2017 Legislative Survey Results

 

From the following list of issues, which issue do you believe should be the top priority of the Virginia House of Delegates?

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

Creating Jobs and Improving the Economy

40.25%

14.47%

15.72%

12.58%

8.18%

2.52%

2.52%

3.77%

Making Higher Education More Affordable and Accessible

17.50%

9.38%

11.25%

15.00%

11.25%

15.63%

8.00%

15.00%

Transportation Improving

10.90%

12.18%

11.54%

21.15%

18.59%

8.33%

8.33%

8.97%

Improving Health Care

25.48%

13.38%

15.29%

15.29%

8.28%

9.55%

7.64%

5.10%

Improving K-12 Education

24.84%

14.01%

15.92%

12.74%

11.46%

10.19%

7.01%

3.82%

Cutting Wasteful Government Spending

42.86%

15.53%

13.66%

4.35%

8.70%

4.97%

4.35%

5.59%

Holding the Line Against Higher Taxes

36.65%

14.29%

10.56%

9.32%

5.59%

8.07%

7.45%

8.07%

Fighting Obamacare and Federal Government Overreach

42.24%

11.80%

6.21%

6.83%

1.24%

3.11%

4.97%

23.60%

 

2. What core services provided by state government are most important to you?

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

Fostering jobs and economic development

46.58%

16.15%

16.77%

6.83%

9.32%

4.35%

Supporting K-12 schools and higher education

24.53%

20.13%

27.67%

12.58%

8.18%

6.92%

Keeping Virginians safe from crime

38.75%

25.00%

15.00%

10.63%

4.38%

6.25%

Providing health care and other services for those in need

23.90%

16.35%

23.27%

20.13%

8.81%

7.55%

Strengthening Virginia’s transportation system

15.19%

21.52%

25.95%

16.46%

10.76%

10.13%

Protecting the environment

14.56%

6.33%

21.52%

17.09%

20.25%

20.25%

 

 

3. Virginia continues to face budget constraints due to sequestration and federal tax increases. How do you believe the General Assembly should address such budgetary constraints?

 

1

2

3

4

Raise General or Statewide Taxes (sales, income, business and/or gas)

 10.06%

12.58%

11.32%

66.04%

Increase Specific Fees to Cover the Actual Cost of Providing Certain Government Services

13.92%

24.05%

50.00%

12.03%

Cut Government Spending

55.97%

19.50%

12.58%

11.95%

Streamline Government Programs and Services

50.63%

32.50%

10.00%

6.88%

 

4. Virginia spends about $16 billion per year on K-12 education, or about $11,000 per student per year. The state graduation rate is over 90%, school accreditation was up 10% from last year, and Virginia ranks in the top 10 in four out of five major national rankings. Do you think Virginia invests too much, not enough, or about the right amount in its public school system?

Answer

Percent

Too much

14.47%

Not enough

23.27%

About the right amount

62.26%

 

5. School choice refers to the idea that parents and children should have a variety of traditional and non-traditional educational options available to ensure that each student’s learning experience helps them meet their full potential. Which of the following school choice options do you support? [Check all that apply.]

Answer

Percent

Full-time virtual schools (virtual schools are online public “schools” that offer a comprehensive curriculum like traditional brick and mortar schools).

16.19%

Virtual classrooms, integrated into traditional school setting

29.55%

Homeschooling

27.84%

Charter schools

26.42%

 

6. Would you support or oppose a state pilot program to test expanding the use of private providers in early childhood education? Providers would be held to rigorous standards of accountability, but would be given some flexibility to test innovative new ideas.

Answer

Percent

Support

70.32%

oppose

29.68%

 

 

7. Of the following options, how do you think the General Assembly should address the rising cost of higher education? [Check all that apply.]

Answer

Percent

Increase state funding for colleges and universities

7.37%

Limit or restrict student fees

14.32%

Prioritize building construction projects

16.00%

Reform and prioritize financial aid distribution to serve more middle- and low-income students

18.11%

Encourage colleges and universities to offer “bare bones” college degrees and charge just tuition, but not room, board or other fees

18.74%

Encourage colleges and universities to offer “three year” degree programs in certain fields

19.79%

Other:

5.68%

 

8. In order to provide healthcare services in Virginia, a provider must obtain a “Certificate of Public Need” from the state. This is a lengthy regulatory process with significant costs. Some argue that COPN should be reformed in order to make healthcare more of a free market, which they say would lower costs and expand access. Others argue the COPN process is necessary to control costs, ensure the quality of care and protect the financial viability of hospitals. Which of the following best describes your position?

Answer

Percent

Virginia should repeal its COPN laws

24.83%

Virginia should reform, but not fully repeal, its COPN laws

59.06%

Virginia should leave its COPN laws in place as they currently exist

16.11%

 

9. Would you support or oppose requiring hospitals or healthcare providers to show upfront clear cost information before providing the service?

Answer

Percent

Support

96.82%

Oppose

3.18%

 

10. Public-private partnerships, often referred to as P3s, are a way for the Commonwealth to leverage private investment in building public assets. P3s are often utilized to build new roads, bridges, and tunnels to ease traffic congestion and gridlock in densely populated areas without having to borrow money at the expense of taxpayers. P3s recoup their investment by charging tolls on the individuals that use the roads. Do you think that the Commonwealth should consider using more P3s to enhance and improve our transportation system, about right, or fewer?

Answer

Percent

The Commonwealth should consider using more P3s

48.70%

The Commonwealth uses about the right amount of P3s

34.42%

We should consider using fewer P3s

16.88%

 

11. Virginia faces significant unfunded liabilities with the Virginia Retirement System. Steps have been taken to protect the long-term solvency of the pension system while protecting the interests of state employees, however significant liabilities still exist. One option to reduce those liabilities would be to change the retirement system for new hires from the traditional defined-benefit (DB) retirement to a defined-contribution (DC) retirement, similar to those offered in the private sector. This would allow new state employees greater flexibility in determining their retirement portfolio while reducing the Commonwealth’s unfunded liability. Would you support or oppose additional reforms to the state retirement plan?

Answer

Percent

Support

79.87%

Oppose

20.13%

 

12. Article V of the U.S. Constitution allows two-thirds of state legislatures to call a “Convention of the States” to amend the federal constitution. Some lawmakers have pushed a convention of the states to enact limits on federal authority and spending. Do you support or oppose a “Convention of the States?”

Answer

Percent

Support

67.95%

Oppose

32.05%

 

13. Under Virginia law, law enforcement may seize property related to criminal activity, even if the owner has not yet been convicted of a crime. Some have argued that Virginia should reform its asset forfeiture laws to make it more difficult for law enforcement to seize private property in order to protect the rights of citizens. Do you support or oppose efforts to reform Virginia’s asset forfeiture laws?

Answer

Percent

Support

79.75%

Oppose

20.25%

 

14. Do you support or oppose legislation authorizing retired law-enforcement officers who are up to date on their training to carry a firearm as a school security officer?

Answer

Percent

Support

85.00%

Oppose

15.00%

 

15. Political rights include the right to vote, serve on a jury, run for public office, and serve as a notary public. When an individual is convicted of a felony, they automatically lose their political rights. Historically, Governors have granted rights restoration on an individualized basis after review. However, the Governor can restore political rights at his discretion, as did Governor McAuliffe with a sweeping executive order. Do you support amending the Virginia Constitution to establish permanent framework on restoring political rights?

Answer

Percent

Support

73.58%

Oppose

26.42%

 

16. Currently, Virginia does not allow early voting but does have absentee voting, both in-person and by mail. Early voting does not require a reason, but absentee voting does. Some have proposed early voting as a way to ease lines at the polls on Election Day and increase voter participation. Opponents argue that there is no indication early voting increases participation and that the costs of early voting, plus the challenges of keeping the votes secure for a long period of time, do not make it worthwhile. Do you support or oppose early voting in Virginia?

Answer

Percent

Support

33.54%

Oppose

66.46%

 

17. Should voters have the option to register by political party (Republican, Democrat, Independent, etc.)?

Answer

Percent

Yes

65.38%

No

34.62%

  

18. Virginia is home to more than 780,000 veterans who have served our country. It is important that we support these veterans and their families. Listed below are some of the most important veteran initiatives that the General Assembly will consider this year. Please prioritize the following veteran issues in the order that you think they should be addressed by the General Assembly.

 

1

2

3

4

5

Veterans’ Entrepreneur Grant Program (assist veterans to establish small businesses)

23.42%

23.42%

23.42%

14.56%

15.19%

Veterans’ healthcare services through Virginia Veteran and Family Support Services (formally called the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program)

59.75%

16.35%

13.21%

6.92%

3.77%

Update Virginia National Guard state income tax subtraction from $3,000 to $5,000

20.89%

21.52%

21.52%

14.56%

21.52%

Promote development of secure procedures for submission of electronic ballots by overseas military votes

32.50%

23.75%

19.38%

13.13%

11.25%

Grant in-state tuition to members of the Virginia National Guard/Reserve Components with duty station in Virginia

31.01%

24.68%

22.78%

9.49%

12.03%

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Bell's Hate Crimes Bills Scuttled

Del. Dickie Bell’s legislation to expand Virginia’s hate crimes law to include police, firefighters and EMS personnel was tabled in a House Courts of Justice subcommittee earlier this week.

As a result, the legislation is effectively dead for the 2017 General Assembly session. The Criminal Law subcommittee voted to table the measure by voice vote, so no official tally by individual legislators was recorded.

“ It is a slap in the face to the people I had included in my bill,’’ Bell said of his bill's demise. He spoke to The News Virginian on Tuesday by phone.

Read More - Bell's Hate Crimes Bill Scuttled - The News Virginian

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School suspension caps move forward at legislature

Virginia elementary schools logged 16,000 student suspensions in a single school year, just for children from pre-K to third grade.

Legislation moved forward Wednesday to rein that in, forbidding suspensions longer than five school days in those grades except in extreme cases. Separate legislation generally capping long-term suspensions at 45 days at any grade level also cleared committee Wednesday, advancing a pair of high priorities for advocates pushing reforms on school discipline and juvenile justice.

The current cap is 364 days.
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New Virginia bills could change school suspension policies

Several bills going through the 2017 session of the General Assembly are focused on school discipline: in particular, school suspensions.

House Bill number 1534, proposed by Delegate Dickie Bell, would change the amount of time a student can be suspended from school. Right now in Virginia, a student can be suspended for anywhere from 10 to 365 days. If the bill passes, students will only be allowed a suspension from 11 to 45 days.

Read More - New Virginia bills could change school suspension policies - WHSV

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Bell eyes legislation to reform school discipline

One of the bills would reduce long-term suspensions from 364 calendar days to 45 school days, and would limit them to the current grading period unless aggravating circumstances were present. The K-5 requirement would allow suspensions or expulsions only for drug or firearms' offenses, or for certain criminal acts.

The delegate, a former special education teacher, also has proposed a prohibition on expulsions solely for disruptive behavior, unless there is “a credible threat of physical injury to another person.”

Read More - Bell Eyes Legislation to Reform School Discipline - The News Virginian

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VA School Discipline Changes Could Limit Suspensions in Elementary Schools

WASHINGTON — Changes to school discipline in Virginia could ban suspensions for elementary school students for anything but drug or weapons offenses and limit the use of long-term suspensions.

 

The bills, introduced and supported by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, respond to concerns that Virginia is referring too many students to law enforcement for issues that could be handled in the classroom and that punishments for students can be too harsh.

 

Three proposals introduced in the House by Republican Dickie Bell of Staunton and in the Senate by Republican Bill Stanley of Moneta would restrict the length of long-term suspensions, require something more concrete than disruptive behavior before a student can face long-term suspension or expulsion, and ban most suspensions or expulsions for students from preschool through fifth grade.

 

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Bell will offer $250,000 budget amendment for local museum

The Staunton Republican confirmed the amount at a legislative breakfast sponsored by the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce. Waynesboro City Manager Mike Hamp said the state funds, if approved, could be used for engineering and design work on the museum.

News of the amount of the proposed amendment comes just one week after Waynesboro City Council reaffirmed its support for the museum. City Council passed a resolution Dec. 12 offering about $1 milliion in potential aid.

Read More: Bell Will Offer $250,000 Budget Amendment for Local Museum - The News Virginian

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Republicans Upbeat in Augusta County

STAUNTON - With the television tuned in to Fox News at the Republican election watch party at the Byers Street Bistro in downtown Staunton, the early election results kept the crowd "cautiously optimistic" in the words of Del. Steve Landes, R-Weyers Cave.

But Landes noted the election results could go deep into the night, keeping everyone guessing until the very end.

"I think everybody is realistic from that standpoint," he said.

While everyone waited, drinks and food flowed freely into the evening, with the crowd comfortable in the thought that Donald Trump was leading in Staunton, which has leaned left in recent presidential elections. Hillary Clinton would eventually take Staunton, but that did little to dampen enthusiasm. Four years ago, the local Republican party knew earlier in the night that President Barrack Obama would prevail, and the festivities petered out swiftly. Not so Tuesday night.

Read More: Republicans Upbeat in Augusta County - The News Leader

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Bell Opposes Courthouse Move

Bell said he supports the efforts of the Augusta Citizens Coalition and Common Sense Courthouse Solutions to keep the courthouse in its current Staunton location.

 

Read More - Bell Opposes Courthouse Move - The News Virginian

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Area General Assembly members receive validation of conservative credentials

One of the local legislators, Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge, achieved a perfect 100 percent rating by conservative organization. Cline earned a conservative excellence award.

Overall, the ACU said Republican Virginia legislators voted slightly more conservative in 2016, getting a score of 81.5 out of 100 as compared to 79.5 in 2015.

Read More - Area General Assembly members receive validation of conservative credentials - The News Virginian

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