Wednesday, January 27, 2010

2010 Virginia Legislative update

On the subject of emails, I received the below email from my representative in the VA House of Delegates, Mark Cole. Several pro-gun bills are making their way through the session. And, with a new Governor, they even have a chance of making it into law.

Here is the update, reprinted here with permission from Delegate Cole, in its entirety:

The Virginia General Assembly session is underway in Richmond and this is to up date you on on its progress. If you do not want to receive these updates, please reply to this email with DELETE in the subject line. In this update:

- New Governor
- Legislation
- Open House February 15th in Richmond


Virginia inaugurated a new governor, Bob McDonnell. Not surprisingly, he got to work very quickly. In an address to a joint session of the General Assembly on Martin Luther King Day, he laid out his priorities; making it clear that job creation and economic growth would be the chief focus of his new administration for the year ahead.

Specifically, Governor McDonnell is asking the General Assembly to pass measures and changes to the budget that will strengthen Virginia ’s economy. He also made clear that he will not support tax increases, pledging to veto bills that raised taxes or a budget based on higher taxes. This marks a significant change from the previous administration. The budget proposed by former Governor Kaine included a large hike in the income tax. Last week, the House voted on that plan.

Most delegates, myself included, had already indicated they would not support higher taxes. So, it wasn’t entirely surprising that the House rejected former Governor Kaine’s plan to raise the income tax. What was somewhat surprising was the margin, as the House rejected the tax hike by a vote of 97 to 0. Not a single member of the House of Delegates voted to raise the income tax.

While the Senate has yet to weigh in on the issue of taxes, it is clear that the House and Governor McDonnell will not support higher taxes. For people already struggling to make ends meet in the current economy, this is very good news.


While the state’s budget will receive most of the attention in news pages during this session, we’re considering a lot of other legislation as well. Among the hundreds of bills that will be considered by the General Assembly are several that I am submitting. Here is an overview of some of the legislation I am sponsoring:

House Bill (HB) 576 is in response to the Federal government’s plans to force individuals to buy health insurance. It simply states that residents of Virginia shall not be required to obtain a health insurance policy. It is similar to Delegate Bob Marshall’s HB 10 and I would expect these two bills to be combined.

House Joint Resolution (HJ) 88 is a resolution asking the US Congress to adopt an amendment to U.S. Constitution to require a balanced Federal budget. The Federal budget deficit has just ballooned in the last few years and I believe threatens our long term economic stability.

HB 18 Provides that goods and services made, sold, and retained in Virginia , shall be the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth and not the Federal government. The US Constitution gives the Federal government the ability to regulate interstate commerce, commerce that crosses state boundaries. The original intent was that states would regulate commerce within their borders. Over the years Congress and the Courts have expanded Federal reach to all commerce whether it crosses a state boundary or not. It is time for the states to begin pushing back and restrict the Federal government to its original mission. The states are perfectly capable of regulating commerce within their boundaries without Federal intrusion.

HB 50 would tighten the requirements to process absentee ballots in a timely manner. In recent years some localities have had problems sending out absentee ballots and the previous administration even argued in Federal court that they had no obligation to process absentee ballots in accordance with regulations. This legislation will make it clear that absentee ballots must be handled in a timely fashion.

HB 57 would freeze the Business, professional, and occupational license (BPOL) tax on businesses. Localities that have not imposed the tax would not be permitted to impose it in the future and localities that do impose the tax could not increase their rate. The BPOL tax is a very unfair tax on businesses because it is based on their gross receipts and not on profits or income. So a company could be losing money and still have to pay the tax. The BPOL tax was originally imposed to pay for the War of 1812. I think all the bills from that war were paid off a long time ago.

HJ 11 and HB 16 would place an amendment to the Virginia Constitution on the ballot that would give localities great flexibility in granting property tax relief to senior citizens and the disabled.

HB 17 reduces period of limitation for collection of delinquent state taxes from 20 to 10 years. Currently the Virginia Department of Taxation can go back 20 years to collect taxes. I think this is excessive and it is unreasonable to expect individuals and businesses to retain records for 20 years in order to defend themselves from an accusation that they may owe back taxes.

HB 55 would limit the amount of money that the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) can assess member localities to not more than the localities collection from the 2 percent gas tax that they impose to pay for VRE. This would keep member localities from having to use their general fund to pay the VRE subsidy and provide some incentive for VRE to control costs.

HB 106 would repeal the restaurant ban for concealed handgun permit holders and clarify that a permit holder could carry in a church with the church’s permission. The current law is confusing and open to interpretation. Guns are banned in church unless someone has a good reason to carry in church. But it never states what a good reason might be. What might be a good reason to one judge or Commonwealth Attorney might not be a good reason for another.

HB 107 corrects an oversight in the code. Currently school superintendents are supposed to be informed whenever one of their minor students is arrested or charged with a crime; this is so that the school may take action to protect other students in the school. However, the notification does not apply if the student is 18 or older. Some high school students are 18 or older and this bill would require that the superintendent be notified if they are arrested or charged as well.

HB 110 is another bill dealing with the BPOL tax. It would allow localities to decide to impose on business's gross receipts or its State taxable income, making the tax a little fairer.

HB 575 would give school systems flexibility in meeting specific state education mandates when their state funding is being reduced. This would give local school boards greater flexibility in dealing with state budget cuts.

HB 577 would extend the time to appeal real estate property assessments.

HB 580 Allows localities to exempt long time members of the sheriff's volunteer citizen support units from local vehicle license fees.


I would like to invite you, your family and your neighbors to spend the day with us at the General Assembly for our “Richmond Open House” on Monday, February 15th (President’s Day). There will be coffee and doughnuts in the morning along with an explanation of how the General Assembly works. Depending on your schedule, you are welcome to sit in on committee meetings and attend Session. We will be gathering from 9:30am to 11:00am in 8th Floor West Conference Room of the General Assembly Building, which is located at the corner of 9th and Broad Streets in Richmond . If you will be attending and have not already replied, please call my office at (804) 698-1088 or email us at If you are not able to attend on February 15th, but would like to visit on another day, please give us a call.

If you have any questions about anything mentioned in this email or an issue before the General Assembly, please feel free to reply to this email or contact me.



Mark L. Cole
Delegate, 88th District
Stafford, Spotsylvania, and Fauquier Counties

Web page:

Authorized and Paid for by Mark Cole for Delegate

I am thankful to have a representative in the House of Delegates who is pro-family, pro-gun rights, and fiscally responsible (and who is a nice guy to boot!). If you notice on the VCDL Legislative Tracker, Delegate Cole is the primary sponsor in several pro-liberty reforms to our Commonwealth's gun laws. Go Mark!



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