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House Democrats Plan $1.3 Billion Tax Hike, ‘Study’ Pay Raises for Themselves in 2024-2026 Biennial Budget

House Democrats Plan $1.3 Billion Tax Hike, ‘Study’ Pay Raises for Themselves in 2024-2026 Biennial Budget

RICHMOND — House Democrats today proposed more than $1.3 billion in higher taxes on hard-working Virginia families, just days after telling Virginians that there’s no room in the budget to prosecute those poisoning children with counterfeit, fentanyl-laced pills.

“Elections have consequences, and this is one of the most predictable results ever. When Democrats are in charge, they will raise taxes,” said House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert.

“Democrats have hijacked Governor Youngkin’s plan to make Virginia’s tax structure more progressive and resilient by dumping all of his proposed tax cuts but keeping the offsets he proposed,” he added. “That means higher taxes for Virginia families already struggling with the aftermath of sky high inflation.”

Spending priorities in this budget are simply out of touch with everyday Virginians and their concerns.

Earlier this week Democrats said there wasn’t room in the budget for $100,000 to arrest, prosecute, and jail those who create counterfeit drugs that are poisoning our children, or fund new efforts to combat human trafficking.

Neither bill was advanced and the fentanyl legislation was “not heard by the committee due to fiscal impact,” said Del. Vivian Watts, the Democrat chair of the Courts of Justice Criminal subcommittee. The budget does contain $150,000 for Watts’ HB 884, which creates a pilot program for stopping cars with loud mufflers.

“Now we know that wasn’t true,” said Gilbert, “They would simply rather prioritize noisy mufflers in affluent parts of Virginia over kids dying of fentanyl poisoning.”

Eight kids overdosed on fentanyl in one week at a a Loudoun County High School, so Republicans brought forward a bill to crack down on people who produce counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl. House Democrats refuse to even hear the bill. Why? It’s too expensive. Cost? $50,000 over two years.

Even worse, the budget creates a study to “review the current levels of compensation” for legislators. “It’s not enough that they’re going to take another $1.3 billion from Virginia families, they’re also laying the groundwork to give themselves a massive raise next year,” Gilbert said.

If Democrats adopt the model of nearby states such as Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey, they would nearly triple their existing salaries while taxpayers have to dig even deeper into their own wallets.

Other lowlights include:

• Tying literally every dollar of state spending to returning Virginia to the failed Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a backdoor tax added to power bills that does nothing to reduce greenhouse gasses.
• Seven positions cut from the Virginia Fusion Center, a key law enforcement tool for sharing intelligence among police agencies.
• Cutting $17 million from Virginia’s proven Ceasefire gun violence prevention program.

“House Republicans will continue to work with Governor Youngkin and the Democratic caucus to craft a budget that reflects the priorities and day to day realities of hard working Virginia families,” Gilbert concluded.

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House Democrats Refuse to Hold Hearings on Common Sense Bills on Fentanyl Crisis, Gun Violence

House Democrats Refuse to Hold Hearings on Common Sense Bills on Fentanyl Crisis, Gun Violence

RICHMOND — With crossover come and gone, House Democrats have made it clear – they have no interest in addressing the fentanyl crisis, firearm violence, and a number of other priorities they claim to support.

Today was “Crossover,” the last day for the House and Senate to pass their own bills and send them to the other chamber. Bills other than the budget that have not passed are dead for the year.

“Five Virginians on average die every day in this Commonwealth from fentanyl overdoses, but House Democrats couldn’t be bothered to hold a hearing on a number of common sense bills that would increase penalties for those who spread this poison in our communities,” said House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah.

Republicans brought forward legislation that would have locked up those who distribute fentanyl or manufacture counterfeit pills that contain fentanyl, but the bills were never heard.

Violence in our communities didn’t get a hearing from House Democratic committees, either.

“House Democrats passed a raft of gun control bills that they claim will reduce violence in our neighborhoods, but they refused to even hear bills that would have actually put and kept those who commit felonies with firearms behind bars,” Gilbert added. “They’d rather take guns away from law-abiding people than lock up the criminals who use them.”

Human rights also took a back seat to House Democratic efforts to force Virginians to buy electric vehicles.

“They say they care about human rights, but they refused to hear legislation that would have ensured that electric vehicles sold in Virginia aren’t built on the backs of child slaves working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” Gilbert said. “Nor would they hear a bill that would have required colleges to certify that they’re not pushing antisemitism.”

Bills that were not heard this session include:

Fentanyl Crisis Bills

  • HB 450 from Del. Chris Obenshain would have raised the penalties for those who attempt to distribute fentanyl to anywhere from 5 to 40 years in prison.
  • HB 674 also from Del. Obenshain, would have made selling or giving someone an illicit drug that contains fentanyl without their knowledge guilty of attempted murder.
  • HB 685 from Del. Jay Leftwich would have made anyone who sells or distributes something with two milligrams or more of fentanyl is guilty of attempted murder.
  • HB 1042 from Leader Gilbert would have made it a Class 6 felony for any person to use a pill press to make counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl.
  • HB 1097 from Del. Terry Kilgore would have held those who kill with fentanyl responsible for the lives they take, making them guilty of felony homicide and a prison term of up to 40 years.

Gun Crime Bills

  • HB 553 also from Del. Obenshain, increases from five to 10 years for a second or subsequent offense the mandatory minimum sentences for use or display of a firearm during the commission of certain felonies.
  • HB 1179 from Del. Scott Wyatt, removes any person convicted of a felony offense involving a firearm from eligibility for enhanced earned sentence credits.

Child Safety Bills

  • HB 1026 from Del. Tony Wilt, would have banned anyone convicted of  offenses involving children, including kidnapping, trafficking, sex crimes, and prostitution and commercial sex crimes, from working or volunteering at schools.

Human Rights Bills

  • HB 1155 from Del. A.C. Cordoza, would have required that electric vehicles or their batteries that are manufactured in or sourced from African cobalt mines involve no child or slave labor.
  • HB 1255 from Del. Paul Milde, which would have required that each of Virginia’s public institutions of higher education certify that their diversity, equity and inclusion programs do not promote antisemitism.

House Democrats Ignore Reality, Vote to Kill Last Two Measures that Could Fix Flawed EV Mandate

House Democrats Ignore Reality, Vote to Kill Last Two Measures that Could Fix Flawed EV Mandate

RICHMOND — Democrats acknowledge that Virginia’s electric vehicle mandate is flawed and needs work. Today, they voted in unison to kill any effort to fix it for another year.

Democratic members of a House Labor and Commerce Committee subpanel tabled House Bill 3 from Del. Tony Wilt, R-Harrisonburg, and House Bill 693 from Del. Lee Ware, R-Powhatan.

The two bills were the last remaining legislative vehicles that would have moved to repeal or at least delay the Commonwealth’s electric vehicle mandate.

Democrats voted in 2021 to tie Virginia to California’s emission standards, requiring that all new cars in Virginia be electric by 2035. The mandate begins in 2026 with a requirement that 35 percent of all new cars be EVs.

“Democrats have once again decided to ignore not only their constituents, but also the reality facing their ‘aspirational’ legislation. Members and witnesses presented evidence and testimony that make it clear what a disaster this law is for Virginians, and Democrats remain unmoved,” said House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah.

HB 3 would have repealed the mandate completely, while HB 693 would have postponed the standard until the car market – and consumer preferences – catch up. Both were killed in party-line votes.

Evidence that EVs aren’t ready for prime time is all around. General Motors recently announced they will delay plans to expand EV production in Michigan. The company is also discontinuing the lower priced Chevy Bolt – their best selling EV in 2023.

Half of all Buick dealers in the U.S. recently took a buyout rather than invest in the brand’s all electric future plans.

Only 9 percent of new car sales in Virginia last year were EVs. To hit that target, growth would need to be “exponential” according to dealers.

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

“We would need to have some significant movement on a more exponential trajectory to hit that number,” said Liza Borches, CEO of Carter Myers Automotive, which operates five dealerships in greater Richmond.

Ford recently announced major cuts to their EV production, and a delay or cut of $12 billion of investment in EV programs. The company halved their production of the electric Ford F-150.

Virginia’s charging infrastructure is not only inadequate for the EVs already on the road, it’s biased toward higher income communities.

According to the US Department of Energy, Virginia has just over 1,400 charging stations, public and private, slower and faster.

The majority are in Northern Virginia. About 900 of the 1,433 stations – almost two-thirds – are in census tracts above the median household income.

None of those facts moved House Democrats, though, as they killed both bills after brief discussion.

“People just don’t want these cars,” Gilbert said. “It’s time to repeal this ‘aspirational’ bill and let reality into the room.”

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Statements from House Republican Leaders on Governor Youngkin’s State of the Commonwealth Address

Statements from House Republican Leaders on Governor Youngkin’s State of the Commonwealth Address

Leaders of the Virginia House Republican Caucus issued the following statements on Governor Youngkin’s State of the Commonwealth Address:

House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert:

“Governor Youngkin’s call for bipartisan work is a refreshing contrast to some of what we’ve seen out of our Democratic colleagues in the past 24 hours. While some Democrats, such as Speaker Scott, have expressed a willingness to work together, far too many have said that anything that comes from the Governor or a Republican is ‘dead on arrival.’ Knee jerk partisanship does nothing for anyone. I look forward to working with the Governor, and hopefully many willing Democrats, to find a way forward on our shared priorities.”

House Republican Caucus Chair Amanda Batten:

“I applaud Governor Youngkin’s call to take even stronger action against antisemitism. Every single Virginian should be able to practice their faith without fear, and I hope our Democratic colleagues will join us in working to make that a reality.”

House Republican Whip Michael Webert:

“The vision Governor Youngkin laid out in his State of the Commonwealth speech is one every Virginian can get behind. Voters want us to work together and listen to each other, rather than shut down an idea simply because it comes from the other team. I’m hopeful that our Democratic colleagues will join us in working to lower the tax burden on Virginians dealing with the aftermath of sky-high inflation.”

Deputy House Republican Leader Israel O’Quinn:

“The Governor is absolutely right that we need an ‘all of the above’ approach to energy. Our power grid can’t keep up with demand, and we must build capacity as soon as possible. I hope our Democratic colleagues will be pragmatic and work with us to keep the lights on by expanding our base load power portfolio, and in the process, put Virginians back in charge of what cars they can and cannot buy.”

 

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Speaker Gilbert Statement on HD 82 Recount Results

Speaker Gilbert Statement on HD 82 Recount Results

Earlier today, a three-judge court presided over the recount of the ballots cast in House District 82 and reaffirmed that Del. Kim Taylor has won re-election.

House Speaker Todd Gilbert issued the following statement:

“The results of today’s recount have confirmed what we knew shortly after Election Day: that Delegate Kim Taylor will be returning to the House of Delegates.

“Kim put in the hard work day after day, bringing home victory in what was the third-most expensive House of Delegates race in Virginia history. I’m proud of the massive effort and resources that our combined Republican team was able to put forward to help her execute her campaign and secure another term. I also want to thank Governor Youngkin for his historic investment in the effort to increase early and absentee voting by Republicans. There’s no question that the Secure Your Vote Virginia effort played a significant role in this victory.

“Congratulations to Delegate Taylor! I look forward to working with her over the coming term to advance our shared conservative values and help improve the lives of all Virginians.”

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