News

Governor Signs Wilt Ag Legislation into Law

March 13, 2021

Harrisonburg- On Friday Governor Northam signed a bill into law that many in the agriculture and conservation community believe will be a helpful new tool to encourage local producers to implement water quality improvement practices. The bill, sponsored by Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Broadway), will offer an enhanced tax credit to farmers that implement certain best management practices on their farms.

Delegate Wilt first introduced similar legislation during the 2020 Regular Session, but that bill did not make it out of the Appropriations Committee. However, after a diverse coalition of agriculture, conservation and environmental groups spoke out strongly in support of the measure it found success in the legislature this year. The new credit will cover 50% of the cost of the practice and farmers interested in pursuing the credit will work with their local Soil and Water Conservation District office.

“The idea of an enhanced tax credit for our farmers was one of the recommendations included in the latest roadmap for restoring the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, so I’m glad to see it come to fruition,” said Wilt. “Along with existing cost-share and other programs this will further assist in the effort to improve water quality and meet our goals without the need for heavy-handed government intervention.”

Senator Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta) carried companion legislation in the Senate this year and that bill was also signed into law Friday by the Governor. In addition, Delegate Wilt served as the chief co-patron of another agriculture initiative sponsored by Delegate Wendy Gooditis (D-Clarke) that seeks to aid the struggling dairy industry through a Dairy Margin Coverage Premium Assistance Program. That bill is still awaiting the Governor’s signature, but it is expected he will sign the legislation. Delegate Wilt has championed targeted support for the dairy industry the last number of years as farmers have had to contend with extremely low milk prices and other compounding factors.

Wilt Files Legislation to Establish School Remediation Task Force

January 15, 2021


Harrisonburg- On Wednesday Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Broadway) filed legislation to establish a task force dedicated to ensuring Virginia’s students do not permanently fall behind as a result of the pandemic and subsequent remote learning environment.

The task force calls for 22 members, including state education leaders, teachers, parents, legislators and other education officials and citizen members. The group will develop policy and funding recommendations to assist public school students impacted by school closures and the remote learning environment to ensure students that may be struggling during this time do not fall further behind, but rather are given the tools and services necessary to succeed moving forward. The task force is charged with developing a uniform strategy to effectively identify students in need of remediation services, identify the necessary interventions and services that must be deployed, as well as conduct a review of existing education mandates and requirements that may be appropriate to waive or modify.

“I’ve talked to numerous parents with students struggling in the current learning environment, even students that typically excel in school,” said Wilt. “While I know our teachers and school officials are trying to do the best they can in these challenging circumstances, the reality is the current situation is not ideal for most. When we get back to relative normalcy, hopefully sooner rather than later, we cannot continue as if nothing ever happened. A significant population of our k-12 students will be in desperate need of remediation services and coursework- not to mention the behavioral and mental health component. In discussions with local school officials I was delighted to hear they are already planning innovative and substantive remediation efforts. This state-wide review is intended to complement any local efforts and ensure all students have the supports they need.”

The bill is awaiting committee referral, but the Delegate expects it to be taken up within the next two to three weeks.

Wilt Renews Effort to Limit Governor Emergency Powers

November 23, 2020

Harrisonburg- On Monday Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Broadway) reintroduced his proposal to amend Virginia’s Constitution to give the General Assembly a say in the Governor’s emergency orders.

Delegate Wilt originally offered the resolution during the recently concluded special session, but the committee that handles proposed constitutional amendments never convened. He is confident it will be given a hearing during the upcoming regular session.

If approved, the amendment would require any emergency executive order issued by the Governor that restricts, limits or prohibits otherwise lawful action by a private business, non-profit entity, or individual to be approved by the General Assembly before it can continue for more than 45 days. Currently, the Governor has broad discretion over emergency orders and their duration with no ability for the General Assembly to directly weigh in. According to a review by the National Conference of State Legislatures, roughly 34 other states and several U.S. territories grant some type of authority to their legislative body to review and consider orders by the executive.

“For over eight months now, the Governor has had the sole discretion to issue orders in response to COVID-19 that limit citizen’s ability to gather, worship, maintain employment and operate their businesses,” said Wilt. “Even for those that agree with the Governor’s actions to date, everyone should recognize this is a lot of power for the executive. My proposal will restore the appropriate balance of power to ensure the lawmaking body of our Commonwealth can weigh in on actions that have the force of law.”

For the amendment to be adopted into the Virginia Constitution, it would need to pass the General Assembly twice, with a legislative election in between each passage. It would then be placed on the ballot for approval by the voters. Despite the timeframe for such passage, Delegate Wilt feels a Constitutional Amendment is necessary because of legal challenges and hurdles regular legislation could face. While he acknowledges the current orders put in place by Governor Northam in response to COVID-19 were the impetus for the legislation, he views the proposal as a way to guard against overreach by a future administration.

Elected in 2010, Delegate Wilt represents the 26th District in the Virginia House of Delegates, which includes Harrisonburg and part of Rockingham County.

Wilt Introduces Amendment Providing Legislative Check for Governor Emergency Powers

August 4, 2020

Harrisonburg- Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Broadway) introduced a proposed amendment to the Virginia Constitution Wednesday that would grant the General Assembly oversight and authority over certain emergency orders issued by the Governor.

The resolution, if approved, would require any emergency executive order issued by the Governor that restricts, limits or prohibits otherwise lawful action by a private business, non-profit entity, or individual to be approved by the General Assembly before it can continue for more than 45 days. Currently, the Governor has broad discretion over emergency orders and their duration with no ability for the General Assembly to directly weigh in. Delegate Wilt feels a change to the Virginia Constitution is necessary to ensure the proper balance of power between the executive and legislative branch of state government and to help protect the rights of Virginia citizens.

“As we have come to realize over the course of the last several months, the Governor has broad authority to require citizens to suspend or alter otherwise lawful actions. A direct result of this compliance might mean the loss of one’s livelihood, ability to worship or move about freely,” stated Wilt. “While emergency powers for our executive remain necessary to ensure quick response to a crisis situation, there must be some check on this authority to ensure the lawmaking body elected by the citizens has a say in the duration of these emergency orders that have the force of law. According to a study by the National Conference of State Legislatures, roughly 34 other states and several U.S. territories grant this type of authority to their legislative body in some form and it’s time the Commonwealth become one of them.”

In order for the amendment to be adopted into the Virginia Constitution, it would have to pass the General Assembly twice, with a legislative election in between each passage. It would then be placed on the ballot for approval by the voters. Despite the timeframe for such passage, Delegate Wilt feels a Constitutional Amendment is necessary because of legal challenges and hurdles regular legislation could face. While he indicated the current orders put in place by Governor Northam in response to COVID-19 were the impetus for the legislation, he views the proposal as a way to prevent overreach by a future administration.

“Regardless of party affiliation or how you may feel about the current Governor’s actions and response to COVID-19, I hope my fellow legislators and the citizens would agree that we must guard against a future Governor using this situation as precedent to unnecessarily overreach without limitation in the future,” said Wilt.

Elected in 2010, Delegate Wilt represents the 26th District in the Virginia House of Delegates, which includes Harrisonburg and part of Rockingham County.

Bad Bills Advance

February 17, 2020

At the halfway point of the 2020 Virginia General Assembly Session, unfortunately there are countless bills advanced by the majority that will be a detriment to our economy, to our freedoms and to taxpaying Virginians if passed into law. Below is just a small sampling of some of these initiatives.

Public Safety
HB 34 Refusal of tests; restricted license
HB 33 Parole; exception to limitation on the application of parole statutes.
HB 995 Grand larceny; threshold.
HB 1150 Inquiry and report of immigration status; persons charged with or convicted of certain crimes.

Energy
HB 528 Coal fired or natural gas fired electric generation facilities; retirement of facilities.
HB 1526 Virginia Clean Economy Act.
HB 1451 Electric utilities; mandatory renewable energy portfolio standard.
HB 1450 Electric utility regulation; energy efficiency standard.

Taxes
HB 502 Litter tax; adds $100 to the existing penalty for delinquency.
HB 534 Disposable plastic bag; local tax.
HB 729 Transit funding; raises the existing regional transportation fee, etc.
HB 785 Local taxing authority; equalizes city and county taxing authorities.
HB 1414 Transportation; amends numerous laws related to funds, safety programs, revenue sources, etc. [Gas tax]

Education
HB 1322 Public institutions of higher education; admissions applications; criminal history.

Elections
HB 177 Presidential electors; National Popular Vote Compact.
HB 187 Elections; same-day registration; in-person absentee and election day voting.
HB 19 Voter identification; repeal of photo identification requirements.
HB 185 Voter registration by mail; certain first-time voters permitted to vote by absentee ballot.

Business
HB 617 Workers’ compensation; injuries caused by repetitive motion.
HB 833 Prevailing wage; public works contracts, penalty.
HB 123 Nonpayment of wages; construction contracts, etc.
HB 395 Minimum wage: raises to $10 per hour
HB 416 Prohibition on employer inquiry about wage or salary history of prospective employees; civil penalty.
HB 582 Collective bargaining by public employees; labor organization representation.
HB 1635 Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority; labor organizations.

Statement on Veto of Association Health Plan Legislation

May 3, 2019

Harrisonburg – Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Rockingham) released the following statement after the Governor vetoed House Bill 2443:

“It is unfortunate that the Governor chose to ultimately veto HB 2443 after it received strong bi-partisan support from the General Assembly. This bill would have created a new option for affordable health coverage for many who currently have no option under the crushing premium increases we have seen in recent years. The bill expanded the opportunity for small businesses to join together under a Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA) – a self-funded benefits consortium of small businesses and self-employed individuals that may pool together to offer their employees comprehensive, affordable group health care coverage on terms similar to those available to large employers.

“Following passage by the legislature, the Governor put forward a heavily amended version that was rejected during the reconvened session by a large bi-partisan majority. The Governor’s substitute contained several amendments that were acceptable, but unfortunately, he also included language that rendered the bill useless and actually took us backwards with regards to a specific policy related to the ability of self-employed individuals to access the small group market.

“Despite the veto, in the interim I intend to continue to work with stakeholders and the Administration to seek out a path forward on this important issue. Virginia’s expansion of Medicaid did nothing to address the increasing challenges that middle-class families face in trying to obtain and afford their healthcare – in some respects it only made it worse. We must implement policies that can provide more affordable coverage options for these middle-class families that simply can’t afford premiums that have doubled or tripled.”

Wilt Statement on Veto of Voter Registration Legislation

March 26, 2019

Harrisonburg – Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Rockingham) released the following statement after learning that Governor Northam vetoed House Bill 2764:

“I am deeply disappointed in the Governor’s decision to once again veto our common-sense bill that sought a modest improvement in the voter registration process. HB 2764 would help to ensure more voters are properly registered and improve accountability in the process. This bill required any third-party individual that assists an applicant with the completion of a paper voter registration application to include their basic contact information on the application.

“It would simply afford registrars an additional tool to educate individuals working as part of a voter registration drive on the proper instructions for completing applications to avoid rejected applications moving forward. In rarer cases, it could also serve as a way to prevent or detect potentially fraudulent activity.

“In his statement, the Governor claims including this basic information on an application is an unnecessary burden on those facilitating voter registration drives. I think most reasonable people don’t consider writing your name and contact number an undue burden. This veto is especially disappointing given that the bill was amended this year to explicitly eliminate the concern the Governor raises regarding an individual’s application potentially being denied on the grounds the third-party individual did not complete their portion. 

“Voter registrars from across the Commonwealth report that applications turned in as part of registrations drives often contain numerous errors and omissions. That’s why the Voter Registrars Association of Virginia saw the value in this legislation and supported the bill the last two years.  

“It is unfortunate that the Governor opted to once again follow the position of the hard left by avoiding any policy that might remotely improve the integrity and accuracy of the election process. The sad irony is that his veto ensures more Virginians are denied the right to vote because of applications rejected due to errors deriving from incorrect instructions given by a third-party individual or group. If he can’t support this basic good government measure, I question to what extent this Governor or his Administration has any concern for a fair, accurate and honest electoral process.”

Solid Mix: Session Wrap Up Edition

March 5, 2019

The 2019 General Assembly Session wrapped up on Sunday, February 24. While short sessions are always hectic, I am proud of the work I along with my colleagues in the House of Delegates were able to accomplish. Despite the distractions and controversies in the executive branch, the General Assembly was laser-focused on getting our job done in a timely and responsible manner. Thanks to everyone that took the time to visit, call and write about legislation that was of interest to you. I’m glad to be back home in the district and have already started meeting with several constituents and groups.

Session Highlights

The 2019 General Assembly Session produced a stark contrast for Virginia. The controversies of the Democratic statewide office holders have led to chaos in the executive branch and Democratic caucuses and embarrassment for our state. On the other hand, the Republican-led General Assembly delivered leadership and results on the issues that matter most.

One of the most significant accomplishments of this short session was the passage of a $1 billion tax relief package that will put money back in the pockets of hardworking Virginia families.

We also passed a number of school safety bills to make our schools safer through threat prevention and additional counseling and mental health resources. I was also pleased to advance legislation that creates an affordable healthcare option for small businesses and self-employed individuals. 

The House also defeated a number of extreme measures, chief among them was the bill to expand access to late-term abortion, even up to the moment of birth. We also defeated a Virginia version of the “Green New Deal” that would skyrocket energy costs and harm low income families the most.

Interstate 81

While we saw a number of successes this session, there were also some setbacks. How to address the safety and reliability deficiencies on I-81 was one of those. The sentiment from constituents has been clear, we need to get something done on I-81. That’s the mindset that I took to Richmond at the beginning of session and I maintained that position throughout.

In the final days of session we passed House Bill 2718, patroned by Delegate Steve Landes. This bill creates the I-81 Corridor Improvement Fund and the I-81 Committee. Unfortunately, it did not include a funding mechanism to allow us to start making the necessary improvements now. This is certainly not what I was hoping for. Nonetheless, this legislation will ensure the issue does not go away. Hopefully the public input gained through the committee and will create a stronger position heading into next year, so we can obtain the votes necessary to pass a dedicated funding mechanism.

From the beginning I felt any final plan should not place an undue burden on any particular industry sector, and everyone should have a little skin in the game. I expressed these thoughts through countless discussions with the bill patrons and others directly involved in the negotiations.

The funding mechanisms considered near the end of the legislative process involving higher taxes on diesel and higher truck registration fees would have been a significant fiscal impact on my personal family business. However, I was fully prepared to vote in support of that plan because, while far from ideal, I felt that was in the overall best interest of 26th District citizens and the Commonwealth. There is already a cost to the safety and reliability issues that plague I-81 – be it lost time spent with family, or goods that do not get delivered on time, much less the lives lost and injuries that directly or indirectly can be tied to this deficient highway.

Moving forward, it is my strong hope that stakeholders, with significant public input, can reach a consensus that allows us to move forward with the necessary funding mechanism next year.

Budget Update

As our final action before leaving Richmond, we passed a balanced budget as our constitution requires, without raising taxes on Virginians. The final conference report approved Sunday still makes some necessary targeted investments in core services. Included in these investments is sizable support for public education. We adopted increases to support the state share of a 5% teacher pay raise. This is the fourth teacher pay raise in six years. There is also $85.7 million in new additional funding for K-12 education. Included in this is targeted investments to our “at risk” programs for schools with a high minority or low-income population. For higher education the budget includes $57 million to “freeze” tuition at our public colleges, as well as additional support for TAG grants, the Workforce Credential Grant Program, and need based financial aid.

The budget also invests $19 million total to deploy broadband in unserved areas, attempting to meet a critical need in our rural communities. We also boosted reserves in our state savings accounts and maintained longstanding language that prohibits taxpayer funding of abortions.

View the full budget by visiting budget.lis.virginia.gov

Session: Week 5

February 12, 2019

We have passed the official midpoint of the 2019 Session and we’re now entering the home stretch.

Before I provide a General Assembly update, I want to touch on the events that have transpired over the last week in the Commonwealth. The revelations against and admissions made by our state leaders are both surprising and disturbing. It has been a tough week for Virginians on all political spectrums and has understandably shaken their faith in our Government.

However, Virginia has weathered storms before and we will get through this one. These controversies will be resolved in due course. To be clear, despite the media insinuations that the Capitol is in crisis and the entire state government is paralyzed with these scandals, I assure you that is not the case. The General Assembly is proceeding with our necessary business as we consider and advance legislation to improve the lives of all Virginians. We were sent to Richmond to do a job and I want to assure you that while our Commonwealth has been shaken by these developments, our work continues without disruption. The Commonwealth’s 100,000 state employees also continue to serve diligently.

I hope you will join me in praying for our Commonwealth and our leaders at this difficult time.

Tax Relief Agreement Reached

Republicans in the House and Senate have agreed on the terms of a $1 billion tax relief package, the most significant tax relief plan in at least 15 years and the second largest tax cut in Virginia history. The legislation is expected to be voted on by the House and Senate on Monday, then forwarded to Governor Northam who has agreed to sign the plan. ​​​​​​​

The bicameral compromise will provide $420 million in tax refunds to Virginia taxpayers in October of 2019, increase the standard deduction by fifty percent beginning in tax year 2019, maintain the current rules for state and local taxes (SALT), and include key business tax provisions for Virginia’s largest job creators. The total package will guarantee at least $976 million in tax relief and ensure that all additional revenues from the permanent provisions of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are placed in the state’s cash reserve fund. 

Under this plan, married couples will receive a tax refund check of up to $220 in October and beginning next year, will receive $173 in tax relief on their state taxes, for a total of $400 back over the next two years. This is simple, direct and meaningful tax relief.

I have been consistent in my position that we must return to the hardworking taxpayers what is rightfully theirs and not use the “windfall” as an excuse to raise taxes. This is especially true given that we are seeing positive revenue growth anyway without squeezing middle class taxpayers further.

House Passes Budget
This week we passed amendments to our two-year spending plan that invests additional resources in public education, school safety, higher education, and economic development while still rejecting the tax hike proposed by the other side of the aisle. They wanted to spend excess revenues (your tax dollars) in an attempt to increase the size of government, while we believe the money should be returned to the taxpayers,

The budget identifies $120 million in healthcare savings, strengthens taxpayer protections in the Medicaid forecasting process, eliminates unfunded liabilities and saves $729 million in state spending over the next quarter-century.
The budget includes a record investment of nearly $19 million specifically for school safety, doubling the funding for School Security Grants and adding $3 million for school resource officers. As a recommendation of the Select Committee on School safety, it also invests $36 million new dollars to reduce the student to counselor ratio in our public schools. We also offered an additional 2% pay boost for our teachers and state employees. This is on top of the 3% included in the budget last year, for a total of 5% offered in the biennium.   

The budget increases higher education funding by $54 million compared to the adopted budget and prioritizes higher education affordability by including $45 million to incentivize colleges and universities to hold tuition flat at 2019 levels. It also includes an increase for the Tuition Assistance Grant funding for students who attend Virginia’s private colleges  and a sizable boost for the Workforce Credential Grant program that provides significant aid to meet the need in high demand fields. 

Other areas to note are a significant investment in broadband of $24 million. Bringing broadband service to our unserved rural communities is critical. The budget also raises the accelerated sales tax (AST) threshold to $10 million, thus eliminating this burden on smaller businesses. Raising the threshold and eventually eliminating AST has been a priority of mine for several years. 

This is a responsible budget that puts taxpayers first. I’m hopeful much of our plan can be adopted in the final conference report between the House and Senate.     

Lowering College Savings Costs
On Tuesday we passed HB 1611, legislation to make it easier for families to afford college by lowering the price of Prepaid529 plans. The legislation will lower the current cost of an eight semester contract by more than $3,000.
Currently, families pay a 10 percent “pricing reserve” on top of the semester contract prices. The pricing reserve  is on top of the amount needed to pay future contract benefits and is used to mitigate risk to the fund.
A recent analysis by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC), found that Virginia’s Prepaid529 program is funded at 138%. JLARC indicated it is funded well beyond levels necessary to ensure benefits and solvency. Therefore, they recommended a 5% pricing reserve would be adequate to pay benefits while improving affordability for plan participants. 

This commonsense proposal will have a significant impact on families’ being able to keep more money in their pockets and attend college at a lower cost.

Virginia 529 College Savings Plans are a good investment for future education related expenses. It’s never too early or too late to start saving for college! I encourage you to visit www.virginia529.com to get started today.    

Contact Us
I appreciate all the visitors from back home that have come to see us this session. We are still in Richmond for the next two weeks and welcome the opportunity to meet or hear from you. You can continue to email [email protected] or call (540) 698-1026 to share your thoughts on legislation or to schedule an appointment to meet with myself or my staff. 

You can also keep up with us on social media at facebook.com/DelTonyWilt  or twitter.com/DelTonyWilt.
Thanks for allowing me the continued opportunity to serve as your representative in Richmond!  

Wilt Announces Re-Election Bid

December 12, 2018

Harrisonburg – Joined by a group of supporters and local leaders, Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Broadway) officially announced that he is seeking re-election in 2019 to continue to serve as the Delegate for the 26th House District in the Virginia General Assembly. The announcement took place on the court house steps Tuesday.

“It has been an honor to serve as the Delegate for the 26th District for eight years,” stated Delegate Wilt. “Since first being elected, I have never wavered from my commitment to the citizens of this district.”

Delegate Wilt touted his support for policies that provide opportunities for individuals and families through limited government, a strong education system that empowers teachers and parents and a balanced approach to environmental and water quality issues.

Congressman-Elect Ben Cline, State Senator Mark Obenshain, House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert along with several other local officials were on hand to lend their support. Congressman-Elect Cline touted Delegate Wilt’s credentials as a small business owner and leader on business, Chesapeake Bay and Agriculture related issues.

Delegate Wilt indicated his campaign will focus on building grassroots support and listening to the opinions of all residents. With the 2019 General Assembly Session approaching in January, he affirmed that his personal focus these next several months will be on conducting the people’s business in Richmond.