The General Assembly is now in full swing with action on major bills starting to move through.
The first bill I introduced was the repeal of the $64/year tax on hybrid vehicles – HB4. In the last few days, the Senate approved the repeal of the Hybrid Tax. A vote by the full house comes later this week. The Hybrid Tax was passed as a very small part of last year’s transportation legislation. Senator Adam Ebbin and I led a petition drive that collected over 7,500 signatures demanding repeal. Governor McAuliffe supports repeal and it appears that this will move through with little opposition. I am pleased that common sense has carried the day.
I have also continued to work on continued funding for the process of reinventing U.S. 1. At our Northern Virginia delegation meeting, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the new Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is Charles Kilpatrick. Mr. Kilpatrick is a 1983 graduate of Mt. Vernon High School and also attended Walt Whitman Intermediate School and Washington Mill Elementary after growing up off Old Mill Road. I had a great conversation with him this week and he is very aware of U.S. 1’s challenges.
My legislation has started to move. Seven bills I introduced were copied and reintroduced by Republican members. That is usually a good sign that they will pass. The most important was my legislation to repeal the Hybrid Tax. Also, three of my ethics bills were reintroduced by Republicans, a court efficiency bill I have introduced five years in a row was taken, and legislation to exempt non-domiciled Marines and Coast Guard from jury service was taken as well (the Army, Navy and Air Force are already exempt).
Most importantly, my legislation to require every school system to adopt a plan to provide computers and broadband to every child by July 1, 2017 was given to a freshman Republican from Virginia Beach. Nearly every school system in the Commonwealth is transitioning to electronic textbooks. We cannot meet our constitutional mandate to education children and provide free textbooks to low income students if we do not also provide them with the tools to use these new technologies. This legislation is gaining bipartisan support and I am hopeful it will pass.
I also had several bills that were killed this week. My legislation to remove Virginia’s 1975-era statutory ban on gay marriage died on 5-4 subcommittee vote this week with two Republican members crossing over to opposing killing my legislation. I am pleased that bipartisan support has started to emerge on nondiscrimination and marriage equality issues this session.
I also introduced legislation to raise Virginia’s $200 threshold between misdemeanor and felony property crimes for the fourth time in five years. Virginia has the lowest misdemeanor-felony threshold in the U.S. It has not changed since 1980. The statewide prosecutors’ association support the bill along with other law enforcement groups and other citizen groups because too many crimes are charged as felonies which take significantly more time to process. It was opposed by retailers like Walmart and Target and was tabled on a unanimous vote — even though similar legislation passes the State Senate routinely.
We have received over 400 constituent surveys back. Transportation has moved back to the #1 priority for most 44th District residents. Extending the Yellow Line is the #1 choice for transit on U.S. 1. There is strong support for universal background checks, restrictions on car title lending, and expanding Medicaid. Responses are fairly evenly divided between 22306, 22308, and 22309, but 22307 needs to speak up! You can complete the survey online at www.scottsurovell.org/survey.
We will debate legislation to reduce gun safety measures and streamline execution procedures this week and the education reform debate will continue. Please follow me on Twitter, “Like” me on Facebook, or read my online newsletter, The Dixie Pig (scottsurovell.blogspot.com) to keep up on the action.
Always you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your state delegate.