Opinion — Time to reflect and consider

Published 1:31 pm Thursday, March 10, 2022

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As we look ahead to the final week of the 2022 Virginia General Assembly session, it’s important to take pause and consider what it is we’re doing here in Richmond.

With a global national security crisis unfolding in Ukraine, energy and other costs skyrocketing here in the United States, and bad policymaking impacting our daily lives in Virginia in ways we could never have imagined, it’s time to find the right answer.

The Virginia House of Delegates has embraced that approach, seeking – above all – to carry out the will of the people.

Some of our colleagues in the Senate, however, have spent the session bragging about what they’re not doing, acting (in their own words) as a “brick wall” against any legislation that fails their partisan purity test.

In the last several weeks, Senate Democrats have killed every piece of legislation designed to protect the Second Amendment rights of lawful gun-owners. They’ve balked at legislation that would have prevented public schools from teaching that any race is superior to another. And they’ve openly and enthusiastically bragged about halting legislation that would have prevented babies who survive abortions from dying without care. This is all legislation I supported and voted yes on.

While the Senate version of the budget does include some commonsense measures, it doesn’t include adequate relief for taxpayers after two years of COVID-related strife and – now – soaring inflation and energy costs.

Still, House Republicans are continuing to fight for a taxpayer-friendly budget that meets Virginia’s most urgent education and other needs, and we’re seeing real progress on some of the session’s most important priorities.

Parents scored a major win when the House sent S.B. 656 to Governor Youngkin’s desk for signature. The legislation requires parents to be notified when students are assigned sexually explicit material and requires students to be assigned alternate material if parents register objections.

H.B. 971 conforms Virginia’s tax code to the federal Internal Revenue Code in part to grant Virginia businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic $201 million in tax relief, has already been signed into law by the Governor. Through this bill, Virginia is expanding and making retroactive tax benefits related to Paycheck Protected Program (PPP) loans and Rebuild Virginia grants to ensure COVID-19 aid granted to businesses won’t be treated as taxable income.

The Senate Education and Health Committee just sent legislation to the Senate floor that would ban discrimination in the admissions process at Virginia’s governor’s schools, ensuring that all Virginia students have access to our most prestigious schools.

Legislative Update:

Republicans campaigned and won on keeping our communities safe. I was Chief Patron of H.B. 435 to improve the Virginia Parole Board. House Bill 435 provides the Virginia Parole Board shall review the cases of each inmate serving 10 years to life in prison which are eligible for parole. Thereafter, those inmates would be eligible for parole every three years. The families of victims traumatized by horrible acts would not have to relive the nightmare each year. Inmates serving less than 10 years would remain eligible to have their cases reviewed each year.

Democrats decided that made too much sense, and that blue “brick wall” I mentioned previously decided to kill this legislation in the Senate’s Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee. Democrats blocking common sense legislation like this is the main reason Republicans will take back the Senate in 2023.

On a positive note, I was Chief Patron of H.B. 1360, authorizing the Adjutant General to allow efforts to make the state-sponsored life insurance program available to all members of the Virginia National Guard making them aware they are eligible for up to $1,000 in life insurance benefits. This legislation will not cost the Commonwealth any additional money nor will it fall back on Virginia Taxpayers. I was pleased to carry this legislation and will do all I can to provide for those who protect are freedoms.

Republicans worked hard representing Virginia’s values this legislative session. Governor Youngkin promised a new day in Virginia, and I am committed to working with him on his vision for Virginians.

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