VA House Republicans Pass Sales Tax Increase

06Governor McDonnell’s sales tax hike has passed the House.  This will be the third time Virginia Republicans have attempted to increase the sales tax to pay for transportation projects.

HB 2313 eliminates the Virginia  gas tax and raises the sales tax and car fees.  Americans for Tax Reform say that over the next five years,  eliminating the gas tax will save taxpayers a cool $3.5 billion but, and that is a big but,  increasing the sales tax on everyone will raise a cool $4.1 billion.   In layman terms – Virginia will lighten your pocket book around $607 million.    The additional fees included in the bill will  add  another $547 million to the pot for a total increase to taxpayers of $1.22 billion.

Sales taxes and gas taxes are both regressive.   Gas taxes are paid by people who are use the roads  –  Sales taxes are paid by everyone – including the poor and elderly on fixed income.

Please contact your State Senator and ask him/her to oppose this tax increase and then contact Governor McDonnell at 804-786-2211 and tell him NO MORE TAXES PERIOD.

The State Senate  passed a budget plan Thursday that would allow the state to expand the  Medicaid program under Obamacare.   The Medicaid proposal – which brought all 20 of the Senate’s Democrats on board – may hit a stumbling block in negotiations with the House of Delegates, which passed its version of a state budget Thursday that doesn’t have an avenue for expansion before July 2014.

Senate Republicans amended the budget measure to allow for Medicaid expansion — which could provide health care coverage to nearly 400,000 of the roughly 1 million uninsured Virginians — as long as the state is able to obtain reform waivers from the federal government as the program goes into effect.

The amendment introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Walter Stosch, R-Henrico, requires the hundreds of millions in Medicaid savings expected from the expansion be put in a trust fund that will ensure that the 10-year cost of the program to the state is only $137 million.  Under the House plan, reforms must be made to the state’s existing Medicaid program before the General Assembly could approve expanding the program. That means the earliest the commonwealth could expand its state-run health care program for the poor to 133 percent of the federal poverty level would be July 2014 — which in effect could mean an actual start date in 2015.

Please contact your state Delegate and tell them to vote NO on SB800 if it includes the Medicaid expansion.  Then call Governor McDonnell and ask him not to sign this atrocity if it passes the House.

Several bills have introduced some common sense measures to ensure the honesty and accuracy of our voting system – at least in Virginia.  These bills have passed the House and are now before the State Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections.

HB1765 would keep felons off our voter rolls by codifying the State Board of Elections current practice to check the monthly list of felony convictions received from the Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE) against the registered voters maintained on the voter registration system and notify the appropriate general registrar of any voter who is disqualified to vote due to a felony conviction.

HB1764 would prevent people from registering and voting in multiple states  directing  the State  Board to cooperate with other states to develop systems to compare voters and  registration lists in order to ensure accuracy of voter registration rolls,  prevent duplicate registration, and determine eligibility of  individuals to vote.

HB2331 would empower the Attorney General to investigate voter fraud in Virginia without first being asked by election officials or a local prosecutor.

Virginians need to get behind these bills by contacting the Privileges and Election Committee and ask that they pass these bills to the floor for a vote.

There are also several bills in the Senate to prevent voter fraud.

HB719 introduced by Senator Richard Black  removes several items from the list of acceptable identification documents that a voter must present when voting at the polls on election day: a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, or paycheck that shows the name and address of the voter and a voter’s social security card. The bill also requires that all forms of acceptable identification contain a photograph of the voter or the voter’s name and address, which conforms to the identification requirements under the Help America Vote Act of 2002 and harmonizes the identification requirements for state and federal elections. The bill has a delayed effective date of July 1, 2014, and its provisions are contingent upon funding being included in a general appropriation act passed by the 2014 Session of the General Assembly.   It passed the Senate and is now in the House Appropriations Committee.

SB1077 introduced by Senator Mark Obenshain authorizes the State Board of Elections to apply to participate in the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE Program) operated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  The SAVE Program enables access to immigration status and citizenship status information possessed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  This bill passed the Senate and is now in the House Privileges and Elections Committee.

SB1256 introduced by Senator Mark Obenshain  requires photo ID at the polls by eliminating all forms of identification that do not contain a photograph of the voter from the list of forms of identification any one of which a voter must present in order to be allowed to vote. The bill also adds a valid United States passport to the list and requires that a student identification card issued by an institution of higher education in the Commonwealth contain a photograph in order to be used by a voter.  This bill passed the Senate and is now in the House Appropriations Committee.

SB1008  introduced by Senator Bill Stanley would require individuals and groups conducting voter registration drives, when obtaining 25 or more voter registration applications from the State Board of Elections or local offices, to register with the State Board or local offices, provide information as required by the State Board, receive training, and execute a sworn affidavit that they will abide by all Virginia voter registration laws and rules.   It also prohibits pre-populating registration applications with information unless directed by the applicant to do so.   Finally, the bill reduces the time limit for mailing or delivering such completed applications from 15 to 10 days.    This bill passed the Senate and is now in the House Privileges and Elections Committee.

I am pleased that the  House and Senate have passed versions of Delegate Witt’s HB1577 that would prohibit the use of  Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits in any electronic benefit transaction (i) for the purchase of alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, lottery tickets, or sexually explicit visual materials or (ii) in any government store established for the sale of alcoholic beverages, establishment in which pari-mutuel wagering or charitable gaming is conducted, establishment in which tattooing or body-piercing is performed for hire or consideration, or adult entertainment establishment in which performers appear nude or partially nude. The bill incorporates HB 1307 and HB 2153.

Please contact your State Senators and ask them to please support this common sense measure.


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