Friday, January 31, 2014

Week 4 Update

January 31, 2014

Brenda Roberts

Finishing Up Week 4

Week Four Update
Week Four Update


I wanted to share with you our accomplishments from the 4th week in the General Assembly. We have had great success with our legislative priorities and have worked hard to further the economic prospects of the 85th district and Virginia.  Below I want to go over some of the wins we have had this week:

HB 341 -  Part of my alternative fuels legislation, this bill incentivizes large commercial vehicles to convert to the more environmentally friendly and economical natural gas. It passed through the House today 90-5 and will now go to the Senate for consideration. Large trucks are the number one user of foreign oil. They are now one step closer to getting a break on overweight permits, as natural gas tanks are slightly heavier. This is another bill that helps our economy, reduces carbon emissions, and helps Virginia lead the way in alternative fuels.

HB 344 - This is a bill that combats online harassment and bullying. As the law stands currently, online harassment is a misdemeanor. HB 344 would expand this law to allow for a felony classification if the harassment is done by stealing the victim's identity.  



I joined the Military Veterans Caucus and our meeting this week was quite informative. In 2008, the GI Bill was updated with the enactment of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act, giving veterans with active-duty service on, or after, September 11, 2001, enhanced educational benefits that cover more educational expenses. These benefits include a living allowance, money for books, and the ability to transfer unused educational benefits to spouses or children. The Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program (Yellow Ribbon Program or YRP) is a provision of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  

George Washington University has a wonderful Veterans program for veterans that will ensure a free degree while using the Post-9/11 GI Bill. In addition, GWU is offering undergraduate degrees at 60% off to active-duty military, veterans, and their families

Please visit for more information.



The State Senate is now evenly divided with 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans.  Previously, the State Senate had organized as a Republican majority due to then-Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling (R) casting tie-breaking votes. With the election of Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam (D), the Senate has reorganized with a Democrat majority.  The practical effect of this is that it will be more difficult to get conservative legislation through the Senate. 



Medicaid expansion was a pressing issue last year, and it is an even more consequential issue this year. My office has received several inquiries from constituents on the status of Medicaid expansion in Virginia and where I stand on the issue. I do not support Medicaid expansion in Virginia, and I do not believe an expansion decision will be made this session.

Under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), Medicaid could be expanded to cover an additional 400,000 new recipients in the commonwealth. The federal government has promised to cover 100% of expansion costs for the first 3 years and 90% after that.

The House Republican Caucus believes expanding a broken Medicaid system is a bad choice for Virginia. Currently, Medicaid costs the commonwealth almost $9 billion a year and consumes about 22% of our general fund budget. It is the fastest growing part of our budget, growing at an average of 8% annually. Expansion could potentially cost an additional $1 billion a year if the federal government does not live up to their promise to pay 90% of the cost.

Historically, we have seen the actual costs far outpace the original projections for nearly every major entitlement program in the last 50 years. When Medicare was originally created in the 1960s, it was projected to cost $12 billion annually by 1990. In 1990, Medicare actually cost $110 billion. Today it's over $500 billion.



Pictured: Venus Marshall, Carl Wright, and Judith Jeffrey of the NAACP
We also had visits from:
  • VHTA Virginia Hospitality & Tourism Association  
  • Friends Bill Gambrel, and Chris Savvides.
  • Lynnhaven River Now - Dr. Barakey, Dr. Picardi
  • Virginia Beach's Commissioner of Revenue Phil Kellam and City Councilman John Uhrin
  • Equality Virginia
  • VA Films
  • Massey Cancer Research Center

I truly enjoyed all of the visits and am looking forward to next week. As always, it is a pleasure and honor to serve you. I will continue to earn it every day.


Delegate Scott Taylor

Paid for and authorized by Scott Taylor for Delegate.
This email was sent to by |  
Scott Taylor for Delegate | 4768 Euclid Rd | Suite 105 | virginia beach | VA | 23462

General Assembly Update

banner 2
Norment News 

General Assembly Update: Week Four
 Visit us Online!
View our videos on YouTube

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Contact our Office:

Senator Tommy Norment
P.O. Box 6205
Williamsburg, VA 23188
(757) 259-7810

Kalia Sokos
Legislative Aide  
norment new pic

Senator Norment visiting with the children from St. Benedict School during their visit to the General Assembly this week  
In his first interview this week Senator Norment sat down for VCTA Cable Reports for New Kent and King and Queen County to discuss the 2014 General Assembly session.
VCTA Cable Reports 2014- New Kent/King & Queen- Sen. Tommy Norment
VCTA Cable Reports 2014- New Kent/King & Queen- Sen. Tommy Norment
 January 31, 2014

This Week In Richmond 


In temperature and temperament, Capitol Square felt as though it moved north this week.  The chill outside and the politics inside Virginia's Capitol made Richmond feel a lot more like Washington.


The Democrats, with the tie-breaking vote of Lt. Governor Northam, became the majority party in the Senate of Virginia on Tuesday.  Although the Senate was organized for the full four-year term in 2012 and changing the rules governing the Senate requires a two-thirds vote, Democrats ignored the rules and abandoned precedent to wrest control of the Senate. As could be expected, their tactics were in no way genteel.  


Not only was this bare-knuckled partisanship not "The Virginia Way" so frequently mentioned lately, but the Democrats also managed to impose a new rule on the Senate that is profoundly undemocratic.  This rule grants a single Senator, the Chairman of the Rules Committee, the power to prevent a Senate Bill from being approved by the Senate if it has been "substantially" amended by the House. In effect, this rule gives one legislator the ability to single-handedly kill legislation with no accountability or recourse. 


The Senate of Virginia has 40 members; giving just one senator the power to derail legislation without a vote violates the foundations of representative government.  This remarkably irresponsible granting of veto power to a single legislator would not even be contemplated in Washington, where partisan bickering and gridlock have become commonplace. It brings shame on the Senate of Virginia that such an undemocratic rule has been forced upon this historic and proud body.


Of course, ignoring rules seems to have become accepted behavior among some in public office.


Continuing the erosion of legal and constitutional protections in Virginia, Attorney General Mark Herring announced that he will refuse to defend the Virginia Constitution's definition of marriage. This decision comes less than two weeks after swearing an oath to defend the Constitution.  


At the federal level, President Obama declared in his State of the Union Address that he will enact policies unilaterally, as he has failed to effectively work with Congress to pass his agenda thus far. If he follows through on this pledge, he will effectively usurp the power reserved for Congress by the Constitution.

The rule of law and constitutional government protect our liberties and preserve our freedoms.  Abandoning those foundations in the name of political expediency, convenience, or power poses a direct threat to representative government. Reversing the trend away from the principles underpinning our democracy will be very challenging.

Despite the chaotic situation in the Senate and the snow falling outside, I was able to successfully advance a large portion of my legislative agenda this week. 
SB 444, which would allow localities to prohibit ownership of hybrid canines- a hybrid of a dog and a wolf, passed the Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee by a unanimous vote. I had several bills passed by the Courts of Justice Committee this week as well. SB 478 and SB 489 would increase penalties for those convicted of trafficking in contraband cigarettes. SB 482 would raise penalties for those drivers who have been convicted of a DUI four or more times within 10 years. SB 487 would increase the penalty for those operating a boat while intoxicated where that boat operator severely injures the victim. SB 496 will clarify the provisions for appointing special police in localities.


All legislation being considered during this year's session can be tracked on the General Assembly's website,


Another snowstorm discouraged some visitors from traveling to Richmond this week.  But, some made it through in spite of the snow and the below-freezing daily high temperatures.
  • Ann Davis, James City County Treasurer
  • Tara Thomas, Gloucester County Treasurer
  • Harry Whitt, King William County Treasurer
  • Ruth Larson, Williamsburg-James City County School Board
  • Heather Cordasco, Williamsburg-James City County School Board
  • Dr. Hugh M. Bryan III, Gloucester

Hopefully we will get better weather over the coming weeks so that more visitors can come visit our office in Richmond. I will continue to work away diligently in in Richmond until the General Assembly adjourns on March 8. My legislative assistant, Kalia Sokos, is also in Richmond, and our office is in Room 621 of the General Assembly Building.  You can contact us by sending an e-mail to, or by sending a letter to me at Senate of Virginia, Post Office Box 396, Richmond VA 23218-0396.  You can also call us at 804.698.7503.

Very truly yours,
Senator Tommy Norment
Paid for and Authorized by Friends of Tommy Norment
This email was sent to by |  
Senator Tommy Norment | PO Box 6205 | Williamsburg | VA | 23188

2014 General Assembly Update: Week 4...Don't forget to RSVP for District Day!

The Pogge Post

2014 General Assembly Update: Week 4

96th District, Virginia House of Delegates     January 31, 2014
Stay Connected!
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter View our videos on YouTube
Join Our Mailing List!
Contact Delegate Pogge


During Session:

General Assembly Building

Room 403

Capitol Square

Richmond, VA 23219



Please send mail to:

P.O. Box 196

Norge, VA 23127
Legislative Aide
Amanda Johnston
While many Virginians enjoyed snow days this week, the members of the legislature reported to work on time. Very rarely does the General Assembly cancel committee meetings or session. In fact, I am only aware of one instance of closure--back in February of 2010.

One of the biggest issues facing the General Assembly members this year is the decision regarding Medicaid expansion. Throughout the past few weeks, I have received countless emails from constituents who are concerned about this issue. If you've written to me about this matter, you have likely received my response that I do not support Medicaid expansion. I'd like to share some details guiding my decision.

According to the Virginia Secretary of Health, Dr. Hazel, thirty percent of all healthcare spending is waste, fraud and abuse. Of greater concern, nearly thirty percent of all physicians refuse to see Medicaid patients. As a result of this limited access, studies in other states have indicated that Medicaid enrollees are 40% more likely to visit emergency rooms, thereby driving up costs. For this reason, Virginia's Democrats and Republicans agreed last year to implement reforms prior to expansion. 


To this end, the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) was established in 2013 and has been working to draft reforms to improve Virginia's Medicaid system.  Some of these reforms include the implementation of a quality payment and incentive program and a coordinated-care program for individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. Additionally, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) has been directed to perform a comprehensive audit of Medicaid and to make recommendations about additional reforms. As you may recall, the 2010 audit of VDOT revealed over $1.5 billion in unspent funds. Similarly, in Illinois, an audit determined that more than half of the state's Medicaid population should not have been enrolled in the program.


Because Medicaid currently constitutes 21% of Virginia's general fund spending and has grown by 1600% over the past thirty years, a lack of significant reform could leave Virginia in a precarious financial position.  With 30% of every healthcare dollar wasted and the Medicaid system growing at an annual average of 8% in Virginia, the audit is an important first step in guaranteeing a more efficient and effective system.


As the discussion about Medicaid continues, I hope you find these facts helpful. I appreciate all of you who have provided feedback about this issue, especially those who completed my survey. Tellingly, 94% of survey respondents opposed the expansion of Medicaid in the Commonwealth.

February 18: District Day with special guest
Speaker of the House William Howell
Please take this opportunity to watch the General Assembly at work! On Tuesday, February 18, I will host a District Day in Richmond. If you are a resident of the 96th District and desire to learn more about the legislative process, please mark your calendar. The day will run from 9:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.  In addition to touring the capitol and viewing committee meetings and session, attendees will also hear from Speaker Howell. Lunch will be provided, and there is no charge to attend this event.  Attendees are limited to the first twenty respondents from the 96th District, so please reply promptly!  To RSVP, call 804-698-1096 or email  A detailed agenda will be provided as the date approaches.  
2014 Budget Amendment: Efficient & effective delivery of Medicaid services for individuals with mental health challenges
Because Medicaid reform and mental health care are top priorities of the General Assembly, I am excited to share information about a budget amendment that I submitted this year.  If adopted, the amendment will require adults seeking Medicaid services for mental health to undergo a face-to-face evaluation. This process, entitled the Virginia Independent Clinical Assessment Program (VICAP), ensures that individuals receive a personal assessment of their needs so that the correct services are provided.  

To share some history, in 2011, the General Assembly budget implemented VICAP screening for children seeking Medicaid services for mental health.  As a result, children and families were provided with a licensed clinical independent assessment and diagnosis. Following this evaluation, recommendations were made for the correct level of intervention and treatment--not the level of service that a provider happened to deliver (and bill to Medicaid). Also, families were required to participate in the delivery of services to their children, whereas prior to VICAP, parents could avoid participation in their children's behavioral health treatment.  Over the course of two years, $109 million in Medicaid funds were saved as a result of the implementation of VICAP for children. 

Respondents to my session survey listed "cut government spending" as their top priority. Ranked a close second was the option to "streamline government programs and services." If adopted in the budget, a requirement for VICAP screening for adults will accomplish both of these goals. Simply stated, the program provides higher quality mental health services while cutting costs.
Visitors in the General Assembly Building
Although the wintry weather deterred a few visitors, I am happy to share that the following folks were not dissuaded by the snow:

Brian Wise
Deanne Deschenes
Anthony Bavuso
Annete Parsons
Angela Karaktin
Reverend Charles Swadley
Visitors Welcome!
As always, if you are in Richmond during the upcoming weeks, please stop by my office in Room 403 of the General Assembly Building located at the corner of 9th and Broad Streets. 
Delegate Brenda Pogge

Paid for and Authorized by Brenda Pogge for Delegate
This email was sent to by |  
Brenda Pogge for Delegate | P.O. Box 196 | Norge | VA | 23127

Session 2014: Legislative Update for January 31st

January 31, 2014
Events in the Virginia Senate

In 2011, all forty seats in the Virginia Senate were up for re-election. Democrats had control of the Senate, and drew the district lines to pack likely Republican voters into as few districts as possible. The net result of such redistricting is that, no matter how high the total take of the state's vote, Republicans would have great difficulty picking up actual seats. They also put Republican Senators into districts with each other. Nevertheless, the voters had the final say. Republicans took a strong showing of 58% of the vote, but won only 50% (20) of the seats.

With the Lt. Governor victory of Ralph Northam this past November, Senate Democrats have now regained governing control of the Virginia Senate.

Despite Senate Rules requiring a 2/3 vote to make any changes, this past Tuesday Democrat Senators, with the help of the Lt. Governor's tie-breaking vote, made a precedent-setting decision that a new Senate exists every time a new face arrives on the Floor. Concluding that decision meant the Senate had no valid rules by which to operate, they put aside the existing rules and enacted a new set with a simple majority vote. If the presence of a newly-organized Senate is determined by which faces are in the room, the Senate is going to need to reorganize itself quite frequently.

With their 42% of the vote mandate, Democrats proceeded to take 100% of the chairmanships; remove people from standing committees without concurrence; and stack committees with majorities as high as 64.7%. This was done in the middle of a legislative session - in which subcommittees and full standing committees have been working for several weeks. Such a re-organization is quite a disruptive act.

Most concerning is new Rule 19(i), which says that the lone senator who chairs the Rules Committee can unilaterally decide that a Senate bill - amended by the House in a manner he does not like - will not go to the Senate floor. Instead, it will be diverted to the committee he chairs. That committee can then kill the bill, protecting their membership from having to vote Yes or No in an up or down vote, on the Senate Floor.

This undermines the important concept of a bicameral legislative body. Each body is supposed to have the opportunity to amend the other's legislation, with the body of origin accepting or rejecting the changes. The result of such an exchange determines if the bill goes into a committee of conference or not, to be agreed upon for possible final passage. Under this new rule, 19(i), that bicameral system is undermined substantially.


Despite the unfortunate political gamesmanship this week, I know that you elected me to represent you and our shared principles in the state Senate, and not to dwell on partisan bickering. I remain committed to being your effective advocate in the Virginia Senate, and will make sure your voice is heard, loud and clear.

Legislative Update

As of Wednesday, January 29th, all of my remaining bills have successfully passed the Senate and are now pending in the House, for their consideration. It is unlikely that the House will have a chance to deal with Senate business until after Crossover on February 11th. Once committees and subcommittees begin handling Senate bills, I will again be presenting my legislative package for voting.


In the meantime, we still have full committee dockets of Senate business to deal with, within the next week and a half. There truly won't be any slowing down, before Crossover.


The communication from constituents has continued to be helpful, wonderful, and informative. I appreciate it greatly. Please, do not hesitate to contact us. I can best represent you by hearing from you, and thank you for the privilege of service.





Stay Connected 
(804) 698-7511
P.O. Box 396
Richmond, VA 23218
General Assembly Building
Room 311 

Visit Our Website!

Like us on Facebook                                            View our videos on YouTube 
Click to watch: Senator Martin Speaking on VCTA Cable Reports
Click to watch: Senator Martin's interview last week on
VCTA Cable Reports

Helpful Links
Special Elections in Chesterfield!
Please remember to vote on March 18th in the special elections for School Board (if you live in the Midlothian district) and for Sheriff (county wide). 
If you are unsure where you need to go to vote, please visit the State Board of Elections and find your polling location!
Visitors This Week

The winter weather may be disrupting traffic in many areas, but the flow of visitors through the General Assembly Building and to my office has not slowed down!

Over the last week, we were glad to meet with a wide variety guests, constituents, and representatives, including:
Chesterfield Education Association, Chesterfield County Council of PTA's, Extra Special Parents, National MS Society, Virginia Association of Funeral Directors, AFL-CIO, Southside Electric Cooperative, Commissioners of the Revenue Association of Virginia, Equality VA, Chesterfield NAACP, representative business owners with the Virginia Hospitality & Travel Association, John Tyler Community College, the YWCA of Richmond, Virginia Oral Health Coalition, the Virginia Catholic Conference, students from Saint Gertrude's High School, Massey Cancer Center, Richmond Area Citizens for the Arts, and students from George Mason University.

Our thanks to the constituents, groups, and drop-in visitors that came by the office this week and took time to let us know what was on their mind!

Copyright © 2012. All Rights Reserved.

This email was sent to by |  
Paid for and authorized by Friends of Steve Martin | P.O. Box 700 | Chesterfield | VA | 23832