Assembly carries on work despite controversies
Published 4:18 pm Friday, February 8, 2019
By Emily Brewer
The 2019 General Assembly Session is entering its final weeks, but there is still lots of work to complete before the Session adjourns for the year. All of the remaining House Bills have gone to the Senate and the remaining Senate Bills have come to the House. In fact, the House has already worked to pass several key pieces of Senate legislation.
Executive Branch Controversies
The last week has been tumultuous for our Commonwealth. You have undoubtedly seen the news about the three separate controversies involving the members of the executive branch, all of which are deeply disturbing to me. I joined “Fox & Friends” this past Saturday to discuss the sad state of affairs in Virginia and, specifically, the Democrats’ third trimester abortion agenda.
I am confident that these controversies will be resolved in due course, but in the meantime we will continue our work on the budget and the hundreds of bills remaining before us. I will steadily continue with the business of representing the 64th District. Our diverse Commonwealth has been deeply shaken by these developments but, nonetheless, remains economically vibrant, fiscally sound, safe and secure. I hope you’ll join me in praying for Virginia at this difficult time.
House, Senate reach agreement on $1 billion in tax relief
Republicans in the House and Senate have agreed on the terms of a $1 billion tax relief package,the most significant tax relief plan in at least 15 years and the second largest tax cut in Virginia history. As a member of the House Finance Committee, I voted this afternoon in favor of this legislation, and it is expected to be voted on by the full House and Senate on Monday, then forwarded to Governor Northam.
The bicameral compromise will provide $420 million in tax refunds to Virginia taxpayers in October of 2019, increase the standard deduction by 50 percent, maintain the current rules for state and local taxes (SALT), and include key business tax provisions for Virginia’s job creators. The total package will guarantee at least $976 million in tax relief and ensure that all additional revenues from the permanent provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are placed in the state’s cash reserve fund. The legislation also conforms Virginia tax law to the federal law.
Under this plan, married couples will receive a tax refund check of up to $220 in October and, beginning next year, will receive $173 in tax relief on their state taxes, for a total of $400 back over the next two years. This is simple, direct and meaningful tax relief.
Lowering cost of Prepaid529 college savings plans
On Tuesday, we passed HB 1611, which would make it easier for middle class students and families to afford college by lowering the price of Prepaid529 plans. The legislation will lower the current cost of an eight semester contract by more than $3,000.
Lowering the cost of college has long be a priority for Republicans in the House of Delegates. Virginia students borrow more than $1 billion per year to pay for college, a staggering burden that hurts our economy and makes it harder for young people to get started after college. This commonsense proposal will have a significant impact on families’ ability to keep more money in their pockets and attend college at a lower cost.
1. House Bill 1730. Unfortunately, there are lots of bad actors in the foster care community and it’s affecting the futures of children in the Commonwealth. HB 1730 requires local Departments of Social Services to freeze the credit of children in the foster care system until they age out or there are extenuating circumstances. This legislation will help protect children in foster care from becoming victims of identity theft and having their credit score ruined before they’ve even had an opportunity to start out. HB 1730 passed the House of Delegates unanimously on Tuesday (99-0) and is now headed to the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee on Monday.
2. House Bill 1731. Since Virginia is the oldest legislative body in the New World, we have 400 years of laws on the books. Some of those laws are outdated. Currently, local treasurers are required to keep a “well-bound book” for their records. This bill brings local treasurers into the 21 century by replacing the term “well-bound book” with “record,” allowing local treasurers to keep their required records in a digital format. HB 1731 passed the House unanimously (94-0) on Jan. 18 and passed the Senate unanimously (40-0) today. The bill will now be sent to the Governor to be signed into law.
3. House Bill 2208. For children entering foster care, one out of every four is directly related to the opioid crisis. Parents are being incarcerated and are out of the picture. Stepsisters and stepbrothers are being left to care for these children but are unable to provide permanency to these children because of current law. This legislation would edit the adoption by close relative statute and give adoption eligibility to a broader portion of the family tree. HB 2208 passed the House unanimously (99-0) on Monday and is now headed to the Senate Rehabilitation Subcommittee #2.
4. House Bill 2170. We all receive those annoying phone calls from area codes and phone numbers that look like it could be a neighbor calling. What some people may not realize is these are scam calls, fishing for private information. Scammers are using false caller id information to commit serious crimes like identity theft and investment scams. HB 2170 makes it so any person who, with the intent to defraud, intimidate, or harass, displays false caller id information on the called party’s telephone is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. HB2170 passed the House of Delegates on Jan. 31, in a broad bi-partisan vote of 98-1, and passed the Senate Courts of Justice Committee (11-4) on Wednesday. It will now head to the full Senate for a vote Monday.
I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office over the coming months. I value the feedback you provide on a continual basis as it helps me do a better job of representing you. You can email me at DelEBrewer@House.Virginia.Gov or call me at 804-698-1064. You can also join the conversation on our social media pages, Facebook.com/BrewerForVA or Twitter.com/BrewerForVA.
I will continue providing you updates during the 2019 General Assembly Session and will be meeting with constituent groups after session to report on the session and take questions.
EMILY BREWER is the Republican delegate for the 64th District in Virginia.