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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling - 2007 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA


Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling - 2007 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

During his first year in office, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling kept his campaign promise of staying in touch with the people of Virginia. During 2006 Lieutenant Governor Bolling traveled across the Commonwealth, meeting with business, civic and political leaders to talk about the important issues facing Virginia. On the basis of these discussions, Lieutenant Governor Bolling has crafted an aggressive legislative agenda for the 2007 session of the Virginia General Assembly - an agenda that focuses on the issues that matter most to Virginia's families.

Public Safety

One of the primary responsibilities of state government is to keep the people of Virginia safe from the threat of crime. During 2006, Lieutenant Governor Bolling's public safety focus was on three issues: 1) combating the increasing problem of gangs and methamphetamine drug use, 2) cracking down in Internet sexual predators and child pornography, and 3) doing more to help enhance the salary and benefits of law enforcement professionals. To accomplish these goals, Lieutenant Governor Bolling is supporting the following legislative initiatives during the 2007 General Assembly session:

  • Gang Prosecution - Gangs are a growing problem in almost every part of Virginia. Unfortunately, these gangs are becoming more and more prevalent and more and more violent. To crack down on violent gangs and hold them accountable for their actions, Lieutenant Governor Bolling is supporting the following legislative initiatives:

  • Elimination of the Triggerman Rule - HB2348 (Gilbert) - This legislation provides that accessories to capital murder may also be eligible for the death penalty in addition to the actual perpetrator.

  • Witness Protection - HB 2347 (Gilbert) - This legislation provides that the willful, deliberate and premeditated killing of any witness under subpoena in a criminal case for the purpose of interfering with the person's duties in such case is punishable as capital murder.

  • Mandatory minimum sentences for the possession and distribution of methamphetamine -HB2324/SB 1234 (Gilbert/Obenshain) - Methamphetamine use has been a scourge on Virginia for several years. This drug is most oppressive in rural Virginia, in particular, in the Shenandoah Valley and Southwest Virginia. Methamphetamine-related convictions are ten times more common in these areas than in other parts of the state. While cocaine is still the primary drug plaguing Virginia, methamphetamine is not far behind in rural areas. To address this issue Virginia must take strong action against those who push and use this narcotic. For this reason, the penalties for methamphetamine crimes must have minimum standards that match the minimum standards that are currently in place for cocaine

  • Operation Blue Ridge Thunder - Putney Budget Amendment - Keeping our children safe on the Internet is a growing concern for law enforcement professionals. Virginia is fortunate to have a state of the art Task Force in Bedford County - Operation Blue Ridge Thunder - that monitors internet traffic throughout the Commonwealth to identify and arrest child predators. Unfortunately, Operation Blue Ridge Thunder cannot be as effective in Hampton Roads or Southwest Virginia as it is in Bedford County and Central Virginia. Sheriff Mike Brown, the Director of Operation Blue Ridge Thunder, has attempted to expand the operation of the program in these regions of the state, but that has been difficult due to funding constraints. Accordingly, Lieutenant Governor Bolling has proposed additional funding of $500,000 to help expand Operation Blue Ridge Thunder into Hampton Roads and Southwest Virginia.

  • Law Enforcement Retirement - HB1756 (Kilgore) - To recruit and retain the best law enforcement officials we must enhance their salary and benefits. Currently, some local governments provide enhanced retirements benefits for law enforcement officers while others cannot. There should be no discrepancy between localities when it comes to providing retirement benefits to law enforcement officers. Accordingly, Lieutenant Governor Bolling supports the Virginia Sheriffs' Association's request that the Commonwealth include Sheriffs' Deputies in the Law Enforcement Officers Retirement System (LEOS). In addition, the Lieutenant Governor supports the Association's request to increase the retirement multiplier from 1.7 percent to 2.0 percent for all Sheriffs and State Police Officers and giving local governments the option of enhancing their Deputies' retirement multipliers to 2.0 percent.

Illegal Immigration

Many Virginians continue to be concerned about the problem of illegal immigration. America is a nation of immigrants, and we should support efforts to make it easier for people to come to our country for legitimate reasons. However, we cannot tolerate the flagrant violation of our immigration laws. While addressing the immigration issue is primarily a federal responsibility, there are additional steps that should be taken in Virginia to address this issue. Lieutenant Governor Bolling will support the following legislative initiatives in 2007:

  • Local Immigration Enforcement - HB 1618 (Frederick) - This legislation would require the Governor to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) that would allow the Virginia State Police and local law enforcement agencies to enforce civil immigration laws.

  • Prohibit In-State Tuition to Illegals - HB 2623 (Reid) - This legislation would prohibit persons who are in Virginia illegally from paying in-state tuition at Virginia's colleges and universities.

Health Care

Throughout Lieutenant Governor Bolling's service in state government, one of his primary areas of interest has been health care. During 2006 Lieutenant Governor Bolling conducted a series of health care forums across Virginia. He met with doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, citizens, business leaders and others to discuss the health care challenges currently facing Virginia. On the basis of these discussions, Lieutenant Governor Bolling will advance the following health care initiatives in 2007.

  • Small Business Tax Credits - HB 1616 (Frederick) - More than 1 million Virginians do not have health insurance. Many of these uninsured Virginians are employed by small business owners who cannot afford to pay for health insurance. If these employees are also low income workers, they may have no recourse for their medical care, or they may have to rely on the state's Medicaid program for medical care. To address this issue and make it possible for small business owners to provide health insurance for their employees, Lieutenant Governor Bolling supports legislation to provide a tax credit to small businesses which pay at least 50% of the annual health insurance premiums of their employees.

  • Recruiting Doctors to Rural Areas - Governor's Budget Amendment - Access to health care is becoming a serious problem in many parts of Virginia. Rural medical salaries cannot compete with salaries in larger, urban medical centers. Newly graduated doctors have little choice but to choose the higher salaries of urban hospitals in order to pay off their student loans. The Virginia Physician Loan Repayment Program attempts to address this issue by offering tuition reimbursement to physicians who agree to practice in medically underserved areas. The Program currently awards $600,000 a year to 31 recipients throughout Virginia. Lieutenant Governor Bolling has joined with Governor Tim Kaine to propose a budget amendment to increase this funding by $250,000 in 2007. This will enable us to recruit more physicians to practice in rural parts of Virginia.

  • Childhood Obesity - School Nutrition Study - HJ637 (O'Bannon) - Over the past decade Virginia's children have become less active and an alarming percentage of our children are now overweight or obese. This means that they stand a greater risk of developing juvenile diabetes, heart disease and other weight-related illnesses. It is important for state government to identify responsible ways to address this issue. Accordingly, Lieutenant Governor Bolling has introduced legislation to create a Joint Study Commission within the Virginia General Assembly to examine nutrition, activity and education programs in our public schools and make recommendations on how these programs can be expanded.

  • Provide Cervical Cancer Vaccine - Governor's Budget Amendment - One of Lieutenant Governor Bolling's current health care initiatives is Ending Cervical Cancer in Our Lifetime. (see www.billbolling.comfor more information) Most cervical cancer is caused by the sexually transmitted HPV virus. While the best way to prevent HPV is through sexual abstinence outside of marriage, limiting the number of sexual partners and practicing safe sex techniques; one of the most exciting recent developments in the fight against cervical cancer is the approval of a vaccine that could immunize women against most forms of HPV. Unfortunately, not every woman in Virginia can afford this vaccine. To help advance the fight against cervical cancer, Lieutenant Governor Bolling supports a budget amendment to make the cervical cancer vaccine available to low income women in Virginia.

Tax Reform

  • Real Estate Tax Notifications - HB2127 (Hugo) - In recent years many Virginia families have been adversely impacted by rapid increases in property assessments and local real estate taxes. Many times, local government officials boast of reducing the real estate tax rate, when in fact real estate taxes increase do to the impact of property reassessments. To make certain that the impact of reassessments on real estate taxes is fully communicated to property owners, Lieutenant Governor Bolling will introduce legislation to require local governments to notify taxpayers of the specific impact that reassessments and the adoption of revised real estate tax rates will have on their individual taxes.

Eminent Domain

  • Plugging The Kelo Loophole - In 2005 the United States Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision that drastically expanded the powers of local governments to exercise the power of imminent domain. In the Kelo case the Supreme Court ruled that local governments could seize private property when the reason for the seizure was enhancement of the localities tax base or other economic development purposes. Lieutenant Governor Bolling disagrees with the Supreme Court's ruling in Kelo, and he was the first statewide official in Virginia to support the "core principles" to protect private property rights that are being advanced by the Commonwealth Alliance for Property Rights. During this year's session of the General Assembly, Lieutenant Governor Bolling will support the passage of legislation to clarify that no governmental body in Virginia can condemn private property if the primary purpose for such condemnation is economic development or tax base enhancement.

Economic Development

During 2006 Lieutenant Governor Bolling set aside the first week of every month to tour a different part of rural Virginia. During these tours the Lieutenant Governor stressed the need for state government to be more aggressive in recruiting new business, industry and jobs to rural Virginia. To help provide incentives to encourage economic development in rural Virginia, the Lieutenant Governor will support the following budget amendments and legislation this year:

  • Governor's Development Opportunity Fund - Governor's Budget Amendment - The Commonwealth appropriated $15M for fiscal year 06-07 to the Governor's Development Opportunity Fund and nothing for fiscal year 07-08. To compete effectively with other states, this funding needs to be increased. Lieutenant Governor Bolling has joined with Governor Tim Kaine in proposing an annual increase of $5M in the amount of money appropriated to the Fund.

  • Governor's Development Opportunity Fund - HB 2468 (D. Marshall) - Once funding for the Governor's Development Opportunity Fund is increased, legislative changes need to be made to make the fund more accessible to smaller economic development projects in rural Virginia. To accomplish this, Lieutenant Governor Bolling will introduce legislation to lower the qualification thresholds for access to the Fund in areas with extreme unemployment. This will enable more projects in rural parts of Virginia to qualify for incentives offered by the Fund.


  • Internet Filters - HB2197 (Nixon) - One of the most significant public safety concerns facing Virginia today is the threat of Internet sexual predators and child pornography. To help address this issue, Lieutenant Governor Bolling supports legislation that requires every public library that receives state funds to install filtering software on their computers to make certain that these computers cannot access pornographic websites.

  • Coal Miner Certification and Mine Safety- SB1091 (Puckett) - Following the coal mine disasters that occurred in West Virginia and Kentucky last year, Lieutenant Governor Bolling has been working with mining officials to look for ways to make mining safer for Virginia's coal miners. As a part of this effort, the Lieutenant Governor will support legislation to require that all mine workers in Virginia take and pass a comprehensive drug screening prior to employment.

  • Indian-American Day/Korean-American Day -HJ809/HJ632 (Albo/Hugo) - As Lieutenant Governor Bolling has said many times, "the face of Virginia is changing." In recent years, the number of Indian-Americans and Korean-Americans living in Virginia has increased dramatically, and these new Virginians are making a significant contribution to the better of the Commonwealth. In recognition of their presence and contribution, Lieutenant Governor Bolling will introduce legislation to designate January 13th as Korean-American Day and January 26th as Indian-American Day in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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