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Wrapping up a Rough Session

Dear Friends,

Before I dive into this summary of the homestretch week of the 2020 Session, let me make it perfectly clear where we stand. We have lost many battles this session, but this is a war that will continue, and I trust you to be as committed as I am to pressing ahead to retake the ground we've lost, or as the meme says, never give in!

Today, Saturday, we still had more than 150 bills and resolutions in conference committees; that’s where (usually) three Delegates and three Senators attempt to work out disagreement between the House and Senate on the final version of the bill. 

A Virginia Mercury article from Thursday describes some of the many remaining issues will be resolved out of the public eye in conference committees.

So many bills sought to, and will, infringe on our Constitutional rights, add burdensome tax increases and impose unnecessary regulations. While outnumbered, Republicans stood in the gap for you. 

 

FIGHTING TO PROTECT GOD-GIVEN RIGHTS & RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

During this Session, many of you have been focused on how your Second Amendment rights are being deprived, but there’s more to it than that. The Family Foundation has outlined how lawmakers have passed, or attempted to pass, legislation that would also violate First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments. Read about it in an article titled, Stripping Away Our Constitutional Rights.

Now, several bills that would infringe on the First Amendment rights of Virginians are headed to the Governor’s desk, where they could be signed into law. These are bills that target people of faith, including churches, religious schools, and nonprofit ministries for holding to their faith-based views of gender and marriage. Read more about the impact these bills (SB868, HB1663, HB1449) could have on your religious liberties: Our Last Best Chance to Protect Churches and Religious Schools

Other laws would force employers to provide health insurance that covers transgender “transition-related care” (HB1429) and prohibit parents from seeking counseling for their children who may struggle with their sexual identity (SB245).

Today I met with a member of the Governor's Cabinet, along with members of several faith organizations, to appeal for amendments to the legislation in order to protect people and places of faith. We were assured the governor will give careful consideration to the dire position these organizations will be in if not given some consideration, and how that harm will extend to the larger community.

I also spoke on the floor in support of the Senate's effort to add some protections for religious organizations. You can view my floor speech here.

ACTION: Urge Governor Northam and your Senator to Add Stronger Religious Protections to SB 868 and its House companion HB 1663!

 

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES TO PROTECT VIRGINIANS

With tunnel-vision focus on taking guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, lawmakers have held back better gun laws. Read A common sense gun bill that didn't pass: “In their haste to enact far-reaching gun control legislation, the new Democratic majority in the General Assembly inexplicably failed to advance a bill this session that would have increased jail time for people who use a firearm during the commission of a felony.”

Also rejected were a couple of my bills to allow self-defense for individuals in the types of vulnerable facilities which have been targeted by killers.

After you recover from the how your Constitutional rights are being stripped down ...

WASTING YOUR HARD-EARNED DOLLAR$

Democrats are pushing a number of bills that would raise power bills on hard working Virginia families. Whether they're mandating the end of coal fired and natural gas plants or imposing a carbon tax scheme, all of these bills will have the same result -- higher power bills for those who can least afford it. The Virginia Clean Economy Act, now in conference, would raise electricity bills by nearly 25 percent. This article

published by The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy describes how the Act “would eliminate coal-based electricity generation, prevent construction of new gas-fired power plants – and replace reliable, affordable fossil energy with wind, solar and battery-backup power.” The author states: “The climate crisis is mostly exaggerated, imaginary or based on faulty computer models. Worse, the ‘fix’ will be pricey on many levels, but won’t make an iota of difference to the global climate.” Read more about the Act's 'Dirty Results." And more here: The Virginia Clean Energy Act: What It Does and What It Will Cost You.

Other well-intended but harmful legislation will hike rates to pay for electric school buses, offshore wind farms, and other "clean energy" efforts.

  • HB981: Prepares the Commonwealth to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which has caused higher electric bills in every state that has joined it
  • HB1664: The bill, which has passed both chambers, provides for the first-ever off-shore wind project not built by a private company with an estimated price tag of $14 billion, yes billion with a B, 14,000 x $1,000,000.
  • SB851: This electricity utility regulations could raise power bills for the average Virginian by more than 20 percent. Watch Del. Sam Rasoul and Del. Rip Sullivan debate this bill

 

On the other hand, bills such as HB1132, which would have returned some fairness to the 2021 review of Dominion’s earnings and rates FAILED TO PASS. (See Dominion’s Base Rates Like Cable You Can’t Cancel.)

 

TAXES, TAXES, AND MORE TAXES

Democrats have also cleared the way for agreements that will raise taxes at both the state and local levels.

SB588: Modifies the restrictions that currently apply to county admission, cigarette, food and beverage, and transient occupancy taxes.The bill removes the requirement that a county hold a referendum before imposing a meals tax.

HB1414 is a huge transportation bill that includes raises in gas taxes. Here are a couple of stories with more details

Va. House, Senate seal deal on transportation funding, agree to raise state gas tax by 10 cents “Virginia would raise the state gasoline tax by 10 cents a gallon over two years as part of a tentative agreement by negotiators for the House of Delegates and Senate on a sweeping transportation funding package”

Virginia set to raise gas taxes, keep safety inspections “Virginia lawmakers have announced an agreement on transportation funding proposal that will double the gas tax in some parts of the state. But lawmakers are rejecting Gov. Ralph Northam’s request to do away with annual vehicle safety inspections.”



WHAT ABOUT THE BUDGET?

It appears that the General Assembly will adjourn Sine Die this weekend without completing the biggest bill of all- the Commonwealth's biennial budget.

House Democrats have joined Republicans in supporting a tuition freeze for our higher education

students, but the Senate is not interested. Republicans and Democrats in the House are united in our desire to see this Republican-initiated program continued for at least the next two years.

One thing the House and Senate Democrats do agree on: while in 2019, House Republicans voted to return your tax dollars -- nearly $450 million -- this year, Democrats have emptied the Taxpayer Relief Fund and are spending that money instead of returning it to the taxpayers.

 

IT’S TIME TO STEP UP FOR FAIR REDISTRICTING

So concludes an editorial published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch titled, It's time for the House of Delegates to vote yes on redistricting reform. According to the editorial, the bipartisan redistricting commission established through an amendment to the Virginia Constitution

would “bring out from the shadows and into the open the all-important decennial drawing of legislative and congressional districts.” 

After the House Speaker refused to bring the House version of the amendment to a vote before the deadline on February 27, the House committee voted Monday night to send the Senate version (SJ18) of the amendment to the House floor for a vote. The amendment came up for a vote on the House floor yesterday, and was adopted 54-46, with nine Democrats joining with Republicans in bipartisan effort to send the Constitutional Amendment to the voters in November.

Redistricting occurs every ten years; this amendment is the last chance at nonpartisan redistricting before 2030.

“Now, Virginians have a chance to take back their representative government. Bottom line, this amendment would give voters the ability to select their legislators, not the other way around,” states a Danville Register and Bee editorial.

 

“WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST” IS LOST ON SOME LAWMAKERS

All during Session, a majority of lawmakers were busy working to ensure that a new special class based on one's declared gender, would be established. There are at least 14 bills that would benefit those who claim to be transgender.

That means that in the meantime, the unborn are now Virginia’s unprotected class. If HB980 becomes law, most meaningful protections for mothers adn unbornm babies will be removed from the Virginia Code. 

“While the abortion lobby famously touts their campaign to provide women with unfettered and unrestricted access to abortion as a way of protecting women, this bill – like most pro-abortion bills – does everything but keep women safe,” states the author of the blog post titled, Well, They Did It

This week HB980 was enrolled and is now ready to go to the Governor’s desk for a signature. This legislation will do anything but protect women. It expands who can perform first-trimester abortions; removes the requirement that an ultrasound be performed prior to any abortion; and removes the health and safety requirements for abortion clinics. (Read more here .)

While claiming protection for women, lawmakers failed to pass several bills that would truly protect a mother and her unborn child. All of the following bills were held back in committee.

  • HB1473 and SB920: Prohibits the terms of any surrogacy contract to require an abortion or selective termination
  • HB227: Requires that an infant born alive after a failed abortion attempt be given the same care that would be given to any other child born at the same gestational age 
  • HB686: States that killing the fetus of another in intentional act of passion is voluntary manslaughter
  • HB1551: A bill that I introduced, prohibits abortions that involve dismemberment of the fetus. The Democrat majority refused to even put the bill on a docket for a hearing. 

A budget amendment I introduced to prohibit Virginia taxpayer funds being used to abort babies which may have disabilities was also defeated on a 52-45 party-line vote

More information about my Pro-Life efforts is on my website here.

 

CONGRATULATIONS DUE TO YOUNG SCHOLARS

PLEASE CONTACT DR. SOVINE IF YOU HAVE AN HONOR ROLL STUDENT IN FREDERICK COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS & WOULD LIKE A CERTIFICATE

As fewer people visit in the last few weeks of session, staff puts time to good use by preparing letters to go to students back home commending them for exceptional academic performance. I’ll be dropping those letters off to schools in the days ahead, but only to schools in Clarke and Loudoun.

I regret to say, in contrast to past years, the Frederick County Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. David Sovine, has informed us that the names of students will not be released, and that he will not allow school staff to distribute certificates, thus preventing us from encouraging students, teachers, and parents in Frederick County.

 

MORE MANDATORY VACCINES AS A CONDITION OF ATTENDING PUBLIC SCHOOLS

This week, the Senate passed HB1090, a bill that mandates additional vaccinations for Virginia’s school children. It is now headed to the Governor for a signature. If signed, it will require four new vaccines – Hepatitis A, Meningococcal, HPV for boys, and Rotavirus - aligning Virginia requirements with CDC recommendations. It also allows future vaccines to be added without legislature input any time the CDC updates

its recommendations.

Opponents of the bill, including constituents from the 33rd District, came to Capitol Square on Monday to protest additional mandated vaccinations.

 

MY LEGISLATION - WILL HAVE TO TRY AGAIN NEXT YEAR...

This session, I introduced more legislation than I have in any previous year. Of the 41 bills I introduced however, Democrats killed every single one in Committee. Five of my bills were incorporated into similar bills moving to the Governor:

I will be limited to 15 bills next session, so many of these will have to wait another two years, but here's a list of what we could have seen...

Transportation Solutions, Many Supported by Local Governments, which were DEFEATED:

Toll Relief Measures DEFEATED:

Supporting and Enhancing Recruitment for Our Local First Responders: DEFEATED

Good Ideas from Constituents: DEFEATED

Local Government Legislative Priorities: DEFEATED

Education Reform and Opportunity: DEFEATED

Fighting Back to Protect Life: DEFEATED

 

FINAL DAYS

As mentioned above, we are heading towards the end of the 2020 Session. Although scheduled to end today, it appears that the budget will not be completed on time, so we will have to come back for a special session. You can track all 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 legislators in your prayers as we finish our work. I am very much looking forward to being home again.

Sincerely,

EVENTS AND VISITORS THIS WEEK

This week I joined the entire General Assembly in congratulating the Loudoun South Little League baseball team for winning the 2019 Southeast Regional Little League Tournament and representing the Commonwealth at the 2019 Little League World Series!

Maclain Conlin, one of the House Pages who I helped with their homeschooling bill was sick this week, but Page Caroline Haggett ably stepped up and successfully presented their bill, which passed by a vote of 28-6 in the Page's mock floor session in the House of Delegates Chamber.

Last, but definitely not least, I want to give a shout-out to my dedicated staff who worked so hard to serve you this session. My full-time Legislative Assistant, Daniel Davies, was joined by returning Administrative Assistant Allene Cahill, and Session Aide Kristen Hoopes. I couldn't have done it without them, and genuinely appreciate their service to the citizens of the 33rd District and the entire Commonwealth.

 
 
 
 

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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