Column #1, January 8-11, 2020
The results of the 2019 November election resulted in the House majority changing and, thus, control of the House to 55 Democrats and 45 Republican delegates. The ‘goings on’ in the House of Delegates during the first week of this 2020 Session were unprecedented and not recallable in memory by the folks in Richmond’s political and public circles. Tradition and decorum have always called for the Rules for the Session process to be presented and approved in order to do business. These Rules lay out schedules, processes, specify Committees, how legislation is handled on the floor, etc. These agenda items are, historically, prepared and coordinated between the two-party Caucuses and finalized and approved on opening day. This year, instead, the Rules of 2019 were presented and approved to be in effect for 24 hours. Under these temporary Rules, the new House Speaker and Clerk were elected and sworn in.
Then, on the second day of Session new rules were presented by the new majority Democrat Delegates. They won approval 55 Yeas – 45 Nays on a party line vote. I first saw the new rules late that morning, just shortly prior to the start of that second day’s session. While generally the old Rules remained, some major changes were included that I found objectionable. One change was that the Rules Committee will be empowered to set House policy on firearms and sexuality issues without any discussion or votes by all House members. This is clearly a violation of centuries of precedent and democratic government, so I voted against the proposed rules because every elected House member, regardless of party affiliation, should have a vote on policy. Once these Rules were approved, Committee assignments and some name changes for Committees were announced by the Speaker.
Committee assignments are the prerogative of the Speaker of the House in accordance with a long-standing section of the Rules. I will continue to serve on the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Chesapeake Committee and the Counties, Cities, and Towns Committee, and now on the Finance Committee. Even as the senior returning Republican with ten years of experience on the House Appropriations Committee (HAC), as well as decades of professional, personal and fiscal business background, I was not reassigned to the HAC.
I have fought long and hard for conservative spending by our state and especially for a fair share of state resources to be appropriated for our rural areas of the Commonwealth, including the 9th District I represent. I understand elections have consequences and to the victor go the spoils. However, in order to continue to serve on the House Appropriations Committee, it was clear I would have to commit in advance to vote for the budget—a budget not yet crafted—without knowing its contents. Making such commitments runs against my professional integrity and personal principles. To best serve my constituents, I will continue to monitor and scrutinize the budget as it evolves. I have already submitted far more amendments to the Governor’s proposed budget than ever in my time as your Delegate and/or during my years on the HAC.
My last duty on the HAC, on January 2, 2020, in Blacksburg, was as chair of the Western Region Public Hearing on the Governor’s proposed budget, which he announced on December 17, 2019. At the hearing in Blacksburg, citizen after citizen commented they wanted no spending on gun control. My budget amendments include those requests. as well as many other comments made on that day and prior days. Thank you for your input and support.
On Friday morning, a Joint Senate and House Rules Committee meeting was called to be held immediately after Session adjourned. After the Joint meeting, a House Rules meeting was held. The latter voted 12-5 to ban firearms inside the Capitol and Pocahontas buildings, including legislators’ offices.
The above demonstrates where Virginia is for the next two years as the Governor and his allies in the House and Senate have complete domination of Virginia’s government. I and my Republican colleagues are committed to working for you. You entrusted me to represent you, to stand firmly for our Virginia values and rights, including allowing firearms to protect ourselves, our families and properties, as well as to protect ourselves from tyrannical government; ensure the prosperity and standard of living of Virginians; and defend the rights to life for innocent humans. I will do all I am able to follow and honor that trust.
There are numerous legislative proposals—and independent gubernatorial actions—that are going to have significant impacts on you and Virginia, especially those of us in rural areas. These proposals will a) raise Virginians’ electricity rates by about $6B according to the SCC; b) raise gas and diesel taxes not just by the 12-cents as proposed in the Governor’s budget but by another 18-cents on top of that to join a northeastern states compact to phase out gas and diesel use via a “cap and tax” system; and c) raising taxes by grabbing your money from reduced taxes from the Trump tax bill. From my recent experience on the HAC, I can tell you the proposed increases in state spending falls between $2.7B and $4B, depending on how you calculate the numbers due to the way the Governor’s proposed budget was crafted. Can we afford or need up to 10% increase in state spending, along with the accompanied mandated increases on localities?
In addition, we face an onslaught of anti-gun bills, which while (possibly) well-intended, do not address nor will resolve the real problem—which is we have evil/criminal people who do not or will not obey our existing or new laws. We also have a significant population with mental health issues that is most challenging to address while maintaining our 14th Amendment liberties.
Yes, this is a difficult time. Our way of life, personal values, standards of living and economic well-being are being challenged, often by outside groups. I take heart as I recall as a youth reading about John Paul Jones, who in 1779 replied to an insistent British request for surrender with his immortal retort, “Surrender? I have not yet begun to fight!” Against all odds, Jones and his crew won that battle.
This Session is scheduled to conclude on March 7. I truly appreciate hearing from my constituents. Your viewpoints are important to me. I can be reached in Richmond at (804) 698-1009 or DelCPoindexter@house.virginia.gov or by regular mail sent to me at P.O. Box 406, Richmond, Va. 23218. Legislation can be reviewed on the Legislative Information System or the Virginia General Assembly website. Sessions and some committee meetings are shown live stream and also archived and available on the House and Senate pages.
I will be reviewing my legislation, the proposed budget, and significant happenings in the House and General Assembly each week as we work through this Session. For timely access to my columns, please “Like” or follow me on FB or send your email address with permission to be added to my email list. Thank you for the honor of representing you and fighting for your interests in the oldest legislative body in the New World.