As this week ended, I was stunned and sorrowful to learn of the death of Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia.
President Ronald Reagan made an outstanding choice when he appointed Justice Scalia to the United States Supreme Court. Among Scalia’s many attributes was his unrelenting insistence on deciding cases based on what should be the only criteria: the United States Constitution.
America is a better nation because of Justice Scalia. We should all be grateful for his leadership, his intellect and his principled dedication to our U .S. Constitution.
During the weekdays, we put in long but productive hours as we completed subcommittee and committee actions on our House bills. With hundreds of bills to process and complete action on to meet the “Crossover” deadline at midnight on February 16, our upcoming Monday and Tuesday will find us intensely focused on the work before us or coming up on the Floor. Crossover is when our bills must be delivered to the Senate and theirs to the House.
After Crossover, the House will only take up Senate bills, revenue bills, and the Budget bill HB30, which we will complete and report out of full Appropriations Committee on February 21 for full House consideration.
A number of bills of interest passed the House this week and have gone to the Senate for consideration. The GO VIRGINIA economic and workforce development bills HB834 and HB846 passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. I co-patroned these bills and expect them to result in a workforce better suited for today’s jobs and foster greater collaboration on regional and local projects among business, academia, and state and local governments.
Also passed was HB481, which addresses prevention in Virginia of instances such as the one that occurred in San Francisco in which the local sheriff released a prisoner for whom U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had issued a detainer to hold in custody for them to pick up and prosecute or deport. The released prisoner then committed a brutal murder, as you probably saw recently in the news.
We also passed the resolution to advance to the voters this coming November a Virginia Constitutional Amendment dealing with charter schools. Currently, local school boards have sole authority to establish public charter schools. The framework of this amendment will allow parents and proponents of a charter school to appeal to the Virginia Department of Education for a charter school if the local board denies an application for such. DOE may or may not issue the charter depending upon the circumstances.
Charter schools are just one of the choices parents are insisting on having around the country, including in Virginia, as many children do not fit the one-size-fits-all public school system we have today.
To follow up from last week on the urban chickens issue, the House Agriculture Committee passed a substitute to HB1231, which will be voted upon on Monday. Since the chickens have come to the dogs via towns and cities passing ordinances allowing chickens in urban/suburban backyards, the bill carves out special conditions only for dogs that kill or injure poultry.
The bill would allow the owner to transfer the dog to another owner whom the court deems appropriate; requires a microchip be fitted in the dog and registered to the owner; requires the owner to keep the dog in a secure kennel and kept on a leash and muzzled when off of the owner’s property. At this time, I do not support the underlying bill or the substitute to the bill.
In his proposed budget the Governor requested funding to plan for shutting down Catawba Geriatric Hospital and taking other actions to move patients from our institutions to community-based care. I have opposed this. The services and infrastructure are simply not available, especially not in rural areas, and there is no plan to provide community services on this scale.
By plan, I mean what services, where, who provides, and how is all this funded. It is clear now that the money committees are not inclined to go along with this proposal, so I expect we will end up with a study to obtain the answers to these questions.
As an aside, I noticed where the U.S. Supreme Court put a freeze on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CCP) regulations. Hopefully, common sense will prevail and our rates not increase by $5-6B from this improper regulation. I say “improper” because emails have been revealed describing how EPA and its environmental activist friends have colluded to put these and other regulations in place knowing the courts would reject them but also knowing the power companies would have to follow them for years while the court process plays off. The end does not justify the means, except to people like those who have their own agenda.
My HB587 protecting war monuments and memorials passed the House this week. I was pleased at the bipartisan support at an 84-16 vote. With this strong show of support, I am hopeful the Senate also will pass the bill. The House also passed the bills to implement the recent firearms agreement. My visitors this week included Dana Harris and Leslie Leonard on behalf of Mountain Valley Hospice in Stuart.
To arrange a Capitol tour or schedule a meeting with me, please contact my legislative assistant William Pace at (804) 698-1009 or DelCPoindexter@house.virginia.gov or write to me a P.O. Box 406, Room 802, Richmond VA 232218. I encourage you to visit my web site www.votepoindexter.com and to ‘like’ my Facebook page.