The 2016 legislative session is underway and it’s already a whirlwind. Endless meetings — and meetings about meetings — I’ve hardly had a chance to find my office.
I have submitted about a dozen bills so far and am co-patroning even more — the full list of which is available on the Legislative Information Systems website. I would like to highlight a few of these bills for readers.
HB45 and HB391 limit predatory title lenders from operating within 20 miles of a casino and within 10 miles of a military base. This would effectively cease all new predatory title lending operations in Mount Vernon and Lee.
During the 2015 campaign, I joined state Sen. Scott Surovell in opposing these high-interest lenders preying upon our community. I am confident these unscrupulous businesses received our message that they are unwelcome in the 44th District.
Also this year, I am patroning HB 627, which would tax e-cigarettes and related nicotine vapor products at 15 percent of the sale price. All previous measures to levy an e-cigarette tax have failed in the General Assembly, but they each designated a specific dollar amount. It is my hope in creating a percentage tax similar to the tax on cigarettes, that we will finally get an e-cigarette tax in the code. The tax on cigarettes is 10 percent of the sales price, which puts it at one of the lowest cigarette taxes in the country. It will inevitably be raised. I settled on the higher-but-still-too-low 15 percent figure for my e-cigarette tax because it is harder to get legislation initially into the code than it is to alter existing legislation.
I have many years experience working with American Indians, and the Commonwealth’s relationship with its Native tribes is very important to me. I have patroned HB 135, which grants all members of a Virginia recognized tribe in-state tuition. I also patroned HB 144, which designates Native Americans Day to be observed on the second Monday in October to honor the great Native American leaders who contributed to the history of the Commonwealth.
Finally, I join my predecessor state Sen. Scott Surovell in his push to enact legislation allowing Community Solar Net Metering. HB 618 will allow tens-of-thousands of Virginia residents living in apartments and condominiums an opportunity to receive their power from clean, renewable solar energy.
I invite all constituents to attend my official swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol Building on Saturday, Jan. 16, at 1:30 p.m. — simply email my Legislative Aide at Thomas@paulkrizek to RSVP.
Please come visit me in Richmond to share your positions on issues the General Assembly is considering this session.