Existing Medicaid covers medical care for poor people who are children, over the age of 65, disabled, or pregnant. The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) sought to expand access to Medicaid to all poor people between the ages of 19 and 64. The Federal Government picked up 100 percent of the bill for the first four years, but after that, the states were responsible for paying 10 percent. Virginia’s 10 percent share ALONE would have cost $350,000,000 a year, and with health care inflation, would have cost $700,000,000 in 10 years. Therefore, Virginia decided not to expand Medicaid because we knew it was financially unsustainable. As you can see from this Modern Healthcare article, we were right. Click here to read about the financial mess Massachusetts is in: http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20170927/NEWS/170929900
Over the past ten years, overdoses from opioids have almost doubled in Fairfax County. There were a total of 103 fatal overdoses in 2016 alone. Opioid addiction is becoming a large issue for the state of Virginia and Fairfax County, and our House of Delegates has been working hard to try and combat this problem. My fellow Delegates and I have passed many new bills which will hopefully mend some of the problems with opioids. Two House Bills, HB 1453 and HB 1750, made naloxone, an emergency anti-opioid drug, more available for treatment uses. In addition, HB 2165 has created a system for prescribing all opioids electronically by 2020 which will hopefully cut down on drug abuse rates. Finally, in an effort to reduce spread of diseases transmitted by sharing needles, HB 2317 legalized syringe access programs. Virginia will continue to work towards eradicating this debilitating drug addiction.
As of July 1, 2017, there are many new laws pertaining to rulings on Driving under the Influence and Driver’s Licenses, and it is important that everyone is informed about these changes. These laws provide more clarity on revocation or suspension of licenses including period of suspension and uses, punishments for repeated DUI’s, changes to refusal of blood or breath tests under implied consent, and alternative to loss of license with first time marijuana convictions
Revocation or suspension of driver’s licenses; laws of other jurisdictions. If somebody is convicted of an offense which would cause their license to be immediately suspended or revoked, but they’re in a different jurisdiction, then the Commissioner of the DMV will make a decision based off of the other jurisdiction’s laws. This law also creates a process for anyone whose license was administratively revoked before July 1, 2017 to request a review of their revocation or suspension. Provides that the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles is limited to reviewing the text of another jurisdiction’s law when determining whether a person’s driver’s license should be administratively revoked or suspended as a result of such person’s conviction in the other jurisdiction for an offense substantially similar to an offense under the law of the Commonwealth that requires revocation or suspension of a person’s driver’s license. The bill also provides that if the Commissioner cannot reasonably determine from the text of the other jurisdiction’s law whether such law is substantially similar to the law of the Commonwealth, the Commissioner may, if available, review a certified copy of the final order of the person’s conviction in the other jurisdiction. The bill also establishes a process for any person whose driver’s license was administratively revoked or suspended prior to July 1, 2017, on the basis of a conviction in another jurisdiction to request a review of such revocation or suspension. The provisions of the act do not apply to any disqualification of eligibility to operate a commercial motor vehicle imposed by the Commissioner pursuant to the Virginia Commercial Driver’s License Act.
Driving commercial vehicle while intoxicated; penalties. This law makes the penalties for DUI and commercial DUI the same while also increasing the minimum sentencing for repeated offenses or offenses committed while transporting minors. Harmonizes the penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) and commercial DUI. The bill imposes a $250 mandatory minimum fine for a first offense of commercial DUI and mandatory minimum sentences of five days if the person’s blood alcohol level was at least 0.15 and 10 days if the person’s blood alcohol level was more than 0.20. The bill increases from five to 20 days the mandatory minimum sentence for a second offense committed within five years, adds a 10-day mandatory minimum sentence for a second offense committed within five to 10 years, and imposes a $500 mandatory minimum fine for any second offense committed within a 10-year period. The bill also imposes additional mandatory minimum sentences for a second offense committed within 10 years of 10 days if the person’s blood alcohol level was at least 0.15 and 20 days if the person’s blood alcohol level was more than 0.20 as well as an additional $500 mandatory minimum fine. The bill raises the penalty for a third offense committed within 10 years from a Class 1 misdemeanor with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 days, or 30 days if the three offenses were committed within five years, to a Class 6 felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days, or six months if the three offenses were committed within five years, and a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000. The bill adds a penalty for a fourth or subsequent offense committed within a 10-year period that includes a mandatory minimum sentence of one year and a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000. The bill also provides that a person convicted of commercial DUI after being convicted of certain felony DUI or DUI-related offenses is guilty of a Class 6 felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of one year and a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000. The bill also provides that the punishment for any person convicted of commercial DUI who was transporting a minor at the time of the offense shall include an additional mandatory minimum sentence of five days and an additional fine of at least $500 and no more than $1,000. Finally, the bill provides that the mandatory minimum punishments are cumulative and mandatory minimum sentences must be served consecutively.
Driver’s license; marijuana possession. Previously, first time offenders for possession of marijuana could go through steps to have their case dismissed as long as they had no further infractions for the next year, took a drug education class, and had their license suspended for 6 months. Instead of having their license suspended, this law allows them to perform 50 hours of community service as an alternative. Revises the existing provision that a person loses his driver’s license for six months when convicted of or placed on deferred disposition for a drug offense to provide that the provision does not apply to deferred disposition of simple possession of marijuana. The exception applies only to adults; juveniles will still be subject to license suspension. The bill provides that a court retains the discretion to suspend or revoke the driver’s license of a person placed on deferred disposition for simple possession of marijuana and must suspend or revoke for six months the driver’s license of such person who was operating a motor vehicle at the time of the offense. The bill also requires that such a person whose driver’s license is not suspended or revoked perform 50 hours of community service in addition to any community service ordered as part of the deferred disposition. The provisions of the bill are contingent upon written assurance from the U.S. Department of Transportation that Virginia will not lose any federal funds as a result of implementation of the bill.
This bill is identical to S.B. 1091 Patron: Ebbin, Stanley
Ignition interlock; duration; installation. This law clarifies that the number of days where someone is required to have an ignition interlock is calculated from the day the court issues him a restricted license, and this count is paused between expiration of the court issued license and the issuance of a new license by the DMV. Provides that the period of time during which a person is (i) prohibited from operating a motor vehicle that is not equipped with an ignition interlock system or (ii) required to have an ignition interlock system installed on each motor vehicle owned by or registered to him is calculated from the date the court issues him a restricted license. The bill further provides that this period of time is tolled upon the expiration of the restricted license issued by the court until such time as the person is issued a restricted license by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
DUI; implied consent; refusal of blood or breath tests. With this bill, there are no longer any criminal penalties if you wish to refuse a blood test for alcohol of drugs, but a breath test is still required especially for repeat offenders as it is now a Class 1 misdemeanor to refuse a breath test within 10 years of a prior offense. In addition, the bill states that the court will now assume that people who have consumed alcohol are aware that alcohol impairs their ability to operate a vehicle. Eliminates the criminal penalties for refusing to submit to a blood test to determine the alcohol or drug content of a defendant’s blood upon arrest for a DUI-related offense under the law on implied consent. The bill also increases to a Class 1 misdemeanor the criminal penalty for refusing to submit to a breath test under the law on implied consent for an offense committed within 10 years of a prior offense of refusal or of another DUI-related offense. The bill also extends to blood tests performed by the Department of Forensic Science pursuant to a search warrant the rebuttable presumption that a person is intoxicated based on the person’s blood alcohol level demonstrated by such tests. The bill also provides that an application for a search warrant to perform a blood test on a person suspected of committing a DUI-related offense shall be given priority over other matters pending before the judge or magistrate. Finally, the bill establishes a rebuttable presumption applicable in a civil case for punitive damages for injuries caused by an intoxicated driver that a person who has consumed alcohol knew or should have known that his ability to drive was or would be impaired by such consumption. This bill is in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Birchfield v. North Dakota, 136 S. Ct. 2160 (2016). The bill contains an emergency clause.
Patron: Bell, Robert B.
Driving on a suspended or revoked license; period of suspension. This law clarifies that the additional suspension period for driving on a suspended license will run at the same time as the current suspension period. Provides that any driver’s license suspension imposed upon a person for the failure to pay court-ordered fines and costs shall run concurrently with any other period of license suspension, revocation, or forfeiture imposed upon such person. The bill also provides that in the event that a person whose license has been suspended for the failure to pay court-ordered fines and costs is convicted of driving on a suspended or revoked license, the additional period of license suspension imposed as a result of that conviction runs concurrently with the underlying suspension for the failure to pay court-ordered fines and costs. Under current law, such additional suspension period does not commence until the expiration of the previous suspension or revocation.
Restricted driver’s license; purposes. Adds travel to and from a job interview to the list of purposes for the issuance of a restricted driver’s license. The bill provides that a person issued a restricted driver’s license for this purpose is required to maintain on his person written proof from the prospective employer of the date, time, and location of the job interview.
Since July 1st, 2017, there have been new laws enacted which either alter and redefine punishments for pre-existing laws or make new actions illegal. These laws have a wide variety, ranging from malicious activation of fire alarms to computer trespassing. In order to make sure everyone is staying up to date, I’ve provided a full list of the new laws with explanations below.
Activation of fire alarms; reimbursement of expenses; penalty. If a person activates a fire alarm maliciously and not for an emergency they will be prosecuted and fined. Removes the condition that a building must be for public use in order for the Class 1 misdemeanor for maliciously activating a building’s fire alarm to apply. The bill authorizes any locality to provide by ordinance that a person convicted of maliciously activating a fire alarm shall be liable for the reasonable expense in responding to such a fire alarm. Current law allows such an ordinance to impose liability for the reasonable expense of an emergency response to an imitation version of a weapon of terrorism, fire bomb, other explosive device, bomb threat, or incitement of a bomb threat. The bill increases the maximum amount that a locality or volunteer emergency medical services agency may recover under such an ordinance from $1,000 to $2,500.
This bill is identical to S.B. 1054 Patron: Stuart
Patron: Bell, Richard P.
Sex offenses prohibiting proximity to children; penalty. Sex offenders will now be limited to certain areas where they may live. Includes in the list of certain sex offenses that prohibit a person convicted of such offenses from being or residing in proximity to schools and certain other property where children congregate or from working on school property any offense similar to such offenses under the laws of any foreign country or political subdivision thereof or the United States or any political subdivision thereof. The prohibition regarding residing in proximity to a school that is predicated upon an offense similar to any offense under the laws of any foreign country or any political subdivision thereof, or the United States or any political subdivision thereof, only applies to residences established on and after July 1, 2017.
Definition of sales draft; credit card offenses; penalty. If a person purchases a valuable good or service with a person’s credit card without permission they will be convicted of forgery. Includes within the definition of “sales draft,” with regard to offenses relating to credit cards, the electronic form evidencing a purchase of goods, services, or a thing of value. A person convicted of forgery of such a sales draft is guilty of a Class 5 felony.
Computer trespass; government computers and computers used for public utilities; penalty. A person who uses a public computer to trespass will now be charged with a Class 6 felony. Increases the Class 1 misdemeanor computer trespass crimes to a Class 6 felony if the computer affected is one that is exclusively for the use of, or used by or for, the Commonwealth, a local government within the Commonwealth, or certain public utilities.
Assault and battery; health care providers; penalty. If a health care provider is assaulted while performing his duties in the hospital or other emergency care facility will be punished to a higher extent. Expands the penalty for battery against a health care provider who is engaged in the performance of his duties to apply in hospitals or in emergency rooms on the premises of any clinic or other facility rendering emergency care. Under current law, the penalties only apply to a battery against an emergency health care provider. The bill requires the Department of Health to work with stakeholder groups to develop guidelines regarding the publication of penalties for battery on a health care provider and for the training of health care professionals and providers in violence prevention programs.
This bill is identical to S.B. 973 Patrons: Sturtevant, Dunnavant
Use of electronic device to trespass; peeping into dwelling or occupied building; penalty.
It is now a Class 1 misdemeanor to use an electronic device to spy into an occupied building or to enter into ones property to spy. Punishes as a Class 1 misdemeanor the use of an electronic device to enter the property of another to secretly or furtively peep or spy or attempt to peep or spy into a dwelling or occupied building located on such property, unless such use occurs pursuant to a lawful criminal investigation.
Providing support to terrorist organizations; penalty. If a person knowingly provides information for a group or individual whose main objective is to perform an act of terrorism, they will now be guilty of a Class 3 felony. If a person or persons were harmed or killed as a result of the information it will then be treated as a Class 2 felony. Provides that any person who knowingly provides any material support to an individual or organization whose primary objective is to commit an act of terrorism and does so with the intent to further such objective is guilty of a Class 3 felony. If the provision of such material support results in the death of any person, the penalty is increased to a Class 2 felony. The bill also expands the definition of an act of terrorism to include an act committed outside the Commonwealth that would meet the definition of an act of violence if such act was committed within the Commonwealth.
This bill is identical to S.B. 1154 Patron: Reeves
Female genital mutilation; criminal penalty and civil action. If a person knowingly circumcises, excises, or infibulates a female minors labia major, labia minora, or clitoris it will be viewed as a class 1 misdemeanor. This will be a Class 1 misdemeanor for the parent or guardian to consent to the circumcision and to the one who does the act of removing the female genitalia. Makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor, for any person to knowingly circumcise, excise, or infibulate the labia major, labia minora, or clitoris of a minor. The bill makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor for any parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the care of a minor to consent to such circumcision, excision, or infibulation. The bill also makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor for any parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the care of a minor to knowingly remove or cause or permit the removal of such minor from the Commonwealth for the purposes of performing such circumcision, excision, or infibulation. The bill also provides a civil cause of action for any person injured by such circumcision, excision, or infibulation. The bill also provides that any of these offenses shall be a separate and distinct offense and shall not preclude prosecution under any other statute.
There are some new laws which went into effect on July 1, 2017 in regard to traffic, and I wanted to make sure that everyone is up to date on these issues. The new laws are mainly targeted towards driving violations while on the highway, but one of them allows a possible second chance for those who have committed a minor violation.
Failure to drive on right side of highways or observe traffic lanes; penalties. This law outlines the new fine for driving on the wrong side of the highway or not observing traffic lanes. Sets the fine for failing to drive on the right side of highways or failing to observe traffic lanes at $100. Under current law, any such failure is punishable by a fine of no more than $250.
Failure to obey highway sign; driver stopped on highway shoulder to sleep or rest; prepayable offense. Stopping on the side of the highway to rest will result in a fine which you don’t need to go to court for, but if you’re parked in a dangerous position then you will be required to attend court. Provides that a violation of a highway sign where a driver has parked or stopped his vehicle on the shoulder of the highway in order to sleep or rest is a prepayable offense unless such vehicle is parked or stopped in such manner as to impede or render dangerous the shoulder or other portion of the highway.
Dismissal of certain traffic violations for proof of compliance with law. This law allows a court to dismiss a variety of violations, which are listed below, if the violator provides proof of compliance on or before their court appearance and the court chooses to do so. Provides that a court may, in its discretion, dismiss a violation for failure to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of change of address, for failing to register, title, or properly display license plates, for failure to pay local licensing fees or taxes, for failure to have certain safety equipment or having unsafe or defective equipment, or for improper tinting, if such a person can prove to the court compliance with the law on or before the court date and payment of court fee.
Gerrymandering, or the act of redrawing district borders in order to benefit one political party, is an often debated topic. Some think that taking the ability to gerrymander away from elected officials and placing it on independent commissions would be an effective way to resolve this issue, but a recent study performed by researchers at UCLA and Yale shows that these commissions tend to draw maps that are even more biased than those maps drawn be elected officials.
The researchers began by creating a series of theoretical district borders which were based solely on equal population and geographical continuity. Once these maps were created, the researchers assessed what the margin of victory would have been for either Democrat or Republican in each of these new districts. These new maps, with their theoretical margins of victory, were then compared against maps from elected officials to see which map resulted in less competitive elections. (e.g. if the map has a high percentage of re-election of incumbents, it would by definition be a map that is less competitive.) The independent commission’s maps assured that 75% of the incumbents would be re-elected, while elected officials provided a similar surety of re-election at 77%. Thus, there really was little difference. The independent commission maps were just as competitive as the elected official drawn maps.
Some politicians and voters are beginning to believe that we must hire non-biased commissions to redraw district borders, but these groups don’t produce maps any more competitive than elected officials. Moreover, if you don’t like the independent commission’s map, then you have no recourse. These independent commissions answer to no one. The elected officials can be thrown out of office at the polling booth. So why send election map drawing to a body that answers to no one and produces a product that is not any better than the product developed by elected officials who answer to everyone?
Link to the article: http://reason.com/blog/2017/07/14/independent-commissions-gerrymander-just
In order to improve our roadways, the Virginia Department of Transportation will be conducting public opinion surveys of up to 1,600 users of the I-66 corridor. Don’t be alarmed if you receive a phone call from the Southeastern Institute of Research (SIR), the consultant who will be conducting the survey, asking if you will participate as they will be conducting research about your thoughts on I-66. These calls have already begun as of Wednesday, July 19th and will continue for four weeks or until the 1,600 interviews are done. It is important that you cooperate and aid the Virginia Department of Transportation so that they can better meet your roadway needs.
We learned last week that Virginia ended the fiscal year with a $132 million budget surplus. This is the direct result of the Republican-led General Assembly’s conservative budgeting and responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars. While Washington deals with massive debts and deficits, Virginia has produced five budget surpluses totaling over $2 billion.
Getting to this point wasn’t easy. We faced a $1.5 billion deficit earlier this year. We made tough decisions and adopted conservative budget amendments to keep spending in check and balance our budget. But we were also able to fund the core functions of government like K-12 education and public safety, providing a pay raise to teachers, state police officers and sheriff’s deputies.
Our surplus may be great news, but we also have to be cautious about the future. Virginia’s economy is struggling. We continue to lag behind the national recovery, and many people have traded higher paying jobs for lower paying ones. That means we must continue to be conservative and responsible with our budgeting.
That also means we must continue to remain laser focused on strengthening our economy. It’s becoming clear to me that the McAuliffe/Northam approach to economic development might attract a lot of headlines, but it’s not creating the solid economic growth we need. Over the next few months, I look forward to sharing how Republicans will grow our economy to help Virginia families and businesses.
Virginia is on the rise again. A recent ranking by CNBC shows that Virginia is now 7th on the list of best states to do business in which is a large improvement compared to last year’s 13th place ranking. After having been ranked #1 in 2007, 2009, and 2011, Virginia has dropped in the ratings for the past few years, but the recent increase shows the resilience of our economy and government. CNBC’s rankings were based off of 10 categories which are cost of doing business, economy, quality of life, technology & innovation, education, business friendliness, access to capital, and cost of living. I am proud to say that Virginia ranked 2nd in workforce quality and was in the top 10 for workforce and business friendliness.
In the past 3 years, unemployment rates have dropped from 5.4% to 3.8% and unemployment claims have dropped to a 44-year low. In addition to lowered unemployment, there has been a large influx of capital investment, job openings, and people in the workforce. To be more specific, Virginia has experience a record breaking $16.16 billion in capital investment while adding over 187,500 new jobs. Now that Virginia is back in the top 10, it will likely continue to grow as our high ranking will be very appealing to companies who are looking to expand or relocate.
Despite all of the improvements we have made there are still areas which we can improve upon. Despite being highly ranked in workforce quality and business friendliness, Virginia received a poor ranking, 35th in the nation, for cost of doing business, which might make it difficult to establish new businesses. In addition to the CNBC ranking, over 5,000 businesses were surveyed, and their biggest issues were workforce training, tax reform, and regional cooperation in economic development. It’s obvious that Virginia is moving in the right direction with lowered unemployment and increased capital investment, but now we need to focus on making our state more business friendly in order to continue rising and regain our #1 ranking.
Although raising taxes will provide states some of the immediate funding they need to cover budget deficits, how harsh will the future impact be? Thanks to an article my fellow Virginia State Delegate, Israel O’Quinn, sent to me, I hope to be able to enlighten you on this question and highlight why increasing taxes and thus state funds doesn’t necessarily mean increased financial stability.
In an article originally published by Investor’s Business Daily, studies from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University reveal the relation between economic stability and Republican controlled, low-tax states compared to the low solvency of Democratic states with high-taxes.
While GOP controlled states such as Florida, Utah, and Tennessee landed in the top 10 best run states, states like New Jersey, Maryland, and California, all under Democratic control, were part of the 10 worst run states. These rankings were determined by 5 factors which assess the fiscal solvency of each state. These range from cash solvency, the ability to pay immediate bills, to trust-fund solvency which assesses a state’s unfunded pension liabilities and state debt. It seems a common trend that states in the bottom 10 are thinking too much about the present and not looking enough to the future. New Jersey and Illinois give great examples of this as they both scored in the bottom of the long-run solvency category which is concerned with meeting long-term spending goals, yet they both did significantly better in service-level solvency which looks at their ability to meet increased spending demands. It seems only natural that the states who meet increased spending while not focusing on meeting future goals are the ones who have the least fiscal solvency.
It should seem obvious that raising taxes isn’t the answer as 4 of the 9 states who raised their taxes this year are in the bottom 10 of the rankings and none of them managed to make it into the top 10. After seeing this it should be clear that the amount of money available isn’t the issue, it’s the ways in which the government uses tax payer money which decides whether the state will have fiscal stability or not.
If you want to check out the article for yourself, the link is here: http://www.investors.com/politics/commentary/best-run-states-are-all-solidly-republican-worst-run-mostly-democratic-study-finds/
The Lorton Workhouse Art Center’s annual 4th of July fireworks show is coming up! Here’s a message from the Workhouse:
Come join us for Fireworks at the Workhouse!
Saturday, July 1, 2017 – 5:00 – 9:30 p.m.
Admission to the Show: FREE
Admission for vehicle parking: $20 per car (cash at the gate)
Admission to exclusive VIP lounge: $50 per person (children under 12 are free)
Enjoy the Workhouse Arts Center’s annual fireworks display with a unique VIP Experience! Only VIP ticket holders will receive access to the Springfield Outback Steakhouse Lounge in the McGuireWoods Gallery. VIPs will receive complimentary reserved preferred parking, a private indoor concert from musician Heather Renee and reserved premium seating for the fireworks display. Your VIP ticket also includes buffet-style offerings sponsored and provided by the Springfield Outback Steakhouse along with two beverage tokens, each of which may be exchanged for a single serving of beer, wine or soft drinks. Additional beverages may be purchased a la carte from the VIP Private Bartenders. Buy Tickets Here: https://reservations.workhousearts.org/Info.aspx?EventID=3
Volunteer opportunities: Come volunteer during Fireworks and get free parking, free show, free food, and a free “I did hard time at the Workhouse” t-shirt! Bartenders, ABC monitors, gallery sitters, and more – 2 hour shifts! Sign up here: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080f44adad28a7f58-fireworks
We’re thrilled to announce that music sensation Shane Gamble will be headlining our entertainment during Workhouse Fireworks! Even better, Shane will be returning to the Workhouse on August 12th for Workhouse Brewfest! Enjoy the video for Shane’s song “Summertime Dream.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pa7D0GxM0ig
South County Little League had a great Opening Day last weekend! It was an honor to throw out the first pitch one last time.