By Delegate Rob Bloxom
Hi, this is Rob Bloxom with this week’s Capitol report. We have reached the halfway point of this year’s session. The House has finished all our bills, and the Senate has finished theirs as well. The bills will now be sent to the opposite chamber to be examined. The only item that each body is working on is its own respective budget, and it will be unveiled this week. I will report on the House’s budget next week.
Some major policy shifts were voted on this past week with the legislation of marijuana taking the top spot. House Bill 2312 is a massive bill topping 500 pages. This bill is the product of the Governor’s marijuana task force. It sets up the framework in which marijuana can be grown, processed, distributed, sold, and taxed. The bill also sets up programs supported by the tax revenue. This passed on a party line vote. There are a number of my Republican colleagues who support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. These supporters could not vote for this bill as it contains many provisions that they could not overlook. I did not support this bill. I believe it failed to acknowledge the problems associated with legalization and the cost that accompanies it. Instead, it overprojects the tax revenue generated and sets up new programs that these revenues are intended to cover (similar to the lottery for school campaign). When the programs are established, however, they will need to have supplemental funding. I believe that this is a bad deal for Virginia.
The last two bills which made the headlines were criminal reform bills. The first is House Bill 2331. This bill eliminated mandatory minimums on certain offenses. I supported this legislation because I feel that a judge who hears the case should be able to take into account the totality of the evidence and the defendant’s circumstances, and then impose a fair sentence. The next bill is House Bill 2263. This bill eliminated the death penalty. I voted against this bill, as I believe there are crimes that occur every so often that are so heinous that the ultimate price needs to be paid by these vile offenders. This sentence is not sought frequently, nor should it be. However, I do not believe it should be completely abolished as a possible punishment.
I encourage you to follow along the legislative process by streaming the committee and floor sessions at https://virginiageneralassembly.gov/house/chamber/chamberstream.php. As always, I welcome you to contact me with any questions or concerns at my district office at (757)824-3456 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.