Moving full steam ahead

Published 1:08 pm Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The 2019 General Assembly is moving full steam ahead. We are just over a week away from Crossover, which is the time when all the bills passed by the House head to the Senate and the Senate bills come to the House. The House has already passed several major pieces of legislation and we look forward to that work continuing.

Governor Ralph Northam, Speaker Kirk Cox, and a bipartisan group of legislators this week announced a historic agreement to clean up large coal ash ponds in Chesapeake City and the counties of Prince William, Chesterfield and Fluvanna. The agreement, supported by Democratic and Republican members of both the House and Senate, would require more than 27 million cubic yards of coal ash be removed from unlined ponds in areas adjacent to major waterways.

This agreement will ensure safe drinking water for residents in the 61st district. It is also important as we protect our beautiful lakes and streams. You may recall there were concerns about the Buggs Island Reservoir several years back when Duke Energy spilled 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River. Agreements like this will prevent something similar happening here in Virginia.

Governor Northam has proposed a policy that will lead to higher taxes being paid by more than 600,000 middle class families. To me that is completely unacceptable. Many middle-class families will no longer be able to deduct mortgage interest, property taxes, or health care expenses on their state taxes. House Republicans are offering a responsible plan to stop Governor Ralph Northam’s middle-class tax hike and provide targeted tax relief to middle and low-income Virginians; without costing the state a penny. This plan will fully implement the federal tax cuts at the state level, protecting a middle-class family that itemizes from what could be roughly a $805 tax increase or providing an additional $115 in tax relief to a family that chooses the standard deduction. You work hard for your money and as your delegate I am committed to making sure you can keep more of your money.

Recently my colleague, Republican Delegate Margaret Ransone, gave a heartfelt speech on the House floor following what she felt was a very disheartening situation earlier that morning in the subcommittee she is chairwoman of. She does not support the so-called “Equal Rights Amendment.” During her subcommittee she tried to speak directly to the young girls who were in attendance to share a few words of encouragement and to empower them that they could do anything they set their mind to. Can you believe, mothers in the room who were angry Margaret did not support the ERA covered their daughters’ ears! Margaret spoke about it on the House floor and used that opportunity to empower young women everywhere. Margaret is a strong woman and I am honored to serve with her in the House of Delegates.

My Legislative Aid, Nancy, and I are just getting started in Richmond. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting with so many of you who have stopped by my Capitol office over the past week. This week we welcomed Jeff Squires from Amelia, Baxter Stegall from Crewe, Russell Easter from Jetersville, Kenny and Ashley Hermsen from South Hill with the American Cancer Society, Sheila Hite from Victoria, Timothy Walker of Brodnax, Melvin Wiley of Farmville with Lunenburg Correctional Center, Lennice Werth of Crewe, and Margaret Taylor-Collins of Farmville with Central Southside Hemp Processors. We had Christy Glynn of South Hill with VA. Association of Home Care & Hospice. We also had Morgan Stanley of South Hill with VA YMCA Model General Assembly. We are glad to see Dr. Paul Nichols, Wanda Bailey and Gavin Honeycutt of Mecklenburg County Schools and School Board. If you happen to be in the Richmond area during this year’s General Assembly session; please stop in and say hello.

Del. Tommy Wright can be reached via email at DelTWright@house. or (804) 698-1061.