TIE-BREAKING VOTES

The Virginia Senate is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats. That has provided Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling an opportunity to display where he stands.

Here is an email Bolling transmitted yesterday.

Bolling Casts Tie-Breaking Vote to Provide Educational Choice to Thousands of Virginia Students

Friends,

Today I was pleased to cast the tie-breaking vote in support of SB131 which will expand access to quality educational opportunities for thousands of Virginia students.  I believe this legislation will be very helpful in providing meaningful educational choice for students in low and middle income families who may not otherwise have the means to attend private or parochial schools.

SB131 will provide a state tax credit to encourage individuals and corporations to contribute to non-profit organizations who provide education improvement scholarships to students in low and middle income families, and to students with a qualifying disability, in order for them to attend non-public elementary or secondary schools.  The tax credit is equal to 65% of the money donated to a qualifying scholarship foundation, and the program is capped at a total cost of $25M per year.

While I am a strong supporter of public education in Virginia, no child should feel trapped in a school system that is not meeting their educational needs simply because their family does not have the money to send them to a private or parochial school.  By making these educational opportunities more available to students in low and middle income families we will make certain that these children can get the education they need to succeed in life.

Earlier this week I was also pleased to cast the tie breaking vote on several other important pieces of legislation, including:

  • SB1 – Voter ID…..This legislation will strengthen Virginia’s existing Voter ID law by requiring voters who cannot produce an acceptable form of ID to cast a provisional ballot.  Once an acceptable form of ID is produced, the voters ballot will be counted.
  • SB437 – Eminent Domain…..This legislation will protect private property rights by providing a definition of “lost profit” and “lost access” to help determine the amount of compensation that must be paid to individuals for property taken by eminent domain.  If this companion legislation to the Eminent Domain Constitutional Amendment had failed, the Senate may not have approved the Constitutional Amendment, which will now be on the ballot this November.
  • SB348 – Agency Effectiveness Review Commission…..This legislation will establish an Accountability Review Commission to regularly review state agencies for efficiency and effectiveness and provide recommendations for elimination and consolidation of out-dated and ineffective government programs.
  • SB6 – Drug Screening for Welfare to Work Participants…..This legislation requires participants in Virginia’s welfare-to-work program to pass a drug screening evaluation before receiving benefits.  If the drug screen produces probable cause to believe that the applicant has a drug problem they will be required to take a drug test.  Any applicant failing the drug test will be required to enroll in a substance abuse program or lose their benefits.

Additionally, I am pleased to report that the vast majority of the Legislative Agenda that Governor McDonnell and I have proposed, which focuses on strengthening the core functions of government to spur private sector job creation and get our economy back on track, has passed with broad bipartisan support.  Highlights include:

  • Private Sector Job Creation – Our “Greatest Opportunity” jobs and economic development agenda will increase access to capital for businesses and implement greater coordination among economic development entities.  This proposal also includes various budget recommendations to advance proven economic development and job creation programs.
  • K-12 Education Reform – Our “Opportunity to Learn” K-12 education reform agenda focuses on raising standards for schools and teachers, reducing mandates on local school divisions, expanding educational options for Virginia students, enhancing teacher quality and increasing funding for critical education programs.
  • Higher Education – Our “Top Jobs For The 21st Century” program will increase investments to prepare Virginians for careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health care (STEM-H); boost job-creating research and innovation; make a college education more affordable; and advance our goal of awarding 100,000 additional college degrees over the next 15 years.
  • Government Reform –  Our “More Efficient, Effective Government” reform initiative will eliminate, streamline and merge certain state agencies, boards and commissions; and eliminate or reduce unfunded mandates on localities.

We are very pleased by the progress these important proposals have made during the first half of this year’s legislative session.  We will continue to focus on these and other important matters over the next few weeks.

If you wish to share your views with me on these or any other issues pending before the General Assembly this year, please contact Jessica Brooks at jessica.brooks@governor.virginia.gov.

Sincerely,

Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling

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