400 years!

Published 12:39 pm Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Four hundred years ago the first Virginia General Assembly met in Jamestown, the oldest continuous legislative body in the new world. For 80 years they continued to meet in Jamestown; then another 81 years in Williamsburg. In 1780, then-Governor Thomas Jefferson convinced the General Assembly to move away from the mosquito infested area to more centrally located Richmond. There will be celebrations during the course of the year. You can learn more about them by going to www.americanevolution2019.com.

Some things have changed over the course of the intervening years. Then, there was one body. The members were elected to what were then called Burgesses. Today we have both a House of Delegates and a State Senate. Just as the Burgesses were elected by a vote of the people, today we are also. Of course, because of population growth, the districts are much larger today with each of the Senate districts now representing almost a quarter of a million people.

The legislative proposals are pouring in to be considered over the next six weeks. We will be pressed to be able to give many the full consideration they need. Therefore, we must focus on those that will affect the lives of the most Virginians. As I see it, these areas are most important.

1. Taxes

Because of the Trump tax cuts and policy changes in filing requirements, most will receive a lower federal tax bill. However, unless we change Virginia’s tax policy, many will have to pay more in state taxes, to the tune of $1.2 billion. My goal is to make sure that each of you receives your fair share of those extra dollars that belong to the taxpayers of Virginia.

Additionally, because of a Supreme Court ruling, sales taxes that Virginians were supposed to be paying on items they bought online will probably be collected from the seller much like it is handled at local retailers.

2. Economic Development and Jobs

Because job creation is what drives a growing and prosperous economy, I have legislation to deal with the new tax revenue that will be coming to Virginia from the expansion of Amazon.

To fill those jobs and other jobs requiring skills, legislation has been proposed to better address how we train for those needed skills. This will build on the fast track training I pushed through a couple of years ago.

3. Broadband Internet Service.

Finally, we are now having many who understand that internet connections are as important today as electrical power was in the early 1900s.

4. Election Reform

For far too long, the issue of having fair, free, and honest elections has been ignored. After an independent study clearly proved that things were being done to help one party over another, it is time to make the process of elections and drawing district lines fair to all.

5. Additional Reform

In the realm of foster care, after careful study, we now know that Virginia does not do well in serving those young people that have been split from their family. Many of us are committed to making needed changes. Likewise, I committed to reducing some of the unneeded regulations to operate a business in Virginia.

There are other issues that others will focus on. It is impossible for one legislator to focus on the myriad issues that affect the entire Commonwealth. This year, I will focus on the above as well as work on the budget and how we fairly deal with your tax dollars.

Frank Ruff represents Lunenburg in the state Senate. His email address is Sen.Ruff@verizon.net.