Legislators report on past GA session

Published 11:57 am Friday, March 3, 2017

Representatives for the Virginia General Assembly reported to constituents during the annual Richard J. Holland Post-Legislative Session Breakfast, which took place on Thursday morning in the Smithfield Center.

Before the representatives spoke, though, guest speaker Randy Keaton made a few observations about Isle of Wight, of which he’s been county administrator since September.

He noted three challenges, beginning first with “the tension of growth versus maintaining a rural tradition, which is not unique to this county.” Citing research by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, Isle of Wight has the second highest growth in the region, coming right behind Williamsburg at a 1.75 percent increase, said Keaton, adding that input is needed for growth.

Second, an aging population is a concern, said he, adding that on average Isle of Wight has residents nine years older than the typical Hampton Roads communities.

“Younger workers are needed and we need to create new options for housing,” he said.

Debt load is the third challenge.

“We’ve made great strides in balancing the budget and at the same time growing the county responsibly. We’re fully funded without having to borrow money, and we’re a community with available water,” said Keaton.

Dick Holland of Farmers Bank, a co-sponsor, referred to the program as “Hold ‘em Accountable Day,” and asked a question of all the legislators: he wondered how many times they had voted against their party on significant legislation.

“Your party is not always right,” Holland said. “Vote your passion and let the chips fall where they may.”

Del. Richard “Rick” L. Morris (R-64) said first in response, “I’ve never been told how to vote. It comes down to my personal beliefs.”

The legislator acknowledged the months-long ordeal of his being charged with physical abuses of family members this past fall, but said he’s “supremely confident that these false allegations will be dismissed in May.”

Though grateful for the support he’s received, Morris added that to seek re-election for a third term would take time away from his children, of whom he’s the primary care provider.

“It’s truly been a privilege to serve the people of the 64th district. To be in the house of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and George Mason is indescribable,” he said. “I don’t represent towns. I represent people. Thank you all for your words of encouragement.

Morris went on to praise Stan Clark as the new judge voted on by the GA for the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of the Fifth Judicial Circuit Court. He also lauded for “his genuine goodness” Rex Alphin, who is among the few candidates seeking the delegate’s chair.


“I think we did very well without a budget [in hand],” said Del. Roslyn Tyler (D-75). Last week, she said, the GA voted on a $107 billion budget for the next two years; in the House, 96-1.

HB 1900, which would have required hunters to pay finds if their dogs trespass on private property, had failed to pass 48-47. This bill, said Tyler, got more coverage than any other. Being in a rural community, she said, “I had to support the hunters.”

The delegate introduced HB 2332, which according to the GA’s website, is intended for public school teachers to be compensated at rates competitive with the national average teacher salary. That bill passed the House 98-0; 40-0 in the Senate.

Tyler voted for HB 1996, which requires a defendant considered incompetent to stand trial for a crime and ordered to get treatment be transferred to and accepted by a hospital as soon as practicable.

“I vote my conscience and also the people I represent,” said the delegate.


Sen. L. Louise Lucas (D-18) said she didn’t think that GA members felt compelled to vote along party lines.

“We are not like Congress,” she said. “We have to work collaboratively.”

“Redistricting is very near to my heart,” she said about SB 846, which was one of three bills she championed that passed (28-14).

Lucas noted that her casino bill lost by only one vote, and so feels more confident about its passage next go around.


Referencing her hope about said bill, Sen. John Cosgrove (R-14) looked at Lucas and said, “Wanna bet?”

Remembering his time as a delegate before moving to the other side of the GA, Cosgrove recalled that the Speaker of the House can put pressure on or punish legislators for not voting on party lines, and cited two as examples where delegates had been removed from committees.

The Ticketmaster Bill, as the senator called it, enabled buyers of tickets from the company to do with them as they please, such as giving them family or friends.

HB 2191, which pertains to giving parental oversight of sexually explicit content within instructions materials, passed both sides, but it has reportedly been threatened with a veto by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Cosgrove also took a moment to publicly support Emily Brewer, another candidate seeking the 64th seat.

“She’d bring a fresh set of ideas,” he said.