Adoption, tax bills, election review and gun laws

Published 10:36 am Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The 2018 General Assembly session has concluded its third week. Several very important bills have already passed through the House and are on the way to the Senate. This week I will be providing you updates on several key issues we are working hard to address such as adoption reform, improving our education system and fighting the opioid crisis. As I have said before, House Republicans are focused on passing “Practical Solutions to Everyday Issues.”

The House of Delegates this week passed three adoption bills that will help more children find loving adoptive parents. House Bills 241, 227 and 291 all passed through the House with bipartisan support. One bill in particular, House Bill 227, requires courts to consider the results of a national criminal history background check conducted on the prospective adoptive parent. The legislation is in response to a case out of Virginia Beach where a young female was found dead from an overdose. After an investigation it was learned that her adoptive parent had a long felony criminal history.

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Another bill shortens the length of time, from three years to two years, that a child must live with a close family member before adoption proceedings can begin. The third bill simplifies access to adoption files regarding court orders for adoptees and/ or adopters so they can more easily obtain personal vital records.

Democrats have introduced three major tax increases. These bills would implement a tax on video-streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, reinstate the so-called “death tax” and implement a statewide hotel tax. You don’t need higher taxes on hotels, Netflix and the assets of family members after they die. Over the past 15 years, the Republican-controlled House has defeated more than $30 billion in tax increases. This year we will add to that number, and I continue my pledge to stand against these new tax increases. You work hard for your money, and hardworking Virginians don’t need these tax increases.

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox and Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment announced the formation of a joint subcommittee on election review. The subcommittee will consider issues related to the conduct of elections that were brought to light following the November 2017 elections, including absentee balloting, the assignment of voters in split precincts, and recount law and procedures. One of the most sacred rights offered to the people of Virginia is the right to vote in a fair and free election. I thank Speaker Cox and Senate Majority Leader Norment for their leadership on this issue, and I will keep you updated with the findings of the joint subcommittee.

Democrats in the House have proposed a rule that would place restrictions on law-abiding citizens carrying a firearm while visiting the House Gallery. I strongly oppose this proposed rule. I have always been a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. Under the current rules, only citizens who have a concealed carry permit are allowed to carry a weapon in the House Gallery anyways. Concealed carry permit holders account for less than one percent of all crimes committed with a gun, and on Monday I plan to vote against anything that would restrict your rights.

As we start the General Assembly, I encourage you to fill out my session survey. Many of you may have already received it in the mail, but I encourage you to fill it out online here: gov/Survey.aspx?s=f5ba27b88cd9443bb9f8438d15eb2f01.

Please share the survey with your friends and neighbors in the 59th District so they can fill it out as well. Your thoughts on important issues will drive my work in Richmond. I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office over the coming months. I value the feedback you provide on a continual basis as it helps me do a better job of representing you. You can email me at or call me at (804) 698-1159. You can also join the conversation on our social media pages at www.facebook. com/DelegateMattFariss.

I will be providing you weekly updates during the 2018 General Assembly session and will be meeting with constituent groups after session to report on the session and take questions.

DEL. MATT FARISS can be reached at DelMFariss@house.virginia. gov or (804) 698-1059.