Let me tell you it has been a wild ride these last few days in Richmond; Metro funding, House budget with Medicaid expansion, gun rights and transgender rights, just to name a few things. I’ll share a few thoughts, a few links, and let you know you can count on me to keep working to make the best of it all.
Many of the same issues that are whirling around the nation are in front of the General Assembly as well. Here’s a quick look at some of the big issues and where I stand.
By far the biggest news of the week, and maybe the session, is that last Sunday, the House Appropriations Committee unveiled the House Budget, including Medicaid expansion.
I want to share with you personally why I voted against this budget. The House budget includes a plan to expand Medicaid, albeit with some conservative reform elements. I respect my colleagues who are supporting this plan, there are good conservatives on both sides of this plan, but I respectfully disagree.
I am against the plan because our current Medicaid system still needs reform, because it is hard to trust the Federal Government when they promise “free” federal money, and because of the significant deficits facing other states.
Virginia’s current Medicaid program is growing by over $600 million in the current biennial budget. This is an unsustainable growth rate. We cannot afford our current program, let alone the cost of expansion. The experience of other states shows that it will damage our budget. In states that have expanded, enrollment and per enrollee spending are nearly 50% higher than predicted.
As we saw with the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), “free” and “guaranteed” money from Washington is not always free nor guaranteed. Even a highly popular program like CHIP can lose its funding. I questioned House Appropriation Committee Chairman Chris Jones whether the Trump administration is willing to sign off on budget provisions to expand Medicaid in Virginia; the answer was unclear, as you can see here.
While I applaud the work of our Appropriations Committee in some areas, I cannot support the proposal to expand Medicaid. I would like to support a solid, conservative version of the budget, so I will likely support the Senate version, and hope when the budget arrives in conference, changes are made so that I can support the budget for final passage.
WMATA Funding and I-66 Tolling
The Governor's proposal to raise taxes to pay for WMATA was removed from the budget, and will be resolved in Del. Hugo's legislation. I voted against the Hugo bill because it takes NoVA road funding and diverts it to WMATA, and disproportionately impacts Loudoun. All the I-66 toll relief bills were killed in the Appropriations Committee, but some aspects were included in the budget. I will continue to advocate on these issues as the budget and WMATA bill go to Conference Committees to resolve differences between the House and Senate.
Healthcare Reform bills from the Senate:
- SB 844 (Dunnavant) would allow more Virginians to opt for less expensive “short term” coverage plans. It would also place requirements on health insurers to offer plans in more areas of Virginia. The bill will help to reduce costs and expand options for consumers.
- SB 935 (Dunnavant) would expand the availability of group insurance plans, allowing more Virginians to participate in insurance “pools.”
- SB 964 (Sturtevant) would allow more Virginians to qualify for catastrophic health coverage plans, which provide essential health benefits. These plans are a lot less expensive than the plans available on the exchanges, but are currently available only to those under the age of 30. This legislation removes that age limit, making the plans more widely available – and bringing affordable coverage to more Virginians.
- SB 915 (Dunnavant) sets priorities for healthcare funding, including waivers for Intellectual and Developmentally Disabled Virginians. There is a current backlog for these waivers of more than 3,000. This bill also prioritizes funding to increase mental health and substance abuse treatment. Effectively, this bill is a roadmap to how Virginia should allocate and prioritize future healthcare expenditures.
Special privileges for LGBTQ
A week ago, when the House refused to pass laws creating special privileges for people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, I replied to the Winchester Star and have since been blasted by the radical LGBTQ fringe for taking a compassionate and commonsense view.
From the Winchester Star: “If you create a right for people on the basis of their sexual behaviors, then you are taking away the right of someone like me or someone else whom might want to rent to say, “I choose not to rent the place that I have to homosexuals,” LaRock said. “I’m not condoning any kind of abusive treatment of someone who chooses that kind of behavior. I just don’t think it’s the government’s place to say I have to ignore that behavior.” In regards to employment, LaRock said he would find it “very disturbing” if a transgender person was able to teach a kindergarten class. He said he believes that transgender people have a mental disorder and that they should not be put into “role-model positions” in schools.
Report: Modern Culture Is Not Just Revealing Transgenders, 'It Is Creating Them'
All scientific evidence indicates that gender identity disorders result principally from cultural causes and moreover, modern society is facilitating them, according to an analysis published Friday. Writing for the Catholic World Report, Anne Hendershott chronicles an exploding “transgender industry”
Parents Just Lost Custody of Teenage Daughter Who Wants to ‘Transition’ to a Boy: What You Need to Know
Parents in Ohio lost custody of their 17-year-old daughter Friday because a judge ruled that she should be allowed to receive therapy, including testosterone therapy, to identify as a boy.
Georgia School Tests Middle School Kids on Different Gender Identities
A Georgia middle school is facing criticism from a parent after a teacher reportedly quizzed a sixth grade class on the different gender identities.
Public School Kids Get Assembly on Sex Changes
George Mason High School in the City of Falls Church brought in Nutt, a Washington Post reporter, to lecture students on her book, Becoming Nicole, about a boy who “identified” as a girl as a toddler, had his puberty suppressed as a child, and was castrated as a teenager.
Dominion Power Bill
I voted against the Dominion Power bill, HB1558, but first voted with Democrats to gut it with an amendment on the floor. Rather than passing savings on to their customers, this bill changes the rate review period from 2-3 years, allowing power companies to hold excess profits longer. The bill also forces power companies to put 1.25 million Virginians on wind and solar power regardless of its cost or efficiency.
Repeal Church Security Ban
My bill seeking to allow church leaders the freedom to make sensible security plans with concerns that relate to an outdated Blue Law made some members uneasy, so that bill was scuttled. Incidents, like the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, TX, and recent school massacre in Florida, make it extremely clear that evil is around us and to not be prepared only allows more damage to be done. Here are some related articles:
Republicans in the House also reached across the political aisle with Democrats and Governor Northam to advance legislation on regulatory reform and criminal justice reform. The bipartisan compromise on regulatory reform will eliminate 25 percent of state regulations over the next three years. Also, to renegotiate criminal justice laws in Virginia, the Republican-led House agreed to raise the felony theft threshold from $200 to $500 in exchange for Governor Northam’s support for stricter restitution enforcement laws.
House Bill 883, introduced by Delegate Michael Webert (R-Fauquier), will allow the reduction of state regulations by 25 percent through 2021. The bill also provides for the Department of Planning and Budget to establish an initial regulation baseline budget consisting of the total number of regulations enforced by executive branch state agencies. “Between October 1, 2018, and July 1, 2021, no new regulation may be approved by the Department unless the proposing agency also submits two or more of its current regulations to be replaced or repealed,” according to the legislation.
Legislation passed by House Republicans has also included adoption reform to help children find loving families in a swifter manner. “Family is the bedrock of our society. Easing adoption regulations puts families first and helps more children find loving parents,” according to a release from the Virginia House GOP. The Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program outlined in House Bill 1333, introduced by Emily Brewer (R-Suffolk), helps the relationship between foster youth and their caregivers. The bill establishes a new path to permanency for foster youth who have resided in foster homes with relative caregivers for at least six months. In addition to the program, Delegate Brewer sponsored House Bill 241, lowering the amount of time a child must reside with a close relative. According to the bill, the length of time that a child must live with a close family member before adoption proceedings can begin is lessened from three years to two years.
Job creation and job training was also on the docket for the General Assembly in 2018. House Republicans were adamant that workers need to get the training they need to find a good-paying job. Delegate Hugo also sponsored House Bill 1233, which bolsters the apprenticeship program in Virginia. The legislation allows more apprentices to get more on–the–job–training by prohibiting the Apprenticeship Council from adopting standards for apprenticeship agreements governing the numeric ratio of journeymen to apprentices that require more than one journeyman for two apprentices.
I look forward to providing you with more updates as we continue working through the 2018 General Assembly Session!
P.S. Before I forget, some friends have let me know the pushy phone surveys that usually start 6 months before an election have already begun, asking if I’m doing a good job and if the people who answer support lots of far-left policies. If you get one of those calls, just have the caller sign up for this email and they’ll know what I support.
As always, I value the feedback you provide on a continual basis as it helps me do a better job of representing you. You can email me at DelDLaRock@house.virginia.gov or call me at
804-698-1033. You can also join the conversation on our social media pages on Facebook and Twitter.