Richmond Report – Close to Halfway

The fourth week of the 2016 General Assembly Session was a busy one in the House.  Last week we considered several measures that relate to our top agenda item: jobs and the economy.

Despite modest improvements in the last several years, the Commonwealth is recovering at a slower rate than the national economy because of sequestration in Washington, D.C. and other factors that have contributed to this tepid growth.  Despite this, the House remains committed to supporting policies that promote a pro-business climate that protects small businesses, keeps taxes and regulation to a minimum, and incentivizes economic growth.  My colleagues and I are working to advance proposals that will help improve our economy and give Virginia families a better opportunity to succeed.

Right to Work

Last week the House passed a constitutional amendment carried by Delegate Dickie Bell (R-Augusta) to solidify Virginia’s right to work status. The amendment prohibits union membership as a condition of employment.  This amendment to the Constitution of Virginia will protect hard working Virginians from being forced to join a union.  The Senate also approved the amendment last week, meaning it will be on the ballot for voters to consider this fall.

Jobs for our Veterans

In addition, the House is focused on helping our veterans find the jobs they need and are trained to do.  House Bill 825 establishes a pilot program in which military medical personnel may practice medicine under the supervision of a licensed physician.  Military corpsmen and medics receive extensive health care training while on active duty, but once they transition to civilian life, their military training does not easily translate into comparable certifications and licenses required for health care jobs.  This results in many veteran medics being unable to gain employment.

The House passed the bill last week and I look forward to its passage in the Senate and eventual signature by the Governor.

My Legislation

While the bulk of my legislation is still working its way through the process, three of my bills are set for passage this week:

  • HB 1334 – Assault and battery against a family or household member; first offense; education and treatment programs – Requires a court to order a person placed on first offender status for assault and battery against a family or household member (i) be placed with a local community-based probation services agency and complete all education and treatment programs required by the agency or (ii) complete any education or treatment program that the court determines is best suited to the needs of the person. Under current law, the court may order that the person complete such education or treatment programs, but is not required to do so.
  • HB 1089 – Virginia Lottery Fund; Cap on Administrative Expenses – Reduces the cap on appropriations to the Virginia Lottery for the operation and administration of the lottery during any fiscal year, exclusive of agent compensation, from no more than 10 percent to no more than eight percent of the total annual estimated gross revenues to be generated from lottery sales.
  • HB 1093 – Income tax credit; food crop donations to a food bank – Establishes an individual and corporate income tax credit beginning in 2016 for food crops that are grown by a person engaged in the business of farming and donated by such person to a nonprofit food bank. The credit would equal 30 percent of the fair market value of the food crops donated by the person during the taxable year, not to exceed an aggregate of $5,000 for any taxable year. The bill defines food crops as grains, fruits, nuts, or vegetables. The Department of Taxation will administer the tax credit and may issue up to $250,000 in tax credits each fiscal year. The bill provides for any unused credit to be carried forward for five years. The credit would sunset on January 1, 2021.

If you would like to follow my legislation, or that of any other member of the Virginia General Assembly, you may do so at lis.virginia.gov.  In addition, you can click here to watch the live session of the House of Delegates, which typically begins at Noon each day.

As always, I look forward to hearing and seeing folks from back home in the district.  Feel free to come see me and visit my office if you will be in the Richmond area during session.  Last week, I visited with a group of teachers from Amherst, as well as representatives from the Valley Children’s Advocacy Center, McKee Foods, the Lynchburg Area Center for Independent and Valley Associates for Independent Living, Inc. (VAIL), and students from Virginia Tech.

While I am frequently in session or committee meetings, you can call or email to set an appointment to ensure that I will be available.  If you would like to reach me or need assistance, please contact me at my Richmond office at 804-698-1024 or by email at DelBCline@house.virginia.gov.  Additionally, written correspondence may be sent to P.O. Box 406, Richmond, Virginia 23218.