Today was a historic day for our nation, yet amazingly it was also the norm. For the 25th time in American history, power transferred from one political party to another, yet it was done peacefully and cooperatively. While it is the standard in our nation, we cannot take it for granted or dismiss the significance. For many nations, power only changes hands through bloodshed and strife, where citizens often live under tyranny and oppression.
I wish President Trump, Vice President Pence and their new administration well as they embark on their journey to offer and implement policy that improves the lives of all Americans.
While it is an exciting time in Washington, here in Richmond my colleagues and I also intend to advance state policy proposals this session that seek to improve the lives of Virginians and strengthen our economy. With the first full week of session behind us, the 14 House committees are now doing much of the heavy lifting hearing the over 1,000 House bills that have been introduced. Besides some resolutions, nearly all bills must first be heard by a subcommittee and full committee before they can advance to the floor.
A sizeable portion of the legislation introduced by my Republican colleagues and myself is designed to eliminate red tape, ease burdensome regulation and ultimately create an atmosphere to improve our economy and create jobs.
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 onerous. While not all regulations are bad or should be done away with, regulations should be transparent, fair, and impose minimal financial burdens on businesses and families.
There is legislation this session 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 an extremely disappointing report on the agency. 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 agency must be addressed. It is time to restore accountability and General Assembly oversight. Until reforms have been made, their state funding will be withheld.
We are also refiling several commonsense jobs bills that Governor McAuliffe vetoed in 2016. In fact, we’ve already passed one bill 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.
I also have several bills this year that were brought to me by constituents that aim to ease unnecessary restrictions and red tape on various industries or professions. I will discuss these measures in more detail in the coming weeks, but to view the current list of legislation I have introduced, please click here.
While I’m hopeful we can pass into law policies that make life easier on middle class families, as I often tell folks, sometimes it is equally important what does not advance. As usual, there are an alarming number of bills that would add costs and burdensome restrictions on small businesses and employers. I assure you that I do not intend to support these measure and will work to make sure they are defeated.
Harrisonburg/Rockingham Chamber Leadership Program
Since the start of session I have had the opportunity to visit with a good many individuals and groups from home. Last week, a contingent of local bankers stopped in to share their agenda for the session. I also met with a group of JMU students here for Higher Education Advocacy Day, as well as Suzanne Obenshain and Joan Hughes representing the Virginia Federation of Republican Women.
Given that Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a state holiday, it always brings a number of groups and advocates to the Capitol. I visited with Virginia Citizens Defense League constituents advocating for pro Second Amendment policies, as well as individuals with Americans for Prosperity, a group of ladies with the School Nutrition Association, Isabella Broaddus with the local American Cancer Society, and Clyde Hoy Jr. advocating for mental health initiatives.
This week I also met with local economic development representatives, individuals with Moms Demand Action, and local auto dealers. Yesterday, I had the privilige of speaking with a group of professionals with the Harrisonburg/Rockingham Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program.
My committee responsibilities kept me away from the office for a significant portion of the week, so Chad (my legislative aide) had the pleasure of speaking with JMU and Bridgewater College students with the Virginia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. He also spoke with Colleen Whiteford and several of her colleagues who came to Richmond to advocate for favorable policy for physical therapists. Finally, he spoke to Sherri Chapman about the importance of career and technical education.
School Nutrition Association
I enjoy the opportunity to meet with constituents during session and throughout the year. I often find the most valuable dialogue occurs in meeting with constituents face to face. Please let us know if you will be in Richmond during the next month. My staff would be glad to schedule an appointment.
P.O. Box 1425 · Harrisonburg · Virginia · 22803 | Phone: 540-208-0735