Statement on Special Session

Statement on Special Session

June 18, 2019 | Press Release
Contact: 540-999-8218

Fauquier, VA – Today, Delegate Michael J. Webert released the following statement regarding the upcoming Special Legislative Session Called for by Governor Ralph Northam.

“Over the past two weeks, I have been asked to give multiple statements on the Virginia Beach shooting but declined out of respect for the families and individuals that lost their lives. Unfortunately, the Governor and my Democratic colleagues couldn’t resist the urge to push their political agenda and call for more meaningless gun control laws in the wake of this tragedy.”

“As you may have heard, the Governor has called a Special Session of the General Assembly to reconvene in July to promote the radical anti-gun agenda that he brought before us and failed to advance this past legislative session.”

“Let’s be clear: none of the proposed gun laws would have prevented this monster from killing these innocent individuals. The Governor and the Democrats have conveniently left out the fact that Virginia Beach already has gun laws on the books that should have, in theory, prevented this from happening.”

“One, suppressors are illegal in Virginia Beach. They are banned by local ordinance. Two, the shooting happened in a municipal building that was a ‘gun-free’ zone. Three, the shooter (whose name I refuse to publicize) went through a rigorous background process to obtain a suppressor for his weapons.”

“Additionally, the Virginia Beach Police have already stated there are no laws that could have prevented this tragedy.”

“Instead of engaging in kneejerk and emotional policy proposals that seek to undermine our Second Amendment rights and punish law-abiding citizens, I will continue to stand up for the rights of Virginians.”

“If the Governor is serious about addressing violence, he will reconsider the legislation he vetoed earlier this year that would keep repeat domestic abusers in jail for a longer period of time. He should also consider legislation that punishes violent offenders and ensures they stay incarcerated for their crimes, not released early.”

“I look forward to returning to Richmond in July to work on actual common-sense legislation that makes our Commonwealth and communities a safer place.”

Michael Webert is a Virginia farmer who represents the 18th district, an area that covers all of Rappahannock, and portions of Fauquier, Warren, and Culpeper counties in the Virginia House of Delegates. He is currently serving his third term in the legislature, and sits on the following committees: Militia, Police and Public Safety; Commerce and Labor; Counties, Cities, and Towns.

EDITORIAL: Preserving Culpeper’s heritage must be our priority

EDITORIAL: Preserving Culpeper’s heritage must be our priority


Ancestors of some who read this newspaper lived in Culpeper 156 years ago, and experienced firsthand the carnage of June 9, 1863.

Roughly 20,000 cavalrymen, both blue and gray, fought for their lives that day, slashing on horseback their brothers who served a different flag. More than a thousand died. All these decades later, many remain where they fell, buried in the rich green meadows of Culpeper County.

Coming as the anniversary of the Battle of Brandy Station does on the heels of Thursday’s 75th anniversary D-Day observance, sober thoughts bow our heads in gratitude for the grit of those who fought and in sorrow for the futility of war.

Explaining how he shuttled shells to the guns of the USS Texas as it bombarded Omaha Beach, longtime Culpeper resident Howard Mills shared his story in the June 6 Star-Exponent article, “Hometown hero recalls role in D-Day on 75th anniversary.”

This past week, the world watched—with ceremony, tears and fascination—as that era’s aircraft soared again over Normandy’s beaches and countryside, which the French and Americans have preserved to honor the history made and the lives lost as the Allies liberated France from the grip of Nazi Germany. (That’s All Brother, a Douglas C-47 that visited Culpeper in the weeks before the 75th anniversary, led the air fleet that flew past world leaders and D-Day veterans at Omaha Beach on #DDay75. Seventy-five years before, she led the 800-plus other Dakotas carrying paratroopers into Normandy for their night drop over enemy territory.)

June 6, 1944, was Howard Mills’ 19th birthday; when the Allies’ fleet appeared off Normandy’s coast that morning, his whole life lay ahead of him. That day became a defining moment for him and the world, one he says he still thinks about every day. This year, Mills marked his 94th birthday on D-Day’s anniversary.

So, too, was the Battle of Brandy Station a defining moment—not just for its horsemen, but for the American Civil War itself.

In today’s Star-Exponent, columnist Clark B. Hall highlights this fact in his piece, “Hamlet of Brandy Station saw start of fabled 1863 campaign.”

Hall notes that Col. Frederick Newhall, helping dedicate the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry Monument at Gettysburg in 1888, said, “While Gettysburg is generally thought of as a struggle which began on the 1st and ended on the 3rd day of July, 1863, the fact will someday be fully recognized that it had its beginning many miles from here … It was at Beverly Ford then that Gettysburg was inaugurated.”

Had Gen. Robert E. Lee’s plan for the Gettysburg Campaign succeeded, Washington, D.C., might have been captured, with Southern victory a clear possibility.

The Confederates’ retreat after defeat in Gettysburg—the war’s costliest battle—ended Lee’s final strategic offensives. After that point, all combat operations of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia were in reaction to Union initiatives, until Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox Court House in April 1865.

Hall, with the help of others, has worked for more than 30 years to preserve hundreds of acres of Culpeper’s Brandy Station battlefield, where the largest cavalry battle in the Western Hemisphere was waged.

Much of this land now belongs to the American Battlefield Trust, a national land-preservation nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. The trust, as well as an alliance of supporters—including the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors, Culpeper Town Council and state legislators such as Sens. Bryce Reeves and Emmett Hanger and Dels. Nick Freitas and Michael Webert—hope that Virginia will create a state park from the ground saved at Brandy Station and the nearby Cedar Mountain battlefield.

Mark Coombs, deputy director of government relations for the American Battlefield Trust, said the park initiative has come close to becoming a reality during the past two years, with a budget amendment approved by the Virginia Senate both years, but failing to win House approval before last winter’s legislative session ended.

More public support from people all across Virginia, and particularly from folks living in Culpeper County, is needed to make a state park a reality.

“We need people to become more active and engaged with the Brandy Station Foundation and Friends of the Cedar Mountain Battlefield,” Coombs told us. “Events are conducted year-round at both sites that aid in bringing attention to the battlefields and their resources and help from both an advocacy and stewardship perspective. These are the ideal vehicles through which people can assist, in multiple ways.”

Such a state park would be a blessing to the Culpeper region economically. But more importantly, the park will honor, commemorate and interpret our country’s biggest cavalry battlefield, and preserve for future generations the memory of those who lost their lives in the bloody struggle there.

End of Session Update

End of Session Update

Another General Assembly session is in the books! It has been busy two months, but I am proud of the work I along with my colleagues in the House of Delegates were able to accomplish.

House and Senate Overwhelmingly Approve $1 Billion Tax Relief Package

Good News! Not only will you be protected from the Democrats middle-class tax increase thanks to Republicans in the House and Senate, but come October you will also receive a rebate check in the mail. This is in addition to any tax refund you will be receiving here in the next few months. Tax relief for the middle class was a significant priority of House Republicans this year, and I am proud that we were able to pass this legislation this year.

The legislation will provide $420 million to Virginia taxpayers later this year, in the form of tax rebates of $110 for individual filers and $220 for married couples. It raises the standard deduction by fifty percent beginning in tax year 2019, the first such change for individual filers since 1989. The bill also maintains the current rules for state and local taxes (SALT) and includes key provisions for job-creating businesses.

In total, the legislation will guarantee at least $976 million in tax relief and ensure that all additional revenues from the permanent provisions of federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are placed in the state’s cash reserve fund. The legislation also conforms Virginia tax law to the federal law, ensuring Virginians will be able to file their state taxes without complications this May.

I am proud to have voted to support this legislation. You sent me to Richmond to fight for lower taxes and to put more money back in your pocket. It has been a very successful session in that regard. I strongly urge Governor Northam to sign this legislation next week.

House of Delegates passes responsible and balanced budget amendments

This week we passed amendments to the two-year budget on that eliminates all spending based on higher taxes proposed by Governor Northam and includes additional investments in public education, school safety, higher education, and economic development. During the budget debate, we saw a fundamental difference between House Republicans and House Democrats, they want to spend excess revenues in an attempt to increase the size of government, while we believe the money should be returned to the taxpayers,

 The budget also identifies $120 million in healthcare savings, strengthens taxpayer protections in the Medicaid forecasting process, eliminates unfunded liabilities and saves $729 million in state spending over the next quarter-century. The budget includes a record investment of nearly $19 million specifically for school safety. This budget doubles the funding for School Security Grant funding to $12 million and increases the award cap to $200,000 per grant application, increases funding for School Resource Officers by $3 million, and provides funding for school safety training at Virginia schools ($1.3 million) among other investments. The budget increases higher education funding by $54 million compared to the adopted budget and prioritizes higher education affordability by including $45 million to incentivize colleges and universities to hold tuition flat at 2019 levels. The budget also includes $5.2 million to increase Tuition Assistance Grant funding for students who attend Virginia’s private colleges and universities and provides $27.9 million to increase computer science degree production as part of the Tech Talent Pipeline Initiative.

This is a responsible budget that puts taxpayers first. We have also supported a tax plan that gives millions back to taxpayers. I hope our Democrat colleagues will realize you deserve to spend your own money, not government.

Completing work on the Budget

On Tuesday, we passed HB 1611, legislation to make it easier for middle-class students and families to afford college by lowering the price of Prepaid529 plans. The legislation will decrease the current cost of an eight-semester contract by more than $3,000.

Lowering the cost of college has long been a priority for Republicans in the House of Delegates. Virginia students borrow more than $1 billion per year to pay for college, a staggering burden that hurts our economy and makes it harder for young people to get started after college. This legislation will go a long way in helping middle-class students and families be able to afford a quality education at one of Virginia’s colleges or universities.

Currently, families pay a 10 percent “pricing reserve” on top of the semester contract prices. The pricing reserve is on top of the amount needed to pay future contract benefits and is used to mitigate risk to the fund. A June 2018 analysis by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC), found that Virginia’s Prepaid529 program is 138% funded and actuarially sound. This means that the program is more than capable of meeting all of its benefit commitments.

The legislation, introduced by Delegates Steve Landes and Tim Hugo, would cap the pricing reserve at five percent if the program is more than 105 percent funded, as it is currently. The program’s relatively high funded status and actuarial soundness prompted JLARC to recommend the General Assembly consider measures to improve program affordability. JLARC estimates that reducing the pricing reserve from 10% to 5% would lower the current cost of an 8-semester contract by more than $3,000.

This commonsense proposal will have a significant impact on families’ being able to keep more money in their pockets and attend college at a lower cost.

Update on My Bills

Throughout the legislative session, I’ve used these email updates to highlight several key pieces of legislation. Many of them passed both the House and Senate and are now awaiting action by the Governor.

In accordance with the Virginia Constitution, the Governor may either sign a bill into law, veto the bill, or send it back to the General Assembly with amendments.

  • HB 1939 – This bill requires that regulatory boards return excess revenues to individuals that they regulate and reduce licensing fees for those individuals.
    • Update: This bill passed the full House (97-1) and passed the Senate (36-2). This bill has been sent to the Governor for his signature.
  • HB 1950 – Provides that, for purposes of the retail sales and use tax exemption for nonprofit organizations, the exemption is available to a single member limited liability company whose sole member is a nonprofit organization.
    • Update: This bill has passed the full House (97-0) and passed the Senate (40-0). This bill has been signed by the Governor and goes into effect July 1, 2019.
  • HB 2272 – Limited liability companies; Protected Series Act. 
    • Update: This bill passed the full House (99-0) and passed the Senate (40-0). This bill has been sent to the Governor for his signature.
  • HB 2733 – Provides that, for purposes of the optional local personal property tax exemptions for motor vehicles, trucks, and tractors, the exemption shall apply if the vehicle is used primarily for agricultural purposes. Under current law, the exemption applies only if the vehicle is used exclusively for agricultural purposes.
    • Update: This bill passed unanimously out of the full House (99-0) and passed the Senate (40-0). This bill has been sent to the Governor for his signature.
  • HB 2811 – Adds to the duties of the Virginia Department of Health the duty of serving as a state certifying authority in determining conformity with state requirements for certain tax-exempt water pollution control projects. Under current law, the State Water Control Board is the only state certifying authority for water pollution projects. The bill contains an emergency clause.
    • Update: This bill passed the unanimously out of the full House (99-0) and passed the Senate (40-0). This bill has been sent to the Governor for his signature.
  • To view my complete legislative agenda, click this link:

A Better Bay, a Better Community

A Better Bay, a Better Community

During my time in the legislature, I have been an advocate for reasonable conservation of our natural resources and have continuously strived to ensure that we receive the necessary funding and legislative solutions to conservation issues.

The Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries are one of the most critical natural resources to the Commonwealth. Those of us in agriculture rely on the bay and mother nature to provide us with the means to deliver goods to an ever-growing population. We also understand the importance of implementing Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) and the practical and cost-effective results that these practices yield.

Over a decade ago I implemented SL6 stream fencing BMPs on my farm and continuously utilize cover crops to ensure soil health, erosion and sediment control.

I also serve on our local John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation Board as an associate director. The understanding of BMPs and utilization before I was elected gave me an appreciation for everything that they offer, which is why I have continuously fought for funding and was awarded the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Legislator of the year in 2015.

I am proud to say that in the current budget my colleagues and I secured $84 million for various programs to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay and especially our Ag BMP programs.

I am also proud of two pieces of my legislation that will help the Commonwealth reach our Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) goals that are included in the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan for the Commonwealth.

The first piece of legislation is HB 2637 which was signed into law on March 18th. This bill utilizes existing federal funding to provide lower cost financing opportunities for the construction and implementation of agricultural best management practices (BMPs) for agriculture operations across the Commonwealth.

Essentially, this bill states that the Virginia Water Facilities Revolving Fund may be used to assist both public and private borrowers for construction of facilities to implement agricultural BMPs to improve water quality.

The bill also states that a riparian forest buffer would be included among the list of loan eligible agricultural BMPs.

Working with Ann Jennings, the Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources, and David Paylor at the Department of Environmental Quality, we were able to pass this legislation unanimously through both houses, and it has been signed by the Governor

The second piece of legislation that I would like to mention, HB 2811, is a bill that will save Fauquier County hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Fauquier County has been in the process of building a new water treatment system – the Catlett-Calverton Waste Water Treatment System. During this process, it was discovered by the General Contractor that the State Water Control Board (SWCB) was the only authority that could certify the equipment to qualify for the tax-exemption for pollution control facilities.

Given that the SWCB was not the appropriate regulatory agency to certify that this pollution control equipment could qualify for the tax-exemption status, it was not able to certify the equipment with the Department of Tax.

To fix this, I requested unanimous consent from my colleagues in the House of Delegates to present this bill.

Our bill, HB 2811, added the Virginia Department of Health as a certifying authority in order to fix this hole in the code. The bill was passed unanimously with an emergency clause and signed by the Governor.

It has been an honor to represent the rich history of agriculture and conservation of the 18th District in Richmond. I am proud to have been able to carry legislation this year that will save taxpayers money, positively impact the Chesapeake Bay, and benefit the 18th District as a whole.

In Liberty,


Michael J. Webert
Delegate, 18th District