Frank Ruff Jr.: What is left to do in Richmond
Published 12:00 pm Friday, February 17, 2023
Of the 2,338 legislative proposals offered in the House or Senate, 1,081 have already failed. This week and next, we will have 685 in the Senate and 572 in the House to deal with. Because of the divided government in Richmond, I expect many more will fail.
Already, many highly political issues are gone. I mentioned last week abortion and guns. Others of interest to many will not be dealt with this year:
1. The sale of marijuana. Some want to allow legal sales soon, others believe that the idea is a poor one that should not be considered at all and, if it is, it should be well thought out and planned. Serious planning has yet to occur.
2. The tightening of election security. Most people believe voters should show identification to vote. They believe that unguarded lockboxes should be banned and question the need of 45 days of early voting. Others are perfectly happy with keeping the rules that were established during Covid. Not making these changes has left many concerned that our system of fair elections had been usurped.
3. Crime and restoration of felons’ rights. Wholesale restoration was opposed by those who believe that rights should continue to be restored on a case by case basis. Some want crime and punishment treated on a basis of equity. Others of us believe that protecting citizens should be color blind, that the victims are who are important. Some believe drug dealers that kill people should be charged with homicide, others do not. Some understand that laws passed a couple of years ago that prevent law enforcement from stopping vehicles with defective equipment is irresponsible. Those laws originated not to harass drivers but rather for safety on our roads.
4. Improving education. The two sides have major differences of what should and should not be taught in schools. Some believe that our schools should focus on those traditional subjects that can lead our young people to be productive providers for their family. This places them at odds with those who believe our schools should be the place for the latest fad in social engineering. When classes devolve into that, parents want alternatives for their children, yet the opposition voted to bar competition.
5. Marriage and the Constitution. Some believe that our constitution should be changed to no longer state that marriage is between one man and one woman. Others do not. Gay marriages are legal and that should be sufficient.
The most important one is do we give taxpayers any relief from taxes this year. The majority in the House agreed to the Governor’s proposed $1 billion dollar tax cut, while the Senate Democrats resisted the four major tax cuts. The first would be a benefit to families in which the standard deduction would be raised, helping many. Additionally, a reduction of the amount after that deduction to 5 and a half percent on the balance of one’s earnings.
The second would have given mostly forgotten small family-owned businesses a reduction of 10%. The third would be military retirees to entice them to remain in Virginia and use their skills in Virginia’s businesses. Fourth would reduce the tax for corporations. Corporations don’t pay taxes; they simply pass them on to consumers that use their services or products. These cuts would make Virginia more attractive for families dealing with inflation and attract more job opportunities to the state.
Before the budget is completed, I believe there will be some relief agreed upon.
All around us, we see signs of those that are dealing with mental illness of various degrees. Left undealt with, these folks can become dangerous to themselves or those around them. Governor Youngkin and the General Assembly are committed to increased focus on the issue. We do not know how all the pieces will fit together yet, but we do know we need to attract more into the needed professions and secure greater capacity for their care.
The legislation that the Governor proposed and requested I carry is moving forward. Most now understand that we can and must do a better job for our citizens and businesses.
Frank Ruff Jr. represents Charlotte in the state Senate. His email address is Sen.Ruff@verizon.net.