|BARBARA ON THE ISSUES
CREATING JOBS = JOB #1
Since being elected in 2009, Delegate Comstock has made Jobs her #1 priority. She has worked with her colleagues to turn a $6 billion deficit into a surplus, without raising taxes. Rising from fourth place on last year's list, she helped Virginia take the #1 spot based on factors like average income, cost of living (based on the ACCRA Cost of Living Index), state income take rate and unemployment rate.
Now, Virginia's unemployment rate hit a three year low of 5.6% in April 2012 and her colleagues continue to promote job creation in the Commonwealth. With a national unemployment rate of 8.3%, Virginia continues to outperform the nation as a whole in terms of job creation.
Delegate Comstock’s support
for and focus on jobs and the economy has earned her the endorsements of job
creators and entrepreneurs throughout the District. She has been endorsed
by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce’s NOVABizPAC, the Northern Virginia
Technology Council’s TechPAC, the National Federation of Independent
Businesses, the Associated Builders and Contractors and the Northern Virginia
Building Industry Association among others, as well as many business leaders
throughout Northern Virginia and the Commonwealth. Read more about
some of these endorsements here.
In May 2012, Delegate Comstock was recognized by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce with "The Free Enterprise Award" which honors a legislator who championed free market principles during the 2012 legislative session. Delegate Comstock received the award at the Virginia Chamber's Board Awards Dinner. Moreover, she received an "A" from the Virginia Chamber on their 2012 Legislative Report Card this year.
HB 216, Tax Incentives for Data Centers: This bill Delegate Comstock championed provides tax incentives for the large and growing business of data centers. The industry is expected to grow by hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years and this legislation will help keep Virginia a top destination for this industry and diversify our economy by focusing on private sector commercial markets where we have a competitive advantage. This bill was supported by state and local Chambers of Commerce, and was a top priority of the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC).
HB 1013, Extending the Capital Gains Tax Exemption: Delegate Comstock passed this legislation to extend the current capital gains exemption for new tech investments in the Commonwealth to free up entrepreneurs to risk their capital and create jobs across the Commonwealth. This measure passed overwhelmingly in the House and the Senate with the broad support of the NOVA business community, including the Northern Virginia Technology Council.
HB 551, Extending the Telework Tax Credit: This bill extends the Telework Tax Credit, which Delegate Comstock passed last year, through December 31, 2015. The Tax Credit is already being utilized by over 174 employers and their workers. This will allow the Commonwealth to continue to promote the tax credit so that more people can take advantage of this opportunity. Telework provides great win/win solutions for employees and employers who want more flexibility for work/family balance and to save communicating costs. Further, taking cars off the road eases congestion for all. This bill was also supported by NVTC and state and local Chambers of Commerce.
HB 1447, Research and Development Tax Credit: Delegate Comstock was the Chief Co-Sponsor of a Research and Development tax credit bill, which brought us in line with over 30 states, which already have this credit. This bill, which passed with broad bi-partisan support, will help companies bring new technologies to the market. As The Washington Post reported, members of the Northern Virginia Technology Council and the Virginia Biotechnology Association called this measure a "resounding win."
HB 2197, Telework Tax Credit: Comstock's Telework bill, which passed overwhelmingly, will grant employers a tax credit for expenses incurred in developing and implementing telework arrangement for employees. The bill is both a family-friendly work policy as well as a transportation congestion solution. It was supported by the Northern Virginia Technology Council, which has long been a leader in promoting telework policies as well as by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia Small Business Partnership. Read an Op-Ed that Comstock wrote about the benefits of teleworking.
HB 2052, Secret Ballot Protection: Delegate Tim Hugo and Delegate Barbara Comstock introduced legislation to require the use of secret ballots in any union election and to prohibit the so called "card check" method of union elections which could force unions on a workplace without individuals having the right to vote in private. Because of federal regulatory agencies trying to impose unionization by regulation, Hugo and Comstock introduced this measure to protect Virginia workers and workplaces. When the U.S. Congress tried to eliminate the right to a secret ballot through the card check bill, even liberal icons like George McGovern called it "a disturbing and undemocratic overreach." George McGovern has noted that there are many documented cases where workers have been "pressured, harassed, tricked and intimidated into signing cards" that then lead to unionized workplaces. While HR 2052 passed in the House of Delegates with bipartisan support, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee did not vote out this worker protection measure.
|TRANSPORTATION: Let's Get Virginia Moving
HB 33, Fair and Open Competition in Government Contracting Act: This bill guarantees competition and a level playing field for all Virginia workers and businesses. It protects 96 percent of Virginia workers who are non-union, and commits that Virginia workers will not be robbed through crony contracting and makes sure that Virginia's tax dollars are spent wisely and stretched to respond to our transportation and infrastructure needs.
HB 2527, Transportation Package: Comstock co-patroned the
transportation plan passed this year,
which was the first
significant transportation plan in years. The plan will provide over $4 billion
in much needed transportation infrastructure funding over the next three years
without raising taxes. This multi-faceted transportation package, which is the
single largest infusion of funding in decades, will fund over 900 projects
across the Commonwealth, including work on widening Route 7 in Fairfax County and Loudoun County.
HB 2203, Revenue Sharing:
In relation to this transportation effort, Comstock sponsored a bill on behalf of Fairfax County, which was incorporated into the transportation package, and allows Fairfax to once again be on an equal footing for obtaining revenue-sharing funds.
||EDUCATION: A Passion for Excellence in Education
Barbara’s family is a family of educators. Her mother was a lifetime teacher and school administrator. Her husband, Chip, has served in Fairfax County schools for over a quarter century as a math teacher at Langley and McLean high schools and now, as an Assistant Principal at Oakton High School. Her sister was a counselor at McLean High School. She understands the sacrifice and commitment made by our teachers and educators who have had their salaries frozen while their classroom sizes and workloads increase.
HB 2510, Higher Education Act of 2011:
Comstock was a co-patron of a major Higher Education bill, which was passed unanimously in the General Assembly. This initiative will enable our institutions to meet the goal of issuing an additional 100,000 degrees over the next 15 years, making Virginia one of the most highly educated states in the nation and providing our state with a workforce that will attract top jobs. Based on this legislation, the University of Virginia Board of Visitors is poised to add nearly 1,000 new spaces for in-state students that will help many of our top students in Northern Virginia get into our top schools. Other Virginia colleges and universities will be providing additional in-state slots. The legislation also places a greater emphasis on high demand science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects through the formation of a public-private partnership that will engage the business and professional community in leveraging best practices for K-12 and higher education.
HB 2204, Teacher Bonus:
Comstock introduced legislation this year that would have allowed local school divisions to have the flexibility to use any unexpended state funds to provide a one-time bonus to all teachers of up to three percent of the annual base salary. The House Appropriations Committee incorporated this into the proposed House budget at a bonus rate of 2 percent where it obtained strong bipartisan support. This bill was modeled on a bonus given last year to state employees when they identified savings in the existing budget. While this year’s similar measure for teachers had strong bipartisan support in the House, the Senate opposed providing flexibility to use this option, and it was not included in the final budget.
2010 Session, Local Composite Index Issue (LCI):
During the 2010 Legislative Session, Delegate Comstock joined the Northern Virginia delegation in opposing Governor Kaine’s proposed budget that included an unprecedented and arbitrary freeze of the LCI which is used to determine the share of state education funds and is recalculated and updated every two years. To reverse decades of practice was simply bad public policy, fundamentally unfair, and would have cost Northern Virginia $120 million in order to save the state $29 million. This was a top priority issue that occupied many Northern Virginia Delegates, including Comstock, in the first weeks of the session. She worked with PTAs, parents, and the local business community in the 34th District to reverse this action. Our high quality schools are integral to attracting top businesses. The Delegation also wrote a joint a letter to Governor McDonnell urging him to back the move to unfreeze the LCI and supported budget amendments to undo this proposal. Comstock worked with the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, members of his Cabinet, and staff about this issue. Delegate Comstock participated in one of the first rallies to oppose the LCI Freeze here in the District at Churchill Road Elementary School where she spoke about the importance of this issue for our community.
All Day Kindergarten:
Delegate Comstock worked with parents and school leaders in our community to bring all day kindergarten to all of Fairfax County schools. It was profoundly unfair that 37 schools in Fairfax only had half the kindergarten program that the rest of the students around the county and state receive. Fairfax County parents were dutifully paying their taxes - some of the highest in the county and state - and those revenues were providing all day kindergarten for children throughout most of the county and state. Yet, Fairfax County kindergarten children were denied equal treatment and told to wait... and wait for some undetermined time when they would be treated equally. Comstock worked with school officials and parents to emphasize the need to implement all day kindergarten in the next school year instead of continuing to drag out the full implementation for two or three years as had been previously planned.
HJ 916, Commending Fairfax County Schools:
Delegate Comstock introduced a resolution commending Fairfax County Schools that receive the Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence, Board of Education Excellence Award, and Board of Education Competence to Excellence Award.
HELPING THE DISABLED COMMUNITY
SB 1486, Behavioral Health and Developmental
Services Trust Fund:
The General Assembly passed legislation to fund the transition of people with serious mental and developmental disabilities from centralized hospital-type settings into community-based care centers. The legislation permits $30 million to be transferred into the existing trust fund to finance the modernization of community-based centers, and it also calls for the development of a transition plan where it is feasible. The bill heads off a potentially costly federal lawsuit. However, it is also clear that many families still will need services in an institutional setting. Delegate Comstock believes it is important that families and individuals have these choices to provide for some of the most vulnerable citizens in our community.
QUALITY OF LIFE
HJ 643, Lyme Disease Awareness Month:
Delegate Comstock passed a resolution to permanently designate May as Lyme Disease awareness month in Virginia. The resolution was passed by both the House of Delegates and the Senate unanimously and will help to raise awareness about this debilitating disease. Delegate Comstock is committed to helping to ensure that people living in high risk areas know how to protect themselves and their children and get the medical treatments they need. Delegate Comstock had the opportunity to present the resolution to Monte Skall, the Executive Director of The National Capital Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Association, with a copy of House Joint Resolution 643 at the 1st Annual Loudoun Lyme 5K in May.
Formed First House of Delegates Arts Caucus:
Delegate Comstock established the House of Delegates Arts Caucus in 2011 and held the inaugural meeting this spring. There was a great turnout of arts advocates from around the state and a strong Northern Virginia representation. The mission of the caucus is to promote and work with the local arts community in the respective districts of each Delegate to highlight and support their programs and performances and promote their efforts with the business community and the donor community. The arts have always been a valued part of the Northern Virginia community and Delegate Comstock believes that a thriving arts community is vital to enhancing the economic vitality of our entire region.
HJ 655, 783, and 784:
Delegate Comstock passed three resolutions commending Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, the McLean Orchestra and the McLean Youth Orchestra. Both Wolf Trap and the McLean Orchestra are celebrating their 40th anniversaries this year. A special Center Aisle presentation in the House of Delegates was also held this year to commend Wolf Trap and present the resolution to Karen Pittleman, Director of Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, and Terre Jones, President and CEO of the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts.
HJ 860, Fairfax
County Park Authority:
Delegate Comstock passed a resolution commending the Fairfax County Park Authority for receiving the 2010 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, the parks and recreation industry's highest honor.
Drilling: During the 2010 Legislative Session
Delegate Comstock and the General Assembly passed legislation, which was signed
by Governor McDonnell, to allow for exploration and drilling off the coast of
Virginia to go forward. In addition
to this, Delegate Comstock introduced HB 900, which was incorporated into HB
756 to allocate 80% of future offshore royalties and revenues to transportation
and the remaining 20% to the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, which
researches and develops renewable energy solutions. This bill was a critical component for both energy
independence and providing for a dedicated revenue stream for much needed
transportation funds for Northern Virginia.
In March of 2010 Delegate Comstock joined
52 of her colleagues in the House of Delegates in sending a letter to Secretary
of the Department of the Interior, Ken Salazar, urging Secretary Salazar and
the administration to move forward in allowing Virginia to begin environmentally
responsible offshore energy exploration and development. It is significant that the effort to
move forward with environmentally safe offshore drilling received strong
bipartisan support in the General Assembly, from the majority of Virginia’s
Congressional Delegation, and from Virginia’s two Senators, Mark Warner and Jim
Following the passage of the legislation to allow for exploration and
drilling off the coast of Virginia, President Obama announced that Virginia
would be the first state on the East Coast to explore for and produce natural
gas and oil offshore. This would provide
thousands of new jobs, hundreds of millions in new state revenue, and a
long-term source of revenue for our transportation needs. It would also make Virginia a key
partner in moving the country towards energy independence. While the President then
imposed the drilling moratorium in June 2010, Senators Warner and Webb recently
introduced The Virginia Outer Continental Shelf Energy Production Act of 2011
to open up Virginia’s coast to offshore oil and natural gas exploration and
production, increase the area open to that exploration and production, and
provide the Commonwealth with 50% of all leasing revenues derived from offshore
operations. The legislation would begin the offshore exploration and production
Session, HB 389, Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority: Delegate Comstock was a sponsor of a bill to creates
the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority, which will facilitate and
support the development of the offshore wind industry and wind-powered electric
energy facilities located off the coast of the Commonwealth beyond the
Commonwealth's three-mile jurisdictional limit. The Authority is charged with,
among other tasks: identifying existing state and regulatory or administrative
barriers to the development of the offshore wind industry; collecting metocean
and environmental data; upgrading port facilities to accommodate the
manufacturing and assembly of project components and vessels that will support
such projects; and applying to the U.S. Department of Energy for loan
guarantees for such projects.
2010 Session, HB 803, Green Jobs Tax
Credit: Delegate Comstock
sponsored a bill to create a $500 income tax credit for the creation of
"green" jobs paying an annual salary in excess of $50,000. This tax credit was designed to encourage more alternative energy entrepreneurs to make Virginia their
Delegate Comstock was part of a bipartisan
coalition in the General Assembly that worked on human trafficking laws. Three bills were passed and signed by
the Governor this year and Delegate Comstock will continue
to work on this important issue with her colleagues in the General Assembly and
with Congressman Frank Wolf, who has always been a strong advocate of working
to end human trafficking.
HB 546, Gang Crimes: Delegate Comstock's legislation, HB 546, cracks down on those engaged in human trafficking and provides additional penalties and tools for prosecutors. HB 546 addresses the growth of gangs such as MS-13 operating prostitution rings in our area who are now engaged in this heinous crime. These criminal traffickers have victimized women and girls in our area, exploiting them as part of their crime operations.
Trafficking of a minor reclassified to a Class 2 Felony:
Delegate Comstock was a sponsor of the bill that makes abduction of a minor for the purpose of manufacturing child
pornography or prostitution a Class 2 felony.
HB 2190, Development
of a Victims Services Plan: Delegate Comstock was a Chief Co-Sponsor
of HB 2190, which requires the Department of Social Services to develop a
plan for the provision of services to victims of human trafficking, which shall
include provisions for: identifying victims of human trafficking in the
Commonwealth; assisting victims of human trafficking with applying for benefits
and services to which they may be entitled; coordinating the delivery of
services for victims of human trafficking; preparing and disseminating
educational and training programs and materials to increase awareness of human
trafficking and services available to victims; developing and maintaining
community-based services for victims of human trafficking; and assisting
victims with family reunification or return to their place of origin if the
person so desires.