Just five days before the Virginia Legislature convened for its 2023 session, Republican Sen. Mark Peake, Rep. Wendell Walker, and Rep. Kathy Byron sat down over breakfast to discuss their thoughts and plans for individual bills.
About 50 people, including city officials and school board members, gathered at the IHOP on Fort Avenue to hear the group’s overall thoughts and plans prior to the session.
“I’m going to come back and fight for you this year, just like I’ve done in the past,” R-Bedford’s Byron told the audience.
It was workforce development that Byron discussed Saturday morning. During the pandemic, many women reluctantly chose to stay home because their children were at home for distance learning and found it cheaper to stay home and manage their budgets.
“We will be training our workforce to get them back to work,” Byron told the audience.
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She also talked about inflation and rising costs of food and commodities. She attributes this to the cost of gasoline and the lack of people at work.
“Everybody is screaming for workers and if they can’t get workers, they take in people who may not be the kind of workers they wanted. You might notice a difference in the shops, in terms of knowing…the world they’re in,” Byron said.
On the economy and taxes, delegates believe the middle class has been “totally forgotten”. She said the middle class needs to be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor without the government taking everything away.
“The middle class is just hanging around and needs to do what they can to make sure they bring home more money from their hard-earned money,” Byron said.
Byron has announced that it wants to repeal the Clean Economy Act, a renewable energy portfolio standard that requires Dominion Energy and Appalachian Electric Power to produce 100% renewable electricity by 2045 and 2050.
A representative said several new companies are not locating in the area because they need supplies of natural gas. He said it was not coming because it was not included in the Clean Economy Act.
“Companies won’t be making investments like that until we get back out there and get rid of the Clean Economy Act and start getting our sanity back,” Byron told the audience.
She also announced that she supports the governor’s bill to ban abortions at 15 weeks.
“Women have the right to engage in activities, but if they give birth to a living human being, the government has the right to prevent the human being from being killed,” Byron told the audience.
Lynchburg Republican Sen. Peake mentioned four bills that are closely aligned with the session. Two of them are about getting transgender people into sports and preventing sex reassignment surgery for children under 18. His other two bills concerned voting, where he required ID and shortened the period for absentee ballots.
Mr Peake said claims that requiring ID at the polls is a way to stifle voters is not true.
“80% of the polls on this say we should have photo ID. It’s common sense,” Peake said in an interview.
A second absentee ballot measure reduces the period from six weeks to two weeks. Peek said people still have the option to order their votes months in advance, but he thinks two weeks is enough.
He sees this as a way to reduce stress for registrants and volunteers involved in voting.
“It’s an unnecessary burden and there’s no reason to do it,” Peake said.
Del. Walker, R-Lynchburg, discussed public safety in schools, unemployment insurance, and school boards Saturday morning.
During breakfast, Walker mentioned the Internet Cries Against Children Task Force (ICAC) and Safety While Accessing Technology (SWAT). According to Walker, ICAC protects children from trafficking and other dangers.
Representatives said they were trying to do things like voluntarily require schools to implement programs to protect children.
“This is not New York, this is not Chicago, this is our home, Lynchburg,” Carter told the audience.
He also discussed a bill on unemployment benefits, which would reduce the response time for claims from 30 days to 15 days for state agents to respond.
Walker said this is to help people in times of crisis.
“It’s not right to lose your job, have no income and have to wait six months for someone to call you,” Walker said in an interview.
Walker said he will work on school board elections during this session. He said Lynchburg is one of 13 provinces that still have an appointed school board. can do.
If 4 out of 7 city council members must vote in favor of a referendum on a general election ballot. They then take it to the judges and put it to the ballot 111 days before the general election.
“We want to put power back in the hands of parents. Once we do that, we will start demanding more accountability from school superintendents and staff so they can see how their schools are performing.” think. [to increase]’” Carter said in an interview.