I invite you to review the legislation I have introduced since taking office. Click any session for a complete list of bills I patroned that year: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.
Holding the Line on Taxes
Our families already pay too much in taxes – on average, more than they spend on food, clothing, and shelter combined. In these economically trying times, higher taxes and fees would be particularly devastating. In the Senate, I have opposed higher taxes while looking for ways to reduce wasteful spending. If the Commonwealth cannot fund its top priorities, it has no business spending taxpayer dollars on other pet projects. I have been a consistent voice for a government that focuses on core services and lives within its means, and I will continue to be an advocate for maintaining the low taxes that have made Virginia consistently one of the best states in which to do business.
Better Schools for Virginia’s Children
Education is one of the most basic responsibilities of government, and I will continue to make it one of my top priorities. I recognize that state government has an important role to play, but also know that the best decisions are made “on the ground” in our local school divisions and not by bureaucrats in Richmond. I believe that the Commonwealth has long spent too much money on central office administration of our schools and too little in the classroom, where it directly affects our students. I have been a leading proponent of providing local school divisions with the flexibility they need to put state education funding toward their most urgent priorities – not the pet projects of legislators or bureaucrats in Richmond.
Like other parts of Virginia, our region has sustained major growth and our roads are being stretched beyond capacity. In Richmond, I have fought to keep transportation spending equitable and efficient for the Valley. While opposing new taxes on Virginia’s families and businesses, I have advocated dedicating a portion of future revenue growth to our Transportation Trust Fund (TTF). I have supported proposals that would permanently dedicate an additional ½ penny from the sales tax to the TTF as well as a majority of the revenue realized from the privatization of ABC sales and royalties from offshore drilling.
If we are to continue to provide quality services while keeping the tax burden low, we must be willing to challenge traditional notions about the way things have always been: why this program is needed, whether that program is an effective means of affecting its intended policy goal, if this service could be provided through the private sector, or that one should even exist at all.
I have worked to cut through the red tape, and I am proud to support government reform efforts ranging from the privatization of the state’s liquor monopoly to the reform of our costly and outmoded state procurement policies. As your senator, I continue to work for real reform of state government, because I know that we have an obligation to spend taxpayer money wisely, and that is not a charge I take lightly.
Strengthening Public Safety
As a member of the Senate of Virginia, I have worked hard to provide law enforcement and judges with the tools they need to put criminals behind bars and to enhance penalties for gangs and drug felons. My bills have targeted the drug dealers and internet predators that would prey on our children as well as those who pose threats to our families through domestic violence and by repeatedly violating the terms of protective orders.
Additionally, I have focused on the pervasive problem of human trafficking, which is one of the world’s fastest-growing criminal enterprises, where children are kidnapped and forced into a life of slavery and prostitution. It is our responsibility to protect society’s most vulnerable and there is a pressing need for legislation that addresses these heinous acts. The Commonwealth of Virginia is one of only two states that lack a comprehensive human trafficking statute, and the time to act is now.
As co-patron of legislation that would create a stand-alone human trafficking felony, I recognize the responsibility we have to protect society’s most vulnerable. This stand-alone felony would give law enforcement and prosecutors the tools they need to go after these heinous offenders. We have made great strides in recent years in combating trafficking, but we must remain diligent in these efforts. I will continue to fight to keep our communities and families safe as your State Senator.
Protecting Private Property Rights
As co-patron of successful legislation defending the property rights of all Virginians against the Kelo-era expansion of government’s eminent domain power to encompass such nebulous categories as economic development, I have been at the forefront of the property rights battle here in Virginia. I will continue to work to enshrine eminent domain reform in the Constitution of Virginia, standing with the people of this Commonwealth against governmental attempts to chip away at these rights.
Defending Second Amendment Rights
I believe strongly in the preservation of our gun rights in Virginia and have worked hard to uphold these rights. As a sportsman myself, I seek to protect our rich tradition of gun ownership here in the Commonwealth.
Promoting Energy Independence
I know that there is no one single answer to providing for our nation’s long-term energy needs, and just as importantly, I know that it is not the responsibility of government to pick winners and losers. Virginia is poised to be a leader in energy production, and it is exciting to see the Commonwealth on the forefront of such advances as clean coal, wind energy, biomass research and production, and offshore drilling. I stand in strong support of Virginia’s efforts to tap the significant oil deposits along Virginia’s outer continental shelf in an environmentally sensitive manner, and I will work to ensure that Virginia continues to welcome these many and varied approaches to energy independence.
Protecting Valley Values of Faith and Family
Deep faith and strong families are the foundation for our lives in the Shenandoah Valley. I have patroned legislation to require public libraries to install filtering software to protect families and children from exposure to pornographic material on library computers. I have also fought to punish internet predators who seek to victimize young children online. I believe in the sanctity of innocent human life and will stand strong to protect the rights of Virginians from those who would drive all references to God and faith from the public square. I will continue to work to promote our Valley Values for the preservation of our heritage and our children’s futures.