Bell Sounds from the 20th - 2019 Session - Week 1

On Wednesday, January 9 Speaker Cox officially gaveled in the 2019 Session.  This opening session was historical, as it marked 400 years of uninterrupted lawmaking in Virginia.  The Virginia House of Delegates, formally the House of Burgesses, was established in 1619 and is the oldest continuously lawmaking body in the New World.

To mark the occasion Speaker Kirk Cox addressed the 100 members of the House of Delegates flanked by the Jamestown Settlement Honor Guard.  To see his address, click here.  I am honored and humbled to be here for this historic milestone.

This year will be a short (46 days) session and we plan to tackle important issues such as tax reform, access to higher education, and improving healthcare.  We have a lot to do and just over 6 weeks to complete our work.

Saying NO to Governor Northam’s Tax Hike

As most of you know, in late 2017 Congress passed and the President signed the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, the first major rewrite of the tax code since 1986.  As part of that plan, Americans saw their standard deduction double from $6,350 to $12,000 for single filers, and from $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples filing jointly.

This plan highlighted a technical quirk in Virginia law that will cost Virginians in taxes. In Virginia, individuals who take the standard deduction at the federal level must also take it at the state level.  Our standard deduction presently stands at $3,000 for individuals and $6,000 for married couples filing jointly.  This means that someone who may have $9,000 in deductions at the state level would be limited to filing at the much lower standard deduction. 

Without a fix, this would mean that an estimated 600,000 Virginians would see a higher state tax bill.  The Governor’s recent budget proposal would use this new revenue from state taxes to fund $2.2 billion in state funding. 

To me that is completely unacceptable.

For this reason, I filed House Bill 1618, which will allow individuals and families who use the standard deduction at the federal level to itemize at the state level.  My bill will be part of a bigger conversation that House Republicans are having on this issue.  In addition to allowing those who use the standard deduction to itemize at the state level, the House Republican plan also increases the standard deduction and maintains existing rules for state and local tax deductions that the federal law changed.  Finally, the proposal aims to make taxpayers who itemize whole for the current tax year.  It will likely be too late to change the tax law for the 2018 filing season, so this will allow those who itemize this year to claim a deduction on next year’s taxes to make up for lost itemization.

If passed, this plan will fully implement the federal tax cuts at the state level, protecting a middle class family that itemizes from what could be roughly a $805 tax increase or providing an additional $115 in tax relief to a family that chooses the standard deduction.

Keeping our Children Safe in School

Last year Speaker Cox formed a select committee to study school safety in Virginia. Virginia has constantly been recognized as a leader in school safety, however we must be ever vigilant in the changing world we live in. House Republicans are also prioritizing two-dozen recommendations from the House Select Committee on School Safety and we are leading the effort this year to find innovative ways to keep our children safe. We are confident we can find common ground with the governor on that. Stay tuned as I will continue to keep you updated with these pieces of legislation as they make their way through the legislative process.

Contact Us!

We are operating out of our Richmond Office for the duration of the 2019 Session.  I love hearing from constituents on issues that matter most to you!

The quickest way to reach us by phone will be by calling the Richmond office directly at 804-698-1020.  We do not monitor the voicemail on our district office phone during the legislative session.   We will still receive email at DelDBell@house.virginia.gov.

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