Farm Bureau AgPAC Endorses Mark Cole for 88th

From the VFBF AgPAC website:

VFBF AgPAC endorses 126 candidates for General Assembly seats

RICHMOND—Virginia Farm Bureau Federation AgPAC, Farm Bureau’s political action committee, announced in mid-August its endorsement of 39 candidates for the Virginia Senate and 87 candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates.

The endorsements are based on recommendations of local committees of farmers. “Candidates are evaluated through a grassroots process on their understanding of the needs and challenges that we as farmers face in today’s times,” said Wayne F. Pryor, VFBF president and chairman of the VFBF AgPAC board of trustees. “Those who have received the AgPAC endorsement have a history of supporting issues important to agriculture or have demonstrated their commitment through their participation in the evaluation process.

“We believe these candidates will help protect the agriculture and forestry industry and ensure that it remains the No. 1 industry in the commonwealth.”

The non-partisan VFBF AgPAC was created in 1999 and employs in-kind contributions and endorsements to support candidates who can best support agriculture and Farm Bureau issues.


Small Business Endorses Mark Cole

Fredericksburg, October 11, 2019

The NFIB Virginia PAC, the political action committee of the state’s leading small business advocacy organization, is proud to announce its endorsement of Delegate Mark Cole, who is seeking re-election to Virginia’s 88th House District seat.

The NFIB Virginia PAC is comprised exclusively of NFIB members.

“Mark Cole has a proven track record of supporting small businesses,” said Nicole Riley, NFIB’s state director for Virginia. His voting record is a clear indication he is the best choice for small business owners, their employees, and their families.

“Mark Cole understands the challenges facing the commonwealth’s small businesses, and our members believe he will continue to support them by promoting sound tax policies, protecting Virginia’s sensible regulatory environment, improving workforce development opportunities, and expanding broadband access in rural communities,” Riley said. “These are all key issues to ensure a healthy economy in Virginia.”

NFIB is the leading small-business association in the nation with thousands of members in Virginia representing a cross-section of the state’s economy. The endorsements come from the NFIB VA PAC, the association’s state political action committee, and are based on voting records or surveys of candidates on small business issues and member input.

Small-business owners and their employees vote in high numbers and are known for actively recruiting friends, family members, and acquaintances to go to the polls. NFIB will encourage its members to help turn out the small-business vote for NFIB VA PAC-endorsed candidates in the General Election.


CONTACT:
Nicole Riley (NFIB VA State Director), 804-690-2466
Robert Stuber, 540-226-9105

“Mark Cole has a proven track record of supporting small businesses.”

State Budget Surplus and the Economy

STATE BUDGET

The Commonwealth of Virginia ended the fiscal year with a $ 797.7 million revenue surplus. The surplus will allow Virginia to set aside additional resources in our state reserve funds and means the taxpayer relief passed by the General Assembly in January remains on track. Virginia will have over $1.6 billion, or approximately seven percent of general fund revenue, in its reserve funds at the end of the biennium.

The revenue surplus allowed the taxpayer relief fund rebate checks to be mailed out to Virginia taxpayers.

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE CONTINUES TO DECLINE

It was announced a few weeks ago that Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased 0.1 percentage point to 2.8 percent.  The labor force expanded for the fourteenth consecutive month to set a new record high and the number of unemployed decreased. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which was 3.7 percent.  Virginia’s positive business climate and ranking is no doubt a factor in this decline.

VIRGINIA TOPS FOR STUDENT SAT SCORES

Virginia students scored better on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) than any other state this year.  Virginia students who graduated in the Class of 2019 had an average score of 1119, compared with a 1059 average nationwide, according to the College Board that administers the college readiness exam.  The SAT is taken by high school students wishing to enter college and is often used as a factor in admissions at many colleges.

School Funding

Funding for education is the largest part of the state budget. The General Assembly has provided nearly $ 4 Billion in new funding for public schools since the Great Recession. Below are the recent state school funding figures for the localities in the 88th District. This only shows state funding; local governments provide significant funds in addition to state funds. Fiscal Year 2020 are budgeted numbers, previous years are actual expenditures.

The share of state funding per locality is based on the Local Composite Index (LCI) which is periodically recalculated. It attempts to measure local ability to fund schools. Poorer localities have a lower LCI, which means they receive a greater share of state funding, while wealthier localities have a higher LCI and receive a smaller share of state funding.

National Rating

The online publication Wallet Hub has announced their 2019 list of States With the Best School Systems, and Virginia is near the top. Virginia is ranked 4th overall in terms of best school system, and 2nd for school safety. The study also found that Virginia schools had the 4th highest scores on math tests, 4th lowest incidence of bullying.

School safety has been a major focus of the General Assembly in recent years. The Select Committee on School Safety completed its work recently and presented a comprehensive final report with recommendations last session to make our students and schools safer through threat prevention, counseling realignment, increased mental health services, and increased training for school personnel and school security. The final report also includes best practices for localities on mutual aid agreements, school design and security planning, and infrastructure improvements. These recommendations were recently adopted by the General Assembly.

 

Special Session

As you probably heard, Governor Northam called the General Assembly back for a special session in response to the Virginia Beach murders. Unfortunately, I believe the Governor acted in haste and called the session before a complete investigation was done and all the facts were known. Since then, he has admitted that none of his proposals would have prevented the tragedy. The General Assembly convened on Tuesday as constitutionally required.

The General Assembly has a responsibility to enact laws in the best interest of the Commonwealth. Instead of acting rashly, we are going to take a thoughtful and deliberative approach. All legislation filed was referred to the Crime Commission for review.

The Commission will return later this year with recommendations on how to move forward. Specifically, they have been tasked with looking at all the bills that were filed, reviewing the investigations into the Virginia Beach tragedy, and reporting back with any recommendations.

I am hopeful that the bipartisan Crime Commission will do its work diligently and provide effective recommendations for the General Assembly to consider.

When the Crime Commission returns with their recommendations, we will go back to Richmond to work on real solutions to the problems of gun violence.

Virginia Named Best State for Business!

CNBC has named Virginia the top state for business for 2019! Virginia climbed back to the top of the rankings for several reasons, including: our business-friendly regulatory environment, low taxes, our highly-educated workforce, and our ongoing commitment to education.

CNBC specifically cited Republican initiatives in their report. We provided nearly $1 billion in tax relief to working families, championed legislation to cut burdensome and costly regulations by 25 percent, put the brakes on college tuition hikes for the first time in 20 years, and placed an emphasis on workforce training actually needed by businesses.

Additionally, we defeated numerous anti-business proposals from Democrats that would have set Virginia back. We blocked more than $17.9 Billion worth of anti-business/anti-jobs bills that would have killed 156,000 jobs, including an energy tax scheme that would significantly increase electricity rates and an effort to repeal our right-to-work law that protects employees from mandatory union membership.

New Laws

Most new laws passed by the General Assembly do not go into effect until 1 July; unless it is emergency legislation that passes by a 4/5 vote or the legislation specifies a later date.

To find a summary of new laws, CLICK HERE FOR A SUMMARY OF LEGISLATION PASSED IN 2019

Redistricting Court Decision

For years now, several House of Delegates districts have been the subject of politically motivated court challenges funded by Democrat special interest groups. One challenge was dismissed last year by the Virginia Supreme Court; however, another received a favorable decision in a Federal court that was dominated by Democrat appointees.

The Federal judges redrew the districts in question, and several others that border them, to favor Democrats and disadvantage Republicans. Attorney General Mark Herring refused to challenge the court ruling, so the House of Delegates was forced to step in and file an appeal to the US Supreme Court. Last week, rather than decide the issue on its merits, the Supreme Court punted and dismissed the case on a technicality saying that the House did not have standing to file an appeal, so the lower court ruling stands. None of the districts in our area were affected.

The redistricting plan that passed in 2011 was bipartisan, the House was majority Republican then and the Senate Democrat, and compiled with all applicable laws and court decisions at the time. It passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, including the support of then Senators Ralph Northam and Mark Herring, and was approved by President Obama’s Justice Department. To sum up the situation, partisan Gerrymandering won in court over bipartisan legislation.

Approaching Tax Deadline

During the 2019 General Assembly Session, we set aside nearly $450 million for a Taxpayer Relief Fund to give back money to hard-working families this October. In order to qualify, income tax returns must be filed before July 1st, and the taxpayer can’t owe any back taxes to their local government, Virginia, the IRS, or any other state agency. For those who do, the money will go to settle those debts.

If you have already filed your taxes, as most have, you do not need to do anything. If you have not, you must file before July 1st to be eligible.

Rebates won’t exceed taxes you paid to the state total tax liability up to a maximum of $110 for single filers and $220 for joint. For example, if your Virginia income tax liability was only $50, your check would likely be $50.

Final Actions

The General Assembly reconvened last month to deal with Governor Northam’s amendments and vetoes of legislation passed during the regular session. Some of his amendments were not accepted. Last week, the Governor vetoed several of those bills including:

House Bill 1620 / Senate Bill 1455 Would have reformed the State Board of Elections to increase its membership and reduce political influence by allowing the Board to appoint the Commissioner of Elections, similar to how local Voter Registrars are appointed by the local Electoral Board.

HB 1661 Would have authorized farmers to form an association to offer health benefits plans to their members in order to provide more affordable healthcare options.

HB 2042 This was a bi-partisan bill to require a mandatory minimum sentence of 60 days for anyone convicted of assaulting a family or household member if they had a previous violent conviction in the prior 10-year period.

HB 2303 / SB 1047 Would have required registered sex offenders to identify themselves to officials prior to entering an emergency shelter.

SB 1087 Would have permitted the General Assembly to make minor changes to legislative districts to reduce split precincts. Split precincts cause confusion among voters and increase the costs of elections. I anticipated this veto and sponsored HJ 591, which passed and would do the same thing by amending Virginia’s Constitution. A Constitutional amendment will have to pass again next year and then be approved by the voters before it is effective, but the Governor cannot veto a proposed amendment. The goal is to have it in place before the next redistricting in 2021.

HB 2443 / SB 1689 Would have expanded group health benefit associations and make them easier to form to expand affordable healthcare options.

HB 2528 This bill was an attempt to combat the ongoing opioid crisis by allowing drug dealers to be charged with homicide if they sell drugs to someone who then dies due to an overdose of the drug.

The Governor signed HB 1700, the state Budget Bill, but vetoed an item in the budget which included language to limit taxpayer funding for long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs). The language restricting the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions to the minimum required by Federal law remains in the budget.

Governor Northam also signed SB 1768 to ban hand-held cell phone use while driving in a work zone, despite his amendment to the bill being rejected. His amendment stripped the work zone provision and made it a general ban while driving. The Speaker of the House ruled that the amendment was not germane because it went beyond the original purpose of the bill. One of the things that differentiates the House of Delegates from the US Congress is that any amendment to legislation must be within the scope of the original purpose of the bill.

Session Summary

Overall, I thought the session went very well, despite the unresolved scandals involving our statewide elected officials. While you never get everything you want, we did better than I expected at the start of session. Thousands of bills were submitted for consideration during session, and 854 survived the legislative process to be passed and signed into law.

We passed a plan to provide tax relief to for hardworking Virginians. The budget makes significant investments in education, providing over $200 million in new funding for our public schools, including the largest single-year pay raise for teachers in 15 years and money for more school counselors. There are also increases in early childhood education and in financial aid for students attending higher education institutions.

This budget funds critical infrastructure improvements like expanding access to broadband and transportation. We also put additional resources into our cash reserves, to protect our AAA bond rating and against future economic downturns.

My HJ 581 to have the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) develop a strategic plan to improve I-95 passed and Virginia’s Transportation Secretary recently announced that she was beginning work on this study. We also passed my HJ 615 that would amend the state Constitution to establish an independent redistricting committee to draw Congressional and legislative district lines when we have to do redistricting in 2021.

Veto Session

After legislation passes the General Assembly during the regular session, the Governor may offer amendments or veto the legislation. We convened last week to deal with numerous vetoes and amendments. Most of the amendments were clarifying in nature or a technical correction and were accepted. However, others were substantial changes in scope or effectiveness of the legislation. Legislation where the amendments were accepted, will become law. Any legislation with amendments that were rejected will be returned to Governor Northam for action. He has until May 3rd to sign or veto them. Here is a summary of some of the higher profile legislation that had amendments rejected.

House Bill 1620 / Senate Bill 1455 Reforms the State Board of Elections to increase its membership and reduce political influence by allowing the Board to appoint the Commissioner of Elections, similar to how local Voter Registrars are appointed by the local Electoral Board. Governor Northam amended it to remove that provision and keep the Commissioner as a political appointee. Those amendments were rejected.

HB 1661 Authorizes farmers to form an association to offer health benefits plans to their members in order to provide more affordable healthcare options. Governor Northam’s amendment would have nullified the provisions of the bill.

HB 2042 Requires a mandatory minimum sentence of 60 days for anyone convicted of assaulting a family or household member if they had a previous violent conviction in the prior 10-year period. Governor Northam’s amendment would have reduced the period to 5 years.

HB 2303 / SB 1047 Would require registered sex offenders to identify themselves to officials prior to entering an emergency shelter. Governor Northam’s amendment would have removed the penalty for failure to comply which made the bill of no real effect.

HB 2443 / SB 1689 Would expand group health benefit associations and make them easier to form to expand affordable healthcare options. The Governor’s amendments would basically gut the legislation.

HB 2528 This bill is an attempt to combat the ongoing opioid crisis by allowing drug dealers to be charged with homicide if they sell drugs to someone who then dies due to an overdose of the drug. Governor Northam’s amendment would have limited it to make it almost useless.

SB 1087 Would permit the General Assembly to make minor changes to legislative districts to reduce split precincts. The Governor’s amendments would have placed the burden entirely on local governments to fix. This would have been a huge unfunded mandate on localities and significantly increased the local costs of running elections.

SB 1768 Would ban hand-held cell phone use while driving in a work zone. The Governor’s amendments stripped the work zone provision and made it a statewide ban. The Speaker of the House ruled that the amendment was not germane because it went beyond the original purpose of the bill. One of the things that differentiates the House of Delegates from the US Congress is that any amendments to legislation must be within the scope of the original purpose of the bill.

HB 1700 is the state Budget Bill. The Governor made numerous amendments to it, most of them were adopted, such as language to end the practice of revoking a driver’s license for failure to pay court fines and fees not related to driving offenses. Several were defeated including amendments to expand taxpayer funding for abortion and to give state tax “refunds” to persons who did not pay taxes.

Another bill with significant amendments that did pass was HB 2718 / SB 1716 which established an I-81 improvement fund. Governor Northam amendments increases truck registration fees, the diesel tax, and imposes a regional gas tax on localities along I-81. The regional taxes are dedicated to I-81, however, the statewide taxes will go to projects across the state. Most Republicans, including me, opposed the tax increases.

Here is a summary of Governor Northam’s vetoes. None of the vetoes were overridden. Overriding a veto requires a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate; the votes were basically party-line, with a majority voting to override but short of two-thirds.

HB 2260 / SB 1027 These bills sought to expand health insurance choices for Virginians by authorizes health carriers to offer lower-cost, catastrophic plans on the individual market.

SB 1240 Authorized health insurance carriers in the Commonwealth to offer short-term, limited-duration health plans. This was an attempt to increase affordable healthcare alternatives for Virginians.

SB 1674 Would have allowed any carrier offering short-term, limited-duration health plans to provide a guaranteed renewal option.

SB 1156 Would have prohibited any locality from adopting any ordinance, procedure, or policy intended to restrict the enforcement of federal immigration laws. This was a ban on sanctuary cities/counties.

HB 2270 Required the sheriff or jail superintendent in charge of a local correctional facility or a regional jail to notify U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the release of an incarcerated alien as soon as the release date is known.

SB 1038 Would have required Voter Registrars to verify the name, date of birth, and social security number provided by an applicant on the voter registration application. There have been problems with fraudulent voter registrations being submitted, and this would have been an easy way to catch many of those fraud attempts before they were actually registered.

HB 2764 Requires any person who assists an applicant with the completion of a paper voter registration application or collects a completed paper voter registration application directly from an applicant to provide his name and telephone number and indicate the group or organization with which he is affiliated, if any, on the registration application. There have been problems with third party groups incorrectly registering people to vote, and this was an attempt to allow Voter Registrars to be able to contact the group to correct the problems.

HB 2034 This legislation tried to make the position of Voter Registrar less political by requiring the local Electoral Board to petition the circuit court and show cause to fire a Registrar.

HB 2142 This bill sought to improve school security by allowing localities to hire school protection officers as retired law-enforcement officers as part-time school security officers. This would have been a less expensive alternative to hiring full-time School Resource Officers (SRO).

HB 2253 Required the State Police to issue a concealed handgun permit to a nonresident within 90 days of receipt of the nonresident’s completed application unless it determines that he is disqualified.

HB 2611 Would have required the approval of the General Assembly before the state could adopt regulations establishing a carbon dioxide cap-and-trade program or bringing about the participation by the Commonwealth in a regional market for the trading of carbon dioxide allowances.

HB 2269 Would have required the approval of the General Assembly before the state could adopt regulations establishing or bringing about the participation by the Commonwealth in the Transportation and Climate Initiative or any other regional transportation sector emissions program.

HB 2749 Required the Department of Social Services to report annually the Senate Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services and the House Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions, information regarding the number of reported violations for misuse of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash benefits. This was an attempt to gather information on welfare fraud.

SB 1150 Required the authorization of a Commonwealth Attorney or law-enforcement agency for a magistrate to issue an arrest warrant for a misdemeanor offense where the accused is a law-enforcement officer and the alleged offense arises out of the performance of his public duties.

SB 1251 Switchblade knives are illegal in Virginia. This bill would not have changed that but would have allowed knife manufacturers an exemption to produce them for sale in other states where they are legal. This legislation was requested by a knife manufacturer who may now have to move out of state.

SB 1782 Prohibited a person who has been convicted of a felony offense of (a) fraud or misrepresentation or (b) robbery, extortion, burglary, larceny, embezzlement, fraudulent conversion, perjury, bribery, treason, or racketeering from qualifying to be a notary.

Vetoes

Governor Northam has signed most of the bills that were passed during the General Assembly session. He has amended some bills and vetoed 17. The General Assembly will convene on April 3rd to deal with his amendments and vetoes. Below is a summary of the legislation he has vetoed. Realistically, we have almost no chance of overriding any of his vetoes. It requires a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate to override, and given the partisan divide I do not expect that to happen.

HB 2260 / SB 1027 These bills sought to expand health insurance choices for Virginians by authorizes health carriers to offer lower-cost, catastrophic plans on the individual market.

SB 1240 Authorized health insurance carriers in the Commonwealth to offer short-term, limited-duration health plans. This was an attempt to increase affordable healthcare alternatives for Virginians.

SB 1674 Would have allowed any carrier offering short-term, limited-duration health plans to provide a guaranteed renewal option.

SB 1156 Would have prohibited any locality from adopting any ordinance, procedure, or policy intended to restrict the enforcement of federal immigration laws. This was a ban on sanctuary cities/counties.

HB 2270 Required the sheriff or jail superintendent in charge of a local correctional facility or a regional jail to notify U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the release of an incarcerated alien as soon as the release date is known.

SB 1038 Would have required Voter Registrars to verify the name, date of birth, and social security number provided by an applicant on the voter registration application. There have been problems with fraudulent voter registrations being submitted, and this would have been an easy way to catch many of those fraud attempts before they were actually registered.

HB 2764 Requires any person who assists an applicant with the completion of a paper voter registration application or collects a completed paper voter registration application directly from an applicant to provide his name and telephone number and indicate the group or organization with which he is affiliated, if any, on the registration application. There have been problems with third party groups incorrectly registering people to vote, and this was an attempt to allow Voter Registrars to be able to contact the group to correct the problems.

HB 2034 This legislation tried to make the position of Voter Registrar less political by requiring the local Electoral Board to petition the circuit court and show cause to fire a Registrar.

HB 2142 This bill sought to improve school security by allowing localities to hire school protection officers as retired law-enforcement officers as part-time school security officers. This would have been a less expensive alternative to hiring full-time School Resource Officers (SRO).

HB 2253 Required the State Police to issue a concealed handgun permit to a nonresident within 90 days of receipt of the nonresident’s completed application unless it determines that he is disqualified.

HB 2611 Would have required the approval of the General Assembly before the state could adopt regulations establishing a carbon dioxide cap-and-trade program or bringing about the participation by the Commonwealth in a regional market for the trading of carbon dioxide allowances.

HB 2269 Would have required the approval of the General Assembly before the state could adopt regulations establishing or bringing about the participation by the Commonwealth in the Transportation and Climate Initiative or any other regional transportation sector emissions program.

HB 2749 Required the Department of Social Services to report annually the Senate Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services and the House Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions, information regarding the number of reported violations for misuse of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash benefits. This was an attempt to gather information on welfare fraud.

SB 1150 Required the authorization of a Commonwealth Attorney or law-enforcement agency for a magistrate to issue an arrest warrant for a misdemeanor offense where the accused is a law-enforcement officer and the alleged offense arises out of the performance of his public duties.

SB 1251 Switchblade knives are illegal in Virginia. This bill would not have changed that but would have allowed knife manufacturers an exemption to produce them for sale in other states where they are legal. This legislation was requested by a knife manufacturer who may now have to move out of state.

SB 1782 Prohibited a person who has been convicted of a felony offense of (a) fraud or misrepresentation or (b) robbery, extortion, burglary, larceny, embezzlement, fraudulent conversion, perjury, bribery, treason, or racketeering from qualifying to be a notary.

Adjournment

Adjournment

The 2019 General Assembly session is officially over! We adjourned last week after a very busy 47 days. Despite the distractions taking place elsewhere on Capitol Square, the General Assembly was focused on getting our job done in a timely and responsible manner.

The controversies of the statewide office holders led to turmoil, protests, and embarrassment for our state. On the other hand, the General Assembly was not distracted by the scandals that rocked the Commonwealth. We passed a state budget, cut taxes, and passed numerous other bills which have been sent to the Governor for his review and action. He may sign, amend, or veto the legislation.

We will reconvene in April to deal with any amendments and vetoes by the Governor.

State Budget

In order to get the budget balanced, we had to cut over $1 billion in new spending proposed by Governor Northam and the Democrats. The budget includes no tax or fee increases. $120 million in healthcare savings are included in the budget as a result of lower than expected Medicaid costs and updated forecasting language.

It includes funding for a five percent teacher pay raise and $85.7 million in new funding for K-12 education. This is the fourth state teacher pay raise in six years. The budget also makes targeted investments in our at-risk student programs.

School safety was a major priority for the General Assembly this year and the budget includes approximately $12 million in funding for school resource officers, infrastructure, and other initiatives designed to keep our students safe in schools.

In the higher education field, the budget included $57 million to freeze tuition at our colleges and universities, and increased funding for financial aid by $16 million. Virginia has the nation’s best higher education system, but we must continually strive to ensure the it is affordable.

The state budget also includes a three percent pay raise for state employees.

Finally, the budget includes longstanding language that restricts taxpayer funding of abortions.

You can view the full budget by visiting budget.lis.virginia.gov.

Tax Relief

Changes to the Federal tax code last year required changes to the state tax code to refund an unintended increase in many Virginians’ state tax bills. We passed House Bill (HB) 2529 and Senate Bill (SB) 1372 to provide a $1 billion tax relief package. These bills were passed with an emergency clause and have already been signed by the Governor, so they have already been incorporated into the state tax code.

This is a compromise that will provide $420 million in tax refunds to Virginia taxpayers in October of 2019. This means individuals will receive a refund of up to $110 and couples up to $220. The plan also increased the standard deduction by fifty percent beginning in tax year 2019. It maintains the current rules for state and local taxes (SALT), so homeowners are not hit with an unexpected tax increase at the state level. Also included are key business tax provisions for Virginia’s job creators.

The total package will guarantee at least $976 million in tax relief, or on average about $400 for every family in the Commonwealth.

Legislation

Below is some of the legislation I sponsored or co-sponsored this year that passed. The bills have been sent to the Governor for his review and action.

House Joint Resolution (HJ) 581 / Senate Joint Resolution (SJ) 276 Interstate 95 Corridor Improvement Plan; tasks the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) to develop a strategic plan to improve I-95 from Thornburg to the Springfield Interchange. Currently, the CTB and VDOT have no plans to make significant improvements along the entire corridor. They only have plans to make spot improvements at certain interchanges, such as the Rappahannock River Crossing now under construction, which will help, but a corridor wide improvement plan is needed.

HJ 615 A Constitutional amendment that requires the establishment of an independent redistricting commissions to draw districts during the next redistricting in 2021 in order to reduce partisan influences. Since it is a proposed amendment to Virginia’s Constitution, it must pass again next year and then be approved by the voters before it becomes effective.

HJ 591 Constitutional amendment that authorizes the General Assembly to make technical adjustments to districts to reduce the number of split precincts. Split precincts cause confusion among voters and elections officials, as well as increasing the costs of conducting elections.

HB 1620 Reforms the State Board of Elections and the Department of Elections to reduce partisan political influence.

HB 1614 / SB 1248 Allows localities to establish a grant fund to help fix stormwater management systems that are failing and impacting neighborhoods.

HB 1623 Would make enrolling in school easier for military families relocating to the Commonwealth.

HB 1656 Allows private or religious schools to hire former law enforcement officers as armed security officers. This is something that public schools have been able to do for the last few years.

HB 1734 Requires the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety to develop a case management tool for use by public elementary and secondary school threat assessment teams to help identify potential threats to school safety and areas school security can be improved.

HB 2270 Requires that the sheriff, jail superintendent, or other official in charge of a local correctional facility or a regional jail in which an alien is incarcerated to notify U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the release of the alien as soon as the release date is known.

HB 2278 Automatically expunges conviction records of someone who was given an absolute pardon because they were found to be innocent. Currently, someone who has been found to have been wrongfully convicted of a crime they did not commit must hire a lawyer and petition the court to expunge their record.

HB 2694 Allows members of HOAs to request HOA notices by e-mail instead of physical mail, reducing the costs for notification.