Special Edition - General Assembly Update - Glen Sturtevant

Special Edition - General Assembly Update

Message from Glen

Dear Friends,

The 2017 General Assembly Session is in full swing and our office is busy working on your behalf. There have been a record number of visitors to the Capitol this session, with more visitors in our first month than in the entire 2016 Session. I have enjoyed meeting with constituents advocating for many different issues facing our community. With only a week left to go, we are wrapping up work on some of our largest legislative priorities.

The General Assembly has heard testimony and voted on thousands of bills already during this “short” 45-day session. The Senate is now exclusively focused on bills introduced by Delegates, while the bills we passed in the Senate will be considered in the House.

Thankfully, we have already addressed one of the most important budget issues we faced going into session – compensation for state employees and state police. Virginia is facing a $1.2 billion deficit and as a result, automatic triggers eliminated funding for much deserved raises for state police, state employees, and some local government employees including teachers and public safety officers.

Ahead of the budget announcements, legislators in both the Senate and the House of Delegates agreed on a compensation package for Virginia State Police, local law enforcement, and state employees. As you will remember, when the budget deficit was announced, I sent a letter to Governor McAuliffe requesting across the board reductions in state departments’ operating budgets to save state employee, teacher, and law enforcement pay raises.

However, the Governor’s budget proposal included only a 1.5 percent “bonus,” which would not have addressed the major compensation and recruiting problems occurring around the state. I am proud that the Senate and the House of Delegates have come together to address this major challenge.

If you will be at the Capitol next week, it would be a pleasure to see you. Stop by our office in room number 318 or set up an appointment by calling 804-698-7510.


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2017 Legislative Agenda

This year I have focused on our platform of economic growth, meaningful education reform, and transparency and accountability in government. I have introduced bills to lower taxes, ease tax burdens on small businesses, make higher education more affordable, and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of state government.

Economic Growth

Of special importance in my legislative initiatives are tax reform and reduction. To help small businesses and grow our economy, I sponsored two bills to roll back and end collection of the unfair budgeting gimmick known as the Accelerated Sales Tax.

I also introduced bills to lower the individual and corporate income tax and sponsored two tax reform bills. The first bill would have capped and phased out over a 10 year period some of the commonwealth’s largest tax credits that benefit only a relatively small number of individuals and big businesses. The second would have assigned sunset dates to tax credits that did not already have them to help provide more accountability and oversight to these programs.

Virginia’s tax credit structure is in need of greater transparency and accountability, especially considering the $1.2 billion deficit that triggered automatic budget reductions and the canceling of raises for state employees. Thankfully, our budget proposals have addressed these issues to mitigate the negative impact on these employees in the 10th district, but we still have many tough funding reductions ahead.

The tax credits targeted in my legislation amounted to over $150 million dollars per year, with a relatively small group of tax filers claiming this large pot of funds. Reducing tax credits helps level the playing field while also allowing for across the board reductions for everyone.

I also submitted legislation to waive tax penalties for small businesses in their first two years of operation, as long as the business participates in a repayment program. This bill passed in the Senate and House and is awaiting review by Governor McAuliffe. 

Education

Ensuring access to quality education is one of the top priorities in our community. I submitted a bill to reduce the number of SOL tests students take from the current too high requirement of 29 tests down to the federal minimum of 17 over a child’s K-12 career. We all agree that standardized tests are an important tool to measuring student success, but over-testing our kids restricts teachers from teaching important critical thinking and social interaction skills in favor of “teaching to the test.”

Our office is also tackling the rising cost of higher education. I submitted three bills to slow tuition growth, reduce the cost of earning a bachelor’s degree, and increase accountability for rising costs. Families need to be able to plan for the costs of tuition, and rarely do their budgets grow enough to keep up. I will continue the fight on this issue until we see positive change.

Additionally, I sponsored a bill to require our public universities to establish consistent and transparent procedures for accepting dual enrollment class credits completed by high school students. This bill passed in the Senate and will be considered in the House.

Transparency and Accountability

Again this year, I introduced a bill to require local governments and school boards to publish their check registers online for public viewing. This important transparency measure passed in the Senate with bipartisan support, but the House of Delegates killed the bill after highly paid lobbyists for local governments targeted the bill to keep this public information under wraps. You can read more about this bill by clicking here.

To ensure that state government runs responsibly, I introduced a bill to authorize efficiency and effectiveness reviews from consulting firms in order to better identify areas where state government can be more productive while saving money. Past audits, like VDOT’s audit that found $1 billion in unused funds, have generated significant savings. I am happy to report that this bill  passed in the Senate and in the House of Delegates’ Committee on Rules.

Other Bills

Finally, I sponsored a few additional bills on behalf of constituents that will make a positive impact on our community. I was contacted by several nurses who had been assaulted at their workplace. Together, we introduced a bill that would extend higher penalties for assaulting a healthcare worker and convene a workgroup to create violence prevention programs.

Data shows that health care professionals in a hospital are 4-5 times more likely to face workplace violence than the national average for other professionals and about 21% of registered nurses and nursing students report being physically assaulted at work. I am proud to have supported nurses throughout the Commonwealth by making their workplaces safer.

I was also contacted by a constituent regarding injuries her mother faced while in an assisted living facility. Working with Delegate Robinson in the House, we created a bill that would increase the accountability of these facilities by reducing the fine cap for violations from every 24 months to every 12 months, thereby doubling the amount of fines that can be assessed on a bad actor.

Both of these bills have passed unanimously in the Senate and House of Delegates and are awaiting the signature of the Governor.

If you have any ideas on legislation to better our community and the Commonwealth, please contact our office.

To view all of the legislation I introduced this year, or to monitor the progress of any bill, please visit Virginia’s Legislative Information System by clicking here


2017 Senate Page Leadership Program 

The Senate Page program provides a unique educational opportunity for students to get a first-hand look at the legislative process. This year, the 10th District was represented by two bright and charismatic students, Oliver Buckner and Megan Beasley. Megan attends Albert Hill Middle School in Richmond and Oliver is a student at Midlothian Middle School in Chesterfield. I have greatly enjoyed getting to know Megan and Oliver and thank them for their hard work this Session. 

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Information and applications for the 2018 Page program will be available in the early fall. Please let us know if you are interested in learning more about the page program!

Visitors to the Capitol

I am excited this session for all the visitors who have taken time out of their busy schedules to visit our office during session. This has been a record-breaking year for visitors, who have come out in numbers larger than we’ve had in nearly 30 years. Multiple days have brought almost 5,000 people to the Capitol to advocate on behalf of the issues most important to them.

This session, our office has had the pleasure of meeting with constituents and volunteers from the Chesterfield and Powhatan Farm Bureaus, Virginia School Counselors Association, Home Educators Association, Americans for Prosperity, Virginia Nurses Association, National Coalition of Public Safety Officers, Y-Street for Healthy Youth, March of Dimes, American Heart Society, Alzheimer’s Association, 4-H students, OneVirginia2021, the Women’s Equality Coalition, Virginia Interfaith Center, Chesterfield Education Association, NAMI, and Richmond Chapter of Credit Unions, just to name a few.

If you are planning to visit the Capitol this year, don’t forget to stop by and chat with us in Room 318! We are always happy to help you coordinate a trip to the Capitol by arranging meeting rooms and Capitol Tours, and I would be glad to introduce you to the Senate from the Gallery during our daily floor sessions. If you are interested, please call our office at 804-698-7510, so that we can begin working out the details for your trip!

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I enjoyed speaking with IB Students from Lucille Brown Middle School in the Senate Chamber. 

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I was joined by my predecessor, Senator John Watkins, to advocate for our budget amendment to transfer the Beaumont Facility to Powhatan County for economic development.

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Doctors from the 10th District stopped by this year to discuss ways to improve healthcare services in the Commonwealth. I was happy to have their support of my bill to eliminate COPN permitting for Mental Health facilities.

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This session, I enjoyed an informational meeting with Home School advocates from Powhatan County.

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Nursing students representing the Virginia Nurses Association came to the Capitol this year to advocate for their legislative priorities.

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I was honored to present SJ 352 to Family Lifeline, which commends and celebrates their 140th year serving the Richmond community. 

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Students from Sabot of Stony Point stopped by the Capitol to learn more about the legislative process.

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Representatives from the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation dropped by our office on their Lobby Day at the Capitol. 

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Students from Virginia Commonwealth and Virginia State Universities lobbied the General Assembly on behalf of the Virginia Association of Nutrition and Dietetics on the importance of healthy foods and lifestyles. 

In the News

Senator Sturtevant’s Legislation

“Protecting free expression for Virginians: it's common sense” – Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1-31-17

“Bill to protect residents from defamation lawsuits passes in the Senate” – WTVR, 2-10-17

“Virginia lawmakers may make it harder for people to get sued for writing scathing Yelp reviews” – Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2-12-17

"Small businesses may get break on state tax penalties under bill passed by House Wednesday" – RVAHub, 2-16-17

“Lawmakers target college tuition and access” – WTVR, 1-17-17

“Editorial: Why aren't politicians talking about tuition increases?” – Roanoke Times, 2-9-17

“Senate bills address rising tuition costs” – The Cavalier Daily, 1-25-17

“Senate finance kills Va. bills to control tuition” – Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1-25-17

“Lobbyists for local governments and schools help kill Sturtevant's transparency bill” – Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2-15-17

“Transparency bill mandating cities, school boards to put check registry online dies in committee” – The Virginian-Pilot, 2-15-17

“GOP budget leaders urge 3 percent raises for state workers, higher pay for new state troopers” – Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1-25-17

“Va. Senate panel kills Sen. Glen Sturtevant's bill to cap and phase out historic rehab tax credits” – Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2-3-17

“Proposed changes in Va. tax policy linked to state budget” – Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1-28-17

“Bill would increase fines for noncompliant assisted living communities” – Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1-16-17

Commonwealth of Virginia

“Editorial: One word explains the slide in college enrollment: Duh.” – Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2-11-17

George H.W. Bush Carrier Group Deploys” - Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1-21-17

General Assembly Building—After One Final Session—Will Be Demolished This Year” – Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1-8-17

“Richmond’s Immanuwel Aleem Fighting His Way to the Top” - Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1-20-17

“The Veil Named to Beer Advocates ‘Best New Breweries in the US’”- Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1-12-17

Chesterfield

"Coding high school to open this fall" - Chesterfield Observer, 2-1-17

"School Board taps Siddiqi as chairman"
 - Chesterfield Observer, 1-18-17

"Board Seeks to Increase Open Government"- Chesterfield Observer, 1-18-17

Project melds county history – and trees” - Chesterfield Observer, 1-11-17

"Military Times Honors Chesterfield Police"- Chesterfield Observer, 1-4-17

"Chesterfield schools superintendent: 'The state of our schools is strong'" – Richmond Times Dispatch, 1-17-17

Richmond

"Editorial: No, Richmond shouldn't be a "sanctuary city"' – Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2-16-17

VMFA acquires Romare Bearden's 'Three Folk Musicians'
 – Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1- 18-17

"Potterfield Bridge saw 35,000 visitors in December, its first month open" –Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1- 18-17

Powhatan

"Jones named Superintendent of the Year" - Powhatan Today, 2-15-17

"Cobb Technologies raises $15,000 for local charity"
 – Powhatan Today, 1-18-17

"Board approves plan for memorial benches" – Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12-27-16