Dramatically Changed General Assembly Hits Crossover

Tuesday was Crossover Day in the General Assembly, meaning any new laws that were going to get passed this year need to have cleared their respective chambers.

And quite a few significant new laws have.

With Democrats now controlling the Executive Mansion and both chambers of the General Assembly,

long-promised but controversial initiatives like new gun control laws, raising the minimum wage, ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, decriminalizing marijuana possession, and doing away with Lee-Jackson Day have all moved ahead.

And while those moves have been celebrated in progressive circles, they have also sent shockwaves through conservatives and conservative areas of the state—with localities across the commonwealth adopting resolutions opposing new gun control laws, and some local leaders even going so far as to discuss “Vexit,” the idea of some localities leaving Virginia to join West Virginia.

Del. Dave A. LaRock (R-33), now one of Loudoun’s two remaining Republican state representatives, said the legislature has passed “numerous bills which threaten free speech, religious liberty, patient-counselor privilege, and freedom of association.”

He said state Democrats are “destroying our economic growth potential” by raising the minimum wage, and have “passed numerous laws which make millions of Virginians surrender most common firearms and accessories, or become criminals, leaving the citizens defenseless while jeopardizing people’s livelihood and security clearances.”

Meanwhile Democrats have celebrated their achievements, including voting Tuesday in the House to ban the sale of assault weapons and pass the Virginia Clean Economy Act, House Bill 1526, requiring utility companies to produce all their electricity from renewable sources by 2050.

Del. Wendy W. Gooditis (D-10) said those votes are about “preserving life.”

“We’re not taking people’s guns away, we are banning the sale of assault rifles, and it has shown to be lifesaving,” Gooditis said. “And so it is our hope that our vote today will help preserve lives in Virginia.”

And she said the Virginia Clean Economy Act is “a drop in the global bucket, but we are finally trying to position ourselves to do our part.”

“Most of the world accepts the fact that we are approaching a true environmental crisis with global warming, and little old Virginia isn’t going to save the planet,” Gooditis said, but added if other governments do the same, “we have a shot at really, really making a difference for humanity.”

But local issues for Loudoun haven’t fallen along party lines. While many local initiatives have moved forward in the state capitol, important ones have failed.

For example, a bill that would add cancers of the colon, brain, and testes to the list of cancers that are presumed to be an occupational disease covered by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act for firefighters, supported by the Board of Supervisors, passed the House 99-0, and is now in a Senate committee. It was a priority both for the Board of Supervisors and the local professional firefighters’ union.

Another, House Bill 785, which gives counties the same taxing authority as towns, such as enacting meals or cigarette taxes without requirements for voter approval, incorporates a bill from Sen. Barbara A. Favola (D-31) and passed the House Tuesday 60-38.

“Right now, your real estate rates go up and up and up, because that’s the only tax that your locality has authority over,” Gooditis said. She said if localities can lean on other taxes, “that’s an income that maybe will keep your real estate taxes lower next year.”

Del. David A. Reid (D-32)’s bill to let the presiding officer of a Board of Supervisors be officially titled“chairman,” “chairwoman,” “chair,” or “chair-at-large,” instead of just “chairman,” which last year failed, breezed through the House 91-8 (although LaRock voted against) and is in a Senate committee. That will likely be welcome news to one of the bill’s leading advocates, Loudoun’s County Chairman At Large Phyllis J. Randall, who prefers the title “chair.”

But House Bill 359, which would allow localities to choose the best-value bid for a construction contract rather than just the cheapest, died in a House subcommittee 3-4, with three Democrats voting for it, and one Democrat and three Republicans against. Loudoun’s only local representative in that committee, Del. Kathleen Murphy (D-34), voted for the bill. County supervisors have before worried that they are not getting the best bang for the taxpayer’s buck under the current system, and have had to hire construction firms with shaky reputations because they submitted the lowest bids on projects.

Some local transportation advocates hailed the passage of House Bill 729, a transportation funding bill that the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance estimated would restore would restore $70 million in funding to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. The authority lost more than $100 million in funding in 2018 when that money was redirected to Metro.

“Fully restoring the money that was diverted to Metro in 2018 has been a top transportation priority for Northern Virginia’s business community for the last two years,” saidJason Stanford, executive director of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance.

But on transportation, too, legislators were divided and results were mixed. Notably, a bill to tighten state oversight of tolls on the Dulles Greenway failed for the fifth year running, frustrating the local delegates behind it, Gooditis, LaRock and Del. Suhas Subramanyam (D-87). And LaRock was among the 45 delegates who opposed the transit funding bill.

“The Governor’s massive tax hikes for transportation are rolling forward, but local Democrats undercut the Subramanyam/LaRock effort to reform the Greenway’s abusive over-tolling of our community,” LaRock said. “They also killed my common-sense bills which would have reformed the broken SMART SCALE system, allowed localities to fund and complete projects faster and at lower cost.”

And similar bills on a statewide issue that would be felt keenly in Loudoun, giving localities the power to decide whether to move war monuments, passed the House 53-46 and the Senate 21-19, and have each been passed to the opposite chamber. Loudoun has seen an impassioned debate around the statue of a Confederate soldier on the Leesburg courthouse lawn.

“People are going to get hysterical about that, but the fact is, if your locality wants to keep the statues, great,” Gooditis said. “If your locality wants to add more statues, or plaques or whatever for context, that’s great. If your locality really wants to tear down that monument or move it to a battlefield or something or a museum, that’s great. That’s all it’s about, is allowing your locality to do it.”

Gooditis put the sudden jump ahead on progressive priorities to living under a conservative legislature for so long. The last time Democrats controlled both chambers of the legislature was in 1996.

“I think if we hadn’t had such a conservative legislature, they could have made some progress on these things so that maybe we wouldn’t have done so much at once,” Gooditis said. “Perhaps we could have kept the legislation that said you could only buy one handgun a month. That could have been a sensible thing that we could have hung onto, and maybe wouldn’t have felt like we had to pass all this gun safety legislation at once. But yeah, some of this is just a reaction.”

The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn for 2020 on Saturday, March 7. It will reconvene April 22 to take up any actions by Governor Ralph Northam.

21 thoughts on “Dramatically Changed General Assembly Hits Crossover

  • 2020-02-12 at 2:27 pm
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    “Del. Wendy W. Gooditis (D-10) said those votes are about “preserving life.”

    That’s pretty rich, coming from a woman, a mother no less, who enthusiastically supports dismembering infants at the very moment of their birth. Wendy is a complete fraud. She has zero standing to lecture about “preserving life.”

    • 2020-02-13 at 10:36 am
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      It’s crystal clear that you think women deserve less bodily autonomy than a corpse. You have zero standing to lecture anyone.

      • 2020-02-13 at 1:38 pm
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        It’s crystal clear that you think, as Wendy does, hacking up a human infant at the moment of birth is totally cool.

        Wendy should drop the “preserving life” line, given her death-cult like advocacy of HB 2491 last year.

  • 2020-02-12 at 3:38 pm
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    “Right now, your real estate rates go up and up and up, because that’s the only tax that your locality has authority over,” Gooditis said. She said if localities can lean on other taxes, “that’s an income that maybe will keep your real estate taxes lower next year.”

    Yes!

    I am glad to see delegate Gooditis is so very well aware of the dynamics in her district that prove alternate sources of tax revenue keep property taxes low.

    We see this right here in good ole’ Loudoun county where the ever growing tax windfall of the data center industry (THIRTEEN percent of the revenue in the proposed FY21 budget) allows our government to maintain our property tax rate sooo much lower than the 0.80% average tax rate in the Old Dominion.

    This thanks to the careful management of the constituency tax dollars by our elected officials.

    Right? Can you imagine where our property tax rate would be if we did not have this extra revenue or if the money had been squandered on frivolous projects and unjustified staff hires?

    What I love the most is how our supervisors lead by example. Their show of restraint when they increased their salaries by only 62% (taking effect this year), was a model to the rest of the county. And to think that Volpe and Higgins voted against this increase… So glad we finally got rid of them.

    • 2020-02-19 at 8:49 am
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      Exactly. Same thing when the states got the windfall from the tobacco settlements. Spending went way up but taxes did not go down at all. And the windfall wasn’t spent on smoking cessation programs. Just spend, spend, spend.

      We must starve the beast (gov’t). The only way to prevent exorbitant spending is to keep the spoiled teenagers from stealing every bit of cash they can get their hands on.

  • 2020-02-12 at 4:08 pm
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    How is discriminating against law abiding gun owners going to save lives. I have owned guns for 43 years and never broken any laws. Now the very government that is against discrimination wants to discriminated against me, Loudouners wake up and remove these people from our government.

    • 2020-02-12 at 5:41 pm
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      Hmm, do we have Drunk Driving laws sir? I have had a drink or two for 50 years and never broken any laws. Yet, I have no issue with senisble regulation of drunk driving. I see no discrimination. And why are you not mad that your First Amendment rights are regulated by laws concenring libel and slander and public safety? Why is it the Second Amendent can’t be regulated for public safety measures. No one, even in the current legislation can take your right to a gun away. What’s the deal?

      • 2020-02-17 at 9:57 am
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        You seem to have a poor understanding of the first and second amendments and also alcohol consumption. The first amendment does not protect libelous or slanderous speech. Evidently you don’t realize that. Furthermore, these are not criminal acts punished by the government but civil acts between the plaintiff and the defendant.

        The second amendment was drafted specifically to prevent the government from infringing the rights of citizens to own “arms” which were certainly “weapons of war” at that time. The founding fathers had not just returned from a hunting trip when they wrote the Bill of Rights. They had just waged war against an oppressive and tyrannical government.

        The second amendment is actively under attack by Bloomberg and his cronies like Bell and now Subramanyam. They are actively infringing the rights of law-abiding Virginians to keep and bear arms. Banning sales of certain items and banning possession of common firearms and related items is an infringement of those rights. Furthermore, these restrictions have NEVER been shown to lower crime in any locality. Just ask the residents of Baltimore, DC, Detroit, Chicago or Oakland how such restrictions have worked out.

        There is NOTHING “common sense” about any of these gun restrictions. These acts only restrict the rights of law-abiding Virginians and make self-defense more difficult. The two criminals who recently committed armed robbery near Aldie this month are quite unlikely to obey these laws. No one intent on murder or mayhem is going to stop and think, “does this magazine violate HB 961?” before committing a crime.

        • 2020-02-17 at 1:10 pm
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          I think you need to read a litte more carefully. I noted the First Amendment IS regulated with common sense safety regulations (crying fire in a crowded theater anyone) and also speech cannot by libelous and slanderous even if we have “free” speech. And, excuse me, how is regulating alcohol and driving any different than regulating firearms when we are talking about public safety. I was responding to a post that claimed laws were discriminatory against those who do not break them. Well, I guess they are. If killing was a right, then one can say that as I do not murder I am discriminated against by laws preventing killing. This, of course, is a silly specious argument as the law against murder will never stop murder BUT it does extract justice and obviously makes society safer.

          The Second Amentment indeed did grow out of the Founder’s experience with the King taking the colonial militia’s arms during an era when we had no standing army. Thus, it specifically concerns the militia which at that time were citizen soldiers. The individual right beyond the militia is a construct of a right-leaning Supreme Court in the modern era. We live in a different ear not under a King (I think) and have a democratic government (I think) which were a product of our revoltion. As the SCOTUS created an individual right people now assume that means they have unfettered access to firearms. Clearly, as is the case with all amendments, none are unfettered by regulation. So why should the Second Amendment be any different than the First which was placed BEFORE the Secoond for a reason. I am more concerned with the current climate of stifling free speec then I am with how many AR-15s my neighbor can stockpile.

          Explain to me, exactly, how your rather new personal right to a firearm is somehow harmed by regulating weapon purchases to 1 per month or requiring all purchasers to undergo a backgound check? The NRA also argues but with the criminals don’t care line. OK, but do they care about DUIS and murder when these still happen but we also sensibly regulate them? Yet, we all know or should review that strict DUIs laws have reduced accidents and by regulating murder we have less mayhem. These all restrict actions, why are gun laws somehow unique other than in the hype of a lobby wanting unfettered access to deadly weapons for all?

          • 2020-02-17 at 7:06 pm
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            You are simply wrong on so many points I will only respond to the 2nd amendment and militia. I simply have little patience in dealing with the abject failure of your civics education. You make it sound as if the “militia” has been disbanded and that is not the case. I’ll refer you to Article 2, Section 2 of the constitution that mentions both. The militia is further codified in 10 U.S. Code § 246.Militia. Go look it up.

            The form of our government does not limit our rights. And the founding fathers inserted the 2nd amendment because they founded a republic.

            The wording of the 2nd amendment is unique and recognizes an inalienable right to keep and bear arms and denies the government the authority to infringe that right.

            This is in no way a “modern invention” by “right-wing” courts.

            Again, you seem to not understand the difference between inalienable rights where the authority of the government is limited and other areas such as DUI which is not a right.

            And yet again, show me a single “common sense gun law” that has reduced gun deaths. You can’t because there aren’t any.

            You have a good day with your Mad Max binge watching party. I am reviewing the results of my range practice today and looking for ways to be improve my marksmanship.

  • 2020-02-12 at 5:33 pm
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    Wow, democracy at work and the Republican babies apparently are mad they can’t always get their way for unfettered “Militia Rights” and have to face some common sense laws. No different then the common sense laws regulating the FIRST Amendment. Whah! Whah! They cry. We no longer have power so give me my toys and let me cry my way home. They are all for elections, until they lose.

    It is about time that ALL people have a say in Virginia. The last election proves that Virginia wants sensible regulation of firearms, the right of local people to decide what monuments decorate THEIR communities and that the STATE would stop telling woman what to do with THEIR bodies.

    Hey Republicans! This is America, still I think, don’t like the result of an election, get a BETTER message and platform and win next time.

  • 2020-02-17 at 10:09 am
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    HB 961 was defeated in the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier today. The vote was 10 to 5 meaning several Democrat Senators joined with Republican Senators to defeat this abominable infringement on the rights of Virginians.

    https://www.nraila.org/articles/20200217/virginia-gun-ban-bill-defeated

    Show me a “common sense” gun proposal and I’ll gladly discuss it with anyone. The next such proposal I see will be the first.

    • 2020-02-17 at 12:55 pm
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      Sure, universal background checks, purchases limited to one gun per month and Red Flag laws to protect people from violence with firearms. Seem common sense to me. Or do you advocate a loophole for background checks for terrorists and criminals? Do you want to keep Virginia as one of the TOP gun running states in the union, many of the firearms sold in Virginia going to gangs and cartels? And I assume every violent person who immediately grabs his gun and therefore the Second Amendment in your world is protected from losing those weapons even in protection of human life? Odd, how the same group that advocates about life in abortions seems cold to protecting life when their guns are in play?

      Well, if that is so you will never ses a sensible gun law. I suggest renting Mad Max Fury Road and enjoy what you envision.

      • 2020-02-17 at 5:11 pm
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        Alas, your issue seems to be all the things you know that aren’t so. I assume you can’t define “Universal Background Checks” or differentiate it from what people use when dealing with a FFL for a firearm transaction. But, as a private citizen, I do not need the government telling me what I can do with my property. Terrorists and criminals virtually never purchase firearms from FFLs or from gun shows. They steal them or use other illegal means that background checks won’t catch. Do a little research on how criminals get guns. I think John Lott has some papers on this topic.

        Who are you or the government to tell me how much of something I can buy within a given period? What exalted status do you claim to make that judgement? Since criminals don’t buy guns through legal means, again, imposing a burden of 1 gun a month on a law-abiding citizen does nothing to reduce crime.

        That you are so ill-informed as to compare a defensive gun use protecting innocent life to the abortionists murdering innocent life is beneath contempt. I have been assaulted several times and had to use open-handed skills to ward off my attackers. I am older and am not as confident that I could always do so now. Plus, I am dealing with all the armed criminals that people like you and the governor can’t find a way to disarm or incarcerate. In fact, as the governor was requesting additional funds to jail gun owners he was literally planning on the early release of certain classes of violent offenders.

        With several violent crimes in our part of the county in the first few months of the year, I’ll rely on my own skills to be my first responder should the need arise. I assume you’ll be watching post-apocalyptic nonsense on your TV and sticking your head in the ground.

        Again, show me a “common-sense gun law” that has ever reduced crime anywhere and I’ll gladly discuss it.

        • 2020-02-17 at 6:44 pm
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          Hmm, I find this particular statement pure hypocrisy:
          “Who are you or the government to tell me how much of something I can buy within a given period? What exalted status do you claim to make that judgement?”

          Now, let’s turn to Woman. Who are you or the goverment to tell them what they can and cannot do or must do with THEIR OWN bodies? What exalted status do the Republicans claim to make that judgement? And do not say your faith as there are many faiths and no faiths and all are valid.

          As for guns. Why do we have laws sir when by definition criminals don’t adhere to the law? We have them to make it harder to break the law and to have REAL consequences when you decide to break the law. Why are guns any different then assault, or DUIs or murder? Well, they are not.

          It is just that the far right demands guns, guns, guns without regard. Sorry, Virginia has finally grown-up. But yes, you can have a gun, in fact 12 in a year if that is necessary to stroke your ego or arm your posse.

          • 2020-02-17 at 9:14 pm
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            The question is rather what right does any human have to take the life of an innocent human being? The fact that all humans must gestate within the womb does not alter the fundamental fact that the small human is a human endowed with certain inalienable rights. The protection of life is one of the main reasons for government.

            Again, to equate this with a commercial transaction for a good or service is beneath contempt and you seem either unable or unwilling to recognize this immutable fact of nature.

            And yet again, you have not and cannot show a single instance of a “common sense gun law” that has ever reduced crime anywhere.

  • 2020-02-17 at 3:21 pm
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    “…many of the firearms sold in Virginia going to gangs and cartels?”

    Err, no. That would be the last administration who was hip on giving guns to the cartels… See operation “Fast & Furious” which directly resulted in the murder of two Federal Law Enforcement agents. But, sadly Fairmont… you can’t see anything about that horrendous idea of arming gangs and cartels… Because it’s all covered under Presidential Executive Privilege. Come’ on… Guess which President instituted that?

    Stick with the Fireball Fairmont. You make sense.

    • 2020-02-17 at 4:55 pm
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      Huh, you must watch a lot of Fox News? No sense eh? Virginia, Missouri and Nevada, all loose gun law states, lead the list of gun trafficking states meaning Virginia supplies guns to gangs, cartels and criminals in other states and countries.

      Logically, the Republicans decry states with strict gun control laws and ineffective! There is still gun violence after all. But that is fake logic as the guns, by and large, for the crimes in those states come from easy candy gun states like Virginia. It is about time Virginia does something such as universal background checks and sales limits to stop being the gun Sugar Daddy of the US. Thanks to the Interstate Commerce Clause California can’t stop cars at the Nevada border to examine for guns. Obviously, if they coudl they would find trunk loads, many in the hands of the criminals the NRA apparently supports.

      https://thecrimereport.org/2019/10/24/nv-mo-va-lead-list-of-gun-trafficking-states/

      But in your world it is all Democrats bad, Obama, OMG Obama! Yet it is your party that wants firearms handed out without sensible regulation. Heck, we regulate plumbers heavier then firearms.

  • 2020-02-17 at 6:47 pm
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    As the Democrat legislature and Governor and local boards continue to increase spending and taxes, keep in mind that many Loudoun County residents have a state tax burden that exceeds the IRS cap on state taxes. This additional tax burden further increases the federal tax burden as those new taxes are not deductible on federal taxes. My mortgage interest is declining and my state tax burden is above the capped level ratcheting up my AGI and taxable federal income each year. Our family is only just a little above the median county income so many other residents are getting caught in this same tax situation.

    Residents are not ATMs for every pet project of state delegates, senators and board supervisors. Someone, somewhere in government has got to show fiscal restraint before we have a new series of Virginia local jurisdictions declaring themselves “tax increase sanctuaries.”

  • 2020-02-18 at 3:24 pm
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    I’m not a member of any political party Fairmont. Never have been, never will be. (though I am excited to vote for Tulsi Gabbard in the dem primary)

    What I am, is like most reasonable people: I want government out of my bedroom, my kitchen, my bathroom, my yard, my land, and driveway. For democrats, it’s been a race to authoritarianism. They want to tell us what to eat, what to drink, what to drive, who we can and can’t see for health care, what to read, what to watch, which civil rights are good and which are bad, who we must find acceptable or unacceptable, what we may own and not own, how we manage our homes, our lives, and raise our children.

    R’s are just few blocks behind them.

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