House Bill 930 was the result of many months of collaboration between teachers, education leaders, parents, and legislators.
This legislation has four main goals:
To reduce the number of SOL’s in grades 3-8 from 22 to 17. This is a 23% reduction in standardized testing. At this time we did not address SOL testing for high school students, due to complications regarding SOL’s as a requirement for graduation.
To improve the SOL’s by requiring the Department of Education to evaluate the multiple-choice and memorization aspects of the current tests, and move toward more problem solving and critical thinking aspects.
To allow teachers in subjects that do not require an SOL the flexibility to utilize performance assessments to locally evaluate how their children are learning.
To establish a Standards of Learning Innovation Committee made up of stakeholders who will be tasked with evaluating our SOL’s on an ongoing basis.
“Ben’s Law” Moving Forward
I am please to report that HB 976 (Cline) passed the House yesterday. I am the chief co-patron of this legislation, which will make accessory after the fact to a homicide a class 6 felony rather than just a misdemeanor.
You likely recall the recent tragedy of a local young man you was killed outside of an apartment complex in Harrisonburg. While the man that pulled the trigger received a lengthy sentence, the accomplice only received a one year jail sentence. This legislation seeks to require a more appropriate punishment for assisting a homicide.
At crossover I have six bills moving forward, in addition to the bill mentioned above.
Since my previous update, HB 960 has passed the House. This legislation would add computers to the list of items that would be tax exempt during the annual Back to School Tax Holiday. As an offset, the bill decreases the allowable clothing amount to a more appropriate level.
My legislation to prohibit school systems from dismissing teachers and other personnel simply for possessing a firearm in their personal vehicle passed the House yesterday. HB 786 will now move to the Senate for consideration.
Bea Morris, a retired teacher who always keeps me informed about issues of importance to teachers and retired educators stopped in for a visit last week. In addition, I was able to meet with Virginia Tech students from our area, members of JMU Student Government, and students representing Virginia 21.
I also had the opportunity to speak with several members of our Rockingham County Board of Supervisors. Yesterday was 4-H day at the Capitol, our local group from Rockingham made the trip to Richmond.
With less than two weeks until crossover, the General Assembly is deep in deliberation over numerous issues that are of importance to the citizens of the Commonwealth. The daily floor session has gotten progressively longer, and committee meetings are often running even longer yet.
In this update, I wanted to go ahead and outline several other bills that I’m patroning that are still moving forward. Additionally, I wanted to provide a brief update on two bills that I had mentioned previously.
This legislation actually passed the House today. The bill would allow surviving spouses of military members killed in action to receive in-state tuition at Virginia institutions of higher learning without having to live in Virginia for a certain period of time. Under current Virginia law, veterans that have recently moved to the Commonwealth can receive in-state tuition without having to meet domicile requirements, but this same courtesy is not extended to the surviving spouse of a soldier that has been killed while serving their country.
This legislation will continue our commitment to ensure that the Commonwealth is the best state for veterans and military families to call home. Helping these individuals obtain a college education is one small thing we can do to honor their sacrifice.
The idea for the legislation derived from a constituent who moved to the area following the death of her husband, who was killed while serving in Afghanistan. Following his death, she wanted to start over somewhere fresh and had heard that Virginia had a reputation for being one of the most veteran and military friendly states in the country.
With passage in the House, it will now move to the Senate for consideration.
This is a bill that provides some protection for teachers and other school employees that possess a weapon or ammunition in their locked vehicle or conceal carry while in their vehicle on school grounds. Right now, many school systems across the Commonwealth have adopted the policy that personnel can face administrative repercussions, up to and including dismissal, for having an otherwise lawfully obtained weapon in their vehicle. This should not be the case.
Currently, the law allows parents and the general public to conceal carry or possess a weapon in their vehicle while on school property without facing any repercussions. Why should the folks that we trust with our children on a daily basis be denied this same right?
Let me be clear, this bill does not permit or require teachers or administrators to possess a weapon in the school building. It simply addresses weapons in their vehicle. This bill is still awaiting a hearing by the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee.
HB 960: Back to School Sales Tax Holiday Update
As you may recall, this bill limits the clothing and footwear that can be purchased during the annual Back to School Tax Holiday. It also adds computers to the list of tax exempt items. The intent of this legislation is to tailor the tax exempt items to better suit the needs of families sending their children back to school (or college).
While the bill was reported from subcommittee with some amendments, I still feel that the bill achieves that goal. It will be heard in the full House Finance Committee on Monday.
HB 780: TANF Purchase Restrictions Update
While we were unable to accomplish all that I set out to do with this legislation, I still feel that it contains some reasonable provisions that will help to ensure the proper use of tax dollars in the TANF program.
The bill passed out of the Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee this morning and will be heard on the House floor Monday. It still includes a provision to expand the purchase restrictions on alcohol, tobacco, gambling, etc., to all TANF payment methods. Additionally, the bill contains a provision to eliminate mailed checks as a payment method. This action will conserve resources as there will be cost savings by eliminating the need to print and mail checks every month.
I had the privilege to meet with numerous constituents over the course of the past few weeks.
I would have to say that the largest contingent of visitors came from our local schools and colleges. I visited with President Alger of JMU, President Swartzentruber representing EMU, and Dr. Downey and students on behalf of Blue Ridge Community College. Additionally, I had a meeting with local school board members (including Kerri Wilson, the current Virginia School Board Association President and City School Board member) and Dr. Fenn and Dr. Kizner, Superintendents for Rockingham and Harrisonburg, respectively.
I also had the privilege to meet with representatives of the Harrisonburg/Rockingham Chamber of Commerce, Rockingham County Fair, Athletic Trainers Association, Shenandoah Valley Climate Action Alliance, Industrial Hemp Coalition, and Tom Rosengarth representing the interests of CPA’s.
While unfortunately sometimes my session schedule simply doesn’t allow me to meet with everyone, Chad was able to speak with folks representing VAIL (Valley Associates for Independent Living), the School Nutrition Association, and several EMU student groups.
If your in Richmond during the General Assembly Session, I would encourage you to stop by my office. I am on the 5th floor of the General Assembly Building, room 526.
Session Contact Information
As a reminder, we are currently working out of our Richmond office during the 2014 General Assembly Session. In Richmond, we can be reached by phone at (804) 698-1026. You can send mail to P.O. Box 406, Richmond, VA 23218. Please continue to send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you might imagine, we are receiving a substantial amount of email right now. While we do our best to respond in a reasonable time frame, I apologize in advance for any delayed response. However, I can assure you that we are making note of your emails regarding specific legislation that is being considered this session, and I will certainly keep your thoughts in mind when given the opportunity to vote on these matters.
Thank you for continuing to allow me to serve as your representative in Richmond!
The 2014 General Assembly Session officially began this past Wednesday, January 8. While we have 15 new faces in the House of Delegates this year, in addition to a new Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, there are several familiar traditions that were honored this past week.
The first order of business was the swearing-in ceremony. While this was my third swearing-in, I can assure you that I still take that oath very seriously. I promise you that I will serve the citizens of the 26th District to the best of my ability. I greatly appreciate the continued opportunity to represent you in Richmond.
Wednesday evening Governor McDonnell gave his last State of the Commonwealth address to the Joint Assembly. He highlighted several accomplishments his office has achieved over the last four years and thanked the citizens of the Commonwealth, staff, and General Assembly members for helping return Virginia to the number one ranking as the best state for business. Virginia’s focus on job creation resulted in 177,000 new jobs and an unemployment rate of 5.4%, a full 2 points lower than when Governor McDonnell entered office. The Governor also highlighted our record budget surpluses, major reforms to our public education system, and the increased investment into our state’s savings account, the Rainy Day Fund. I consider Governor McDonnell a great colleague and friend and thank him for a very productive and beneficial four years. I believe he will be recognized as one of the most effective Governors in recent memory.
This Saturday Terry McAuliffe was sworn in as Virginia’s 72nd Governor, Ralph Northam as the Lieutenant Governor and Mark Herring as the Commonwealth’s Attorney General, respectively. While we will not always agree on the issues, I look forward to working with the new Governor and members across the aisle to find common ground on issues that matter to all Virginians. We must maintain Virginia’s status as one of the best states in which to live and do business. I think most everyone can agree that we do not want the gridlock and constant bickering that we see in Washington to become the norm in Virginia.
Chesapeake Subcommittee Chairmanship
I am pleased to announce that I have been appointed Chair of the Chesapeake Subcommittee of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee. Agriculture Committee Chairman Ed Scott announced the appointment today.
I’m honored to be named Chair of a subcommittee that deals with matters that are of critical importance to many Valley residents, including our farmers. This subcommittee handles legislation related to water quality programs, the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, and fisheries. In the past decade, the Commonwealth has made great strides in improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. We need to continue this progress while taking a reasonable and measured approach to protect our resources. In this new role I will continue to remain mindful of the need to limit regulation on our farmers, waterman, and other businesses. With this appointment, I hope to provide a voice for Valley residents that utilize various water quality programs and that are impacted by numerous requirements and regulations that fall under the domain of this subcommittee.
While it’s not set in stone at this point, it appears that I will have eight or nine bills this session, along with several resolutions. In addition, I am chief co-patron on two pieces of legislation and will likely sign on as a co-patron to several measures. While none of my legislation has gone before committee to date, they will all be heard in the coming weeks. I won’t highlight all of my bills in this newsletter, but I would like to touch on a few of the measures.
HB 960: Back to School Sales Tax Holiday Reform
Every August Virginia holds what is commonly known as the “Back to School” Sales Tax Holiday. During the first weekend in August school supplies up to a $20 value per item and clothing and footwear up to a $100 value per item are exempt from Virginia’s sales tax. The idea is to give families some relief from the high costs associated with sending kids back to school.
However, I believe that some much needed changes are in order to refocus the intent of the tax holiday. My bill will narrow the scope of what items are exempt from sales tax during the annual holiday to those items which are customarily used on a regular basis by students during the school day. The current exempt list for clothing and footwear contains items such as bathing suits, lingerie, costumes, and wedding dresses, among many others that are in no way associated with regular school clothing or supplies. This bill will hopefully eliminate these items.
While reducing the permitted clothing list, I’m attempting to add personal computers to the list of tax exempt items. In today’s technological age, students at all grade levels utilize computers and computer supplies on a daily basis. I’m proposing a reasonable cap of $500 on the tax exempt price for personal computers. While I understand that there are many models with a retail price above $500, there are still numerous decent options available under this threshold.
Since it is the “Back to School” Sales Tax Holiday, the idea should be to offer families and students a break on items that are essential to starting the school year back, not for planning a wedding or going to the pool.
HB 780: TANF Purchase Restrictions
As you may recall, last year I successfully carried a bill which prohibits the purchase of certain products and services with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF – Welfare) benefits. These items include tobacco products, alcohol, pornography, tattoos, piercings, and patronage of strip clubs or gambling establishments. I think we can all agree that such items should not be purchased with taxpayer dollars.
While last year’s legislation was a good starting point, I’m proposing a few simple changes to the law that I’m hoping can promote compliance with the new requirement. I recognize that any solution needs to have minimal financial impact, as we need to be careful not to “spend a dollar to save a nickel”. Included in the bill is a provision to eliminate the check payment option. Additionally, I intend to extend the code language to include the purchase restrictions for direct deposit. Currently, the law only applies to electronic debit transactions. Additionally, the bill contains a provision requiring the debit card to contain an insignia that would clearly identify the card as a TANF benefit card. This way, retailers will be able to identify when someone is attempting to purchase a prohibited item or service with a TANF benefits debit card.
While I realize that the vast majority of TANF dollars in Virginia are being spent for basic necessities, I believe that we should have some basic solutions in place to ensure their proper use.
I was pleasantly surprised to visit with numerous constituents last week. Among them, I met with several local veterans representing the VFW, a group of pro-life constituents, and ladies here for the annual Republican Women’s Federation Luncheon. Additionally, I was able to discuss issues of interest with Greg Godsey who represented local bankers, Susan Null of the Harrisonburg Pregnancy Center, and David McGraw who was here on behalf of JMU faculty.
If your in Richmond during the General Assembly Session, I would encourage you to stop by my office. I am on the 5th floor of the General Assembly Building, room 526.
Session Contact Information
We are currently working out of our Richmond office during the 2014 General Assembly Session. In Richmond, we can be reached by phone at (804) 698-1026. You can send mail to P.O. Box 406, Richmond, VA 23218. Please continue to send email to email@example.com.
My 2014 legislative survey is now available for you to complete online. Simply click here to take the survey!
While we make an effort to address a number of issues facing Virginia, it is by no means a comprehensive overview of all the issues. In addition to the 16 questions, the survey provides a space to make additional comments. If you would like to address a matter that is not included in the survey questions, please feel free to share your comments.
I hope you will take the time to complete the survey. The results are one of the tools I utilize when making decisions on these important matters. Please let me know if you have any technical difficulty in completing the survey and we will try to have it resolved. If you or someone you know would like to complete the survey, but for whatever reason are unable to do so online, please let us know and we will be glad to mail a copy to you.
Despite the dysfunction in Washington that has led to a partial federal government shutdown, there was a great deal of good news for the Commonwealth in the last week. For starters, Virginia has once again been named the “Best State for Business” by Forbes.com after ranking second for the last three years. Virginia was the only state to rank in the top five in four of the six categories, receiving first in the regulatory environment category! Additionally, a report was recently released that shows Virginia’s film industry employment has increased by 15.7% from 2011. The study also shows that for every dollar invested in bringing film productions to the Commonwealth, $11.80 is returned to the state economy.
These are but a few recent indicators that the efforts of the General Assembly and the Governor to foster business growth and development are working. Both entrepreneurs and established businesses recognize that because of our controlled regulatory environment, strong right to work laws, capable workforce and high quality of life, Virginia is the ideal place in which to do business.
Another positive development is the announcement by the College Board that while SAT college-admission test scores have dropped nationally, the average score of Virginia public school students has risen in all three testing categories. This is further evidence that the vast majority of our public schools are doing an excellent job preparing students for college or the workforce. While we hold students and teachers accountable to rigorous standards, this news clearly suggests that they are largely meeting this challenge.
Harrisonburg DMV Staffing
Several of you have contacted me over the last few months regarding unusually long wait times during your visit to the Harrisonburg DMV office. I relayed your concerns to DMV officials in Richmond and I have since learned that several additional part-time customer service representatives have been hired to address the issue. Additionally, staff has been brought in from other area DMV offices to help reduce customer wait time. I hope the additional staff will allow citizens to take care of their DMV business in a more expeditious manner. Remember, many DMV transactions can be completed online by visiting dmvnow.com.
November 5th Election
The upcoming election is just over a month away, and now is the time to make sure you are prepared to have your vote counted. The deadline to register to vote is Tuesday, October 15th. You can register to vote by visiting your registrar’s office (listed below), or you can register online at vote.virginia.gov. State law allows you to vote absentee for a number of reasons. To request an absentee ballot, please visit vagopabsentee.com. You can also vote in-person absentee now through November 2nd. The Harrisonburg and Rockingham registrar’s offices will be open for in-person absentee voting from 8:00am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday and 9:00am to 5:00pm on October 26th and November 2nd.
Harrisonburg Voter Registrar
345 South Main Street
Harrisonburg, VA 22801
Rockingham Voter Registrar
20 East Gay Street
Harrisonburg, VA 22802
If we want to continue to maintain our position as a top state for business and one of the best states to live and raise a family, then we need to elect Ken Cuccinelli this November. Ken understands the need to limit the growth of government, keep taxes low, and maintain a regulatory environment that does not place unnecessary burdens on employers and families.
In stark contrast, I’m afraid his opponent has no intention of maintaining the pro-growth policies of the last several years. Terry McAullife’s support of job killing EPA regulations against the coal industry is just one example that when faced with a choice, he will pick the President’s harmful agenda over the needs of Virginia citizens. These regulations will significantly drive up the cost of energy for Virginians and will undoubtedly put us at an economic disadvantage.
I have complete confidence that Ken Cuccinelli will take a conservative approach to budgeting, prioritizing taxpayer dollars, and implementing common sense policies and reforms. I do not have that same confidence about his opponent.
How You Can Help
While I appreciate your continued support, because I don’t have an opponent for my re-election campaign this year, I would encourage you to keep your focus on the statewide races. Please visit the neighborhood victory office in Harrisonburg (behind the Valley Mall) to help with door knocks and phone calls for our Republican ticket. You can also get your yard signs and bumper stickers at this office. I will have “Wilt for Delegate” signs available at the neighborhood office as well. If you would like one of my signs, but can’t make it to the office, please let me know and we will get one to you as soon as possible.