Governor signs legislation into law
Published 11:03 am Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Sometimes legislation makes headlines but many don’t make the headlines. Below are several that I introduced, the General Assembly supported and the Governor signed.
Two bills addressed how the state lottery is handled by the state. One came about through a reporter that moved from Wisconsin to The Virginian Pilot. Because Wisconsin had a problem with their lottery, he researched the Virginia lottery. What he discovered was that the biggest frequent winners were those associated with stores that sell tickets. While no one could prove or disprove that anything illegal was happening, they concluded that probably winners were selling winning tickets back to the store at a discounted amount. The merchant then would redeem at full price. Frequently, the goal was to avoid back taxes or child support. My bill makes this a crime. If caught, both the seller and the merchant would be liable for this crime. Another cropped up because of the $1 billion plus winning in South Carolina. My friend, Lionel Spruill and I, had carried legislation that would protect the privacy of winners.
Too frequently those who have cancer or other serious medical issues are blocked from getting the proper care they need because an insurance company employee denies timely service. In situations such as with cancers that might be fast growing are at risk if the doctor is not allowed to do timely follow-up tests to learn the speed of the cancer’s growth. The Governor liked this bill so much that he amended it to go into effect in April rather than waiting until the normal July 1 starting date.
INCOME TAX REDUCTION
For those that will lose land for the proposed natural gas pipelines, I obtained tax relief for land purchased by the gas companies. Usually, when one sells real estate the profit from that sale is taxed as a capital gain. The dilemma is that some of the property that is being taken will have been held by families for generations. Their tax bill would take a major portion of those forced sales, adding insult to their injury. My bill would treat these payments as the reimbursement of a loss rather than a profit.
The forestry and logging folks came to me asking that I introduce legislation that would allow their logging trucks to use amber lights to warn other vehicles that it might be dangerous to follow too close, that a branch might fly off. Some had started doing so because of their concerns for the well-being of other road users. Law enforcement have at times written them tickets for the unauthorized use of the lights. My bill allows them to legally use those lights to protect the public.
UPDATE THE RULES OF OCCUPATIONAL PROFESSIONS
One area of concern for several years is how we regulate those who build our houses, fix our pipes and rewire our homes. Everything seemed to slow whenever there were complaints or when one needed to renew their license to do business. The computer system was out of date and was not efficient, morale was poor because professionals and complainants alike could not get things accomplished in a timely manner.
What we learned is that money was piling up from license fees. What my bill does is requires that money be used to update the office within two years. After that time, any extra licensing dollars will be used to reduce license fees in future years. This should allow complaints to be addressed more professionally. It will help when multiple complaints are filed against a contractor. This will allow staff to clear false claims faster and deal with poor contractors to require more training or remove them from the trades.
Each of these bills relates to the issues of only a few, but in each case they are important to those affected. Only a few are big lottery winners. Hopefully, few will get fast developing cancer. Likewise, no one wants to have construction problems, but when there is a difference it is always best to work the problems out quickly and professionally.
Frank Ruff represents Lunenburg in the state Senate. His email address is Sen. Ruff@verizon.net.