By Delegate Rob Bloxom
Hi, this is Delegate Rob Bloxom with this week’s Capitol report. The best news from Richmond this past week is that a so called “bad bill” HB 1422 resulted in being what I would call a “good bill”. This is the watershed implementation plan for Virginia to meet its next goal of clean water in the Chesapeake Bay for the year 2025. The original bill had hard, punishable deadlines for our farmers to meet stringent requirements. If they did not accomplish our nutrient reduction goals, then all practices would be mandated with no cost share guarantee. After some negotiation, the bill which emerged was one that acknowledged the reduction goals that needed to be reached by 2025. It took into account the state’s responsibility that the goals could not be met without technical assistance and steady cost share money, along with flexibility needed to implement the plans.
In other news, on the House side, gun control took the greater part of the news headlines. Bans on certain types of weapons and restrictions on magazine size, along with other gun accessories dominated other matters. However, there are many more issues that will probably have a larger effect on our daily lives and that will pass through the House committees. Bills that would increase gas taxes, electricity rates, and even a tax for plastic bags were passed in the House. Government employees’ unionization and minimum wage increases, along with hiring additional attorneys in the Attorney General’s office are bills that go against business, in that they raise the cost of doing business. The attorneys that are going to be hired have the purpose of finding and prosecuting businesses for discrimination as well as wage theft.
Bills are being passed so quickly that the proponents do not have time to defend their bills, and the opponents do not have time to study the bills to recognize the problems they may have. One such example is registering to vote before voting on Election Day. In principle, I do not have a problem with the theory as I believe every eligible citizen should exercise their right to vote. The problem is in the implementation of this proposal. I pointed out in committee and on the floor that our poll books at the precincts and the registrar’s office are not linked together, so I stated that there would be no way to do this. I was told that it will be left up to the professionals at the Board of Elections to implement this and that I should not be concerned. The only problem is that in this bill, there is a 2021 deadline to enact this, without any budget restrictions or guidelines. My fear is that it will be implemented with the cost being forced on the locality. Bills such as these without the realization of the ramifications are well intentioned but short-sighted, and we will be paying for them for a long time.
I am always happy to meet with the many constituents coming from the Eastern Shore and my Norfolk district, listening to their specific interests. I am always monitoring my emails and encourage you to contact me with your questions or concerns. I can be reached at 804-698-1100 or by email at DelRBloxom@house.virginia.gov.