2020 Virginia General Assembly Session
Here is what the General Assembly Under Democratic Control Did in 2020
Oct 7, 2020, Dominion Green Energy Costs Grow Again, Jefferson Policy Journal (State Corporation Commission now estimates $800 per year for average household)
Citizen Response to Pre-filed Gun Control Bills Prior to the 2020 Session
After the 2019 General Election when Republicans lost a majority in both houses of the legislature and there was not A Republican governor, a mass mobilization of Virginia citizens occurred as a result of prefiled gun control bills that would restrict or take away gun ownership and use rights altogether. Many Virginia localities passed Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolutions including Rockingham County.
The Rockingham County Republican Committee held and informational meeting on Second Amendment Sanctuaries on Monday, December 2, 2019, and provided the lead speaker for the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors Hearing on December 11, 2019. Attendance at that Board of Supervisor's heading was the largest public attendance to any local government meeting in the history of Virginia from the Colonial period with more than 4,000 in attendance, 1,500 who could not get into the building, and more than 1,000 who watched the hearing from home. The Rockingham Supervisors unanimously voted to approved the resolution, which was signed the next day.
Regular Session 2020
Whereas in prior years when Republicans controlled one of the houses of the legislature or the Governor was a Republican and could stop bad legislation from being signed into law, Republican were limited to trying to trying to change the worst part of bills making them not so bad.
A two year state budget was passed that invests heavily into our financial reserve, the rainy day fund. It also continues the Republican priority started in 2019 of freezing college tuition, and providing pay raises for teachers and state employees- contingent on meeting revenue targets. The budget increases spending by more than $18 billion, or roughly 20%. Many of these increases are predicated on tax and fee increases. Revenues from existing sources are up, and therefore a number of key priorities could have likely still been adequately funded in this budget without the additional tax increases. Even with the increased revenue, the Taxpayer Relief Fund that was adopted last year to protect the middle class from an automatic tax hike was repealed in favor of even higher spending. Some of your hard-earned tax dollars collected by the Commonwealth that should have been giving back to you will now be spent instead.
While this budget does continue to fund many core priorities, it also funds many new programs and pet projects that are not core functions of government. I have significant concerns that this level of spending will be impossible to maintain in an economic downturn from COVID-19 social distancing and stay-at-home orders.
As a result of a gun control bill that was passed in the Spring and went into effect on July 1 cities, counties, and towns can strip the gun owners rights by passing gun control that forbids you from carrying in local government buildings, parks, recreation and community centers, and at permitted events and adjacent streets. If localities do this, Virginia will have a massive spiderweb of gun control across the Commonwealth. It makes carrying a gun difficult because you have to know the gun laws of more than 193 localities instead of just knowing state law. And it reduces where you can carry. Gun-controllers want to keep expanding that prohibited location list until gun owners will just leave their guns at home out of pure frustration. As a result, Virginia citizens began requesting that their locality become a No Local Enforcement Zone. Two localities enacted such enforcement rule: Alexandria and Richmond.
Republicans Opposed the Procedures for Conducting the 2020 Special Session in August
What should have been a straightforward initial session to properly organize the body turned into an unprecedented power grab. The Democratic majority attempted to change the House rules to allow committees and the full body to meet entirely online. After two failed attempts at a rule change to allow for virtual session, they decided to ignore the rules and forced through a resolution on a simple majority vote (party line) that gives sole authority to the Speaker to declare that the House shall meet virtually.
Next they passed a resolution that authorizes per diem payments for the special session. This amounts to just over $200 a day that is supposed to go towards food, travel and lodging expenses. However, there are no travel expenses for virtual session. During a time of economic crisis when cuts will undoubtedly need to be made, this is wrong. This was wasted and improperly used taxpayer dollars. Conducting session and committee meetings entirely online limited citizen involvement in the legislative process and raises several issues. Virtual meetings presents an opportunity for a chair to more easily ram through a proposal without sufficiently allowing dissenting voices to be heard. And finally, there are security and integrity concerns. Republicans were united in opposition to these actions.
The General Assembly's "COVID and COPs" session resulted in many actions that will make economic recovery more difficult. As it turned out, the Democrat leadership was unable to handle the changes in bills resulting in some embarrassing errors in bills, such as police being prohibited from stopping cars not using headlights at night which are clear safety issues. Governor Northam changed that bill before signing what was still a bad police bill.