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Getting down to business

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By Delegate Kathy Byron

As the second week of the legislative session began, our newly inaugurated Governor, Bob McDonnell, quickly got down to business. In an address to a joint session of the General Assembly on Martin Luther King Day, he laid out his priorities.  As stated during his campaign, he made 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 certain measures and changes to the budget that will strengthen Virginia’s economy.  I look forward to working with the Governor to identify measures that negatively affect business and economic policies that will encourage businesses to grow in Virginia.  One of the Governor’s most memorable statements on Monday was when he pledged to veto any bill that raises taxes.  

    This marks a significant change from the previous administration.  The budget proposed by now-former Governor Kaine included a large hike in the income tax.  On Thursday, the House voted on the bill needed to approve these taxes in the bill.  Most delegates, myself included, had already indicated they would not support higher taxes.  In such economic times, added taxes are difficult if not impossible to afford.   Therefore, it was not surprising that the entire body of the House of Delegates voted to reject the tax increase, 97 to 0.  Now the policy has been decided, we will need to address the large gap in the budget this created.

    The state budget will continue to dominate the news this session.  This is not surprising considering the decisions that need to be made to find billions of dollars to balance the budget.  This is the first year that I can recall committee bills were automatically set aside that have any cost impact on the state budget.  We will need to make difficult choices and adopt painful cuts just like households are doing all over the Commonwealth.  

    While the money committee is analyzing the budget in detail, the rest of us are reviewing over 1,200 house bills.  A brief view of the bills I have submitted are: HB1122, Corporate Income Tax.   This bill encourages business to come to Virginia by removing a tax on employees and capital investment.  Last year the Senate insisted on a performance requirement that would have penalized companies for not increasing their employment.  In today’s economy, we need to be focused on saving the jobs we have and not setting standards that cannot be reached thereby discouraging economic growth.   

    HB1037, creates a clean energy manufacturing incentive program to businesses.  This program provides a tax credit to companies who make large investments in production or manufacturing facilities in the commonwealth.  Companies would only receive this tax credit if they create more than 200 new jobs in Virginia and invest at least 50 million dollars. Virginia is actively working with prospective companies to relocate to the Ford plant that closed three years ago. Passage of this bill will give tools to the VA Economic Development Partnership to compete with other states for these much needed jobs.  

    HB 1042, Informed consent would require abortion clinics to perform an ultrasound to determine gestation age and protect the health of the mother. 

    HB 1033, Human infant bill.  Provides that for the purposes of homicide and child abuse, a human infant who has been born alive and is fully brought forth from the mother has achieved an independent and separate existence, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut or the placenta detached.  This measure would give the prosecutors the tools they need to prosecute a mother that would murder her child.

    Next week, I will share some other bills that I have introduced and update you on their progress.  As the session continues, we keep getting a steady flow of visitors from across the 22nd District.  This week  automobile dealers, bankers, and families supporting the work of the Family Foundation stopped by to say “hello” and discuss bills that may have an impact on them.

    I welcome and encourage you to come to Richmond and view how the legislative process works. Be sure to stop by our office, Room 811, in the General Assembly Building.  You can contact us here by sending an e-mail to DelKByron@house.state.va.us or by sending a letter to me at PO Box 406, Richmond, VA 23218-0406.  Or, if you just want me to know your opinion on a particular issue, you can call on the toll-free Constituent Viewpoint Hotline at 1.800.889.0229.