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Del. Ken Plum: General Assembly Agenda

by Del. Ken Plum January 17, 2019 at 12:00 pm 7 Comments

This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

In a recent social media post, I indicated that the annual General Assembly session would be underway very soon. AutoCorrect changed the text to be “underwater very soon.” My son alerted me to the change, and I made what I thought was a correction. As the General Assembly session has gotten underway I am starting to wonder if AutoCorrect knew something that I am now coming to realize: the General Assembly may well be underwater!

The session is scheduled to go until Feb. 22. Meeting five days a week means 38 actual days for work on more than 2,000 bills and resolutions. While I have highlighted big issues like redistricting reform, preventing gun violence and ERA ratification, there are many more issues large and small that make up the agenda for the session.

Virginia has always conformed its income tax policies to the federal system. With the massive changes that have been made in federal tax law, the General Assembly will wrestle with what we will do in Virginia. There will be an effort to resolve the issue early in the session to accommodate taxpayers who want to file their returns early. Part of the tax policy debate will be making the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) refundable as promoted by the governor in a bill that I have introduced. The purpose would be to allow persons of low income to keep more of the money they earn and be more self-supporting.

As a Dillon Rule State — meaning local governments have only the powers granted to them by the state — dozens of bills called “local bills” are introduced to extend powers some of which are very minor to a particular locality. Another group of bills is called “housekeeping” to make corrections or clarifications to legislation that passed in previous sessions. All these bills are important but add to the workload of a session.

Challenging environmental issues will be coming before the legislature many of which relate to energy. There are proposals to increase the required uses of alternative and renewable fuels. Cleaning up from the past use of fossils fuels and the resulting growth in coal ash ponds will be taken up. There is a strong need to deal with the degradation of water quality in the Chesapeake Bay area. The Tidewater area is subject to recurrent flooding coming about with climate change that needs addressing now rather than later.

There are many bills dealing with criminal justice reform including bills intended to reduce the school to prison pipeline. The governor has announced his support of decriminalizing possession of small quantities of marijuana. A bill that has been introduced would allow casino and sports gambling.

There will be a number of dog and cat bills that include high levels of emotion from interested parties. Being able to limit dogs running across the properties of landowners is a big concern in rural areas.

You can review all the bills on the agenda of the General Assembly.

If you have not done so already, let me know your positions on issues by going to my website and click on Legislative Session Survey.

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  • 30yearsinreston

    Under Water was the right word

  • 30yearsinreston

    Thanks for the update Mr speaker (with a small ‘s’)
    How about the visit to VDOT to help us with our traffic ?
    At the moment we cant even get a traffic light upgrade

  • John Higgins

    I’m okay with a tax structure that enables low income wage earners to “keep more of the money they earn”. But it’s a bit tougher to support a tax device that allows them to keep more of the money *I* earn. A “refundable tax credit” is a sneaky term for wealth redistribution. It’s really not a “refund” at all to the extent one receives credit beyond what they have paid into the system. Until our elected reps can be more honest in use of language to convey what they are up to, I fear their esteem will remain under water.

    • Mike M

      Other than that, either I read this too fast, or this was a pretty informative note from our rep – for a change.

      • OneReally

        Yes it was! Just confirmed that fact that he is a bleeding heart Li8eral.

        No mentioned of the tolls???

    • Blame the 1%

      Government has been forced to take on the burden of trying to keep the lower classes afloat because our corporations have overwhelmingly failed to do so over the past several decades.

      • OneReally


        Is that why we have 400K non-essential Federal employees?


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