Delegate Bloxom updates on bills he’s carrying

February 2, 2023
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By Delegate Rob Bloxom

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This is Rob Bloxom with this week’s Capitol Report from Richmond.

As we sped through the third week of this year’s session, we begin the fourth week just three short days from Crossover. This is when all the House bills must be acted on or the legislation will have to wait until next year.

All the committees have full dockets to try to give the bills a full, fair hearing.

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The Appropriations Committee is really filling up because any legislation that has a fiscal impact will have to be referred to the Appropriations Committee. We on the Appropriations Committee do not debate the merits of the bill as much as the cost. We try to concentrate on the current cost to the state as well as future costs. I concentrate on the long-term cost and try to minimize the expenses being pushed down to the local level. As the past chairman of the Appropriations Committee once told me, “You say no a lot more than you say yes.” Great policy with a long-term unknown cost will probably stop in the Appropriations Committee.

The first legislation of my focus is making the permanent absentee voter list an annual one. This helps the registrar keep a clean list. Two percent of the absentee ballots that were mailed out statewide were returned, probably because people moved. The registrar will send out a letter to the absentee voter at the beginning of the year for them to confirm that they wish to stay on the absentee mailing list or wish to be removed. If they do not reply, by federal law, they cannot be removed from the roll for four years. This is an added expense and workload for the registrar each year. It does not change the qualifications for absentee voting.

The next bill removes the witness signature requirement on the absentee ballot.

It requires the voter to provide the last four numbers of their social security number and their birthdate. This is information a registrar can check, whereas a witness signature cannot be verified.

The last bill is what I would call “the next person up in local elections.” This is how we interpreted the regulation, but an opinion came from Richmond that we have been doing it incorrectly for decades. The bill is restricted to town and municipal elections with a population of 4,000 or less. In write-in votes in elections, the winner might refuse to serve and this would allow the next person, who received the second most votes, to fill the office. This would prevent us from having multiple new elections to fill a vacancy.

You may continue to follow these bills and others as they move through the committees by tracking them at https://lis.virginia.gov. Feel free to contact me at my office in Richmond on 804-698-1000 or by calling the district office at 757-824-3456. My email address is [email protected].gov

Thank you for your support,

Rob

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