Session in full swing

Published 10:04 am Thursday, January 24, 2019

The 2019 General Assembly session is in full swing now as the first pieces of legislation have already passed the House! This is our short session, and things always seem to move so much faster during the 46-day session. This week our Republican Leadership Team delivered speeches on the House floor about our priorities, protecting taxpayers from a hidden middle class tax hike, and protecting our pro-business policies.

Last week, Republicans delivered three speeches on the floor of the House of Delegates laying out in clear terms what is at stake this session and beyond. On Monday, House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert spoke about our priorities for the 2019 session, including providing middle-class tax relief, improving school safety and lowering health care costs. On Tuesday, Caucus Chairman Tim Hugo discussed in detail our proposal to provide middle-class tax relief to hardworking families. Surprisingly, our Democratic colleagues claimed that the governor’s budget did not include a tax increase, despite the fact that a number of editorial boards have blasted his proposal for making Virginians pay higher taxes. On Wednesday, Majority Whip Nick Rush spoke about our plans to transform Virginia’s economy for the future by promoting major economic development deals with Amazon and Micron, aligning our higher education system to meet the needs of our economy, and funding research and commercial development.

If you contrast this agenda with the proposals from Democrats to raise taxes, increase the cost of doing business, and empower unions by repealing right to work laws, you can see that Republicans should continue to lead and govern our Commonwealth.

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On Wednesday, Judge Patricia West was confirmed by the House and Senate as the newest judge on the State Corporation Commission. Judge West is a highly qualified judge with the resume necessary to serve in this role. The State Corporation Commission regulates and oversees some of Virginia’s largest industries, including electric utilities, financial institutions and insurance companies. The SCC also manages all corporate filings – including the paperwork needed to start a business in Virginia.

The SCC is a constitutional entity whose judges are elected by the General Assembly. Like with all judges, we seek to elect people who will uphold the law as it is written. Judge West’s election to the State Corporation Commission means women will now hold the majority on this important court. Judge West has served as a judge in the Virginia Beach Circuit Court, served as chief deputy attorney general of Virginia, and served as chair of the Virginia Ethics Council.

Currently, she is a distinguished professor of law and government at Regent University where she also serves as associate dean in the School of Law.

I was proud to support this highly qualified woman to serve in this important role. Despite her remarkable resume, no Democrat supported her.

Many of you have written and called my office asking me to oppose legislation introduced by Governor Northam which would have impacted your Second Amendment rights. I am proud to report Republicans voted Thursday to defeat these far-left gun-control bills that would infringe on the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens but will do nothing to prevent gun violence.

Governor Northam’s gun control package included legislation to reinstate the “one gun per month” law, legislation to make it illegal to carry some weapons in some public places, and legislation that could make it illegal to own a .22 caliber hunting rifle.

We are committed to common sense laws that protect people, but that does not have to come at the expense of our constitutional rights. Just two years ago, we brokered a bipartisan agreement to expand background checks at gun shows and make it harder for domestic abusers to gain access to firearms. These are the kind of responsible steps we can take, but overly-broad efforts to take away the constitutional rights of law-abiding individuals are not the right approach.

DEL. C. MATTHEW FARRIS represents Buckingham in the Virginia House of Delegates. His email address is