December 6, 2023

The 2023 Normal Meeting elections are behind us, and Virginia Democrats efficiently confronted down immense quantities of Republican spending to safe majorities within the state Home and Senate. Abortion was essentially the most seen situation in most legislative races, however polling signifies that Virginians had pocketbook points on their minds, as nicely.

Most of the swing Home and Senate districts that decided which celebration would have majority management of the legislature have been in or close to Henrico County and Hampton Roads – two areas which might be no stranger to points regarding housing affordability, entry to the workforce, union membership, significant tax reform, and extra.

Simonds factors to union progress

Del. Shelley Simonds was reelected to the Home of Delegates to characterize District 70, which incorporates a lot of Newport Information.

In a latest interview, Simonds highlighted Newport Information’ excessive fee of union membership relative to the state and stated she needs to make sure that the legislature protects Virginians’ proper to arrange and supply pathways to apprenticeships for college kids who wish to enter the workforce proper after highschool.

“I attempt to work with our unions on workforce improvement and assist our native commerce faculties and our regional profession and schooling middle to guarantee that we’ve received plenty of alternatives,” she stated. “It’s actually necessary to guarantee that unions have a manner to hook up with our college students so that they find out about these nice alternatives.”

Housing affordability a precedence for Feggans

Delegate-elect Michael Feggans will characterize Virginia Seaside-area Home District 97 within the upcoming Normal Meeting session.

Feggans informed Dogwood that one of many greatest points he heard about on the marketing campaign path was native residents’ incapability to buy a house. He plans to work intently with the Virginia Housing Authority, town of Virginia Seaside, and neighboring cities to meaningfully deal with this situation. 

In September 2020, the median dwelling sale worth in Virginia Seaside was $312,500. As of September of this 12 months, that determine had risen to $355,000, an almost 14% improve, in line with Redfin. As of November 2023, the common price of hire for a one bed room condominium in Virginia Seaside is $1,540, a 14% improve from only a 12 months in the past. 

“While you take a look at the quantity of hire people must pay now versus how a lot a mortgage will price…you’re seeing people pay double what a mortgage would price,” he stated. “We all know that we are able to do extra.

“Acquire a house…that’s the most effective methods to truly create generational wealth,” continued Feggans. “That truly an amazing quantity when it comes to somebody’s private and household economics.”

Rouse to sort out affordability, local weather change

State Sen. Aaron Rouse gained reelection to characterize Virginia Seaside-area District 22 within the subsequent Normal Meeting session.

He informed Dogwood that the economic system was one of many “crucial points” on the poll this fall and spoke about his personal expertise of getting to work from a younger age simply to assist assist his household. 

“From the early age of 10 years outdated, I’ve been working,” he stated. “Whether or not it was chopping grass all through the neighborhoods, or working on the native supermarkets, working at McDonald’s, or working for the Virginia Seaside college bus storage washing buses. That took an amazing load off of my mom.

“I do know what it’s wish to get my palms soiled, to place in a tough day’s work,” he added.

However a tough day’s work isn’t affording Virginians a habitable wage in immediately’s economic system, Rouse argued. 

“In case you take a look at the place we’re immediately, the place the price of residing has constantly outpaced a habitable wage…that’s an actual situation,” he stated. “On the finish of the week, you take a look at your paycheck and also you go, ‘Wow, all this work and I solely made $300 and I’m working greater than 40 hours every week, and but I’ve to purchase Pampers, I’ve to purchase garments, present hire and meals for my household.’” 

Rouse additionally addressed the impression that local weather change is having on the native economic system and mentioned efforts to organize Virginia Seaside for its results. For instance, he known as consideration to the $7 million this 12 months’s state finances settlement allotted for “stormwater encroachment resilience actions” and pure area preservation within the Southern Rivers Watershed and Chowan River Basin. 

“Virginia Seaside is among the many most weak communities within the nation to the impacts of local weather change,” Rouse stated, highlighting the significance of those funds.

Rouse additionally plans to concentrate on bringing extra companies to the Virginia Seaside space, and he plans to try this by means of “a robust partnership with the state.”

VanValkenburg strikes to the Senate

Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg simply gained a pitched battle for Senate District 16, and he’ll proceed to show in Henrico County Public Colleges as he serves within the Normal Meeting. As an educator, he’s eager on offering pathways from college to the workforce. 

As a brand new member of the state Senate, he plans to make sure that Virginia stays a spot the place companies and employees wish to relocate by investing in website readiness, being economically accountable, and making certain that employees are paid a livable wage.

Whereas within the state Home, the place he’s served since 2018, VanValkenburg helped to advertise wholesome financial competitors and progress, like his measure that banned noncompete agreements for low-wage employees.

Willett eyes little one tax credit score

Del. Rodney Willett gained reelection to Henrico-area Home District 58 final week.

Willett touted the direct money rebates that Democrats within the Virginia Normal Meeting fought for within the state finances settlement this 12 months, which delivered most taxpayers a rebate of as much as $200 for particular person filers and as much as $400 for joint filers earlier this month.

Willett stated he’d wish to see related measures to assist households which might be “struggling essentially the most.” 

“A 3rd little one tax credit score might be one of the best factor we might do,” he stated. “I’d wish to see that executed federally. However definitely there are states now taking issues into their very own palms, passing these tax credit. That has been confirmed to be one of the vital direct, most impactful issues we are able to do as a authorities to assist households in want. I definitely want to see us concentrate on that. That’s a Democratic initiative.” 

Willet, who has labored as a small enterprise entrepreneur and expertise guide, stated he’s talked to enterprise leaders who’ve stated they want a “well-educated workforce” to employees their corporations.

As a way to obtain this, Willett stated there must be extra funding in “offering a strong schooling system.” 

“Taking cash away from schooling and giving tax breaks to the wealthiest people is the precise reverse of what we needs to be doing,” he stated.


  • Carolyn Fiddler

    Carolyn Fiddler is Dogwood’s chief political correspondent. She can be the nation’s foremost knowledgeable in state politics with virtually 20 years of expertise in statehouse machinations, and her comedian e-book assortment might be larger than yours.

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