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2010 Session Report
March 2010

Dear Friends,

As the General Assembly ended its 2010 Session Sunday night, March 14th, I want to highlight my activities and some of the more important results of the session.  Note that I will return to Richmond in April to address Governor McDonnell’s amendments to legislation and the budget, so there will be some further changes at that time.

This year I was appointed to serve on the House Appropriations Committee. This was a real honor for me in my third year, as those assignments are usually reserved for far more senior delegates.  This committee prepares the House Budget which, as you know, was a real challenge this session.  My workload really increased this year with the Appropriations appointment.  I was assigned to four sub-committees plus full committee meetings, so I often had two to four of these meetings plus my other two committee agendas. Unfortunately, the heavy schedule meant I missed some meetings with visitors, which always proves a disappointment for me.

I continued to serve on the Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee.  This is a high profile committee addressing agriculture issues, our environment, water quality, forestry, and more.  Some key topics this year were EPA requirements for our surface waters, old contaminated industrial sites, and proposed new stormwater run-off regulations, which we delayed for further review since the fiscal impact is huge.

My third committee assignment was on the Counties, Cities and Towns Committee, where we review all legislation dealing with the relationships between the state and local governments, development rules, town and city charters, and such.

I also have off-session assignments that frequently send me to meetings around the state.  The Speaker appointed me to the Roanoke Valley Higher Education Authority’s Board of Directors.  I continue to serve on the VA/NC Toll Commission, VA/NC Bi-State Commission on water issues, and the Virginia Commission on Energy and Environment. Regarding the latter, I remain Vice-Chairman and this year was appointed to serve as the Chairman of the Renewable Energy Sub-committee, where we addressed many types of alternative energy sources.  I held a sub-committee meeting in the 9th District with outstanding statewide participation.

Some of the highlights this session have been Virginia’s taking a stand against mandated health care by the federal government, passing most of Governor McDonnell’s Jobs and Opportunities agenda, rejecting tax increases, continuing the car tax rebate to struggling local governments, passing Governor McDonnell’s Opportunity to Learn education reform package, and enacting significant energy related legislation.

On energy, we suspended utility interim rate increases; authorized off-shore drilling for oil and natural gas; dedicated that revenue for transportation and alternative fuels research and infrastructure; established a structure to assist local infrastructure for alternative fuels; and set up a tax credit for green jobs.  I sponsored these last two bills and co-sponsored the first two and was delighted to join Governor McDonnell for their signings.

I also supported the Governor’s education reform package, which includes bills addressing Charter Schools, college partnership laboratory schools, and virtual schools.  While opposed by many in the education community, I believe we have to take some additional and different approaches to bring our K-12 system into the 21st Century.

Regarding the bill for Virginia taking a stand against mandated health care and rejecting the federal government takeover of health care, the bill passed with strong bipartisan support.  Virginia led in establishing this country and its Constitution, and it is natural and appropriate for us to continue to lead on such fundamental efforts and Constitutional principles.  In placing the 10th Amendment into our Constitution, our Founding Fathers obviously believed that the states and the people give certain rights to the Federal government and all other rights remain with the states and the people.  We did not give the Federal government this right and we will keep it.

Some other bills we passed included requiring the use of Homeland Security’s E-Verify database for state and local governments and their contractors to address illegal immigration; constitutional amendment proposals that will likely be on the ballot this fall and which would provide property tax reductions for veterans and the elderly; and an increase in future contributions to the “Rainy Day Fund,” as it clearly is insufficient for down times such as we have today. We also improved advanced medical directives, passed a “move-over” law to protect our law enforcement officers, and made some long-needed changes to the VRS for new hires starting July 1, 2010.

In addition to the energy bills I mentioned earlier, I had two bills dealing with efficiency in state/local governments that passed.  One required electronically filing Workers’ Compensation insurance; the second, a study led by the Secretary of Technology to see if there are economies of scale opportunities for common software by over 132 jurisdictions.  Two carry-overs from last year were completed administratively by DMV (license testing for overcorrection, trailering, and hand signals), and the Virginia State Police “wanted for other charges” indicator in the Sexual Predator Registry.  DMV has these items in their new drivers’ booklet and test, and VSP will add the indicator to its software.

The budget was obviously the dominating issue for me, as for all legislators. Estimates/projections for revenue in recent years have been overstated, so we worked with Governor McDonnell to bring them into realistic numbers for 2011 and 2012.  Spending 2000-2009 was up 73.4%, including 28% above population growth and inflation.  Said another way, in 2000 Virginians spent 12,000 for a family of four, in 2009 it was 19,000 or 23% greater.  The budget introduced by former Governor Kaine relied on a 17% income tax increase, stopping the car tax appropriation to struggling local governments, and increasing fees $145 million and putting the fee money in the general fund instead of covering the service for which the fee is charged.  The House and Governor McDonnell agreed up-front that we would not raise taxes, stop the car tax money to local government, and the Senate agreed later that fees had to have a “nexus” (be related) to the service.  This left us a $4.2 billion gap to close by reductions in spending.

As higher education, public safety, and other areas have already been significantly reduced the previous two years, while K-12 and Health and Human Services had not, we simply had to make some prudent and realistic reductions in the areas as they are the largest spending categories in the budget.  These are tough but necessary choices.  K-12 spending has increased 55% over the last decade while student enrollment has increased only 7.6%.  Medicaid and Health/Human Services numbers have grown simultaneously.

Our approach was to focus on reductions outside the classroom and provide flexibility to local school boards to decide themselves where the reductions will occur.  On the health/human side, we worked hard to keep essential services going.  We were helped here by recent Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) funding but we were careful to try to maximize its use for one-time expenses.

In other budget categories, we reformed the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) for future employees, restored much of the former Governor’s cuts in public safety, law enforcement and constitutional offices, but had to reduce funding in the judicial branch, which means some open judge positions cannot be filled this biennium.

The bottom line on the budget is that it is a big compromise all the way from sub-committee to committee, to House/Senate, to the governor.  One votes up/down on it in entirety, not line by line.  There are items I agree on and disagree on; same for each delegate. But we went down to do a job and working with the new governor, we overcame the obstacles and governed.  I think it is extraordinary that, in the situation we faced, we only went one day past our deadline.

I am honored you re-elected me last November.  I have worked hard this session to represent you and our district, our rural and small town values.  It was great to see or hear from so many of you who visited and sent letters, called and emailed to express your thoughts.  Your participation was much appreciated.  If you would like me to speak at an upcoming event, please call my Glade Hill office at (540) 576-2600 or e-mail me at  Also, please search for me on Facebook and visit my website at

Best regards,

Charles D. Poindexter
Delegate, 9th District
Virginia House of Delegates


“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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