Legislators prep for General AssemblyPublished 9:03am Saturday, December 28, 2013
FRANKLIN—School board accountability, fees for disposing solid waste, gubernatorial power and the restoration of a historic house are among items that two local legislators will be presenting to the General Assembly when it meets Wednesday, Jan. 8.
For Del. Rick Morris (R-64), making government accountable remains a concern.
“I’m still considering the bill that does away with the commission that appoints school boards,” he said. “I still believe that there’s no accountability to the voters, and they are accountable to them.”
The delegate explained that a commission is appointed by a judge, and those appointees select the school board members.
“I feel strongly this is bad government. There’s zero accountability. That’s not good government. But it’s ultimately up to the people,” he said. “I can’t take this up alone.”
Morris’ district includes parts of Isle of Wight, Prince George, Southampton, Surry and Sussex counties, as well as parts of Franklin and Suffolk.
The delegate asked for constituents to respond to his annual online survey (see sidebar).
“I read every single line. It’s a huge help,” he said. “Last year I got over 2,500 responses and hopefully even more this year.”
Another bill that Morris is working on would require localities to pay the attorney’s fees of individuals who have to sue to enforce zoning locations and win their case.
The delegate also wants to prevent future governors from accepting federal funds without legislative approval. Taking such money also means having to take accept the regulations that come with the cash.
“That binds our citizens,” he said.
Morris said he’ll also look into lessening regulations on farmers.
Although Del. Roslyn Tyler (D-75) could not be contacted directly, her legislative aide, Mary Beth Washington, was authorized to point out some of the issues that the delegate will be working on this term.
The first is HB62, which Tyler’s submitting on behalf of Southampton County Administrator Michael Johnson and the Board of Supervisors. Specifically, if passed, the bill would allow the county “to levy fees for the disposal of solid waste at a county collection or disposal facility not to exceed the actual cost incurred by the county in removing and disposing of solid waste. The bill adds Southampton County to the list of counties permitted to use fees to purchase equipment; grants Southampton County the same authority that Accomack, Highland, Pittsylvania, and Wise Counties have regarding such fees; and allows Southampton County to exempt certain disabled veterans from such fees. The bill also makes technical changes.”
Tyler’s district includes Brunswick county, and parts of Dinwiddie, Greensville, Isle of Wight, Lunenburg, Southampton, Surry and Sussex counties, as well as Emporia and part of Franklin.
Washington said a resolution that calls for studying staffing levels at the Departments of Corrections could have implications for all of Virginia.
One of two budget items that Tyler is concerned about includes hydrilla contamination at Lake Gaston. This is an invasive weed that can affect drinking water, said Washington. The budget requested for the study is $200,000.
The other is to get $50,000 for the Southampton County Historical Society. The money would be used to rehabilitate the brick, chimney and foundation of the Rebecca Vaughn House in Courtland.
Once that’s done, the interior could then be restored. This project is crucial to the development of the Nat Turner Trail.