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State Capitol Report   January 31 - February 6, 2011

The Poindexter Report
by  Delegate Charles Poindexter

This past week Delegates worked hard to complete our House bills, including HB1500, the Biennial Budget bill for Fiscal Years 2011-2012.  The full House Appropriations Committee met on Sunday afternoon and, after presentation and discussion, unanimously passed HB1500.

Last week, the Governor announced an anticipated $152 million increase in revenue, which we factored into the House Budget.  As this is ‘one-time’ money, we concluded it only prudent to use it for refunding the Rainy Day Fund, contributions to VRS and the like, instead of applying it to recurring expenses.

There was a proposal to reorganize the Extension Service,  including 4-H and Agriculture Field Agents, into a regional system instead of  local county offices.  That proposal has now been put on hold, indeed taken back to step one. All the stakeholders will be working together during 2011 to come up with a new plan, including funding requirements.

Every year we receive a large number of animal-related bills. This year the House passed a bill to basically separate agricultural and companion animals into distinct categories with different care requirements. I strongly supported this bill.

After making some modifications, the House approved the Governor’s Transportation Proposal.  This should create a huge economic impact and get several hundred projects across the Commonwealth underway in the next three years.  The proposal has several elements. First, issuing bonds approved in 2007 for which there is an existing revenue stream for servicing the payments – without impacting our self-imposed debt limit.  Second, it sets up an Infrastructure Bank which would fund local and private partnership projects.  The initial funding would be from last year’s one time surplus ($150 million) and $250 million from the VDOT audit.

The other large component is called GARVEE bonds.  For these, the state issues bonds, executes the project, and the payments are subtracted from future federal allocations.  The audit turned up $400 million in toll credits so we can use those for the Virginia match on projects (normally 20%). With GARVEEs, principal, interest and issuance costs are included, so we do not have to put up any money to do the projects funded by GARVEEs and there is no impact on our debt as we are not actually taking on state debt – the collateral is federal allocations. 

Some have claimed we cannot depend on that.  That’s not imaginable unless the federal government stops taxing gasoline and diesel.  We receive about $1.1 billion yearly and that would be reduced by about $100 million (10%) to repay the GARVEEs, so unless the federals stop state allocation by greater than 90%, Virginia would bear no repayment responsibility.  I fully support this initiative, indeed participated in vetting it prior to submission. We can get much needed projects done at a lower price, put Virginians back to work, and stay within our debt capacity limits and positive ratings on Wall Street.

This week the House passed a carefully balanced Autism bill that is very different than previously submitted bills. Virginia, like other states, has long mandated insurance policy coverage for diabetes, PSA testing, early intervention services, mammograms, etc.  This bill simply requires public and private-sector policies to cover early intervention Autism services from ages 2- 6 and is capped at $35,000 annually.  Coverage would not apply to small business policies (fewer than 50 employees), and allows companies to opt out if coverage results in premium increases greater than 1%.  The bill passed 74-24, and I voted with the majority. We do not expect this topic to be addressed again for the next several sessions.

Several of my bills progressed this week. My HB2055 will allow courts to use the state electronic files to verify licenses of, say, doctors and nurses instead of them having to come to court to testify they have a license.  I pulled my restaurant fees bill so that we could unwind the fees in the hospitality industry (includes restaurant inspections) back to their previous levels, which we did via language in the B udget passed Sunday. My Coal Mining Safety bill met no opposition and is moving along.  Both mining operators and the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy support the bill.

We also passed out of the House several bills related to federal intrusion and overreach as well as illegal immigration. I’m certain our Senator will support these bills, but it is not clear if the Senate leadership will even allow them to go to the Senate Floor, much less vote approval.

Among our visitors this week were Coy Harville, James Snead, Marshall Ecker, and Tim Barber from the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors.  Students from Danville Community College and Radford University, along with Board of Visitors member Darius Johnson, stopped by.  Lavada and Jason Robertson and Amy Trail were here to show support for the Autism bill.  The Danville-Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce also had representatives in Richmond this week.

My office is located in Room 807 of the General Assembly Building during Session. You can contact me at (804) 698-1009 or or P.O. Box 406, Richmond VA 23218.


“Entrepreneurs and their small business enterprises are responsible for almost all the economic growth in the United States".
Ronald Reagan
Courtesy Ronald Reagan Library
“Whatever else history says about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way".
Ronald Reagan
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