Opening of the 2014 General Assembly Session:
Wednesday, January 8th, marks the beginning of the 2014 General Assembly Session. There will be changes and some uncertainty. Governor Bob McDonnell will leave office and Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe will be inaugurated on Saturday.
What are some of the big issues this year?
- Jobs and the economy are always at the top for me. Keeping Virginia business friendly and bringing jobs to Southside are of utmost importance.
- A new biennial budget must be completed. Governor McDonnell has proposed a budget of $95.9 billion for fiscal years 2014-2016. The General Assembly will amend the proposal and pass a budget. There is uncertainty about how the new governor will deal with it. He has stated that he will veto any budget that does not include Medicaid expansion. That is a very expensive move. By law the Virginia budget is always a balanced budget. The money must be there to cover costs. We do not print money or run on credit.
- Medicaid expansion is a huge issue. Governor McDonnell did not support Medicaid expansion without reform. A study in 2010 found that in Virginia in 2009 there was over $80 million of fraud, abuse and mistakes in the Medicaid program. Expansion would add about 400,000 people who need healthcare to the rolls. We need to get rid of the fraud and mistakes before consideration of expanding such a large piece of the Virginia budget. While the Federal government offers to pay the majority of expansion for the first 3 years, it is estimated that Virginia must be prepared to pick up $1 billion cost thereafter.
Among the bills that I have introduced, several bills are at the request of constituents who contacted me.
- HJ 29 is a request for a study by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to determine the overpopulation of some wildlife in Virginia. All of us probably know someone affected or have personally had vehicle damage from an encounter with a deer. As I researched the issue, it was interesting to find that even in Northern Virginia with the denser population of people, there are more than 4,000 automobile accidents a year in Fairfax County involving deer.
- HB_212 would prohibit having a pet in a person’s lap while driving. It is a safety issue.
- HJ 28 is a study proposal to find the savings from using recycled materials in the manufacturing process. If the resolution passes, the commission would look at manufacturing throughout the commonwealth to see what products could be diverted from landfills and used in the manufacturing process, reducing the cost of manufacturing and freeing up landfill space.
- HB 214 would require that a person must live in Virginia to buy Virginia Farm Vehicle tags. Those tags have a reduced price.
If you want to read or keep up with Virginia legislation, you may go on line to: http://legis.virginia.gov/
As always, I hope that my 14th District constituents will let us know how you feel about the state issues that are before us.
We are now set up in our offices in Richmond. My legislative assistant, Mary Franklin, is staffing our office here, located in Room 702 of the General Assembly Building. You can contact us by sending an e-mail to DelDMarshall@house.virginia.gov or by sending a letter to me at PO Box 406, Richmond, VA 23218-0406, or by calling 804-698-1014. Visit my website at: www.dannymarshall.com