By Delegate Rob Bloxom

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Hi. This is Rob Bloxom with this week’s report from Richmond. This year’s reelection is looming large in most delegates’ minds. This overshadows good policy decisions in many cases. Delegates have submitted bills to “fire up their base” and to catch delegates of the other party in a “bad” vote. Those votes will become a political flyer or a television ad. I understand the game, but do not enjoy this part of the job. Hot button issues always overshadow some of the big decisions that really move the needle to help Virginians move forward.

Some of the major issues that will be discussed and hopefully will be decided are the funding and improving of Interstate 81, the incentive package for Amazon, and the Internet Sales Tax Wayfair Bill. Interstate 81 is the most important artery of commerce in the western part of the Commonwealth. Truck traffic as well as high volume car counts and years of neglected maintenance have now made this a “must-do” project. The differing views on how to improve and fund this four billion dollar project is top priority for the region. The problem is asking the rest of the state to help.

The Amazon incentive deal is the top priority for Northern Virginia. What I have seen of this incentive package is a combination of transportation improvements, higher education expansion, and tax credits on jobs created. It is hard to argue the Amazon deal is a big catch for Virginia. On the other hand, you are giving the richest man in the world huge incentives to locate here. This would be such a tremendous economic driver for Northern Virginia, but similar to the Interstate 81 issue, the other regions of Virginia would need to help.

The other topic of discussion that is hidden in the background is the Wayfair sales tax on internet purchases. This is a simple way to level the competitive playing field, requiring the same collecting of tax that brick and mortar stores have done for decades in our state.

All these projects that affect specific areas of the commonwealth, along with many others, are presently being contemplated in Richmond. As I previously mentioned, I sincerely hope that smart policy decision making will rise above concerns relating to November’s election.

As always, I welcome you to visit me in Richmond, or call me at (804)698-1000 if you have any questions or concerns. You may also email me at delrbloxom@house.virginia.gov.