Legislative Updates – January

Legislative Updates – January

January 24, 2014

 

Friends,

Bill StanleyWe all have shared a very cold week in our area, and record cold temperatures gripped Virginia’s Capitol as well. But in spite of the polar vortex, the people’s business continued at a brisk pace. But as the General Assembly conducted the work of the people, we all learned of the indictments of former Governor Bob McDonnell and former First Lady Maureen McDonnell. While we all know that indictments are no more than allegations that must first be proven in a court of law, this announcement hit especially hard.

Virginia prides itself on having lawmakers of both parties who have consistently emulated the highest ethical standards. For the Commonwealth, this announcement tarnishes that image and undermines the public confidence.

For many legislators of both parties, the Governor and Mrs. McDonnell are more than the most recent occupants of the Executive Mansion; they are long-time friends. Bob McDonnell first entered the House of Delegates for the 1992 session. From that session until his term ended just two weeks ago, he was a continuous fixture on Capitol Square. These are serious charges involving two people that many here at the General Assembly admire, respect, and know personally. That is never pleasant news and time will tell as the legal process proceeds. But we as Virginians, a people who believe in the rule of law, must let the judicial process take its proper course. Either way, it was a sad day for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

But that wasn’t all that happened this week at Capitol Square. Also attracting national attention this week are the headlines that the state’s new Attorney General, Mark Herring, has made a complete about face on his campaign pledge to defend the laws of the State of Virginia when elected. More importantly, the new Attorney General took an oath just three weeks ago to protect, support and defend the Constitution of Virginia. Mr. Herring, the defender of our laws, has now enjoined the Commonwealth in a law suit against the state he is sworn to represent, and our very Constitution. As you know, the citizens spoke with a majority voice just six years ago when it voted overwhelmingly to amend the Virginia’s Constitution to define “marriage” as the sacred union between one man and one woman. But in contradiction to our Constitution, and contrary to his multiple votes previously as a Senator to support the Marriage Amendment, our newly minted Attorney General has now decided that one of his first actions as Virginia’s attorney is to sue the very state that he represents. Instead of focusing on issues that drive this state’s economy and protects the welfare of its citizens, the AG’s apparent strategy is to selectively dismantle laws of the Commonwealth that he doesn’t support or agree with, and doing so outside the normal legislative process. Whatever Attorney General Herring’s political motivations may be, it simply comes down to this: Mark Herring took an oath on Inauguration Day three weeks ago to defend both the state and its laws. Attorney General Herring is now advocating his own exception (based upon his own ideology and personal beliefs) to the sacred oath he took only a short time ago. This is unacceptable. I am extremely disappointed in this turn of events and beseech the Attorney General to reconsider this recent decision. It is an affront to the citizens of the state and one that begs to be reversed. Moreover, it is ironic to me that while the Republicans in the General Assembly are focused on jobs and the economy in Virginia, the Democrats seemed focused and pre-occupied with social issues.

Some of the legislation that I am proposing during this session:

The Senate legislative process continues at a very brisk pace! Four of my bills were passed by the full Senate while two others were advanced out of Committee.

One of the bills that passed the Senate this week is SB 269, which strengthens my School Choice legislation that was signed into law two years ago. This newly created program provides scholarship to families at or near the poverty line to place their children in private schools if the public schools are not serving their child’s individual needs. This program provides parents the ability to make critical educational choices for their children regardless of their zip code or economic station in life. In fact, this school choice program will provide a savings to the state, because those students who attend private schools under these scholarships save the state and locality a combined average of approximately $10,000 dollars per student per year. By way of example, the net savings to the state for just 275 scholarships awarded will amount to a approximately $745,000 per year to the state and local treasuries and taxpayers.

I have two animal cruelty bills that have been filed for consideration by the Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee. The first bill is

SB 622 which establishes a fund to reimburse participating veterinarians for the surgical sterilizations they perform on eligible cats or dogs. An animal will be eligible for sterilization under the program if it is a feral or free-roaming cat or is owned by a low-income individual or an animal shelter or other releasing agency. This bill would reduce the long-term kill rates in cats and dogs in areas where spay and neutering are lacking, and would provide a long term significant savings to our localities in the costs associated with the housing, care and euthanizing of unwanted dogs and cats.

The second bill is SB 32 that would establish an Animal Cruelty Registry. The bill passed unanimously out of the Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee. The registry would track persons convicted of a felony and would be administered by the Virginia State Police with a public website. Much to the surprise of many including myself, the estimated cost to start the program and administer it going forward was far greater than expected. The bill has since been referred to the Senate Finance Committee for further cost analysis and consideration

And perhaps you may have seen my Press Release this week explaining

SB 112, an innovative approach to eliminate the local BPOL tax and Machine Tools tax imposed on businesses in localities where the local unemployment rate is double the statewide unemployment rate. The bill’s fiscal impact on the affected locality would be neutral in that the state would assist the locality with any shortfall until the unemployment rate is equal to the state unemployment rate. In Virginia, there are four areas that would qualify under my proposed legislation, including the City of Martinsville. This bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee’s Special Commission on Tax Reform, which will examine in more detail the impact of this innovative approach of BPOL and Machine/Tools tax on economic growth at the local level. This bill represents an attempt to find solutions for the economic needs of the cities and towns of Southside and Southwest Virginia.

You can also track all of my bills and those of the both legislative branches by going to the Virginia Legislative Information System and navigating by sponsor’s name, by the bill number or by committee name.

You can also view the daily Senate (or House of Delegates) session by going on-line to the Senate of Virginia Portal, or by clicking here.

 

Visiting with Senator Stanley are representatives of Community Service Boards in the District: (L-R): Jim Tobin, Executive Director, Piedmont CSB; Angela Fowler, Board Member of the Danville/Pittsylvania CSB; Shelby Irving, Board Member of the Danville/Pittsylvania CSB; Dr. Frank Wickers, Board Member of the Danville/Pittsylvania CSB; and Linda Drage; Standing in the center to the left of the Senator is Jim Bebeau, Executive Director, Danville Pittsylvania Community Services.

 

Meeting with the Senator and being introduced by him during the daily Session of the full session are Mitch Wallace, Virginia State President of the Future Farmers of America, and Jessica M. Jones of the Virginia Association of Agricultural Educators.

Recent visitors to the Senator’s office in the General Assembly Building:

Dr. Mark A. Crabtree, Martinsville

Robert N. Martin Jr., Halifax

Wesley Hurst, Hillsville

David and Karen Marshall, Galax

Frank Van Valkenburg, Danville

Jim Bebeau, Danville

Frank Wickers, Danville

Angela Fowler, Danville

Shelby Irving, Danville

Linda R. Drage, Martinsville

Jessica M. Jones, Chatham

John E. Morris III, Bassett

Rhonda Catron-Wood, Wytheville

 

Office contact information:

Aaron Houchens: Legislative Assistant

Phil Rapp: Director of Communications

JoAnn Lankford: Administrative Assistant

 

Telephone: 804-698-7520

Email address: district20@senate.virginia.gov

Web site: http://senatorbillstanleyforsenate.com

 

Mailing Address:

General Assembly Building

3rd Floor, Room 313

P.O. Box 396

Richmond, VA 23218

 

Street address:

201 N 9th Street

Richmond, VA 23219

 

 

Bill

 

Thank you for your support and please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments that you may have.

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