Friday, April 20, 2012

Delegate Mike Watson Newsletter





Governor McDonnell Signing Mike's Energy Bill

Letter from Mike:





While I am proud of the work we accomplished this year in General Assembly, and although I enjoyed working with some very good legislators serving on both sides of the aisle, I am also happy to report that this year’s General Assembly Session is behind us.  Thanks to Senator Colgan’s leadership and the sacrifice and dedication of Senator Blevins, we officially have a budget.  This decision has prevented a shutdown of state government, and it allows localities, schools, police, and public safety officials to plan accordingly.  I was proud to pass four bills and three budget amendments this year that may not save the world, but make positive steps forward in the areas of economic development, job creation, and education. 


To summarize, the bills and budget amendments I carried that survived are:


House Bill 581 - This bill clarifies the amount of revenue to which a tourism project is entitled, and will ensure that revenue generated in our region stays in our region.


House Bill 1144 – This bill exempts Habitat for Humanity and other similar nonprofits from certain licensure requirements to rehabilitate existing homes (previously, this exemption only applied for building new structures).  I am optimistic this bill will allow us to address some of the blight and abandoned property issues in our area and the Commonwealth.


House Bill 1177- This legislation modifies Virginia’s energy objectives to include a focus on domestic energy production, and will serve as a blueprint for Virginia’s energy policy to promote energy independence and mitigate fluctuations in energy prices.


House Joint Resolution 96- This resolution requests the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission change the current size limit to ensure that fishermen can keep fish they catch.  This resolution has the support of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, and will hopefully decrease flounder mortality in our region and help revive the charter boat industry.


Two budget amendments that survived were for construction projects at William and Mary.  One simply allows the College to use money they have already raised to create additional student housing.  The other provides matching state funds for rehabilitation of the second oldest building on campus to help bring it up to code.  The third budget amendment that survived provides vital upgrades to the Free Electron Laser at Jefferson Laboratory in Newport News to increase research and educational opportunities, and potentially create additional jobs in our community.


Thank you all for your interest and continual support throughout Session.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may ever be of assistance.  As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve.




Contact Me:


As always, we are here in Williamsburg 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:


(757) 345-6310


or via email at


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The budget passed through the Virginia Senate on Wednesday includes a $3 million amendment introduced by Mike for Jefferson Laboratory.  This budget amendment will be used for installation of equipment to upgrade the facility’s Free Electron Laser (FEL), and is the first step of many to improve the facility to better position Jefferson Laboratory to compete for a potential $1.5 billion future laboratory from the Department of Energy that could result in as many as 1400 new jobs for the Hampton Roads region. 


The Free Electron Laser Program at Jefferson Laboratory has met with significant success since it became operational.  The Commonwealth invested $5.0 million in the program in 1996, and it has since leveraged over $120 million in federal funding.  To date, the laboratory’s nuclear physics program has spawned more than $271 million in economic output and is responsible for 2200 jobs in Hampton Roads.  Currently, one third of all nuclear science Ph.D.s granted in the United States are based on research at Jefferson Laboratory, and funding upgrades to the Free Electron Laser will provide increased research opportunities, particularly among Virginia’s colleges and universities who use the facility. 





This past week, along with fellow freshmen Delegates Chris Head (R-Roanoke), David Ramadan (R-Loudoun), and Michael Webert (R-Fauquier) - all business owners employing Virginians – Mike established the Business Development Caucus with the mission of drafting legislation to promote entrepreneurship and job growth in the Commonwealth.   Delegates Joe May (R-Loudoun) and Terry Kilgore (R-Gate City) will serve in an advisory capacity to the Business Development Caucus, which carries the support and endorsement of both Governor McDonnell and Speaker of the House, Bill Howell. 


Though the Delegates differ in their respective business backgrounds - Mike in manufacturing technology, Head in healthcare, Ramadan in international franchising, and Webert in agriculture - they have encountered many of the same challenges, including infrastructure, employer mandates, and government regulation that inhibit job creation.


Immediately, the Caucus received offers of full support from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business and similar organizations, all of which stand willing to facilitate the Caucus' efforts.


The group’s post-session activities will include a series of business roundtable meetings in at least six regions around the Commonwealth to identify legislative priorities for the 2013 session.  All four of the Caucus's founders plan to attend each roundtable, accompanied by other Caucus members and representatives of Governor McDonnell’s office as he promotes his “Year of the Entrepreneur” initiative.  Ideas generated at these regional roundtables, once vetted, will serve as the basis for legislation which Caucus members will guide through the legislative process in the 2013 session.



Virginia Chamber Recognizes Mike Watson with Freshman Legislator of the Year Award and Champion of Free Enterprise Award


The Virginia Chamber of Commerce recognized Mike on Wednesday with The Freshman Legislator of the Year Award, which recognizes the newly elected legislators who display a passion for and an understanding of the issues facing Virginia’s business community during their first session.  Delegate Watson also received the Champion of Free Enterprise Award, which is given to legislators who earned a grade of A+ for their voting record on issues of interests to the business community.


Also on Wednesday, the Virginia Chamber released its 2012 Legislative Report Card. In addition to grading legislators based on their pro-business voting record, the Legislative Awards recognize legislators for their support on initiatives that will keep Virginia as the best state in the nation for business.





On Tuesday, Governor McDonnell signed Mike’s House Bill 1177 into law, along with twelve other pieces of energy legislation, to advance Virginia as the “Energy Capital of the East Coast”.


Virginia is currently the second largest importer of energy in the nation, trailing only California, and the United States Department of Energy projects that electricity demand will rise 24 percent by 2035.  House Bill 1177 passed both the House and the Senate with strong bipartisan support, and was introduced to expand Virginia’s existing energy policy to include a focus on Virginia-based energy and a focus on energy independence.  Increasing the emphasis on domestic energy is a necessary step to mitigate vulnerabilities in Virginia’s energy market as demand increases.





This past Wednesday, Governor McDonnell signed House Bill 1144 into law.  This bill was introduced by Mike and waives the licensure requirement for Habitat for Humanity and other non-profits meeting specific criteria to rehabilitate single-family dwellings.  Previously, this requirement was only waived for construction of new homes.


This bill will give non-profit organizations the opportunity, not only to build new homes, but also to work on homes that have been abandoned or suffer from structural integrity deficiencies.  Hopefully, this bill will help address blight and abandoned property concerns throughout Virginia.  Now that it has been signed by the Governor, it will take effect on July 1.


Golf Tournament


On June 7, we will be hosting a golf tournament at the Kiln Creek Country Club in Newport News.  The invitation may be found at  For questions, or to RSVP, please contact Barret Sowers at, or call (757) 645-5298.

Contact Delegate Watson

Phone: (804) 698-1093     Email:

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

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