Week #8, February 27 – March 1, 2021
Following a marathon day of legislating until near midnight on February 27, the Virginia General Assembly met again on March 1, 2021, to adjourn sine die. On Saturday, the budget and several of the most controversial bills were pushed through against fierce Republican opposition by the Democrat controlled General Assembly.
On April 7, we will reconvene for one day to consider the Governor’s amendments to bills and vetoes, if any. I anticipate the governor calling even another Special Session soon to revise the budget to reflect the funds that Virginia could receive from the circa 90% pork-laden stimulus bill currently being debated by the U.S. Congress. Also, as a result of the passage of Democrat bill SB1261, which allows “court packing,” I anticipate the appointment of six new liberal Democrat judges to the Virginia Court of Appeals. If this does not suit you, remember that elections really do have real life consequences. I did not vote for SB1261.
By the time of sine die, additional revelations about the Parole Board’s alleged misconduct and law-breaking actions in releasing murderers from prison came to light. The Inspector General’s report on those actions was originally 13 pages but reduced to 6 after redacting to allegedly remove damaging information. Again, those responsible for all these actions must be identified and fired.
Major Bills from the Saturday Marathon Session:
HB2295 No firearms in Capitol Square and government buildings. No firearms will be permitted in these areas in Richmond or wherever state employees work elsewhere in the state. Translation: The right of self-defense has been taken from Virginians in their own capital and beyond! The vote was straight party lines, and I voted a loud NAY.
HB1800 The State Budget Bill. There are always items one supports and items one opposes funded in the budget. Recall, a year ago, the passed budget was about 20% larger than the previous budget. Much of that was unallocated as COVID expanded, but this budget reallocates that spending. While I supported the raises in the budget, especially the 5% for state and state supported local employees, as well as many other items, I could not support funding the anti-police bills, “packing” the Court of Appeals, taxpayer funding for abortion, spending your money for financial assistance for illegal aliens to attend state colleges, hiding criminal records, and more, so I voted against the final budget conference report.
HB2312 Marijuana legalization. It will be legal to posses and use marijuana in Virginia in 2024. The monster bill passed without statewide vetting and discussion of the pros and cons. Regardless of one’s feelings or thoughts on the topic, the serious health impacts, social costs, on- the- job impacts, driver issues, and other impacts deserve a wide public discussion prior to any legalization. The experiences of other states, such as Colorado where marijuana has been legalized and the costs have proven higher than the revenue, should be considered. The bill even requires 25% of the seller, processor, wholesaler, and producer licenses be issued to persons previously convicted on drug charges! I voted no.
SB1138 Repeals/guts the laws on blood, tissue or organ donations by people with HIV and other sexually transmitted infections; makes testing for those convicted of crimes, such as prostitution and drugs, optional and reduces the penalties for failure to disclose HIV status. I voted no.
HB2040 Unemployment Compensation. The VEC has been a huge failure in handling unemployment benefits even after increasing staff, hiring contractors, etc. The bill basically says that those paid but ineligible will not have to pay the money back.
HB2330 Percentage of Income Payment Program (PIPP). Electric bills for low income customers will be reduced. The money lost to the power company will be added to your and businesses’ electric bills. Related is that local DSS’s have a blank check to retrofit houses, change appliances to all electric, and more, also paid for through your electric bills.
SB1380 Electric School Buses. Concept was Dominion Power (serves 4/5ths of Virginia) would purchase $325,000 buses instead of $100,000 diesel buses for school divisions. Local schools would own the buses except for the batteries, which Dominion could use at night or at times when buses are not in use in order to provide power to the grid when solar and wind cannot. This is poor policy and approach. Dominion is in the power business, not school business. After heated debate, the bill was killed on a bipartisan basis.
HB1979 Electric Vehicle Rebate Program. The bill passed. It establishes a rebate program fund for used and new cars and light trucks.
Someone back in our history once said that while the legislature is in session, your life, liberty and money are in danger. I agree that is true today in Virginia. I was relieved to reach sine die. But let’s watch out for the governor calling more special sessions before he leaves office in January, 2022.
By the time you read this, I will have officially filed to run for re-election to the House of Delegates in the June 8 Republican Primary to be held at your usual voting place in the 9th District. I hope you will exercise your eligible American citizen’s right to vote. Countless Americans have sacrificed their health, homes, careers, fortunes, even their lives from as far back as the American Revolution to grant you that right. Make them and yourself proud. Get informed, then vote in every election.
I am appreciative of this newspaper for printing my weekly Poindexter Report during Sessions this year and to you for reading them. To contact me, email DelCPoindexter@house.virginia.gov or call my District Office at 540-576-2600. My 9th District mailing address is P.O. Box 117, Glade Hill, VA 24092.