By Quinn Casteel, Capital News Service
RICHMOND -- With the Virginia General Assembly underway, Prince William County delegates have begun pushing forward on the 47 bills of which the legislators are the chief patrons.
During the first week of session, Delegates Richard Anderson, R-Woodbridge; Luke Torian, D-Dumfries; Michael Futrell, D-Dumfries and Jackson Miller, R-Manassas each highlighted one or more bills they are focused on enacting during the 2014 General Assembly session.
Delegate Miller, R-Manassas
In addition to his service as Republican majority whip, Miller’s top projects will include participation on the newly-formed bipartisan ethics committee, mental health issues and House Bill 606, which deals with the number of judges assigned to different types of courts.
The Virginia Supreme Court has completed a study of judges’ caseloads throughout the state and found areas with higher populations such as parts of Prince William County had judges with large caseloads. Miller’s bill will try to re-allocate the number of judges in each district based on these findings.
“In one area of the state you have judges working their tails off like in Prince William,” Miller said. “And (in) other areas of the state they just simply don’t have the same caseload.”
With the most recent census showing a 30-percent rise in the Prince William County’s population during the past decade, Miller said he thinks the services rendered through the state should reflect that increase.
“It’s going to be a very difficult bill because -- like with any re-allocation bill -- some jurisdictions are going to win … and some are going to lose,” Miller said.
Delegate Futrell, D-Dumfries
Veterans and current military families are among the strongest emphases for Prince William County’s newest delegate.
One of Futrell’s top priorities, House Bill 777, would stop the state taxing of the retirement pay of veterans living in Virginia. Similar pieces of legislation already have been passed in North Carolina and other “military-friendly” states. Futrell says passage of his bill would be an important step in keeping veterans and active military members in Virginia.
“Instead of going to Texas or California, the skills and things that they’re (the veterans) learning in the military, whether it’s leadership, management or science and technology, these are things that we can utilize right here in our commonwealth.” Futrell said.
Futrell also has proposed House Bill 782, which would give a $1,000 tax credit to anyone purchasing a home from military personnel whom are scheduled for deployment.
Aside from his focus on military families, Futrell also is working on implementing regional innovation councils aiming to bring more businesses to Prince William County.
Delegate Torian, D-Dumfries
With the population of Prince William County at 410,000 and growing, one of Torian’s main focuses is House Bill 685, which would distribute communications sales and use tax revenues across the state in proportion to the population of the jurisdiction.
According to the Virginia government website, communication sales and use-tax revenue distribution is based on the locality’s share of telecommunications and television funds, which are raised from various taxes such as the video programming excise tax.
“Our economic base is very important to us, so we need to do everything we can to ensure that we’re being fiscally responsible,” Torian said. “And we’re receiving the revenue that is reflective of our population growth.”
Torian is another member of the bipartisan ethics group, for which he is taking a primary role in pushing forward House Bill 689. The bill would require legislators and lobbyists to file financial disclosure reports semiannually rather than just once a year.
“It brings greater credibility and accountability to what we’re doing,” Torian said.
Del. Anderson, R – Woodbridge
House Bill 997, which deals with proceedings for the removal and relocation of human remains, is of particular relevance to Anderson and Prince William County because of the recent dispute over the discovery of pre-Civil War remains at the Lynn family graveyard on the construction site of the county’s 12th high school.
Anderson proposed the bill with the goal of establishing a law that “more clearly defines the procedures” for making determinations about disinterring, relocating and reinterring the remains found in gravesites that happen to be in a construction zone.
“It created some community consternation,” Anderson said of the Lynn family graveyard situation. “I attribute that to the fact that there is a lack of concrete guidance for the local governments, and this bill will lay that out.”
Additionally, Anderson said he plans to emphasize his work in a bipartisan group that will present six or seven government ethics bills. The series of bills will focus on what government officials can or cannot receive from third parties, and how these transactions are recorded