Ken Plum | The home stretch
Crossover has come and gone, which means the House has acted on all of our bills and is now taking up legislation passed by the Senate. Obviously, much of the news from Richmond has been dominated by talks of budget shortfalls and the federal stimulus package, but House Democrats have successfully passed a number of promising measures.
With the economy in mind, the House passed Del. Mamye BaCote’s HB2442, which doubles grant amounts made by the Virginia Investment Performance Grant program, and Del. Joe Bouchard and Bobby Mathieson’s HB2415, which expands research programs eligible for the Commonwealth Technology Research Fund.
Del. Mark Sickles’ HB2444, which requires the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to promote biosciences research and industry, was also passed out of the House – despite attempts by House Republicans to restrict stem cell research projects.
Several Republicans also opposed Del. Kris Amundson’s HB2504, which will close a loophole used by large, big-box retailers to skirt state corporate income-tax requirements.
House Democrats are committed to protecting homeowners during this uncertain time, and Del. Jennifer McClellan’s HB1776 will impose upon mortgage brokers the duty to make reasonable efforts to secure a loan that is in the best interest of borrowers. Del. Paul Nichols’ HB2129 will help protect renters when their landlords lose their property investments.
Del. Dan Bowling’s HB2279, which passed unanimously, will ensure that rural regions have regular access to state veteran service officers.
In the interest of expanding educational opportunities, Del. Rosalyn Dance’s HB1893 will allow scholarships awarded through the Brown v. Board of Education Scholarship Program to cover the costs of required academic fees and graduate study at the masters and doctoral levels, while Del. Amundson’s HB2342 eases tuition assistance for National Guardsmen. Del. Lynwood Lewis’s HB1924 will provide tuition grants for commercial crab fishermen.
Finally, in order to continue meeting our environmental and energy challenges, Del. David Bulova successfully passed HB1994, which will establish a goal for investor-owned incumbent electric utilities to have 15 percent of their total electric energy sales be from renewable energy sources by 2025. Likewise, Del. Albert Pollard’s HB2506 will allow investor-owned electric utilities to recover the costs of designing and operating energy efficiency programs.
There’s still plenty of time left in the session, and House Democrats will keep working on behalf of Virginia families as we move forward on Senate legislation. Please forward this message to five of your friends and encourage them to sign up for more updates at www.vahousedems.com.
– Del. Ken Plum is the chair of the House Democratic Caucus.