By Delegate Rob Bloxom
Listen to this update:
We have reached the halfway point in this year’s legislative session known as “crossover” when all the House bills must be acted upon with either a pass or fail vote. Those that pass then head to the Senate to be examined with a fresh set of eyes in order to find any problems with our suggested law changes. These bills are also looked upon to make sure problems are really solved with these designated changes. The most important matter at hand is the two-year budget. Virginia, unlike the federal government, must have a balanced budget. The House is preparing our own budget while the Senate is preparing theirs. The Appropriations Committees and their respective staffs are hard at work grading and judging our requests to allocate our tax revenues in order to fund the core functions of government. Some of the budget amendments I have put forward are money for a corps study of the Chincoteague Inlet,the reshelling of oyster rocks, support of Riverside’s OB/GYN services, and shallow water dredging. There are quite a few other budget amendments that I have lobbied for, but with ninety-nine other delegates lobbying for worthwhile projects in their districts, I hesitate in being too hopeful.
Part of my legislation that has passed the House and is headed to the Senate is House Bill 577. This bill will allow watermen who soft crab scrape keep a certain amount of bycatch, similar to what the state of Maryland allows. House Bill 579 is also headed to the Senate. This bill would require Virginia state parks to collect transient occupancy tax if the locality requires other lodging establishments in the area to do the same. This would affect Kiptopeke State Park, as they do not currently collect this tax, whereas Cherrystone Campground as well as Sunset Resort which are on either side of the state park, do. This is more an issue of fairness as opposed to a large revenue producing measure. My House Bill 1392 would allow Wallops Island to be listed on the NASA license plate. This bill is also headed to the Senate. I still have four bills floating on the House side with three days for their fate to be decided. I will keep you informed as to their progress in my future updates.