NEVER ENDING SPECIAL SESSION

As I write this, the House of Delegates is entering its 11th week of a “special” session called by the Governor to address a $2.7 Billion budget shortfall.  The pandemic has hurt many families and the Governor’s shut-down of the economy and many of our schools certainly hasn’t helped.

The General Assembly has convened in “special” sessions in the past, and most have lasted less than weeks under Governors from both parties, but all when Republicans provided strong and determined leadership.  Today, none of those words can be used to describe what’s happening at the capitol.

As of today, work on the budget was relegated to an afterthought and the focus has been on issues related to public safety, police tactics and other items on an agenda advanced by the most liberal leadership ever to hit Richmond.

What you might find the most ironic is that those same liberals claim to be the champions of the poor and unfortunate.  There are a lot of those people in my district and they urgently need help.  But the Democrats have failed them.

The result is funding to halt evictions and power shutoffs to our most vulnerable neighbors is on hold.

 That’s right, the funding needed to help the most desperate is being held hostage.  The reasons are very complex, but Republicans aren’t standing in the way.  To the contrary.  Our members are ready to approve measures in both committees and the full House.

The impact is devastating to our neighbors and friends.

I’ve heard from constituents who need help getting jobs, educating their children and staying healthy.  I’m ready to help but am mostly powerless as the House Speaker has muzzled me and others when we attempt to speak up.  And little attention is paid in the media.  That’s why you are receiving this brief update.

This is an unprecedented situation and I’ll try to keep you informed.  You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more timely information.

If you have comments, suggestions, questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!

EARLY VOTING GOING ON NOW!

Election Day is November 3rd, but early and absentee voting is going on right now!  If you cannot make it out to vote, you may request an absentee ballot now.  If you can get out to vote, you can go early and vote in person right now.  Please contact your local Elections office find out where and when you can vote.  If possible, I would encourage you to vote in person, either early or on Election Day.  Do not take a chance on your vote getting lost in the mail or arriving late if you do not have to.

Below is the web page for local Offices of Elections in the 88th District as well as the state Department of Elections:

Spotsylvania Countyhttps://spotsylvania.va.us/239/Office-of-Elections

Stafford Countyhttps://staffordcountyva.gov/875/Voter-Registration

Fredericksburghttps://www.fredericksburgva.gov/534/Voter-Registration-and-Elections

Fauquier Countyhttps://www.fauquiercounty.gov/government/departments-h-z/registrar

Virginiahttps://www.elections.virginia.gov/

For what it is worth, here are the area candidates I am supporting in this election along with the candidate’s web page if you would like more information:

President/Vice-President: Donald J. Trump / Michael R. Pence,  https://www.donaldjtrump.com/

United States Senate: Daniel M. Gade, https://gadeforvirginia.com/

House of Representatives 1st District: Robert J. Wittman, https://robwittman.com/

House of Representatives 5th District: Robert G. “Bob” Good, https://www.bobgoodforcongress.com/

House of Representatives 7th District: Nick J. Freitas, https://www.nickforva.com/


In addition to candidates running for office, there are two amendments to Virginia’s state constitution on the ballot for your approval.

Constitutional Amendment #1 would establish a bipartisan redistricting commission to draw new legislative and congressional districts next year.  I helped write this amendment and believe it will reduce partisan gerrymandering when it comes to drawing districts.  I encourage you to vote YES on this question.

Constitutional Amendment #2 would mandate a break on local personal property taxes for veterans who have a 100 percent, service-connected disability rating from the VA.  Many localities are already doing this so I am not sure if this will make any difference in your locality or not, but I am sure this will pass easily.

 

I’LL NOT RETREAT FROM MY STANDS

Several days ago, I reached out to you and more than 5,000 other households – Democrats and Republicans – asking for your opinion on the “Defund the Police” movement.  Based on unsolicited comments from friends and neighbors, I was fairly certain that my informal survey would reveal strong feelings of concern.

Boy was I wrong.  Nearly 1,000 voters responded and 99% expressed varying degrees of outrage, disbelief and concern that this legislation was even being considered.

Yet, even as I write this, the Democrat majority continues to advance toward various funding cuts and so-called “reforms” to weaken public safety in our communities.

One proposal would open our law enforcement to frivolous lawsuits brought by criminals and others for simply doing their jobs.  Imagine how difficult it will be to recruit new officers and deputies if that happens.

Still another reduces the penalty for assaulting an officer or deputy, thus encouraging criminals to resist arrest without fear of a serious charge.  Finally, the Democrats want to eliminate the use of tear gas and other non-lethal options for ending riots and looting, further assuring more violence and damage.

Richmond city leaders have already restricted their police and the results are clear.  More violence and crime.

You know that I’ve stood as a strong voice against these measures.  But as we now meet in virtual session, with delegates working remotely, the Democrat Speaker and her hand-picked committee chairs are restricting debate and both public and media attention to what has been going on.  Under the cloak of virtual secrecy, they are weakening law and order.

I’ll not retreat from my stands.  That’s why, as next year’s elections approach, I will be a top target for defeat.  As you may have observed, the Democrat’s base in Northern Virginia is heading south.  My district is closer to the beltway than most others held by a Republican.  Put simply, they see me as their next target.

My district has changed a lot since my first election in 2001, but I have not.  If you believe I should continue the fight for law and order and in support of all our valiant law enforcement officers, I need your help!

When the Democrats and their cronies make their list, they look for weak, vulnerable candidates.  And while I’ve enjoyed strong support in the elections, I’ve never raised a lot of money.  I’ve been outspent in several past elections, one by more than two to one, but my margin of victory gets smaller every election.

The Democrat machine runs on money.  A lot of it.  You may have read that in August nationally, they had raised a record $300 MILLION to elect Joe Biden.

They will have every dollar they need and I need to be able to match them.  I’m hoping I can fund my campaign at a competitive level.  But to do so, I’m hoping you’ll help.

Will you please consider a gift of $100, $50, or $25 today to prepare for my campaign to take back the House of Delegates?

With you on my side, I’m hopeful we can keep this seat and win others to be able to take back control of the House of Delegates and restore sanity to Richmond.

Thank you and may God bless you.

I’ll not retreat but I need your help! Help me stop this dangerous agenda and take back the House of Delegates!  Click here to make a donation and take back Virginia!

DEMOCRAT’S ANTI-POLICE AGENDA

Representing you in the Virginia House of Delegates is an honor and a responsibility I take very seriously.  This update may be the most important one I have done during my entire service in the House.

As you know, violent protests have broken out across the nation and even in our area of Virginia demanding that police agencies at every level be “defunded.”   Two weeks ago, we began meeting in a special session of the General Assembly to address issues related to the budget, the pandemic and these riots.   As historic monuments commemorating Virginia’s past are being vandalized, and businesses looted, there has been a strong push by the Democrat majority to initiate “defunding” in the form of a 25% cut in spending for state police and a reduction in funds for local School Resource Officers (SRO), deputies and police officers that protect our schools.

That’s right, some Democrats want to pull SRO’s out of our schools!  One local Democrat recently texted me, “I support removing police from schools 100%,” and “Schools are no place for cops.”  Too many Democrats consider law enforcement to be the enemy!

In addition to reducing funding, Democrats are pushing an across the board anti-police agenda.  They are advancing legislation to reduce penalties for assaulting a police officer, banning the use of tear gas and rubber bullets, and removing qualified immunity, which would allow police and deputies to be personally sued if they do something someone did not like, putting their home and personal savings at risk.  We already have a hard time finding people willing to serve in law enforcement, if these become law it will become almost impossible to find good people to serve!

At the same time, they are pushing this anti-law enforcement agenda, Democrats are also releasing violent criminals from prison early!

The result will be higher crime rates, fewer School Resource Officers, fewer deputies and police, and longer response times for 911 calls!

As I participate in this session, I’m astonished to find that the governing elites in Richmond are in lock step support with the radical left and their agenda.  It leaves me speechless.

They’ve proclaimed that this is the will of the people and it must be done.  Do you think police and sheriff’s departments should be drastically cut?  Feel free to email me your thoughts.

VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY SPECIAL SESSION

I hope you and your family have been spared the ravages of the COVID pandemic as has ours.

Over the past month or so I’ve heard from a lot of folks about the special session of the Virginia General Assembly scheduled for next week.  The House of Delegates has been called, along with the Senate, by the Governor, to address legislation to deal with several issues that are the result of our pandemic and the related budget shortfalls as well as criminal justice reform and perhaps still others.

The Democrat-controlled legislature, as in the regular session, is keeping much of their legislation secret so citizens have less time to rally opposition to their radical left-wing agenda.

You can be sure there will be measures proposed to defund or radically cut spending on law enforcement and to initiate broad new gun control measures.

As for me, I’m hopeful we’ll be able to address the Gubernatorial abuses of their executive powers when declaring a state of emergency.  An “emergency” should only be declared when it is not possible for the General Assembly to convene and consider necessary measures for dealing with the issues at hand.  Presently we are in the sixth month of an emergency.

Of special concern is the designation of a violation of the emergency order a crime.  The punishment for mask and/or social distancing orders could receive penalties equal to those for assault and battery, a DUI and even some drug offenses.  That’s crazy!

State government offices including the Virginia Employment Commission, DMV and others have also been shuttered or offer reduced service hours making it difficult for citizens to get needed relief from unemployment situations as well as the renewal of driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations.  Our government is making many folks run afoul of the law and I will support legislation to eliminate late penalties and interest for any violation that results.

Many have also expressed concerns about the consequences of refusing to open our public schools full time.  If a school district refuses to open classrooms, then I propose providing parents vouchers to be used at a school where they will be educated.  And for schools that only open “online” but high-speed internet isn’t available, then they will be required to teach children in person.

Finally, you may have heard about an incident in Fredericksburg where a frightened mom with her young child dialed 911 from her car when surrounded by protesters.  The dispatcher said no help would be coming and that she should call the city government.  I support legislation that would make local government liable for damages caused when they refuse to protect private property and citizen safety.

Of course, as for the balance of the many issues, I will approach our budget situation as I always have: if we don’t have the revenue, we must cut spending; it would be wrong to raise taxes when so many people are out of work and businesses are struggling.   On gun control, I remain 100% committed to defending our Second Amendment rights and will oppose gun control schemes.

The session will likely be short, and you may not hear many details from the media.  So, be sure to follow my additional reports on Facebook and Twitter.  If necessary, I’ll also send additional information via email.  Please forward this to friends and neighbors who may be interested.

REOPEN VIRGINIA SCHOOLS

Thank you for sharing your feelings with me on the issue of school “in-person” attendance for the coming school year. I have heard from many like you with deep concerns for the safety of our students and their teachers. With the second half of the 2019-2020 school year lost due to the ongoing pandemic, many parents are understandably eager to see their children back in the classroom this fall. Of course, reopening our schools during this pandemic will require safeguards to ensure the health and safety of our children, teachers, and other support staff. I’m confident this can be done.

As you may know, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released guidance for reopening schools in the fall. The AAP stated that their guidance “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.” They went on to say that “schools are fundamental to child and adolescent development and well-being.” The science and data show that all students should be back in the classroom on a regular basis this fall. It’s evident that children rarely transmit COVID-19 between themselves and adults.

And according to an article on the recent comments made by the Director of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) on reopening schools. As quoted in the article, the CDC Director, Robert Redfield, states: “I’m of the point of view as a public health leader in this nation, that having the schools actually closed is a greater public health threat to the children than having the schools reopen.” In June, Governor Northam unveiled his mandated guidance to local school divisions and his proposal was quickly rejected by local school divisions — and me — as unrealistic. Under COVID-19 Phase III rules, in-person instruction is allowed, but only with extensive, often unrealistic, social distancing measures such as staggered class schedules and limited bus capacity.

The Governor needs to go back to the drawing board and give our local Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Stafford and Fauquier County School boards the ability to safely offer five-day classroom instruction.

My Republican colleagues and I will introduce legislative changes in the upcoming Special Session if the Governor fails to rework his school reopening plan. Virginia currently has the resources necessary to ensure students and teachers can return to the classroom safely and ensure further education isn’t lost.

There is no question that we are currently facing a public health crisis, but Governor Northam’s lack of leadership has caused confusion and fear for our local divisions as they work to bring our students back to the classroom. His ‘guidance’ has caused confusion on how to comply with his mandates, as well as fear of being sued for not properly implementing them. I know that the lasting impacts of a disrupted school will be felt for years to come and will have a negative effect on an entire generation.

What we’ve seen from the Governor is an unworkable plan that considers only one aspect of closed schools and fails to recognize what happens to students who aren’t in the classroom. Many students in the rural parts of our area don’t have access to high speed internet and computers — they rely on in-classroom instruction to further their education.

Additionally, to afford to live a decent life, many families rely on two incomes and with students out of school, they are burdened with additional childcare expense – or someone quits their job. While some districts can provide these services to their students, I worry that under this current reopening plan, many students will be further left behind in their educational pursuits. Our youth need social interaction. Developing social skills through interactions with other students is equally as important as studying math, sciences and all the rest.

Please contact me with your thoughts about how Virginia should proceed for the upcoming school year. You may want to let Governor Northam know how you feel about his plans, 804-786-2211.

NEW LAWS

NEW LAWS
Most new laws and changes to existing laws take effect on July 1st, following the General Assembly session. Below is a link to a summary from Legislative Services of this year’s changes to Virginia law. I just want to highlight some of the more significant changes that I have been contacted about by concerned constituents.

VIRGINIA’S GREEN NEW DEAL – Several bills were passed during session that fall under the umbrella of “Virginia’s Green New Deal” including House Bill (HB) 981 / Senate Bill (SB) 1027, HB 1526 / SB 851, HB 1634 / SB 629, and HB 1664 / SB 860 / SB998. Taken together, these bills require power companies to phase out the use of fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind. The problem is that these alternative sources are much more expensive and less reliable. This will cause electric rates to significantly increase in the future. This is being done in an attempt to reduce air pollution and combat climate change. Air pollution has already been dramatically reduced in Virginia and the US in recent decades by implementing new, cleaner power generation technology, and an overall reduction of reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will not be achieved unless countries like China, India, and others reduce their pollution. All these bills will do is significantly increase your electric bill, reduce economic growth and jobs in the Commonwealth, for no real benefit to the global climate.

HB1414 / SB 980 – Increases the gas tax by 12 cents per gallon over the next few years, then automatically increases it to account for inflation. The legislation also increases the number of transportation related funds that will receive the gas tax revenue, so I am not sure that this will actually result in an increase of funds to improve our roads or not!

HB 395 / SB 7 – Increases the minimum wage to $ 15 / hour over the next few years, then it will be automatically increased to account for inflation. This will result in fewer entry level and low skilled jobs and more automation.

HB 33 / SB 793 & HB 35 / SB 103 – Expands the number of criminal inmates that will be eligible for parole, including some murderers and sex offenders.

HB 19 / SB 65 – Removes the requirement that you present a photo ID in order to vote.

HB 1211 / SB 34 – Allows illegal aliens to get a driver’s license.

HB 1547 / SB 935 – Allows illegal aliens to qualify for in-state tuition at our public colleges and universities.

HB 1537 / SB 183 – Gives localities the authority to remove veteran’s and war memorials and statues.

HB 421 / SB 35 – Allows localities to adopt gun control ordinances; this does away local preemption for gun control laws, something that I pushed through the General Assembly 16 years ago. The result will be a patch work of inconsistent laws throughout the state. You should be careful if you are traveling from one locality to another, because you could be legally carrying a gun in one locality and then inadvertently break the law when you go into another locality even if you have a state permit to carry.

HB 874 / SB 160 – Bans the use of handheld cell phones while driving, effective 1 January 2021.

To read more about new laws please visit this web page: In Due Course-New Virginia Laws 

 

PROTESTERS CALL FOR DEFUNDING POLICE

Do you think your home, your church, our schools, malls and theaters would be safer if our local police and sheriff’s deputies were all fired?   That’s what some the protesters are demanding.  They call it “defunding” but without our tax dollars supporting the equipment, training, transportation and salaries of law enforcement professionals, that’s where we would be. No one to answer your 911 emergency call.

I know this sounds crazy, but in the last session of the General Assembly, I sponsored amendments that provided raises for those who protect and defend us…. our front line police.  Governor Northam refused to provide raises for deputies. Since the vast majority of Virginia sheriff’s departments and county boards of supervisors passed resolutions saying they would not support Northam’s gun confiscation schemes if passed, they were going to be punished.

Radical leftist in Virginia are busy doing all they can to ally with Antifa and violent protesters.  Cutting funds for our sheriffs will be just the start.

In Richmond I’ve been a loud and persistent voice for common sense support for our law enforcement.  Sure, what happened in Minneapolis was a crime.  George Floyd’s brutal murder was not about law enforcement.  Perpetrators of that crime will be punished.

I share the anger and frustration of peaceful protesters, but they’ve been hijacked by violent leaders from out of town.  These masked invaders roam the state stirring up angry mobs.  It is undeniable that there are racist elements in our society, but no law can change a heart filled with hatred.  We’ve made gains in our society and there is still room to advance.

Also, in the last session of the General Assembly I introduced a bill that would clear old police records (called expunging) for those who made stupid mistakes in their youth — provided there were no additional charges in the interim.  Members of the minority community would stand to benefit from this greatly and give them better opportunities to get jobs.  Instead of passing it, Democrats decided to “study” this criminal justice reform that was backed by the ACLU and other more liberal groups.

I’m afraid that much of all this is politically motivated.  The left and their media buddies are doing all they can to change our American way of life.

This year they have their eyes on Washington and the White House.  Next year their target will again be the Virginia government.  As one of Governor Northam’s most vocal opponents, I know that once again their sights are set on keeping control of Virginia.  Help me win back the Virginia General Assembly to stop the liberal assault on our freedoms, our jobs, and our values!

This is the earliest I’ve ever started campaigning, but it is critical I do so.  In the last election my opponent raised over $185,000 — nearly all from outside our region.  And the Bloomberg-funded anti-gun groups spent even more with their “independent” ads and grass roots organizers.  I’m sure they’ll be back.

For a long time, I’ve been able to count on your support.  I appreciate your kind words, prayers, volunteer help and contributions.  That’s why I’m writing today.  I hope you can help me build a campaign “war chest” to be prepared for the next election.  Your gift now will signal to those who seek to change our Commonwealth and Country that seizing power won’t be easy and perhaps they should go somewhere else.

Your donation of $35, $50, $100 or more now is worth twice as much today as next year.  I know this is a bad time to ask for help, and if you are not able to give, I certainly understand, but please consider what you can do now.  Thank you and may God bless you.

If you can help with a donation now, please click  here to help stop the radical agenda in Virginia!  Thanks!

EMERGENCY ORDERS

MASK ORDER

Governor Northam’s latest emergency order, requiring the wearing of face masks, has caused a lot of confusion and consternation.  The order requires wearing a covering of your face in most public places, however there are several exceptions to the order.

The requirement to wear a face covering does not apply to following:

  1. While eating or drinking;
  2. Individuals exercising or using exercise equipment;
  3. Any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance;
  4. Any person seeking to communicate with the hearing impaired and for which the mouth needs to be visible;
  5. When temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to secure government or medical services; and
  6. Persons with health conditions that prohibit wearing a face covering. Nothing in this Order shall require the use of a face covering by any person for whom doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety because of a medical condition.

Any person who declines to wear a face covering because of a medical condition shall not be required to produce or carry medical documentation verifying the stated condition nor shall the person be required to identify the precise underlying medical condition.

It does not require most employers to have employees wear masks while working.  The only employers that are required to have their employees wear masks are retail businesses.  However, the order requires patrons to wear masks (except as provided above).

I have received reports that some stores are requiring everyone to wear masks, with no exceptions.  These stores are private property and the owners may set their own standards, within reason, if they wish; however, they may become targets for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) discrimination lawsuits if they do not provide accommodation for those with health conditions.

This order is different than previous orders in that it will enforced by the Health Department and the Department of Labor and Industry instead of law enforcement.  Because of this some of these businesses are probably afraid of being shut down, then having to file lawsuits to try to reopen, which may explain why some of them are not allowing any exceptions.

You can read the actual order at: https://www.governor.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/executive-actions/EO-63-and-Order-Of-Public-Health-Emergency-Five—Requirement-To-Wear-Face-Covering-While-Inside-Buildings.pdf

STATE OF EMERGENCY

Virginia has been mostly shut down under a state of emergency since March.  At first, I think most Virginians were supportive of measures designed to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  We were hearing news of hospitals in China and Italy being overwhelmed with victims of the virus and needed to take action to make sure that did not happen here.  Since then, we have learned a lot more about the virus and how to treat it.

According to the numbers, while the virus can be a significant threat to senior citizens and those with other health issues, most of the population will not have a serious issue with the virus.  As testing for the virus has expanded, they are finding many people already had the virus and did not realize it; they thought they had a cold or a case of the flu and recovered without serious problems.  In short, if you are not a senior citizen and are in good health, you have little to fear from the virus.

Instead of continuing to impose restrictions on the general population, we should focus on protecting the vulnerable population, and let the rest of Virginia get back to work.  It makes no sense to continue to restrict and shut down businesses, forcing people to lose their jobs and health insurance, when most of them would not have a serious problem even if they got the virus.  Forcing people into poverty will be more deadly than this virus.

I invite your attention to an article, written by a medical doctor last month, explaining the hidden health consequences of this shut down:  https://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/494034-the-data-are-in-stop-the-panic-and-end-the-total-isolation?fbclid=IwAR0aF9UIAPYAX2EbpITAztIPVve_4c0TuKfOYW1CVNaMjNIcK_XLAwy0Zq0#.XrW9WL1-9G0.facebook

COVID-19 PREVENTION

Advice from the Virginia Department of Health on how to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus can be found at this web page:

https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/prevention-tips/

FINAL VETOES

Governor Northam issued his final vetoes of the 2020 General Assembly session, vetoing House Bill 795 and Senate Bill 235.  These bills would have made it easier for people and small businesses to form health insurance associations to provide health insurance to their employees.  Both bills passed during session with large bipartisan majorities.  Governor Northam proposed adding reenactment clauses which would have required the bills to pass again next year before they would become law.  Both the House and Senate rejected this proposal.  In a bipartisan vote, the Senate passed the bill with a veto proof motion, unfortunately, House Democrats refused to go along with this vote, enabling Northam’s vetoes.

Governor Northam vetoed these bills because he wants to force people to use the state ACA (Obamacare) health insurance exchange, which is just too costly for many Virginians and has very limited options for coverage.