By Delegate Rob Bloxom
Hi this is Rob Bloxom with this week’s Capitol Report. The House of Delegates has a floor session scheduled for Friday, September 25th to discuss and vote on the bills passed out of the Senate during the special session. I have not seen the House budget, so I cannot even speculate on what will be included in our spending package.
Since early voting for the November election began last Friday, I did want to take a minute to discuss the ballot initiatives that will be up for a vote. I strongly encourage you to vote yes in favor of all three ballot initiatives. You may find my reasons for suggesting this below.
The first is a constitutional amendment to end gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is the practice by the controlling political party to draw district boundary lines that favor one party getting reelected. Gerrymandering, I believe, leads to hyper partisanship. Legislators are less likely to compromise or even listen to opposing views because their district is so slanted in their favor. The other concern for legislators is that they will be defeated by someone more partisan if it appears they are too cooperative with the opposite party. The process of drawing district lines is now done behind closed doors with the aid of a computer. The proposed amendment is for a bipartisan commission to draw the districts in the open with public input and comments. The commission would be made up of an equal number of democrats and republicans. It would also be comprised of legislators and citizens. The legislature would vote on the committee’s proposed plan, and if we do not approve of a plan after two attempts, the Supreme Court of Virginia would draw the lines. Although some may say this is not perfect, I believe it is a much better way to draw the districts, and I strongly encourage you to vote yes on Amendment 1.
The second constitutional amendment is to allow each county to give a 100 percent disabled veteran a vehicle tax exemption. This is another amendment I strongly encourage you to support and vote yes on.
The last initiative being voted on only applies to Northampton County. This is a sales tax referendum to increase sales tax by 1%. This 1% increase in its entirety goes towards the combined middle and high school complex rehabilitation project. Once the project is paid for the 1% increase will be eliminated. I support this because the need is great and there is no way to avoid the expense of the necessary school repairs. Fifty percent of the sales tax collected in Northampton County comes from its residents. The remainder is collected from tourists and travelers. The only other tangible source of revenue in Northampton is from property taxes. In conclusion, it would be much cheaper on the residents of Northampton to let visitors and tourists contribute half of the dollars needed for the renovations and/or new school buildings. I hope you will consider a yes vote for this referendum as well.
As the virtual special session continues, I encourage you to take a look at the bills that have passed the House of Delegates and those that are being sent over from the Senate at https://lis.virginia.gov/. 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 [email protected].