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Old Blue Caught the Car!... Now What?

Dear Friends,

As we draw close to the midpoint of the 2020 Session, the daily floor calendar gets fuller and fuller. That might be good news if our work product in Richmond would move the Commonwealth in a positive direction. Instead, however, the destructive potential of the Democrat-controlled legislative agenda reaches critical mass and there is confusion and chaos; just like the proverbial dog that chased the car, grabbed a hold of the tire and wouldn't let go even though he was spinning out of control.

Republicans are fighting against the relentless push to turn Virginia into a place people from California and New York will be calling the new extreme liberal stronghold.

This was the final week for Delegates to debate House bills in committee and send them to the House Floor in anticipation of next Tuesday – the last day for the House to pass House legislation other than the Budget and some Resolutions. 

The House passed 318 bills this week, but this isn’t necessarily worthy of praise. The debate was moving so quickly, and sometimes with such partisanship, that we often did not have the opportunity to fully debate the bills, ask questions, and address the long-term consequences of legislation. In fact, two days in a row this week, House Democrats declined to take questions from House Republicans on significant pieces of legislation.

My Republican colleagues and I continued to work on bills that will improve education, protect religious freedom, reform government, protect the pocketbooks of Virginians, and promote economic growth.

 

TWO BILLS TRAMPLE RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

We made a valiant effort to prevent the passage of two bills that will run roughshod over our right to free speech, free exercise of religion, freedom of association, and more. I mentioned the Peter Vlaming case here in Virginia when I spoke against HB 1049, a bill to create preferences based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Prior to the vote on the House Floor on Wednesday, I warned my colleagues that the law “may sound innocuous, but can be weaponized against people. These policies are being used to punish anyone who does not agree with the ideology of the day.” You can watch my full floor speech here and read some media coverage in this Virginia Mercury article.

On Thursday, again I warned my fellow Delegates of the consequences of another LGBTQ nondiscrimination bill when we debated HB 1663; this bill is even worse than the one we held a vote for on Wednesday, creating harsh penalties for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity – something as simple as calling someone by the wrong pronoun. Penalties start at $50,000 for a first offense and jump to $100,000 for a subsequent offense. Coverage of this debate from the Washington Post is here.

Proponents of the bill, which passed the House, claim it will allow LGBTQ people to “be who they are,” but they ignore the concept that the religious convictions of people define who they are, and they refused to debate a religious liberty amendment to protect that identity. The effect of this bill is to uphold one orientation over another. The bill's effect would be: You cannot be who you are if you are a person of faith. As explained by The Family Foundation, you may be the next victim of this legislation.

Unfortunately for our Commonwealth and her citizens, during this session there have been unprecedented attacks on faith, family, and unborn children. See the Family Foundation's list of 2020's Worst Bills here. If these bills find their way to being law, I fear that we will see many (unfortunate) consequences in the future.

 

RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS CONTINUES TO BE UNDER ATTACK

In a deliberate insult to the hundreds of Second Amendment supporters who took time out of their busy schedules to get to Richmond before 8AM on Friday, Bloomberg’s bought and paid for House Public Safety Committee granted them a total of just five minutes to speak out against House Bill 961, the crown jewel of the Northam-Bloomberg gun ban agenda. They quickly rubber stamped this comprehensive gun ban with a vote of 12-9 after limited committee debate, before clearing the public out of the room so they can continue rubber stamping other gun control bills.

The Committee Substitute for House Bill 961 is a comprehensive ban on many commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms, suppressors, and standard capacity magazines. The ban also extends to any part that could be used to change a firearm into a banned configuration. Though the committee amended the bill to allow citizens to keep affected firearms and suppressors they lawfully owned prior to the ban, confiscation is undoubtedly still the end goal. There is no option for citizens to keep their lawfully acquired magazines with capacities greater than twelve rounds, forcing millions of Virginians to dispose of their property, become a felon, or surrender it to the government.

 

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

Thursday also saw Democrats continue their push to give unions more power at the expense of taxpayers, passing the single biggest change in Virginia labor relations in decades -- a bill to allow local government employees to form unions and bargain collectively. Bringing unions into public sector employment would potentially drive up taxes across the Commonwealth. Government leaders have little personal stake in preserving profits and when a bad deal is made, taxpayers are the ones who will feel the pinch. Even though this legislation makes major changes for every local government in the Commonwealth, this was another instance when Democrats refused to answer questions and moved to cut off debate on the floor of the House, passing the bill 54-45.

 

"Even President Franklin Roosevelt knew that unions were all but incompatible with public service. When boards and councils negotiate with labor, a bad deal doesn't come out of their pocket. This will increase local taxes on hard working Virginia families … .” -- House Republican Leader, Delegate C. Todd Gilbert (R - District 15)

 

PARTISANSHIP KILLS EFFORT TO SAVE LOUDOUN TIME AND MONEY

Thursday also meant the end of another bill I introduced, HB 1377, which would reduce cost and time for Loudoun, Fairfax, and Prince William Counties and City of Virginia Beach to build necessary road projects. After passing subcommittee 7-1, Democrats prevented it from passing the full Committee to the House floor in a party-line vote. The bill would have allowed these four high-population localities to be exempt from limitations on single-project fees for work on highways and bridges. With ever-increasing costs for transportation projections, this would allow the use of pre-qualified consultants to save money and prevent delays and the loss of time-sensitive funding.

 

DULLES GREENWAY

This week I, along with Delegate Subramanyam, renewed efforts to pass a bill that would help prevent large increases in Greenway tolls. During the third week of session, my Greenway bill was incorporated into another similar bill, HB 523, which then failed to pass out of committee. On Tuesday, that bill was reconsidered, but again failed to pass out of committee on Thursday after a nearly successful effort to pass a scaled-back version of the bill. I would pin the death of this bill on the failure of Loudoun County delegates and Senators to unite in favor of this legislation. Sadly, Loudoun commuters now have no guarantee that tolls will become – or remain – affordable for them in the future.

 

OTHER BILLS OF INTEREST

Minimum Wage - Another bill which would increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour, made its way to the floor, with a final vote likely on Tuesday. This would cripple small businesses all over Virginia, particularly outside of Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

War Memorials - Another big debate this week was whether or not to remove the existing protection of war memorials and monuments in the Commonwealth. On a 12-10 vote, with one Democrat voting with me and other Republicans against the bill, it moved forward to the full House. The bill states: "...a locality may remove, relocate, contextualize, cover, or alter any such monument or memorial on the locality's public property upon the affirmative vote of its governing body, regardless of when the monument or memorial was erected. Prior to removing, relocating, or destroying any such publicly owned monument or memorial, the local governing body shall first, for a period of 30 days, offer the monument or memorial for relocation and placement to any museum, historical society, government, or military battlefield. The local governing body shall have sole authority to determine the final disposition of the monument or memorial...." News coverage of this vote is here.

 

GOOD NEWS FOR LOUDOUN TEACHERS, PARENTS, AND STUDENTS

Despite all these challenges, we did start off the week with a win: Monday, my bill on performance based assessments passed the House by a vote of 65-33. If this bill goes on to be passed by the Senate, it would allow local school districts designated as “School Division of Innovation” to request that two specific Standards of Learning assessments be replaced by performance-based assessments. This means that students can be evaluated based on the application of the knowledge they learn and the 5 Cs - critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration and citizenship. These are tools that better prepare them to enter the workforce and to be “life ready.”



WHAT'S AHEAD - I'M HERE TO SERVE YOU!

We now have just four more weeks in the 2020 Session. The next two days we will finish work on House Bills, then begin to focus on the budget and reviewing bills passed by the Senate. You can find a complete list of my legislation HERE and my amendments to Virginia’s budget HERE.

You can also track other 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,

 

 

Erik Pierce, from the Loudoun Child Advocacy Center, made the trip down to Richmond to share with me more about the work they are doing to help Loudoun's children who have been victimized.

 

Democrats continued their assault on our rights this week, passing a very restrictive ban on some of the most commonly-owned weapons in the Commonwealth.

As always, VCDL and other Pro-Second- Amendment organizations and citizens did an excellent job of speaking against this horrible legislation.

 

 

Camryn Monroe, from Loudoun County, and 4-H leaders from around the Commonwealth, dropped by to speak with me about issues of concern to them.

 

Christine Kriz, Director of the Lord Fairfax Small Business Development Center (SBDC), updated me on their resources to provide support for Virginia entrepreneurs and small business owners in the counties of Frederick, Clarke, Warren, Shenandoah, Rappahannock, Fauquier, Culpeper, Madison and the City of Winchester.

 
 
 
 

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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