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2011 Session Report

March 2011

Dear Friends,

As the General Assembly’s 2011 Session ends, I want to inform you about some of the important results and some of my key activities during Session. The hard work is done in Committees, where we evaluate proposed bills, and in the Appropriations Committee, where we prepare the House budget.  Only bills that report out from Committee come to the floor for debate.

This year, I continued my service on the Appropriations Committee, the Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources Committee, and the Counties, Cities and Towns Committee.  On Appropriations, I serve on four Subcommittees which prepare a great deal of the budget.  These Subcommittees are Technology Oversight and Government Activities, Elementary and Secondary Education, Economic Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Compensation and Retirement.  The Appropriations Committee and Subcommittees also receive all bills having a fiscal impact on state and local governments, so I spend the majority of my time in Appropriations.  The high-profile Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee addresses agriculture, forestry, environmental, water quality, wildlife, and many other topics. The EPA-directed clean-up of the Chesapeake Bay, while well intentioned, is a major policy and cost driver for the state, agriculture, forestry, homeowners, local governments, and everyone.  The latest cost estimate is $10 billion, and we don’t even know how much of that the federal government will pay, nor whether the end results will be as predicted because they are based on suspect computer models.

The high profile issues for the Session were the budget, of course, followed by transportation, higher education and state government reform.  The House budget aligns FY12 spending to ongoing revenues to position us for the next biennium budget, which we will prepare next January.  To achieve this structural balance, our budget addresses VRS funding, sets aside money for the Rainy Day Fund, reduces the burden on Virginia’s businesses, reduces state debt, and uses one-time money to fund non-recurring costs.  I paid special attention to the Economic Development section of the budget in order to create new jobs and businesses in our region and across the state.  This included rolling back the fee increases from last year on restaurants and the hospitality industry, stopping the accelerated sales tax collections, establishing a new Research and Technology Innovation Program, funding specific workforce training through community colleges, and other initiatives.  The Senate budget on the other hand was, as Delegate Kirk Cox said, a “continuing culture of spending.”  The two budgets will be negotiated and the Governor’s recommendations integrated when we reconvene on April 6th.

On transportation, the Governor’s proposals have been passed for the most part.  I was a member of a small group that vetted the package and strongly supported it.  Contrary to opposition claims, it is not a credit card.  The package uses unspent funds from the VDOT audit, years of accumulated toll credits and bonds authorized in 2007 but never issued and for which there is an ongoing revenue stream for repayment without impacting our AAA bond rating.  It also draws on recurring federal allocations to fund projects now when construction prices are low, good jobs created, and our transportation infrastructure improved to help further economic growth.

As regards higher education, we approved very important long range legislation which will a) increase the number of Virginia college graduates, especially in STEM; b) result in greater use of our investment in high education infrastructure such as year-round use and online access; and, c) result in more affordable tuition for Virginia families.

State Government Reform initiatives meet many obstacles, yet we’re breaking the rock chip by chip.  Two of my bills are good examples.  One, HB2058, results in consolidating numerous water quality reports being combined in one annual report.  This saves staff time for real work and provides the same information.  Another is HB2055, which allows a court to use an authorized state electronic database to confirm, say, a MD or RN license, rather than requiring the person to appear in court to testify that they have a valid license.  We have a long way to go on reform, and I expect Governor McDonnell to push reform for the rest of his term.

Other legislation or actions of interest included: a) restarting from scratch the VT reorganization of Extension; b) tasking DGIF and the Farm Bureau with coming back next year with recommendations for an improved approach to crop damage from deer to farmers; c) requiring a secret ballot for union elections; d) require physical activity for our school children; e) requiring school divisions to uniformly report their Instructional category expenditures; and, f) placing abortion clinics under safety regulations.

There were many bills passed in the House to address federal intrusion or lack of control of illegal immigration.  I co-patroned and supported these bills.  We got them passed in the House, but the Senate simply killed them all.

In addition to the two bills above, other bills of mine that have passed include a Secretary of Technology-led effort to provide IT efficiencies across the state, coal mining safety modernization, upgrade of state code regarding fertilizer, and coal mining water quality. Many of my bills this year originated from my work as vice-chairman of the State Commission on Energy and Environment or at the request of the Administration. My economic development and jobs bill’s chief focus this Session has been to get the Governor’s jobs package into the approved budget. That was accomplished. There are several components to this package that should substantially aid small businesses and rural areas. The Governor has been very active in pushing these items.

   For the future, I’m obliged to point out we are heading for a train wreck, chiefly caused by overreach and demands of the federal government.  The Chesapeake Bay initiative will cost up to $10 billion and we don’t know how much of that Congress will fund.  The doubling of citizens on Medicaid will cost $1-2 billion and last week’s letter from Washington will require an

$80-100 million down payment for placing institutionalized patients into community based services plus yearly ongoing costs.  In addition, the EPA policies regarding energy will result in less energy at higher costs to all citizens and your state and local governments.  As our discretionary spending today is approximately $16 billion annually, the issue is obvious.

I also have special assignments year-round when not in Session.  I have monthly Appropriations meetings to monitor revenue and expenses to ensure they match the budget.  I serve on the Board of Directors of the Roanoke Valley Higher Education Authority which serves the 9th District and our region. I am a Legislative member of the Roanoke River Basin Advisory Committee and the Virginia/North Carolina Bi-State Commission, where our hot topic is NC withdrawing water from the Roanoke River for their metropolitan areas.  I also serve on the Board of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and am a member of the Board of Directors of the Boy Scouts of America, Blue Ridge Mountains Council.

Another assignment is to the Virginia Commission on Energy and Environment, where I serve as vice-chairman.  This Commission has reviewed the hot energy issues of the day, such as renewable fuels like biomass, solar, wind, algae, crops, and coal, natural gas and nuclear power.  The bottom line today is that the renewables are not even near competitive in cost and reliability and technologically are not far enough along to deploy on a scale large enough to change our dependence on fossil fuels.  About 95% of oil used in the US is for gas and diesel – for transportation, not generating electricity.  Our electricity comes from coal, nuclear, natural gas and some hydro, little from renewables. The foreign dependency is, hence, for liquid fuels. We can expect much more electricity to be generated from natural gas, more vehicles using natural gas for fuel and cleaner coal-fired plants, if any more can be built. The solar, wind, renewables, etc. can only be deployed with large government/taxpayer subsidies.  As electric cars are placed in service, they will mostly be charged by coal-generated electricity.

   I am honored to serve you. I have worked and fought hard to improve our economic outlook while preserving our core state services, reflecting our rural and small town values and principles.  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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