Accountability for the Dan River Spill:
Clean up of the Dan River from the coal ash spill will take time, but it is mandatory. I met with the Virginia Attorney General's office to start the process to make sure Duke Energy is held accountable now and +20 years from now. I asked the representative attorney to look at what legal avenues Virginia should take.
Much of the ash, composed of heavy metals, will settle to the bottom of the Dan River and will lay there until the next flood. What happens to crop land and pasture land where cattle graze?
We could have a major flood next week or years down the road. If the next major flood is years down the road, we want Duke to be held responsible.
I have also talked to David Paylor, Director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, multiple times to bring up questions on water quality, effects on fish and wild life, effects on crops, and effects on cattle that graze on contaminated land.
I asked Mr. Paylor to look at the ash spill that happened in Tennessee a few years ago to see what lesson we could learn in regards to long term effects on water and air quality, fish and wild life, crops and cattle.
I do not want this major environmental accident to just fade away. This situation must not be “out of sight, out of mind.”
Please look at my web page for updates and give us your e mail address for Dan River Spill updates. www.dannymarshall.com
Hunting on Sunday
Hunting on Sunday is a personal issue to many folks in my district. There are quite varied reasons why some people oppose and some people favor it. People who live in my district that have answered surveys and contacted us in various ways have by large majority opposed hunting on Sunday—even avid hunters. Generally folks have asked for one peaceful day out of seven where there is safety for other outdoor activities and church services free of the sound of gunfire. I have voted against hunting on Sunday.
This year there was a House bill and a Senate bill to allow hunting on Sunday and they have both passed. When the Senate bill came through the Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee, I offered an amendment to restrict Sunday hunting to bow and arrow hunting, as is the model in North Carolina. The amendment received 10 yes and 11 no votes. Very close, but not successful.
So hunting will be allowed on private land, but is supposed to be done by permission of the landowner. As this goes into law, our citizens in the rural areas and others who go on rural walking trails, horseback riding or other outdoor activities need to be aware that Sunday will be different during the next hunting seasons.
Budget 99.9% Complete - No Agreement Yet
We have a major obligation in Richmond –pass a balanced state budget. As a Virginia House member, I am proud of the budget. It is focused and prioritized
The original budget proposal was prepared by former Governor McDonnell. The House Appropriations Committee and Senate Finance Committee have separately amended the budget, so that we have two different versions. Now the House and Senate Conferees (negotiators) are meeting to reach a consensus.
A budget is about priorities. We had to set priorities to allocate the money that we have. It is important not to make promises that we cannot keep, short-term or long-term. That is THE major difference between Federal spending and State spending.
House priorities this year allow for additional money above Governor McDonnell’s budget for:
- + $500 million for K-12 Education
- + $20 million for college tuition moderation
- + Nearly $50 million for mental health
- + $118 million for our hospitals
- Danville Regional Medical Center would receive $848,130
- Martinsville Memorial Hospital would receive $448,317
- + Nearly double funding for Free Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers like Health Center of the Piedmont (also known as PATHS)
In working to reach a consensus with the Senate, it is interesting to hear from our House Appropriations Chairman that we are only $26 million apart. That amounts to one-tenth of one percent of the state budget.
In other words, the budget is 99.9% done, except for one thing—Medicaid expansion. The Senate’s 20 Democrats say they are not willing to approve a budget without Medicaid expansion in it.
We disagree on Medicaid expansion. We know that. But we agree on 99.9% of our budget.
So, the question is: Are we going to hold up funding for our teachers, firefighters, police officers, hospitals and local governments over Medicaid expansion?
Governor McAuliffe and Senate Democrats have made it clear that they are willing to do that. Think about the consequences. We have heard a lot about the costs of Medicaid expansion, but what are the costs of not having a budget? The Virginia Budget allocates:
- $3 million per day –Mental Health
- $7 million per day—Public Safety
- $16 million per day—Transportation
- $19 million per day—K-12 Education
If the issue of expanding Medicaid stops the budget, Virginia comes to a halt on July 1st.
If you live in my district and have not taken the 2014 Legislative Survey, please go to www.dannymarshall.com and find it on the lower right section of the homepage.
Also, 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.