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delegate lee ware

AN OVERVIEW OF THE 2017 GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Our 2017 General Assembly has done what it had to do on behalf of taxpayers and crucial public employees and services. We closed a $1.24 billion budget deficit, did so without increasing taxes, and by surgical amendments provided overdue salary increases for State Police, sheriffs' deputies, teachers, and other state employees.

That we had again to wrestle with a budget shortfall is indicative of the fragility of the long and still-modest recovery from "The Great Recession" into which the national economy slipped a full decade ago. Job-creation and revenue forecasts for the remainder of the 2016-2018 biennium are only guardedly encouraging.

In addition to broad bipartisan cooperation on budget priorities, we were able also to stop two bills that would have impaired the ability of localities to undertake expansion of broadband services and, separately, wireless communications services. Supervisors in Chesterfield, Powhatan, and Goochland were regularly in touch about these respective bills--House Bill (HB) 2108 and 2196. The final versions, radically improved, will protect against boondoggles such as occurred in Bristol's ill-fated attempt to expand broadband services, while allowing counties such Powhatan and Goochland to continue their projects without undue red-tape.

The most controversial bill of Session proved to be HB 1900. Patroned by Speaker Bill Howell, HB 1900 would have stiffened penalties for hunters retrieving dogs from private properties and was generally perceived to be advocated by owners of large private hunting preserves at the expense of middle-class hunters from rural areas. When debate--and dust--settled, the bill was defeated by one vote, 48-47. All told, my office received nearly 4,000 voicemails or emails about this one bill--the vast majority opposed to it.


BILLS OF INTEREST


My HB 1415, submitted at the unanimous request of Powhatan supervisors, and amended to include Goochland at the request of Goochland supervisors--on their 4-1 agreement--authorizes both counties to impose a transient occupancy tax. The rate of any enacted tax could not exceed five percent, and revenues exceeding two percent could be spent only to promote tourism.

My counterpart in Assembly, Senator Glen Sturtevant, sponsored at the request of Powhatan's Board of Supervisors a budget amendment to allow the Department of Juvenile Justice to sell the Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center property to the county for "economic development purposes." However, the proposal was not included in the budget as finally advanced by the Senate.

Goochland's supervisors and School Board are always well ahead of the curve in advancing their legislative priorities. At supervisors' request I introduced a bill to give localities the ability to control "Airbnb" or residential rentals arranged over the internet; however, we determined that the proposal was premature, so the bill will be reconsidered next year.

Supervisors and their staff were deeply involved in monitoring a number of bills, especially concerning broadband and wireless communications. I greatly benefited from their interests.

For Frank Brown of Fluvanna County I submitted HB 1417. This bill would have required drivers both approaching and immediately preceding a stopped school bus to cut on their hazard lights. The House Transportation Committee declined to advance the proposal.

Assisted ably by Phil Sherman of Powhatan and Savannah Kelleher of ADS Ventures I patroned HB 1432 to allow skilled laborers and hobbyists to carry automatic knives--'switchblades' in old parlance--without fear of criminal prosecution. The bill was passed by large majorities, but was vetoed by the Governor.

My House Bill 1455, submitted at the request of Chesterfield supervisors, will aid Chesterfield in its taxation and rehabilitation of certain properties undergoing commercial or industrial development.

My House Bill 1408, for which Tim Gresham of Powhatan was a tireless advocate, will increase the number and quality of public schools' vision-screenings for younger pupils. Studies show that younger children who receive proper eye care register marked improvement in academic performance. Some Lions Club officials worried that the bill would impinge on the Lions' vision programs, so we amended the bill to ensure that Lions would not be adversely affected.

To expand the vision-screening codified by HB 1408 I also introduced a budget amendment for $1.9 million. The House committee on Appropriations whittled the figure to $300,000 for the biennium, but that amount was excised in the budget conference with Senate Finance members. We will revisit the budgetary request next Session.

My HB 2424 would have provided limited immunity for individuals who, after an incident in which they acted in self-defense, promptly reported the matter to authorities. Because it was determined that a budget amendment would be required to provide for the services, the bill was not advanced. But, I will reintroduce it in the 2018 Assembly.

To help close the budget gap I carried HB 1470. This bill would have modestly reduced tax credits for land preservation. My colleagues on House Finance who admire the popular program declined to advance the bill.


OTHER MAJOR ISSUES


A good deal of my own work this Session was devoted to my duties as chairman of the Finance committee of the House. Whereas the Appropriations committee spends taxpayers' monies, the Finance committee, by handing all bills having to do with revenues and taxes, in effect raises a goodly sum of the monies in our General Fund. Significantly, our House-proposed budget requires no new taxes or fees and is, as required by the Constitution, wholly balanced.

My legislative priority post-Session will be to work toward preparation of a single bill to comprehensively reform the Commonwealth's Tax Code. My goal is to have viable legislation ready to recommend to whoever is elected the new Governor of Virginia at the 2017 general elections in November.


VETO SESSION


No fewer than 40 bills passed by the legislature were vetoed by Governor McAuliffe. These included bills to ban localities from restricting the enforcement of federal immigration laws, a bill to bar government from punishing anyone who, owing to religious convictions, refuses to participate in same-sex weddings, and a bill to allow homeschooled children to participate in public school sports, etc. When we reconvened on April 5 to consider the Governor's vetoes, these vetoes were sustained, for a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate are required to override a gubernatorial veto. No doubt patrons will reintroduce these bills in 2018.


WORKING WITH LOCAL OFFICIALS


To large constituencies and also to local officials in each of the four counties of the 65th District I was in continual communication. Supervisor Mike Sheridan of Fluvanna was regularly in touch, Supervisors Manuel Alvarez and Susan Lascolette of Goochland were able to visit several times, Powhatan's Chairman Bill Melton kept me abreast of the county's interest in the broadband and wireless bills, and Mary Ann Curtin as usual ably managed communications with Chesterfield’s supervisors. School Board members and officials from all four counties visited me at the Capitol.



THANKS TO CONSTITUENTS


As usual, hundreds of constituents sent me emails, regular mail, called by 'phone, or were able to come by the General Assembly Building for a personal visit. Both the Powhatan Leadership Institute and the Goochland Leadership Enterprise brought dozens of new county residents to Assembly to meet with me and to observe the House in Session.

And of course the scores of associations that represent civic and business groups--from AARP to Virginia Tech Hokies--were visitors as usual.

All told my office registered nearly 9,000 emails or voicemails. Every message is reviewed and taken into account as my votes are cast. Also, when possible, I try to make sure that everyone--especially citizens of the 65th House District--receives at least an acknowledgement of their email. And, every message helped me execute my fundamental duty as a legislator: to represent the people's interests and to conduct the people's business.



TWO PAGES FROM OUR DISTRICT


The Speaker of the House chose two of my nominees to serve as Pages during General Assembly from among the several outstanding candidates from the 65th District. A Page helps with a wide range of office operations, such as couriering bills from the General Assembly Building to legislators on the Floor of the Capitol, while also maintaining a full schedule of classroom studies. Working with me this Session have been Jacob Boykin, a freshman in Powhatan High School, and Matthew Kenney, an eighth grade pupil from Kents Store in Fluvanna County.



THE TRAIL AHEAD


All 100 House seats are up for election in November, and Virginians will also choose a Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General. Already I've had the privilege to speaking to a several community groups about the 2017 Assembly--and about what I hope to do in 2018, if voters again grant me the privilege of representing our district in the House of Delegates.


Cordially,

R. Lee Ware, Jr.



lee ware, va delegate Visiting with Delegate Ware during General Assembly 2017 were Virginia Horse Council
equestrians, led by Sue Alvis, right, president


lee ware, va delegate Reuniting at a recent meeting of the Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce were
Delegate Lee Ware and his former House of Delegates member Chris Saxman,
right, now executive director of Virginia FREE, "the independent non-partisan
voice of Virginia business."




lee ware, va delegate Reviewing education-related legislation with Delegate Ware were
Chuck Winkler, left, Interim Superintendent of Fluvanna County
Schools, and Carol Tracy Carr, chair of the Fluvanna County School Board.


lee ware, va delegate Serving as Pages during Assembly 2017 were Jacob Boykin, left, of
Powhatan, and Michael Kenney, right, of Fluvanna.


lee ware, va delegate Homeschoolers from Powhatan and Goochland counties spent a full day observing General Assembly—and Delegate Ware was their speaker.
lee ware, va delegate As a copatron of House Bill 1547 to preserve historic African American cemeteries sponsored by Delegate Dolores McQuinn (in blue) Delegate Lee Ware, second from left in the rear row, participated in a ceremonial signing of the bill by Governor Terry McAuliffe, seated, at the Capitol Grounds in May.


lee ware, va delegate Enjoying a visit during Delegate Ware's 2017 Legislative Breakfast were guest speakers Delegate Kirk Cox, left, who is Speaker-designee for the House of Delegates, and, center, Ed Gillespie, Republican candidate for Governor.
lee ware, va delegate Greeting Commonwealth's Attorney Dickie Cox, left, of Powhatan, and his counterpart, Mike Caudill, seated right, of Goochland, Delegate Ware touched upon issues of importance to both local officials during his annual Legislative Breakfast in April.


lee ware, va delegate Working together for residents of Matoaca District in Chesterfield County are Supervisor Steve Elswick, right, and Delegate Lee Ware.
lee ware, va delegate Taking a break for the camera after a discussion of issues of importance to Chesterfield citizens were Delegates Roxann Robinson and Lee Ware. They work closely with Delegates Kirk Cox, Riley Ingram, and Manoli Loupassi on the entire range of issues affecting Chesterfield and the surrounding region.


lee ware, va delegate Talking politics is always a singular pleasure with the elder statesman of Powhatan and environs, the inimitable Elwood Yates, right, whose late father preceded Delegate Ware, left, as a member of the House by several decades and was instrumental in advancing land conservation throughout the Commonwealth. Delegate Ware continues the late Delegate Yates's dedication by patroning legislation for farm and battlefield preservation.
lee ware, va delegate Reminiscing about his time as a Page in the House of Delegates were one-time page Nicholas Snead, left, now director of the band for Powhatan High School, and Delegate Lee Ware, who recommended the then-much younger Mr. Snead for the honor. The two reunited at a recent "Village Vibe" in Powhatan Court House.


lee ware, va delegate Discussing public education issues with Delegate Ware during Assembly
were Dr. Jeremy Raley, left, Superintendent of Goochland Schools, and
Beth Hardy, chair of Goochland County School Board.


Delegate Ware speaks on 'Black History Month'

Black History Month
Floor Remarks in The Virginia House of Delegates
By Delegate Lee Ware February 6, 2014

As an historian, and also as the delegate for a large constituency of black citizens, with many of whom I have enjoyed long years of warm friendship, I accepted at once the invitation extended by a Member "from across the aisle" to offer some reflections on Black History Month.

It is fitting that we set aside time each year to recognize and to affirm the achievements of Virginians--and Americans--who happen to be black. After all, there was a time when the experiences and the accomplishments of blacks were assigned a subordinate place in the narrative of American history. So today, permit me to offer a word of congratulations especially to our fellow members who as blacks rightly take an especial pride in serving as Members of the oldest continuous legislative body in the Western world.

I extend these congratulations also, of course, to all Virginians who are black--and with them to all Virginians, without regard to racial considerations.

* * *

In his immemorial summons to the American people, Martin Luther King, Jr. defined a dream that of course included full participation in the political and economic life of the nation for all Americans, but let us today pay particular attention to his precise words:

"I have a dream," Dr. King declared, "that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Owing in no small part to the lives and labors of the black men and women in this room today—and to their pioneering predecessors--our Commonwealth, and our nation, have advanced a long way toward the realization of that dream.

Race remains important--of course. Yet it is now by no means the primary determinant in our lives, socially, economically, or politically. Much has been accomplished by Virginians in the half-century since the great civil-rights milestones of the 1960s. Yet much remains to be achieved.

One of my own dreams, for example, is that there will come a day when a majority of the honorable delegates among us today who happen to be black are members of my own political party. When that day comes--when race is not at all a factor in the minds of any of our voters--then, then we will have erased yet another hyphen in the self-definition of the Virginian—and of the American, people.

* * *

There would have been no America that we can imagine, and surely there could have been no Southern culture worthy of the name, without our black brethren. I say brethren, because it is indisputable that religion, and specifically Christian faith, is inseparable from the experience of black Virginians, and that an undying devotion to the faith of the Christian, and a courageous appeal to the obligations of Christian love, are among the principal contributions of blacks to Southern life.

Recently two celebrations have occurred in my own community of Powhatan that wonderfully illustrate this point. One celebration was of the ongoing restoration of Belmead Plantation. The other was the annual Martin Luther King Youth Day Community Breakfast.

Belmead was the plantation home of Philip St. George Cocke, the son of one of Thomas Jefferson's closest friends and a general in the Army of the Confederate States. After the War, Belmead was purchased by Katharine Drexel, daughter of a wealthy Northern industrialist. She had converted to the Roman Catholic communion--my own communion--and in time became one of the first American women to be canonized by the Church as a saint. And with the wealth from her family, and with the faithful labors of The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, the religious order she founded, Belmead--home once to a slaveowner--became, for many decades, a school for the education of the children, and the grandchildren, of former slaves.

* * *

MLK Youth Day was hosted by Little Zion Baptist Church--a “black church”--and was held in the building of Powhatan United Methodist Church, a "white" church. Over 200 men, women, and children, black and white--and Indian, too--came together to remember Dr. King's original dream and to enjoy the fellowship of a dream that has largely become a living reality of our community.

As I will state in a Resolution about the event, In every tradition that manifests a revelation of the eternal there is a summons to accord equal respect to all individuals within the hierarchical communion that is crowned by the Divine, and without regard to the ephemeral considerations that often enough prevail in social, political, or economic matters; and

"…within the Graeco-Roman and Christian traditions from which the American order derives, the highest expression of the bond of fellowship finds expression in the declaration that, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.""

This is the belief—and it is emphatically a religious belief--that was central to the summons proffered to the American people by Martin Luther King, Jr. And it this appeal, broadened of course to embrace men and women without regard not only to race but to religion, that is the justification for the observance of Black History Month.

One day, I hope, there will be no need for a "black history month." That day will come when we will have achieved Dr. King's dream—when we will have crafted the national narrative that so effectively embraces all of us that no consideration whatsoever will be given to color, and none to "race"--except the human race.


The Civil War Trust

Morning Hour remarks to the House of Delegates
By Delegate Lee Ware, January 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen of the House,

Exactly 150 years ago today armies of hundreds of thousands of men were huddled in their winter quarters. Most were exposed to the elements, and most camps were merely extensions of battlefields. Two nations were fighting to the death for principles in a catastrophic collision.

Today, whichever side each of us may adjudge to have been in the right, probably all of us recognize the sacredness of the farmfields and woodlands, the rivers and seas, on which the American Iliad—the War Between the States—was fought.

Richmond of course was then the capital of one of the contending countries. And, Virginia was the site of fully 123 of the 383 significant battles fought during the four cataclysmic years of 1861-1865. Forty-one of our counties and seven of our cities contain sites of major battlefields of the War.

In 2006, anticipating the sesquicentennial of the War, the General Assembly established the “Virginia Civil War Sites Preservation Fund.” To date, over $12 million in grants have been awarded by this fund to preserve 6,500 acres of hallowed ground. Just last year, through our splendid Department of Historic Resources, $2.2 million was spent to save 1,263 acres of Virginian battlegrounds.

Leading the way in the preservation of these lands is the Civil War Trust. Organized in 1987, the Trust in the 27 years since has—through private donations coupled with grants from the several States—preserved 20,504 acres of battlefields in Virginia alone.

All told, The Civil War trust has saved for posterity a total of 38,552 acres in 20 states. Since 1999 the Trust has saved more than four times as much land as has The National Park Service. (As an aside, please permit me to quip that, since it was the national government that turned our private lands into battlefields in the first place it will not surprise Virginians that private hands, and private treasure have led the way in preserving these sacred sites for future generations.)

Today, we are privileged to have with us, in the Gallery, the president of the Civil War Trust, Jim Lighthizer. This evening, we all are invited to a reception and dinner being hosted by the Trust across the street at the Library of Virginia.

Join me, then, please, in welcoming Jim Lighthizer to the House of Delegates, and let our round of applause testify to our abiding admiration for his indomitable labors in behalf of the places made holy by the lives—and too often the deaths—of our forebears.


Delegate Ware Opposes Education Mandates

Remarks on Education Bills, Floor of the House
By Delegate Lee Ware January 30, 2014

Before we vote on this and other well-intentioned bills for education, let us pause for a moment and ask ourselves if adding more state mandates and regulations to our teachers’ and principals’ duties will truly benefit the schooling of our children.

Regarding the Standards of Learning (SOLs) —we’ve heard a lot about the need to unshackle teachers and pupils from testing-focused instruction.

Just so, this bill, and other bills to follow, though well-meaning, could have in being implemented the effect of both burdening our teachers and distracting them from their highest priority: instructing our children.

The Code of Virginia (at Section 22.1-298.1 C & D) already burdens our educators with a too-long list of state-mandated programs.

After 32 years in the classroom, including two years in administration, and as a former member of the State Board of Education, I urge you to hesitate to compound the labors of our teachers as they would have to integrate yet more mandates into a coherent order for their daily duties.


Guidance for Elementary School Graduates

A Father's Creed for a Full Life
Remarks to Goochland Elementary School Graduates 2014

It is a pleasure to be back with you at Goochland Elementary School for this landmark day for the 5th grade class. Your graduation today brings you to the next stage, the next chapter of your lives. Earlier this year, I had the chance to observe many of you and your teachers at work. Seeing the learning atmosphere and accomplishment made it a rewarding morning for me.

This morning I want to take you back 90 years to the graduation at a three-room grade school in tiny Centerton, in central Indiana on a day very like today. A boy named John, who’d grown up on a farm nearby – a farm with no electricity or running water – got dressed in clean overalls for the big event.

Here’s how John described the occasion: “My dad gave me something that day that would shape my entire life: my work, my marriage, my goals, my philosophy. It was a card on which his Dad had written out his creed. At the top, it read: 'Seven Things to Do.'
Those seven things:

  1. Be true to yourself.
  2. Help Others.
  3. Make each day your masterpiece.
  4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
  5. Make friendship a fine art.
  6. Build a shelter against a rainy day.
  7. Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.

John played basketball in the barn with his three brothers and went on to be an All-American player at Purdue University in Indiana.

When he left Purdue, John taught high-school English. He especially followed his Daddy's guidance about drinking deeply from good books.

Some of the wisest, funniest, and best-travelled people who have ever lived have written their stories. Those stories are found in books that are here in the Goochland Elementary School library, or just up the road at the Goochland Public Library. They are waiting for you to discover, and I hope you will make it a priority to discover them. Ask your favorite teacher, or Mrs. McCay, or your Mother or Daddy; they will have a good recommendation, and a long summer is right ahead. "Drink deeply from good books."

“Make each day your masterpiece.” John followed that advice in his classroom, in his 50-plus year marriage, and on the basketball practice court. John coached high school and college basketball, very well. He would start practice by explaining to his players how to wear socks, then he would teach his players how to shoot free throws (John once sank 134 free throw in a row during his playing days), and he taught them to master the full-court press. His teams, whether small and athletic, or led by a tall, dominant player, were trained in the daily masterpiece of John’s practices.

John viewed his practices and the teams he shaped and molded as a chance to – "Help others."

Help others John did across four decades of coaching and advising young men. When the lists of the greatest coaches of all time are drawn up, they always include John’s name. His UCLA Bruins’ teams won an unrivalled 10 national championships and once compiled an 88-game winning streak. His full name, as many of you have guessed, is John Wooden.

When people asked John Wooden how he achieved what he did – the first man to make the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach, for example – he pointed to the creed taught to him by his father, Joshua Wooden. And he pulled out a card he carried with him from the day of his grade school graduation, a day much like today:

  1. Be true to yourself.
  2. Help Others.
  3. Make each day your masterpiece.
  4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
  5. Make friendship a fine art.
  6. Build a shelter against a rainy day.
  7. Pray for guidance and give thanks for your blessings every day.

Congratulations to you graduating fifth graders. May you build solidly on the foundation that has been laid by your parents and your Goochland Elementary School teachers - - the foundation upon which you now have the skills to begin to construct your life.


Chairman's Welcome to the GOP Convention 2014

Remarks to the Republican State Convention - - June 2014
By Delegate Lee Ware, Chairman

Good morning, Virginia Republicans.

Your presence here on a late spring Saturday is testimony to your commitment to righting the ship of state and to candidates who pledge the same. I am Deegate. Lee Ware from the 65th House District, and I bear greetings from Chesterfield, Goochland, Fluvanna, and Powhatan counties in central Virginia.

As we meet late in spring, there are signs too, that it is late in the Republic. The need of our time is for leaders who cherish the sturdy political principles of our past and will champion them bravely and cheerfully in the days ahead.

The men who will shortly appear on this stage, each of whom offers himself for our nomination to the United States Senate from Virginia, know the urgency of the fight to sustain the rule of law, a sane and balanced budget, an energy policy that taps our own abundant natural resources, and judges who will interpret the Constitution - - not spin confections of their favorite ideological flavor.

These candidates know, too, that it will require diligent, steady work to restore America’s standing as a dependable and respected presence on the world stage.

It is an honor to join you as we select our standard-bearer for 2014. Unlike the man he will replace come January, our next Senator from Virginia will not vote for Harry Reid as Majority Leader nor support President Obama with his votes 97 percent of the time.

So, let us hear these men today, measure their merits, and make our selection - - and emerge from this assembly wherever we sit and for whomever we vote as a united party prepared to labor together and to fight as our nominee will fight – happy warriors for our convictions, for our Commonwealth, and for the country we hold dear.


Delegate Ware Welcomes Convention of the States

The Proposed Convention of States
Remarks by Delegate Lee Ware, Powhatan, January, 10, 2014

Any gathering of citizens devoted to preservation of the liberties that are uniquely ours as Virginians, and as Americans, is to be commended. In a famous assertion often attributed to Jefferson, but probably uttered by an Irish contemporary of his, we are reminded that "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

Tonight, the Convention of States (COS), a nation-wide endeavor, comes to Powhatan, and I both welcome you to our county and congratulate you upon undertaking labors that cannot but contribute to the wellbeing of our Commonwealth and, one may hope, our country.

One of my own political lodestars, Edmund Burke, a contemporary of our Founders, urged his Irish and English countrymen to remember that it is the "little platoons," that is, the small communities, in which the virtues necessary to liberty are established, cultivated, and maintained. The COS meeting this evening is just such a "little platoon."

When he left the Presidency in 1960, Dwight D. Eisenhower warned our parents' generation that there had arisen "a military-industrial complex" that threatened to accrue vast new powers to the national government in Washington. And he emphasized that, "Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together." I have emphasized the phrase, "an alert and knowledgeable citizenry," because the building up of just such a citizenry is what the COS project intends to achieve.

James Madison, in Federalist Paper No. 51, predicted that the "mediating" structures, or associations, by which he meant private clubs, organizations, and so forth, would be the most important bulwark protecting the American people from the appetite for power of some of the politicians and bureaucracies in Washington. So I would suggest this evening that we remember that, while political associations and activities are urgently important, still, the genesis and the guardian of our liberties are alike to be found in maintaining the integrity and vitality of our free associations, that is, our private, civic, and religious organizations.

Much of the impetus of the COS endeavor derives from the fact that our national government has amassed a debt that threatens the very wellbeing of our children and our grandchildren--and even the younger among us in the room tonight. So I conclude these welcoming remarks by quoting yet again from the Sage of Monticello, who, well over two centuries ago, remarked, "I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."

May the COS contribute to the great cause of preventing our national government from wasting our labors and encroaching upon our liberties!



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