Hundreds of bills await votes
Published 6:51 pm Friday, February 15, 2019
The 2019 General Assembly session is entering its final week! It’s hard to believe the session is almost over, but let me say it has been an honor once again serving you in the House of Delegates. Even though it’s our last week, we still have hundreds of bills to vote on and send to the Governor’s desk, plus we are making final adjustments to the budget.
House, Senate overwhelmingly approve $1B tax relief package
Good news! Not only will you be protected from the Democrat’s middle-class tax increase, thanks to Republicans in the House and Senate, but come this fall you will also receive a tax rebate check in the mail. This is in addition to any tax refund you will be receiving here in the next few months. Tax relief for the middle class was a major priority of House Republicans this year and I am proud that we were able to pass this legislation.
The plan will provide $420 million to Virginia taxpayers later this year, in the form of tax rebates of $110 for individual filers and $220 for married couples. It raises the standard deduction by fifty percent beginning in tax year 2019, the first such change for individual filers since 1989. The bill also includes the second largest tax cut in Virginia’s history along with key provisions for job creating businesses.
In total, the legislation will guarantee at least $976 million in tax relief and ensure that all additional revenues from the permanent provisions of the federal 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, ensuring Virginians will be able to file their state taxes without complications.
You sent me to Richmond to fight for lower taxes and to put more money back in your pocket. As a member of the House Finance Committee, I am proud to have voted to support this legislation.
Completing work on the budget
The House and Senate have advanced similar budget proposals over the last week that work in tandem with the tax relief plan. The House budget eliminated all spending based on the tax increase proposed by Governor Northam. It also identified $120 million in healthcare savings and made a major commitment to reducing unfunded liabilities, eliminating over $700 million in unnecessary spending over the next 25 years. The budget builds on our multi-year efforts to responsibly invest in a stronger economy, provide more funding and flexibility to local schools, and make college more affordable.
In K-12 education, the budget includes funding for a five percent teacher pay raise and returns 45 percent of lottery money to local schools with no strings attached. School Safety has been a top priority for the House this year and the budget includes $12 million in school safety initiatives, including more funding for school security equipment, School Resource Officers, and other innovative solutions that will help keep our kids safe in schools.
The House and Senate will negotiate the final terms of the budget over the next few days. I look forward to supporting a final budget that reflects my commitment to ensuring tax conformity. Your hard earned money should be returned to your pocket.
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 passed the Senate with an amendment (39-0) this afternoon.
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) on Feb. 8. The bill has been communicated to the Governor and he has until Feb. 19 to sign it 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 Feb. 4, and reported favorably from the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee with amendments (15-0) this [Friday] afternoon.
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 39-0 on Feb. 12 with an amendment. The amendment was accepted by the House 96-1 on Thursday.
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.