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Good News: 2020 Session Ends Soon... Bad News: Devastating Effects are Impossible to Calculate

Dear friends,

It is with hesitation that, again this week, I sound like a weatherman who only reports bad weather. There are some bad bills which have died, many only to be revived in some alternate form. The budget has some positives, but is jam packed with wasteful spending. All of my bills seeking to lower tolls, improve transportation and improve rural broadband have died at the hands of Democrats who would rather hurt their own constituents than act favorably on a Republican bill. 

One example of this childishness was when Sen. John Bell (D- Loudoun) made the motion to reject my bill seeking to help Leesburg resolve a zoning issue related to an annexation and a significant development project. Senator Bell had supported the Senate version. Also rejected by Sen. Bell and House Appropriations Committee member Delegate David Reid (D-Loudoun), was my request for a relatively small appropriation to get our new state park up and running. Both Bell and Reid also refused to support Loudoun-County-endorsed bills to fix the Greenway toll highway robbery.

Greenway Oversight Bill Dies; Tolls Battle Moves to SCC

“Del. Dave A. LaRock (R-33), who this year also introduced a bill to add oversight to the Greenway, which was folded into Subramanyam’s bill, published a statement excoriating fellow General Assembly members. He said the bill failed because “other members of the legislature who represent Loudoun County refused to unite around this year’s effort.”

“I commend Delegate Subramanyam for a strong effort, but in contrast, Delegate [David A.] Reid (D-32), Senator [John J.] Bell (D-13), Senator [Jennifer B.] Boysko (D-33), and Senator [Barbara A.] Favola (D-31) have some explaining to do,” LaRock wrote.”

 

EMERGENCY ALERT: THIS BILL WILL DESTROY CHURCHES AND RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS!

…we really have found ourselves in a dire and urgent situation in Virginia, and we MUST act now to save Christian churches, schools, and non-profit ministries from the destruction the new Democrat majority is plotting for them.

Please go to the Family Foundation website for instructions on how to protest this.

There is still hope that amendments may be made to “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” preferential-treatment-on-the-basis-of-sexual-preference bills so they will include protection for faith-based entities and individuals who hold religious convictions regarding marriage and gender. 

House bills (HB1049 and HB1663) remain in committee and are scheduled to be taken up again next Wednesday; the Senate bill (SB868) was passed by four days in a row without a vote and is also in need of floor amendments to protect religious freedoms. This blog post, “Religious Liberty Still Under Attack." by The Family Foundation, explains the consequences this bill and related House bills could have on those who hold traditional views on marriage and sexuality. The Family Foundation also provides a week’s end summary of the House and Senate bills here: Status of Bills Attacking Religious Freedom.

 

RICHMOND DEMOCRATS ARE ABOUT TO GIVE PUBLIC EMPLOYEES THE ABILITY TO HOLD LOCAL GOVERNMENTS HOSTAGE

Imagine the Virginia House of Delegates voted to raise taxes by nearly $4 billion a year. Imagine no longer. That’s exactly what lawmakers are setting into motion by pushing an extreme proposal that reduces taxpayers’ power at the bargaining table.

The Virginia House of Delegates passed House Bill 582 on Feb. 6, and it is now awaiting action in the Senate. HB 582 would insert highly political government worker labor unions into contract negotiations between public employees and local governments – a practice known as collective bargaining – meaning taxpayers would be on the hook for higher costs.

More coverage of the consequences of this legislation is at the links below:

diminish police accountability, critics say



DEMOCRATS REFUSE PAY RAISE FOR DEPUTIES, IN RETALIATION FOR SHERIFFS DEFENDING CITIZENS' CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS

As reported by WSET-Richmond, Sen. Bill Stanley said Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw approached him after the vote to tell him the reason sheriffs wouldn't be getting a raise is because "they came to our committees and said that they weren’t going to enforce our laws."

 

DEMOCRATS VOTE TO END MANDATORY REPORTING OF SEXUAL BATTERY IN SCHOOLS

This video speaks for itself.

While I support some easing of reporting of minor incidents of disruptive conduct in schools, Democrats do harm to Restorative Justice efforts by taking it to absurd extremes.

 

FAIR ENERGY BILLS ACT FACING ITS DEMISE IN THE SENATE?

According to the Virginia Mercury, a bipartisan bill I co-patroned to restore State Corporation Commission authority in reviewing Dominion Energy’s base rates that passed the House of Delegates with strong bipartisan support may face headwinds in the Senate, one of its patrons fears.

The legislation has been assigned to the Commerce and Labor Committee, chaired

by Sen. Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, but does not appear on the committee’s Monday docket alongside other energy bills that have passed the House. With the end of the session approaching and Commerce and Labor convening only once a week, the absence of the bill may indicate that Democrats have chosen to kill it.

Saslaw is one of the biggest recipients of the utility’s campaign contributions and has carried major legislation for Dominion in the past.

 

BUDGET: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

On Thursday, the House took up on the floor amendments to the Governor's budget. Most of these passed through as a block vote due to no objections, but Republicans introduced several floor amendments that would lead to greater fiscal responsibility, all of which the majority killed on the floor without allowing any debate. Here are just a few of the highlights from the House version of the budget that goes to the Senate to begin conference negotiations between both legislative bodies for a final Budget.

The Good – Saving for a Rainy Day

  • Increases the Rainy Day Fund, bringing it up to $2.2 billion
  • Continues the freeze on in-state tuition at Virginia’s colleges and universities
  • Increases the amount of aid available to students; reverses the Governor’s plan to end Tuition Assistance Grants
  • Balances the budget, which should protect Virginia’s AAA bond rating

The Bad – More Taxes

  • Increases state spending by over 18 percent   
  • Contains significant tax increases and ends the fund that provided last year’s tax rebate
  • Includes the Governor’s proposal to raise the gas tax by 12 cents, as well as tobacco tax increases
  • In this article, you can see a summary of the many tax hikes that are in bills other than the Budget.

The Ugly - Your Hard-Earned Dollars Will Fund Their Hard-Left Agenda

  • Funds attorneys to handle lawsuits related to prosecution of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” cases
  • Adds funding for LGBTQ training for state employees
  • Expands the situations in which state funding may be used for abortions

I offered several amendments during our discussion of the Budget, including amendments to prohibit state funding for abortions, increase funding for positions in sheriffs’ offices statewide, and funding to staff and maintain a new State Park in Loudoun County. None of these were accepted.

Read The Family Foundation’s article, "House and Senate Budgets Fund Radical Agenda," which describes how your tax dollars will be used to fund some alarming goals. If you’d like to track changes to our budget, you can view all the House and Senate Budget amendments here.

 

VIRGINIA CLEAN ENERGY ACT WILL COST RESIDENTS

The House version of the Virginia Clean Energy Act (HB1526) is pending in the Senate, and the Senate version in the House. This bill mandates solar and wind energy and closure of some power sources, but leaves intact some gas, coal, and biomass-fired plants. According to an article published by the Thomas Jefferson Institute, the plans set out by the bill would “add $280 to $370 per year in cost to a Dominion Energy Virginia residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month.” And funds provided by some ratepayers will be used to pay off bills owed by other low-income customers. Click here to read the full article.

 

WARNING TO VIRGINIA BUSINESSES

Lawmakers seem to have little regard for the stellar environment Virginia has provided to business in recent years. Several pieces of legislation are threatening their very existence as described by the Virginia Chamber. In their February 21 Briefing, the Chamber outlines several bills that will put pressure on the bottom line of businesses in the Commonwealth.These include:

  • HB624: Mandates that every business in Virginia with 100 or more employees report annually to the Attorney General’s Office information on the wages paid to every employee along with gender, race, job title, and more.
  • HB395 and SB7: Doubles the minimum wage to $15 over several years, crippling employers in small business 
  • HB825 and SB939: Allows collective bargaining for public employees, which could have a huge impact on taxpayers and localities

The Virginia Chamber publishes a full bill watchlist here. A Bacon's Rebellion article also describes how HB624 will hurt the climate for business in Virginia.

 

COST OF INFRASTRUCTURE MAY INCREASE DRASTICALLY

Several bills up for consideration would increase the cost of state and local construction projects by tens of millions of dollars. These bills promote union goals to establish prevailing wage requirements and replace the competitive bidding process for both state and local construction projects with government-mandated Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). Read more about these bills here and on how unions will benefit and taxpayers' costs will increase by up to 20% if these bills become law.

DEMOCRATS FLIP-FLOP ON REDISTRICTING

Towards the end of a long Thursday on the House Floor, Delegate Gilbert

support on both sides of the aisle, but an identical resolution must be passed by lawmakers this session if the amendment is to be on the ballot in November so Virginians can vote for ratification.

House Democrats have abandoned their commitment to passing the amendment, despite voting for it in 2019 and promising to support nonpartisan redistricting reform in their 2019 election campaigns. By failing to bring the House version to a floor vote, the Democratic leadership has limited our options to allow for redrawing Virginia’s legislative districts in a non-partisan manner to SJ 18, which passed the Senate 38-2 on Feb. 11, then sat on the Speaker's desk until yesterday.

Republicans hope we will be able to move forward with this amendment to end partisan gerrymandering in Virginia. You can learn more about the status of the House redistricting amendment here.

 

WHO CALLS THE SHOTS- PARENTS OR FEDERAL BUREAUCRATS?

The bill that would automatically conform state vaccine mandates to CDC recommendations (HB1090) passed in the House and is now being reviewed by Senate committees. The Conservative Legislative Information Council of Virginia (CLIC-VA) shares this article about concerns parents may have. CLIC-VA provides timely alerts on bills such as these that are currently up for a vote. Sign up for alerts here. Or follow CLIC-VA on Facebook.

 

2ND AMENDMENT UPDATE

On Monday, we had a victory when the Assault Weapon Ban (HB961) failed to be passed out of committee and is now dead for one more year. But there are other Second Amendment-related bills still alive: HB674 and SB240 would establish Red Flag laws that allow warrants to remove firearms from persons posing “substantial risk of injury to himself or others.” Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) provides an informative description of Red Flag Laws with a link to their printable fact sheet

VCDL also has an insightful article on gun-free zones, which helps describe the problem with SB71. This bill prohibits guns at schools such as religious preschools and has many church clergy and staff concerned. As VCLD points out, “If you have a daycare in your church during worship services, it would prohibit all but professional security services from carrying.”

 

FINAL TWO WEEKS

Now with only two weeks to go in the 2020 Session, we will wrap up our work on the Budget bills and continue to consider Senate bills and amendments, as well as House bills which have been amended by the Senate. There are still several bills that will greatly impact our Constitutional and God-given rights that are still to be considered, amended, and voted on, so I urge you to stay engaged and keep your fellow citizens informed. You can also track all legislation in the General Assembly here.

As the delegate representing the 33rd District, I hold your concerns as my highest priority. If ever I may be of assistance to you and your family, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at DelDLaRock@house.virginia.gov. You can also follow me on twitter @LaRock4Delegate or like my Facebook page to keep up to date with what I’m doing in Richmond

Thank you for the honor and privilege you have entrusted me with. Please keep me and all our elected officials in your prayers, especially these next several weeks.

Sincerely,

EVENTS AND VISITORS THIS WEEK

 

Meeting with Peter Vlaming, the West Point High School teacher who was fired for not violating his conscience, and Caleb Dalton from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) at the religious liberty press conference this week

 

More from the press conference, with Virginia faith leaders and legislators, as well as religious liberty advocates and victims of religious persecution from around the country.

 

Virginia Tech students Jack Shebat and Adi Sircar from Loudoun County were in Richmond for the annual Hokie Day and stopped by the office to discuss their studies and experiences at VT, as well as the Democrats' attack on the 2nd Amendment and other issues of concern.

More Virginia Tech students at the "Hokie Day" reception

 
 
 
 

Get in touch and stay connected:

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DelDLaRock@house.virginia.gov

District Office: P.O. Box 6, Hamilton, Virginia 20159 (540) 751-8364

Paid for and authorized by Dave LaRock for Delegate


Paid for and Authorized by Dave LaRock for Delegate
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