Posts Tagged ‘Tony Wilt’

Virginia Police Benevolent Assocation Endorses Delegate Wilt

May 31, 2023

Harrisonburg – Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Rockingham) announced Wednesday that the Virginia Police Benevolent Association has endorsed his reelection campaign as he seeks to represent the newly drawn House District 34.

“The Virginia Police Benevolent Association is again proud to announce our endorsement of Tony Wilt for the Virginia House of Delegates. Delegate Wilt is a steadfast supporter of the law enforcement professionals we represent. Delegate Wilt is always willing to assist on matters important to public safety, officer safety and improving working conditions for local and State law enforcement” said Virginia Police Benevolent Association President Joe Woloszyn.

“I am honored to once again receive the endorsement of the Virginia Police Benevolent Association,” stated Delegate Wilt. “As Chairman of the House Public Safety Committee the past two years and during the entirety of my service, I have consistently sought to support policies that recognize the significant risk our law enforcement professionals face every day. With criminal activity on the rise, these brave men and women are on the frontline to respond to citizens in distress. They need to know that elected officials in Richmond support them and will allow them to do their job to protect our communities.”

The Virginia Police Benevolent Association is a division of the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, Inc., a not-for-profit professional organization dedicated to improving the law enforcement profession. PBA members are full-time or retired employees of the various federal, state, county and municipal law enforcement and correctional agencies in Virginia.

Delegate Tony Wilt was first elected to the House of Delegates in June of 2010. He currently serves as the Delegate for the 26th House District and is seeking reelection in the newly drawn 34th District, which still includes the City of Harrisonburg and a portion of Rockingham County.

Wilt to Seek Reelection in November

March 21, 2023

Harrisonburg – Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Rockingham) announced Monday he is seeking reelection to the Virginia House of Delegates as the Republican nominee in the newly configured 34th House District.

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve the citizens of Rockingham County and the City of Harrisonburg. I’m proud of what we have been able to accomplish, but the work is not done,” said Wilt. “Despite split party control in the legislature the past two years, I’ve had the chance to play a part in successfully advancing policies to lower electric bills, create opportunities to get desperately needed mental health staff in our schools, and adopt efforts that allow farmers to continue farming their land while implementing conservation practices to improve water quality, to name a few. However, there are challenges on the horizon that must be addressed. For example, the California electric vehicle mandate that Democrats adopted in 2021 will be a costly burden on Virginia families and puts electric grid reliability at significant risk unless we reverse course. I’ve fought the last two years to untie ourselves from California and will not give up that fight.”

Due to the new legislative maps that were adopted in late 2021 by the Virginia Supreme Court, Delegate Wilt resides in the 34th House District. The district has a significant amount of overlap with the territory he currently represents, but it now contains much of the eastern portion of Rockingham County, including Massanetta Springs, McGaheysville and the Town of Elkton. The 34th District territory also includes the City of Harrisonburg and communities in Rockingham County immediately north and northeast of the City.

Delegate Wilt currently represents the 26th House District in the Virginia General Assembly. He serves on four committees in the House which include Commerce and Energy; Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources; Rules; and he is the Chairman of the Public Safety Committee. He was first elected in June of 2010 and resides north of Harrisonburg with his wife, Vickie. They have two grown children.

Session Update: Sine Die Report

March 1, 2023

On Saturday we adjourned the 2023 General Assembly Session sine die. Despite a political divide in the Senate that blocked the progress of some common-sense policies that had advanced through the House, we were still successful in passing a variety of legislation that serves all Virginians.

Protecting Ratepayers
In recent years much of my focus has been on energy policy, and more specifically restoring State Corporation Commission (SCC) authority to help lower electric costs for Virginians. I’m pleased to report after significant negotiations, we passed a bill (HB 1770) that largely unties the hands of the SCC and allows them to do their job to set rates that protect ratepayers, while ensuring our utilities remain financially stable and able to invest to meet the needs of the grid. Among the highlights, it guarantees a larger portion of overearnings are to be returned to ratepayers, rather than allowing the utility (Dominion) to retain them. Further, it requires the utility to move a portion of the current rate adjustment clauses (RACs) to the base rate which should result in some net savings. I had carried a stand-alone bill on the RAC issue and was glad to see that component addressed in the conference report. Finally, after a two year transition period, it removes all limitations on the SCC’s ability to set the rate of return (profit margin) for the utility as they see fit. I know for many families electric bills have increased significantly in recent months. This legislation should put downward pressure on further increases, providing much needed relief.

Admittedly, it was not a perfect deal. For example, a provision that would have allowed the SCC to alter the timeline of plant closures required under the Clean Economy Act (VCEA) if they felt grid reliability would be threatened did not make it in the final deal. I had carried another stand-alone bill that focused on this issue. While it was included in the House version that had passed, unfortunately it was not in the final conference report.

Much like repealing the California Vehicle Emissions Mandate, I expect this is an area the General Assembly will be forced to address in the future to safeguard grid reliability and avoid rolling blackouts like are commonplace in California and third world countries. Forcing folks to sit in the dark or be stranded on the side of the road to maintain ideological purity and placate environmental fearmongers is not progress.

Meeting our Workforce Needs
In addition to the utility reform bill, one of the most significant accomplishments that secured bipartisan support was the passage of legislation (HB 2195) to consolidate all workforce programs under one centralized secretariat. Meeting the needs of employers and providing the resources for citizens to secure the training and credentials necessary to improve their circumstances has been a top priority of the Youngkin Administration. Unfortunately, it has been widely recognized that Virginia currently has a complicated maze of workforce related programs stretched across six cabinet secretariats and countless agencies. This leads to confusion for employers and job seekers. Reform and consolidation of our programs has been a long time coming as numerous reports and studies over the years have recommended it. This legislation underwent numerous revisions to address concerns and the final product received near unanimous support.

My Legislation
While this session was not without some personal disappointments, on the whole we had many successes on the legislation I patroned. In addition to the six bills headed to the Governor that I mentioned in my last update, I had three additional bills that successfully finished making their way through the General Assembly last week.

HB 1660 extends the Dairy Margin Coverage Premium Assistance Program for an additional five years. In the most recent VDACS analysis, this program has demonstrated its effectiveness at helping dairy farmers and securing additional environmental stewardship practices on our farms.

HB 2126 Grants electric utilities the ability to maintain gravel access roads permanently, provided certain environmental standards are met when they are constructed. Current regulations require that when these roads are built to install our maintain transmission lines, they are required to be torn up and “reclaimed” when the work on that specific project is completed. This adds costs for the utilities when they have to regularly reinstall and reclaim these roads. Further, regular land disturbance can lead to more environmental degradation than if the initial road, once installed, is left alone.

HB 2428 Puts in place standards that protect our kids from being marketed marijuana and other harmful psychoactive substances. The bill makes clear that no substance that is illegal, which currently includes marijuana, can be advertised whatsoever. However, it proactively adds protections in code in the event a retail market is established for marijuana in the future. Other states that have established a legal retail market without also enacting these standards have seen a proliferation of advertising that has inappropriately targeted kids. Regardless of how you feel about adult use of marijuana and related products, studies consistently show negative consequences when used by minors. This bill, if signed into law, will allow us to avoid the pitfalls of other states that have seen use among young people increase significantly.

Budget Update
As I’ve stated before, the Commonwealth’s spending plan is generally one of the most significant items we handle every session. It’s important to note Virginia adopts a biennial budget and therefore for the coming year we already have a budget in place. However, customarily we still adopt revisions to the budget in the odd year based on updated revenues and needs. Because of a budget surplus, we went into the session with roughly $3 billion additional to appropriate and potentially build on our efforts from last year to provide direct relief to taxpayers.

While as of last Friday it looked like budget negotiators had a tentative deal in place, unfortunately that fell apart when the Senate Democratic caucus balked. Instead, what we left Richmond with Saturday was a very narrow budget deal that only addressed a handful of items. It addresses the reporting error at the Department of Education to ensure every school division receives at least as much as they had been told last year. It also makes additional required appropriations to the Rainy-Day Fund and the Virginia Retirement System to ensure we maintain our top bond rating. Finally, it adds a supplement to the capitol fund to address some cost overruns for projects that have come about due to inflation in the construction industry.

Budget conferees have indicated they will continue to negotiate on a broader deal and I’m hopeful we can have one in place to vote on sooner rather than later.

Thanks Anna!
There’s a lot of folks that work behind the scenes to make our legislative process work. This includes Clerk’s office staff, Division of Legislative Services staff, the staff for each legislator, and last but not least, our House Pages! The page program consists of 13 and 14 year old students that stay in Richmond during session to provide a helping hand wherever needed and to learn more about their legislature.

This year the 26th District was well represented by Anna Webb (pictured directly below). I enjoyed getting to know Anna and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.

The end of the session was bittersweet this year as many of my colleagues have decided to retire at the end of the current term. I’ve built some great friendships over the years with these individuals and it’s sad to see them go, but I wish them well. All have been effective legislators and left a positive mark on the Commonwealth.

Among those retiring that I’ve served with for nearly the entire duration of my service are Delegates Rob Bell, Roxanne Robinson, James Edmunds, Margaret Ransone, Kathy Byron, and Ken Plum.

Wilt Pro-Ratepayer Legislation Passes House Committee Unanimously

February 2, 2023

RICHMOND- On Thursday legislation patroned by Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Rockingham) to restore State Corporation Commission (SCC) authority and protect ratepayers passed the House Commerce and Energy Committee Unanimously.

“Today was a great day for Virginia consumers,” said Wilt. “Through a package of legislation that restores SCC authority, including our own, we are providing much needed relief for Virginia ratepayers at a time when energy bills and other costs are increasing significantly. While we still have a way to go in the process, I am encouraged by the bold action taken by the House thus far.”

HB 2267 grants authority to the Commission to determine the best mechanism for utilities to recover costs of generation projects, grid improvements, and other expenses. Currently for Dominion customers, 100% of the growth in energy bills in recent years has been through Rate Adjustment Clauses (RACs). There are several reasons RACs are advantageous for the utility because of other provisions in Virginia law. However, often this ends up costing ratepayers more than if these same costs had been recovered through base rates.

This follows committee passage on Tuesday of another bill patroned by Delegate Wilt that makes it clear the SCC has full authority to safeguard grid reliability and security by extending renewable portfolio requirements under the Clean Economy Act if they feel reliability is threatened due to the mandated generation plant retirements in the Act.

These bills will be heading to the House floor for a vote in the coming days before consideration by the Senate.

California Emissions Mandate Repeal Passes House

January 25, 2023

RICHMOND- On Wednesday legislation patroned by Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Rockingham) repealing Virginia’s law tying Virginia to California’s Vehicle Emissions Mandate passed the House of Delegates.

Under current law, Virginia is obligated to follow California’s emissions standard which requires 35% of all new car and light trucks sold in Virginia to be zero emission vehicles starting with model year 2026. That percentage increases every year until culminating in a 100% ban on gas and diesel new car sales in 2035. Zero emissions vehicles on the market currently are primarily electric.

“The fact is the current path we are on will pose significant hardship on Virginians,” said Delegate Wilt. “The average cost of an EV is over 1/3 higher than gas powered vehicles and even for those that can’t afford or don’t want to buy an EV, this policy will have the effect of driving up prices in the used car market. Our grid likely won’t be able to handle the increased load due to other mandates put in place forcing us to decommission more reliable sources of energy. It’s also not clear if the necessary charging structure can be in place to avoid leaving motorists stranded. We must decouple Virginia from this mandate that is forcing us to be subject to the whims of bureaucrats from Sacramento.”

With passage in the House, Delegate Wilt’s bill now heads to the State Senate for consideration.

Wilt Pursuing Agenda to Lower Costs for Virginians

January 11, 2023

RICHMOND- During the 2023 Virginia General Assembly Session Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Rockingham) is pursuing legislation to ease the financial burden for Virginia families. With the Session officially getting underway Wednesday, Wilt has submitted bills to lower transportation and energy costs as part of his legislative package.

“Inflation remains a major burden for low and middle income Virginians,” Wilt said. “While reckless federal spending is a major culprit, there is still work that can be done at the state level to address the issue and head off future cost increases. It’s time to untie ourselves from the California Clean Cars mandate before Virginians are forced to buy more costly vehicles they may not even want. Not to mention that the auto industry may not even be able to supply vehicles to meet the aggressive timeline of this standard, nor is there the necessary charging infrastructure in place. Electricity costs are also rising and this session I’m working with the Governor to make some reforms to the Clean Economy Act that will grant authority to the SCC to provide a relief valve when it’s determined costs will be excessive or we are risking grid reliability and security to maintain the requirements of the Act.”

The Delegate filed legislation in November to decouple Virginia from the California Advanced Clean Cars emissions standard. In 2021 while under Democrat control, Virginia adopted legislation to follow the California standard which culminates in a prohibition on the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035. However, in the meantime the mandate begins to kick in for model year 2026 with a requirement that 35% of new vehicles sold be zero emissions vehicles.

On the energy front, the bills the Delegate has filed focus on restoring regulatory authority to the State Corporation Commission to ensure more affordable electricity costs for consumers. HB 2130 allows the Commission to defer clean energy utilization requirements if it is found costs to customers from those requirements will be excessive. It also requires the utilities to petition the Commission for relief from the requirements of the Clean Economy Act related to power plant closures when they believe the required closure poses a threat to grid reliability or security. HB 2267 grants authority to the Commission to determine the best mechanism for utilities to recover costs of generation projects or other grid improvements. This is also intended to have the practical effect of lowering energy bills.

Delegate Wilt has filed additional bills this session to support dairy farmers, the industrial hemp industry, and a bill to ensure sex offenders that committed serious crimes against minors are not able to work in or access schools, among other legislation.

Wilt Announces Appointments

April 12, 2022

Harrisonburg- Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Broadway) has been appointed by Speaker Todd Gilbert to serve on several commissions and committees for his current term in office. This includes a new appointment to the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC), as well as reappointment to the Chesapeake Bay Commission and I-81 Committee.

JLARC is the General Assembly’s primary oversight body that reviews state agencies and programs to ensure taxpayer dollars are being used appropriately and to make recommendations for improvements. Staffed by a dedicated team of professionals, JLARC reports also play a vital role in legislative decision making.

“Citizens must have confidence that taxpayer dollars are being used as intended and that government programs serve their purpose. JLARC provides that review,” said Wilt. “I look forward to my service on JLARC to be an active contributor to their important mission. I also appreciate the Speaker reappointing me to the Chesapeake Bay Commission and the I-81 Committee.”

Delegate Wilt previously served on the Chesapeake Bay Commission from 2018-2020. The Commission is comprised primarily of legislators and citizen members from the three member states – Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The group develops coordinated policy solutions that can be implemented throughout the Bay states to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Delegate Wilt currently serves on the I-81 Committee. This committee is tasked with providing advice and recommendations to the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) regarding the development and updates to the I-81 Corridor Improvement program. This includes identifying and prioritizing projects to recommend for funding.

Wilt Dairy Bill First to be Signed by Governor Youngkin

February 14, 2022

RICHMOND- On Monday Governor Youngkin signed his first bill into law. It happened to be legislation patroned by Shenandoah Valley Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Rockingham). Taking office in mid-January, Delegate Wilt’s was the first to make it to the Governor’s desk due to the emergency status of the legislation. The bill makes several adjustments to the recently established Dairy Margin Coverage Premium Assistance Program.

“As the Commonwealth’s top industry, it’s fitting to have the first bill signed into law be one that supports our farmers and agriculture economy,” said Wilt. “This bill makes some necessary improvements to our Dairy Margin Coverage Premium Assistance Program that was established last year. Providing some assistance to our dairy farmers while also further incentivizing conservation practices is something that I have worked on for several years. I’m glad we had the opportunity to get something across the finish line last year and can build on that progress now.”

“Thank you, Governor Youngkin and Delegate Wilt, for your work to expand eligibility to the Virginia Dairy Producer Margin Coverage Premium Assistance Program,” indicated Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) Commissioner Joseph Guthrie. “Now, more of the Commonwealth’s dairy farmers can participate in the federal Dairy Margin Coverage program and receive tier 1 level reimbursement for their participation, when they have a resource management plan or nutrient management plan that is certified or undergoing certification by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation or a local soil and water conservation district. This is a win for Virginia agriculture, for the consumer, and for environmental stewardship.

The legislation that has now become law ensures farmers can participate in the state premium assistance program, despite recent delays in the rollout of the federal farm bill program. The federal program works like an insurance policy to guard against low and volatile milk prices. The state premium assistance program helps small to mid-size dairy farmers in covering their costs to sign up for the federal program. The bill also ensures that farmers that choose to work with the federal Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) on their conservation practices are still able to participate in the premium assistance program. Dairy farmers that are interested in participating should contact VDACS for more information.

This year is the long 60 day session and is set to conclude in mid-march. Delegate Wilt has served in the House of Delegates since 2010 and represents the City of Harrisonburg and a portion of Rockingham County.

Wilt Appointed to Rules Committee

January 13, 2022

RICHMOND- On Wednesday it was announced that Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Rockingham) will serve on the powerful Rules Committee in the Virginia House of Delegates. This is in addition to his other three previous assignments on the Commerce and Energy Committee (previously Labor and Commerce); Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources Committee; and the Public Safety Committee. It was announced a few weeks ago that he will serve as Chairman of the Public Safety Committee for the current term.

The General Assembly officially got underway on Wednesday. In addition to electing a Speaker and Clerk, committee assignments were announced for all members.

“I’m honored to receive this additional committee assignment and look forward to the new challenge,” said Wilt. “As the name implies, the Rules Committee takes up matters related to how the General Assembly operates and conducts business, in addition to a myriad of other issues. How we conduct ourselves and the process with which we do things is extremely important. Without a fair legislative process that the public can have confidence in and trust, nothing else matters.”

In addition to taking up issues of how the body governs itself, the Rules Committee handles all study resolutions, official designation resolutions, and anything else the Speaker decides to send to the Committee. The Speaker, Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), will serve as the Chairman of Rules in accord with the historic custom and practice of the body.

This year is the “long” 60 day session and is set to conclude in mid-march. Delegate Wilt has served in the House of Delegates since 2010 and represents the City of Harrisonburg and a portion of Rockingham County.

Wilt Renews Effort to Provide Affordable Healthcare Option for Small Business

January 11, 2022

RICHMOND- On Tuesday Delegate Tony Wilt introduced legislation to allow for a health plan option that could provide more affordable access to healthcare for many small businesses and their employees.

Delegate Wilt patroned similar legislation in 2019 and Democratic legislators took the lead in the two previous years. While the policy has enjoyed broad bipartisan support in the legislature, Governor Northam had rejected the plan. With a new Governor come Saturday, Delegate Wilt is hoping to get the bill across the finish line this year.

“This bill opens up an opportunity for coverage for many who currently have no option under the crushing premium increases we have seen in recent years,” said Wilt. “Small businesses want to provide robust benefits and take care of their employees, but with the inflationary pressures we are experiencing this continues to be a challenge,” said Wilt. “In the most recent campaign I committed to pursue this solution again if reelected, and today I’m making good on that promise!”

“Small businesses continue to struggle to find affordable health coverage options for their employees. This legislation will provide Virginia’s small businesses with an additional option for quality, more affordable health coverage through a shared risk pool with other small businesses,” said Virginia Chamber of Commerce President & CEO, Barry DuVal. “The Virginia Chamber applauds this innovative, bipartisan effort and thanks both Del. Wilt and Sen. Mason for carrying their companion bills that will improve access to quality health coverage for small business workers.”

The legislation expands the opportunity for small businesses to join under a Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA). A MEWA is a self-funded benefits consortium of small employers that pool together to offer their employees comprehensive, affordable group health care coverage on terms similar to those available to large employers. The bill includes a number of safeguards to ensure minimum coverage requirements and solvency of the plans.

Delegate Wilt represents the 26th House District, which encompasses Harrisonburg and part of Rockingham County. He was first elected to the House of Delegates in June of 2010.