Bob McDonnell issued the following statement regarding Gov. Tim Kaine’s address tonight on the state of the commonwealth:
“Tonight, Governor Kaine addressed the General Assembly and the citizens of our Commonwealth at a time of deep uncertainty and unease. Every day brings new reports of job losses and business closings. Our citizens are facing tough times and tough choices. Virginia’s government is no different.”
“A $3 billion budget deficit confronts the Commonwealth. It could grow larger. For that reason the overwhelming focus of the General Assembly must be closing the deficit, responsibly. This will not be easy. However, it does provide an opportunity. This difficult period in our history provides the opportunity to focus upon the core functions of government. It provides an opportunity to cut government spending on programs that do not work or are not a priority. Spending in Virginia has doubled in 10 years, growing 23% faster than the rate of growth in population and inflation. This is the opportunity for innovation and entrepreneurship, and to look for every program that can be privatized, consolidated, streamlined, or eliminated. It will be difficult work, but it will set Virginia on a path to smarter and more efficient government. I urge the legislature to keep taxes, litigation, and regulation down so that free enterprise and entrepreneurs can thrive in Virginia. New incentives to promote business and create jobs should be adopted.”
“The key to success will be setting aside partisanship. This is not a time for political posturing; it is a time for governing. I encourage the Governor and the General Assembly to work across the aisle to balance Virginia’s budget. I look forward to assisting the legislature in making its tough decisions.”
Earlier today, the Attorney General released his legislative agenda – an agenda based upon doing what’s in the best interests for the people of Virginia coming from the perspective of the state’s chief law enforcement official:
RICHMOND – Attorney General Bob McDonnell unveiled his 2009 legislative agenda today, limiting his annual package of bills to less than 15 pieces of legislation in order to keep the General Assembly’s focus on the budget shortfall facing the Commonwealth.
Speaking about his 2009 legislative agenda, Attorney General McDonnell noted, “I have limited our 2009 legislative agenda to less than 15 bills, in support of the decision by the members of the House of Delegates to do the same. Over the past 3 years our legislative agendas have enjoyed broad, bipartisan support, with 83 bills passed and signed into law by the Governor. We accomplished this by bringing Virginians together to achieve positive results for the Commonwealth.”
McDonnell continued, noting, “This session of the General Assembly we must once again come together, this time to solve our budget challenges. We face at least a $3 billion dollar shortfall, and fixing this shortfall must be the focus of the next 45 days. With this in mind, I have proposed a very limited legislative agenda this year, consisting of common sense solutions to some of the challenges facing our Commonwealth. I am calling for important election reforms that will make voting easier and clear up legal problems, while providing important new safeguards for the democratic process. I have proposed a modest tax credit for the purchase of school supplies. At this tough economic moment we should pass measures which encourage consumer spending on the education of Virginia’s children. I am calling for mortgage lenders to be covered by the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. Finally, I will ask for a renewed commitment to public-private partnerships to get new infrastructure built quicker, and at reduced cost to the taxpayers.”
The announcement of the 2009 legislative agenda follows three past years of important reforms advocated by Attorney General McDonnell. He won passage of all his original campaign promises within the first two General Assembly sessions: sweeping new measures combating sexual predators, protecting children online, reducing frivolous prisoner litigation, eliminating burdensome government regulations, improving homeland security and securing private property rights. McDonnell has also secured numerous other reforms, including creating a Senior Alert to help locate missing senior citizens, cracking down on animal fighting, strengthening Virginia’s mental health system, and eliminating burdensome and unnecessary regulations.
Attorney General Bob McDonnell’s 2009 Legislative Agenda
Adds emergency response workers to the list of persons entitled to vote by absentee ballot.
Requires absentee ballots are sent expeditiously to voter, including overseas military members.
Voting Improvement Act
Various Components Include:
Reduce Voting Lines
Lower the number of registered voters needed to create an additional precinct to expedite the voting process and reduce the time voters wait in line to vote.
Change in Voting Precinct
Require that when a voter’s precinct is changed prior to an election that the general registrar contact them via email and/or phone, if such information is available, in addition to sending a new voter registration card indicating the new voting precinct.
Election Official Relief Act
Require an additional election official to arrive one hour before closing at each precinct to assist with closing the polls, including tabulation of the final vote count.
The wearing of election paraphernalia within 40 feet of the voting precinct may include t-shirts, buttons and stickers.
Promoting clarity and uniformity among the localities responsible for determining a voter’s residence.
Amend Section 24.2-101 regarding the definition of “residence or resident.” Contained within that definition are criteria to be applied to the determination of “domicile” under Virginia law, and to require the State Board of Elections to promulgate uniform guidelines to assist local registrars with determining a voter’s residence.
Prevent Dual Registration and Voting
Increasing criminal penalties for a voter who knowingly votes or assists another to vote in a jurisdiction where the voter is not qualified to vote. The application to register to vote will also contain a statement informing the voter that if they vote more than once in the same election they shall be guilty of a felony. The Attorney General is also working with the State Board of Elections to develop other ways, within existing law, to maintain an accurate voter registration list to prevent voters from being registered in more than one place.
School Tax Credit
Create a state tax credit of up to $250 per couple, $125 per individual, for anyone purchasing school supplies, including public/private school students, home schoolers, and all teachers.
Mortgage Lender and Broker Act
Remove the “mortgage lender” exemption from the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
Clarify and tighten the language relating to the Attorney General’s enforcement authority under the Mortgage Lender and Broker Act (MLBA).
Clarify and tighten the language relating to the ability of certain individuals to obtain relief under the MLBA.
Prohibition on Sale of Recalled Products
Adds provision to Virginia Consumer Protection Act which will allow the Attorney General to enforce laws regarding recalled products. Will also empower citizens to hold stores accountable for continuing to sell items that have been recalled.
Enhance Virginia’s laws to ensure that during a state of emergency at a time of disaster essential goods are not artificially restricted or their price inflated to the detriment of consumers.
Amend identity theft statute to encompass the theft of someone’s identity to illegally obtain loans, credit, etc. The statute currently only addresses theft to obtain goods and services.
Create a statute requiring the Department of Corrections to provide an inmate’s gang affiliation to the Commonwealth’s Attorney when they are being prosecuted for an offense occurring in a state prison.
Enhancing Virginia’s Infrastructure
Expanding Virginia’s Public Private Partnerships to include a greater range of projects and facilitate greater participation by the private sector.
Electronic Filing with State Agencies
Patrons: Massie, Wagner
Clarifies that state agencies can offer citizens and businesses the option of filing paperwork and paying fees online.
In addition to his legislative agenda, the Attorney General also supports the following legislative initiatives:
Constitutional Amendment protecting Virginia’s Right to Work Law.
Constitutional Amendment to protect private property rights.
Bill to establish more budget transparency in Virginia.