Week #5 February 8-13, 2021
This week ended with the U.S. Census Bureau announcing they will not deliver the census data to the states until September 30, 2021. This makes it nearly impossible for the new Virginia Redistricting Commission to redraw and receive approval of new Delegate District lines in time for our November 2, 2021. This means I will run for re-election this year in the 9th House District I currently represent and as it is currently configured: Patrick, western Henry, and most of Franklin counties.
In Session this week the House processed some Senate bills and the House Budget Bill. The proposed House budget contained some good items in terms of basic services, such as in education, public safety, health (COVID related), and raises for teachers and state-supported local employees. On the other hand, the House budget contains a) little of substance to help get kids back into school (the vast majority of education money goes to teacher raises and to schools that have lost population), b) funding for policies I strongly reject, such as repealing the death penalty, restoring lenient parole, gutting minimum sentencing requirements, expunging criminal records, legalization of marijuana, and more social and environmental justice programs. The budget even contains taxpayer funding for electric car rebates, I suppose so wealthy people from NOVA can buy Teslas.
My Republican Caucus offered objections and amendments to the budget on the Floor on these and other spending proposals. House Democrats passed them by or voted the objections down, with the exception of when they agreed to more dollars for farmers for BMPs.
If one analyzes other budget spending items, it is clear the intent of House Democrats is to move all Virginians to a Universal health care system, as they funded a study to identify options for funding a Virginia-run health care system. Another spending item allows illegal aliens to receive in-state tuition rates and financial aid. These policies will reduce seats available to Virginia citizens.
Due to the above issues and the sweeping scope of state spending increases, I voted against the budget.
Related to the revenue side of the budget, the annual “conformity to federal tax rules” bill was passed and the budget in a key respect was not based on the federal stimulus and intent. The issue there was will Virginia allow small businesses to deduct certain operating expenses, as in the December Stimulus Bill, or not allow these expenses to be deducted and, thus, have to pay additional state taxes, which was not the stated intent of the December federal stimulus bill. The Governor and his folks are trying to not conform to this intent, meaning Virginia would not agree to this and thus receive tax money to spend from mostly very small businesses. Nonsense! Follow the stated intent of federal taxpayer-friendly intent and not increase the tax burden on small businesses.
Many of the Senate bills were responsible and, thus, passed the House on a bipartisan basis. Others were not so. For example, the proposal for Dominion Energy—the APCO for 4/5th of Virginia—to provide electric school buses for schools east and north of here. The bill provides for Dominion to provide electric school buses at $325,000 per bus (diesel/gas buses cost around $105,000) to school divisions in Dominion’s coverage area and charge their meter ratepayers for them in their electric rates. Whoa! The power company providing buses instead of the school divisions buying less costly buses?
Even more insidious, the bill treats the bus and related devices as pollution control devices, meaning the buses would be exempt from any state and local taxes, which is not normal tax treatment for utility company assets. The point here is “anything goes” to electrify transportation vehicles, be darned the cost. This reminds me of forcing coal out of the energy mix in the U.S. while China has under construction enough new coal plants to produce enough power to supply Germany’s entire electricity needs, plus China has numerous coal plants under construction in Africa and Asian countries as part of its “Belt and Road” initiative, which is nothing but influence/domination of poor countries.
Next week the House will process more Senate bills, more controversial bills, of course, while conferees begin to sort out the differences between the House and Senate proposed budgets in time to adjourn around March 1.
The House continues to meet virtually, despite the shortcomings of doing so, instead of in Richmond. I can be contacted by calling my 9th District office at (540)576-2600 or DelCPoindexter@house.virginia.gov