Friday, February 10, 2012

Delegate Mike Watson Newsletter


Mike with students from the Hampton and Newport News 4H Club

Letter from Mike:




Dear Friends,


Another week of session has come and gone, and we are quickly approaching Crossover.  Crossover will be occurring on Valentine’s Day this year, and it not only indicates a halfway point of sorts, but it also marks the day on which all legislation passed by the House moves to the Senate and legislation passed by the Senate moves to the House.  Very little is finalized, and we have an opportunity to polish legislation and to ensure that intention matches language.


I was excited this past week to see more legislation pass through the House focused on jobs and education.  I was especially delighted that House Bill 581, a piece of legislation I put forth to clarify the tax code and ensure tourism projects were receiving funds promised to them, passed the House with unanimous consent.  I was also encouraged to see nearly 25 citizens come to the General Assembly this week to hear a bill that was intended to address an issue in one part of the state but would inadvertently force an outcome on a local JCC concern.  Clearly these citizens found that their voices were heard and a resolution was achieved.  The system does work.


On February 16, two days after crossover, I will be hosting another telephone town-hall event.  During this event, I will be able to share with you all the results of my constituent survey, I will be able to provide insight into what the House has been working on for the past four and a half weeks, and I will field questions and concerns to get a better feel for topics of interest to citizens in our area.


As always, please feel free to contact me via phone, email, or by visiting me in Richmond.    I would also encourage you to continue to stay in touch after General Assembly Session.    After Session, I plan to hold a series of town hall meetings in the district to review the 2012 session, share some of the ideas that I will work on through the summer, and to discuss your thoughts and concerns for issues that we should be looking at before the next session. 


Thank you for taking an interest in activities at the General Assembly and for the opportunity to serve.





Contact Me:


As always, we are here in Richmond to serve you. We want to hear what you think about the legislation pending before the House, or if there's anything we can do to help you.


My office can be reached at:


(804) 698-1093


or via email at


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We are almost at the halfway point of the session, also known as Crossover. Crossover is the day that the House of Delegates must complete its work on the nearly 1,300 House Bills introduced this session.  Next Wednesday, the House will begin to consider all bills that have passed the State Senate.


We have accomplished much over the past four and a half weeks, and many bills passed relate to our core foci on helping businesses create jobs, expanding educational opportunities, improving transportation, and increasing transparency in government while simultaneously promoting efficiency and effectiveness.  These areas of focus will also be addressed in the budget, which is scheduled to be voted on by the House of Delegates in the coming weeks.     


House Bill 316 Amended


Earlier this week, we arranged a meeting that included Delegate Pogge (R-96), James City County Attorney Leo Rogers, James City County Administrator Robert Middaugh, and representatives of Service Corporation International to find an amendment to House Bill 316.  Through this meeting, we were able to find an amendment that would guarantee rights to cemeteries that have been established, without re-defining what constitutes a cemetery.


This amendment was designed to alleviate concerns for a specific ongoing debate in James City County, and was adopted this past Thursday.  We were happy to be able to work with all parties to find a solution that addressed the original problem without having unintended consequences in James City County.  With many citizens of James City present on Thursday morning, I was able to speak to the bill in committee and support its passage.


Voter Reform Passes House


This week, the House passed House Bill 9, an election integrity bill.  While it does not restrict any legal, registered voter from casting a ballot in an election, it does require that the voter either present an identification prior to voting or to cast a provisional ballot that will be reviewed and counted by the local Electoral Board the next day, unless there is evidence of fraud.  Identification, as defined in this section of the code, is intentionally broad, and even includes the voter registration card provided to each voter. 


Fortunately, Virginia has confirmed only a few instances of voter fraud to date.  However, under the current code there is no effective strategy in place to identify a larger problem or to prevent an individual from misrepresenting their identity when voting.  As many states across the nation are reporting an increase in fraudulent votes, this legislation is a proactive step to help prevent these issues in the Commonwealth.


This legislation is timely as a pending lawsuit against Virginia would make voter registration and voting history public, equipping an individual or organization with the tools to perpetrate fraud on a large scale.   Without requiring identification, there is no mechanism in place to prevent or detect such action. 


Fraudulent votes that go undiscovered ultimately disenfranchise law-abiding citizens exercising one of their basic rights.  It is incumbent upon us to protect the integrity of the ballot box, to ensure that legal votes are given their full, due weight.  My vote on this bill is consistent with my thoughts and comments during the recent campaign cycle and is in my opinion a practical measure to promote election integrity.  I was proud to help this legislation pass through the House of Delegates.


House Republicans Unveil 2012 Public Safety Agenda


This week, some of my Republican colleagues held a press conference to highlight a number of public safety initiatives to keep families safe from habitual drug traffickers, individuals who prey on children, drunk drivers, gang members, and those who commit domestic violence.


Delegate Rob Bell (R-Albermarle) discussed two of his bills, House Bill 968, which will increase penalties for habitual drug traffickers, keeping our kids away from drugs and drug-related violence, and House Bill 973, which would impose a mandatory life sentence for raping a child under the age of 12.  In the last two years, 228 children under the age of 12 have been victims of these horrific crimes, and only 10 of these cases resulted in a life sentence, with a median sentence of 13 years. 


Delegate Ben Cline (R-Rockingham) introduced two bills to address strangulation and gang recruitment. House Bill 752 raises the penalty of assault and battery via strangulation in an attempt to curb the elevation of domestic violence. To help combat gang violence, Cline also introduced House Bill 751, which will make it a felony to induce criminal activity or recruit a gang member via the internet, a telephone, or text message. With technological developments, gangs are using new methods of communication to recruit, discuss, and plan criminal activities.


Protecting our families and keeping our streets safe is one of the most important responsibilities of the government. We are committed to doing everything we can when it comes to keeping families safe.  

Contact Delegate Watson

Phone: (804) 698-1093     Email:

Mail: General Assembly Building P.O. Box 406 Richmond, Virginia 23218

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