The Penultimate Week
This is the penultimate week of the General Assembly. Saturday, February 23rd, is the final day of the Assembly for the year, and I am here to provide you with some updates as we move through the legislative process.
Record of the Rolls of the Commonwealth:
The Keeper of the Rolls of the Commonwealth is the House of Delegates Clerk, G. Paul Nardo. He is responsible for tracking and communicating all House and Senate legislation passed by the General Assembly and notifies the Governor for his actions. He has graciously given us an update on the legislation currently signed into law. To date (February 15th) the House Clerk’s Office has enrolled 208 bills for signatures from the Speaker of the House and the Lt. Governor. There have been 146 bills communicated to the Governor’s Office for his review. The Governor has acted on 14 bills to date (signed into law) which are listed below:
SB 1255- Ruff
HB 1853- Bulova
HB 1940- Bell, Robert
HB 1964- Helsel
HB 2054- Carr
HB 2138- Thomas
HB 2197- Gilbert
HB 2287- Leftwich
HB 1953-Campbell, J
HB 2665- Stolle
HB 1712- Herring
The Clerk will communicate periodically the bills that have been signed into law as we finish out this legislative session. My two remaining resolutions, HJ 593 and HJ 720, will be heard in the Senate Rules Committee on Monday afternoon.
Tax Conformity and Budget Bill
I have heard from hundreds of constituents concerned about their taxes. Governor Northam today signed tax conformity legislation. The Department of Taxation can now begin to process individual income tax returns. They will process them in the order they have received returns and there is a significant backlog. The Department of Taxation warns that you may experience slower turnaround times for refunds. You can check Where’s My Refund on the Department’s website to keep track of your returns.
This was a compromise $1 billion tax relief package that passed with bipartisan support. This bill includes conformity withfederal tax laws. Constituents who itemized on their federal taxes must also itemize on their state taxes. Likewise, constituents who take the standard on their federal taxes must also take the standard on their state taxes. I have heard from hundreds of constituents that this was their priority, and I am pleased to have voted in favor of this measure.
Virginia also voted to increase the standard deduction. The standard deduction will be $9,000 for married, filing jointly and $4,500 for individuals. Many taxpayers will receive a one-time refund of up to $220 for married filing jointly and $110 for individual filers. This will come later in the year. The bill also eliminates from state taxes the $10,000 cap on real estate on personal property taxes imposed by the Trump tax bill. However, the House and Senate bill keeps the cap on total deductions up to $313,000 on total deductions.
The compromise bill establishes a reserve fund for any additional revenue resulting from the Trump tax bill. These funds will be used to make investments in things like education, infrastructure projects, stormwater mitigation, or provide further targeted tax relief. This bill did not include the Earned Income Tax Credit which would have provided even further relief for 5,200 families in the 73rd that are harmed by the Trump Tax bill.
The House and Senate budget bills are currently in reconciliation. This could mean that Henrico County Public Schools will get $1.8 million less than the Governor’s original proposed budget. In the past decade, the General Assembly has whittled away at the funding available to our public school systems- funding that could be going toward smaller class sizes, investments in STEM, lower administrative fees, and supplies so our teachers do not have to purchase pencils from their own paycheck. I will be following the reconciliation process very closely and continue to advocate for Henrico schools. An investment in our children is an investment in the future of our Commonwealth.
The Week in Brief
On Thursday, Rabbi Dovid Asher of Keneseth Beth Israel gave the prayer invocation at the beginning of the Floor Session. You can watch his lovely prayer by clicking here, and you can watch my introduction of him by clicking here.
Floor Sessions this week were longer than usual due to the volume of bills that had been acted upon in committee, and also thenumber of bills that have been put into conference. One bill that is moving through the Courts Committee is SB 1604. This bill would classify any kind of animal abuse as a class 6 felony. Current law classifies animal abuse as a class 1 misdemeanor. Should this bill make it to the floor of the House, I will support it. I have been following the story of Tommie the dog that was found on fire in Richmond, and I am so upset to know that he passed away Friday morning. I believe a stronger law for animal abuse needs to be enacted to prevent this type of inhumane treatment of animals.
In the Community
Henrico County is looking for teachers! There will be a hiring event on March 2nd from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm at Glen Allen High School (10700 Staples Mill Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060). Henrico is seeking teachers as well as school counselors, librarians, psychologists, social workers, bus drivers, and nurses. Human Resources staff from the school division will be available to chat, as well as representatives from individuals’ schools. Be sure to bring hard copies of your resume! Walk-ins are welcome, but they strongly encourage registration. You can register at this link.
Henrico schools have begun the process of recruiting for the 2019-2020 Early Learning Preschool. ELP is designed to provide a high-quality preschool environment for children in Henrico who will be 4 years old by Sept. 30, 2019. The program is funded by Head Start, Title I and the Virginia Preschool Initiative. More information can be found at this link.
The Community Foundation is seeking nominations for the REB Awards for Teaching Excellence. If you know a special teacher deserving of this award, please submit a nomination! Criteria and letters of support must be submitted by February 25th. You can view more information here.
The VMFA is hosting a Family Day Saturday, February 16th. The theme is ChinaFest: Year of the Earth Pig and will be held from 10 am -4:30 pm. There will be art-making activities, demonstrations, and performances. You will be able to decorate your own fan and create a miniature Earth Pig sculpture. A full schedule of events can be found by clicking here.
Thank you to the thousands of constituents who have emailed and called the office to advocate for legislation. As always, please reach out if I can be of service to you. It is a privilege to serve you.