July 1, 2021 – New Laws Go Into Effect

July 1, 2021 – New Laws Go Into Effect

On July 1, legislation passed during the 2021 General Assembly session will become law, with some exceptions. This session, the Democratic majority passed a significant number of progressive policies, continuing last year’s sweeping changes. Below is a snapshot of some of the legislation going into effect.


In the 2020 session, Democrats focused on decreasing standards for voting, repealing the voter ID requirement and implementing same-day voter registration.

In the 2021 session, House Republicans proposed a number of common sense election reform bills to increase transparency, security, and public trust in elections. However, Democrats killed most of these bills and refused to acknowledge any possibility of election insecurity or public mistrust. Instead, they voted to make permanent the measures they said were only necessary for the duration of the pandemic, including drop boxes for ballots and the legalization of ballot harvesting.

Notable Legislation:

  • HB 2081 will ban any individuals other than law enforcement from possessing guns within 40 feet of polling places on Election Day.
  • SB 1331, passed unanimously, allows voters with a visual impairment or print disability to vote outside a polling place via accessible absentee voting.
  • HB 1888 requires the establishment of absentee ballot drop-off locations and central absentee voter precincts in each locality.
  • HB 2125 allows for the voter preregistration of persons 16 and older.

Jobs and the Economy:

In 2019 and under Republican leadership, Virginia was named the Best State for Business by CNBC, thanks to House Republicans’ efforts at lowering taxes, promoting a strong workforce, and protecting a business-friendly climate. Since 2019, Democrats have passed numerous tax increases and anti-business laws that have sunk Virginia’s status as a great state for business.

In the 2021 session, Democrats pushed through a $135 billion budget proposal with a 20% increase in spending. To pay for this, they implemented 16 new tax increases, including taxes on businesses and corporations, which are estimated to cost the average taxpayer around $500 a year. They also granted local governments the ability to impose over $500 million in new local taxes — costs that will be passed to citizens.

Notable Legislation:


  • HB 1786 applies Virginia’s minimum wage requirements to farm laborers and employees.
  • HB 2032 includes all employees providing domestic services in employee protection laws.
  • HB 2063 requires an employer to compensate employees at least one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate for any hours over 40 worked, by threat of civil and criminal penalties.
  • HB 2137 requires employers to provide paid sick-leave for home health workers.


  • The gas tax had not been raised for over 30 years, with Virginia formerly possessing one of the lowest gas taxes in the country. The tax is set to increase statewide by 10 cents over the next 2 years.
  • The cigarette tax doubled from 30 cents a pack to 60 cents a pack.


Democrats in the General Assembly pushed forward with their gun control agenda, passing legislation exceeding reasonable and effective limits and suppressing Second Amendment rights.

Republicans are committed to stopping gun violence and limiting weapons access to dangerous persons, but in a manner that both respects the Second Amendment and provides actual results. Instead of working towards evidence-driven solutions to violence, Democrats passed firearms legislation as a political statement, banning firearms anywhere near the Capitol — even for individuals walking alone at night — and granting school boards the authority to ban firearms in non-educational areas.

Notable Legislation:

  • HB 1909 permits school boards to declare any non-school zone buildings or other school property where employees work as gun-free zones.
  • SB 1381 makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to carry a firearm in the Capitol Building, within Capitol Square and the surrounding area, and any state-owned building or building where state employees regularly work.

Protecting Life:

The 2020 General Assembly saw Democrats push to abandon “safe, legal, and rare” abortions and roll back longstanding policies directed at ensuring informed and safe decisions about abortion. Kathy Tran’s 2019 bill allowing late-term abortions up to the moment of birth is a jarring example of how far Democrats are willing to take abortion.

This session, Democrats approved a bill allowing the state to fund abortion directly through state health insurance plans, repealing a longstanding ban against it.

Notable Legislation:

  • SB 1276 repeals the ban on abortion coverage by state health insurance plans, allowing for state-funded abortion.

Public Safety:

House Republicans have consistently backed bills to increase and maintain public safety. Governor Allen’s abolition of parole increased community safety and lowered crime and recidivism rates. Since taking control of the General Assembly, Democrats have expanded access to parole, targeted minimum sentencing requirements, and granted local prosecutors to dismiss any cases at whim.

Under Democratic control in 2020, Virginia’s homicide rate hit the highest levels in more than 2 decades, with localities large and small reporting increases. Instead of targeting crime reduction, Democrats focused on perceived racial injustice in sentencing and focused their efforts on ending important mandatory minimum sentences, abolishing the death penalty, increasing bail access for violent criminals.

Notable Legislation:

  • SB 1165 abolished the death penalty, including for mass murderers, terrorists, and those who kill law enforcement officers.
  • SB 1266 grants certain crimes — including assault, gang violence, and sex/human trafficking — a presumption for receiving bail and requires a judicial officer to consider all relevant information before denying bail.

K-12 Education

Opening our public schools for a 5-day option for parents and students has consistently been a top priority of House Republicans. Republicans have been pushing to reopen schools for in-person learning since the fall of 2020, yet Democrats insisted on kowtowing to teachers unions and remaining virtual until mounting political pressure forced their reopening.

This session, the Assembly passed a bipartisan bill requiring all schools to offer full-time, in-person instruction. However, pressure from teachers unions caused Democrats to block the bill’s emergency clause, a provision proposed by Republicans that would have made the bill go into effect immediately. The version Democrats passed didn’t go into effect until now, July 1 — long after the school year is over. The Republican version with the emergency clause would have gone into effect February/early March, providing actual relief and saving months of learning loss.

This past session and next, Republicans are committed to combating learning loss and the residual effects of pandemic isolation, including increased rates of depression and school dropouts.

Notable Legislation:

  • HB 1904 requires all school teachers and officials to complete cultural competency training every 2 years, as directed by the Board of Education, or risk revocation of their teaching license.
  • SB 1303 requires all school divisions to offer full-time, in-person instruction.


House Republicans have always been strong proponents of keeping energy prices low for residents and businesses. As public opinion has shifted to favor more sources of renewable energy, House Republicans have worked to promote market-based and realistic methods of diversifying Virginia energy, incorporating newer renewable sources without immediately cutting off reliable energy sources such as natural gas.

In 2020, House Democrats passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act, one of the most radical pieces of energy legislation enacted in the United States. With the goal of reducing carbon emissions to zero by 2045, VCEA aims to eliminate the fossil fuel industry entirely and pushes this burden on taxpayers. In doing so, VCEA eliminated all oversight from the State Corporation Commission (SCC), a historic watchdog for upholding “just and reasonable” electricity rates. The SCC estimates that consumers’ electric bills will increase on average by $800 a year.

During Republican control of the General Assembly, Virginia had some of the lowest electricity rates nationwide. Rapid energy reform by House Democrats is causing customer bills to soar.

Notable Legislation:

  • HB 1965 directs the State Air Pollution Control Board to implement a low-emissions and zero-emissions vehicle program for motor vehicles starting in 2025.
  • HB 1925  establishes the Virginia Brownfield and Coal Mine Renewable Energy Grant Fund and Program.
  • HB 2001 mandates all state and local government buildings to add electric vehicle charging materials and to add tracking technology to monitor energy efficiency and carbon emissions. Local governments are given the authority to enact even stricter requirements. 
  • SB 1265 makes it easier for the DEQ to conduct inspections and issue and stop-work orders during gas pipeline construction.

Statement on HB 1786

Statement on HB 1786

On February 2nd, House Bill 1786 passed through the Virginia House of Delegates by a party-line vote. This bill is the Democrats’ attempt to fix non-existent problems related to things they simply do not understand. This is common in the General Assembly these days; Democrats find phantom problems and step down from their golden pedestals to “help” those who never asked for it or needed it.

As is always true in regard to minimum wage laws, House Bill 1786 assumes the large-scale business is the standard, takes in obscene profit, and treats its employees unfairly. All of these premises are untrue and are particularly untrue when it comes to the agriculture industry here in Virginia.

The average farm in Virginia is only 181 acres. This is not an industrial Monsanto super-farm taking in profit hand over fist; it is the prized possession of a Virginia family just like mine. Perhaps the family is financially stable, but more than likely they cannot say much more than that. Regulating the wages of farmhands who work on farms like these, without even considering any informal benefits of the job, will destroy many farmers, their families, and their farmhands’ livelihoods.

The merit of upholding tradition carries an emotional significance that I do not expect my more metropolitan colleagues in the House of Delegates to understand. Helping out on a farm as a kid is an American tradition that is older than the nation itself. After House Bill 1786 becomes law, Virginians will be barred from following in the footsteps of their forefathers. Again, I do not expect those who grew up outside of these traditions to understand. However, I ought to be able to expect those who do not understand these things to leave them alone.

Elected Officials are Not Above the Law

Elected Officials are Not Above the Law

Statement on FOIA Violations by Speaker Filler-Corn

A few weeks ago, I posted about how the Speaker of the House paid over $80,000 to have statues removed from the Capitol – in the middle of the night – without notifying the public.

In an attempt to get this more information about the removal of these statues, a private citizen filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Speaker’s office to obtain more details.

The Speaker ignored this request. She lied to Mr. Webster and said the documents she was seeking didn’t exist.

This prompted Mr. Webster to take the matter to court. In court, the judge ruled that there were, in fact, documents related to the removal of the Confederate statues and fined the Speaker.

The court document specifically says, “The Defendant’s response was intended to be interpreted by a reasonable person that the documents do not exist, which would lead a reasonable person to stop inquiring. That deliberate attempt to obstruct the fact-finding mission of the Plaintiff is grounds for an award of attorney fees and an imposition of a civil penalty against the Speaker pursuant to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.”

FOIA is sacred. It is one of the ways citizens are able to keep their elected officials and government bodies accountable and transparent. A public apology from the Speaker’s office is deserved.

We should be scared if our leaders at the top are ignoring our laws that are meant to keep the government accountable and transparent to the people they represent.

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.

You can read the court opinion here: https://www.wric.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/74/2020/10/Motion-to-Award-Attorney-Fees-Webster.pdf

Give Our Communities a Chance to Stay in the Game

Give Our Communities a Chance to Stay in the Game

By Coach Mark James

As a Coach, it challenges me to see someone in authority command a player on the field to do something they don’t have the capability to do. A good coach knows you only ask what you know the player has the means to achieve. Otherwise, you set your team up for failure. Coaches that ask their players to achieve things they are not capable of show how out of touch they are with the players they’re serving. So it sickens me that this is what many school districts are doing to parents across Virginia.

Too many school districts are denying parents any in-person education – and the “coaching” they’re giving these parents is, “you can educate them at home.” This may be possible for a wealthy, middle-class family that has a 2,500 square foot home, multiple living spaces, and quality internet and technologies. But that’s not what Virginians in the communities I serve – like Gilpen Court in Richmond – are working with.

For the mom working a full-time job, living in a home with less than 800 square feet with multiple kids, how, exactly does the school district expect her to afford taking time off from work to get adequate space and technology to have an effective learning experience in the home? This is why this mom has taxes taken out of her paycheck – but now she’s being robbed of the education she has paid for her children to receive.  If school districts are not going to fulfill their duties, parents should be entitled to their share of education dollars so they can carry out the duty themselves.

The demands these school districts are placing on parents who rely on public education to provide their child with an effective learning environment is completely inconsistent with the capabilities of Virginians who rely on public education. I’ve talked to moms, and the message is, “I can’t do what they’re demanding.”

Nationwide polling found that only 50 percent of parents had a good experience with distance learning in the spring. Parents polled reported spending an average of 10.2 hours a week supporting their child’s education and spent about $200 on school supplies.  This is not good enough for any family, especially the family living in small quarters with limited technology and internet access.  If these numbers were applied to coaching, it would be unacceptable.  School districts need to answer the call of their customers: the parents, the students, and community which they serve.     

Parents are have been abandoned on the field. They lack the equipment and tools they need to bring their kids a win. I’m calling on the members of the General Assembly to support HB 5011. This bill will grant parents a voucher to find an alternative in-person education option when their public school district has left them with no other choice.

Children and families cannot wait. Heart + Mind Strategies polling from June found that 40 percent of parents now believe their children are behind academically.  That number will only continue to grow if parents are left without the resources and tools necessary to educate at home to combat and correct this learning loss.

This is policy, not politics as usual. What undermines a child’s education is when you demand parents who work full-time and live in very confined spaces with bad internet to do the job they don’t have the resources to do! We need to come together to help these parents and their kids by passing HB 5011.

Coach James is a dedicated leadership professional with 20 years of experience working with and coaching students. He is the founder of The Urban Trauma Healing Institute and concentrates on addressing the critical needs in education by exposing the pain caused by systematic thinking.

Delegate Webert Makes Statement on Introduction of Education Equality Act

Delegate Webert Makes Statement on Introduction of Education Equality Act

Fauquier, VA – Today, Delegate Michael J. Webert announced that he introduced the Education Equality Act, HB 5011, for the upcoming 2020 special session that is slated to start next Tuesday, August 18, 2020.    

“It is fundamentally wrong for the state to withhold our taxpayer money while not adequately meeting the needs of all students across the Commonwealth.  

The Virginia Constitution is clear, ‘The General Assembly shall provide for a system of free public elementary and secondary schools for all children of school age throughout the Commonwealth, and shall seek to ensure that an educational program of high quality is established and continually maintained.’ Article 8, Section 1, is clear on what is expected of the state when it comes to public education. 

We have faced significant challenges over the past few months with the public school system, and how we will educate our children this coming Fall. Most of us were expecting a return to a new normal, but with in-classroom instruction for our children.  

That turned out not to be the case. 

Many localities have opted for a virtual-only option for their schools. While I understand what they are trying to accomplish, a one-size-fits-all approach is not a practical solution for all families. Parents must have the opportunity to educate their children.  

This is why I introduced HB 5011, the Education Equality Act. This bill will provide parents with the ability to choose how they educate their children and provide them with an education voucher that they can use to cover the expenses of in-person instruction. This would allow any parent to receive state funds that were previously appropriated for public school purposes.   

To put it in the most simple terms, this bill gives parents the opportunity to choose, with their taxpayer money, how their children will be educated.   

Our family is just like yours. We have two kids in public school, and my wife and I are both working parents. We, too, are struggling with the difficult decisions surrounding the best way to educate our children.

This bill is not a magic bullet for our current situation. However, it does allow for a degree of flexibility that parents have been begging for over the past few months. It is time to allow us to choose which path is best for our children, not the government.  

To echo the words of Minority Leader Gilbert, children of all backgrounds and socioeconomic status will fall behind during this period of distance learning. We need to level the playing field, give options to the parents, and ensure our children receive the educational tools they need.”   

Northam’s Threats Must End

Northam’s Threats Must End

Our businesses across the Commonwealth have been destroyed by the Governor’s response to the COVID-19 virus. Many have had to shut their doors forever, and even more are struggling to survive in this current environment.

What has our Governor’s response been to this? Burdensome rules that have prevented our businesses from reopening. Delayed assistance to out of work Virginians.

While people can riot in the streets, tear down statues, and destroy personal property without fear of punishment, the Governor has a message for business owners: you better enforce the damn mask mandate. If you don’t, we will pull your business license.

Earlier this week, Governor Northam said as much at his weekly press conference, “If you own a restaurant or business, and you’re not following the regulations, your license will be on the line, and we will not hesitate to take action.”

As if times weren’t hard enough, the Governor is now threatening businesses to confront customers about his unconstitutional mandates or face the consequences of the big-government bureaucracy.

This is disgusting.

Also, didn’t we just have a national conversation about over-policing? Is putting business owners at odds with customers over wearing a mask and then threatening to call the cops really what we want?

Instead of sending enforcement officers to do random spot checks at businesses, the Governor should concern himself with the 900,000 plus Virginians who are out of work and facing extremely long wait times before hearing from the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC).

My office is currently working with the Division of Legislative Services to draft a bill limiting the power and time frame of the Governor’s executive orders. The time of ruling by press conference must come to an end.

Statement on Executive Order 63

Statement on Executive Order 63

Fauquier, VA – Today, Delegate Michael J. Webert made the following statement about Governor Ralph Northam’s most recent Executive Order.

“We are a Republic, not a Dictatorship.”

“Indefinite Executive Orders are not the way to govern our Commonwealth, and the Governor has made a mockery of what it means to govern.”

“The Governor needs to call the General Assembly back into session. The elected representatives of the people deserve to be heard. Ruling the state by way of executive decree has resulted in terrible policy decisions that have irreparably harmed our great Commonwealth.”

“I don’t mind being governed, but I will not be ruled.”

Reopen the Commonwealth

Reopen the Commonwealth

Fauquier, VA – Today, Delegate Michael J. Webert released the following statement regarding the reopening of Virginia. 

“Virginians have waited patiently over the past few weeks for the Governor and his administration to reevaluate the decisions that have been made with regard to their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is clear that this one size fits all approach is not working.”

“The Northam administration has been falling behind in testing, and we rank very low in comparison to other states. In order to open up and still protect our vulnerable citizens, the Northam Administration needs to ramp up testing and work to protect the elderly in long term care facilities. This is where the vast majority of the cases and deaths have occurred.”  

“The economic destruction that has taken place in our state over the past month is beyond devastating. Nearly half a million Virginians have lost their jobs as a result of the shutdown, and the arbitrary definition of essential versus non-essential businesses is disingenuous at best.”

“I will not continue to sit back quietly while the Governor deems ABC stores and abortion clinics as essential while shutting down campgrounds, fitness centers, and a whole host of other businesses.”

“People are struggling to pay their mortgages, parents are having to put off ‘non-essential’ surgeries for their children, businesses with the ability to allow safe social distancing are not being allowed to operate, and the list goes on.”

“There are several industries that possess the technology to operate safely and effectively. The Northam administration needs to listen to the owners of these businesses and allow them to operate while also protecting public health.” 

“Some of our local healthcare systems have been functioning at below optimum levels and furloughed workers. This puts the health of our citizens in jeopardy as many preventive measures have gone by the wayside.”

“It is time for the government to stop picking winners and losers during this epidemic and place all businesses on the same, level playing field.”

“People across the Commonwealth and this nation want to get back to work.”

“It is time to reopen Virginia. Lives depend on it.”

Coronavirus Update

Coronavirus Update

As you no doubt have seen, there’s a great deal of concern in our community regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus), the respiratory illness that began in Wuhan, China and has now spread around the world. The Governor has issued a state of emergency for our Commonwealth and laid out additional steps Virginia is taking to limit the spread of the virus.

Currently, there are 17 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Virginia. Many colleges and universities have extended spring break, canceled in-person classes, and are switching to online instruction indefinitely.

In the meantime, there are a few common-sense steps to help keep you and your family safe and slow the spread of the virus:

If you are sick, stay home.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.

• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not hands) when coughing or sneezing.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

• Avoid contact with sick people as much as possible.

• Avoid non-essential travel.

• CDC does not recommend that people who are well wearing a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility).

• Stay up to date with the latest information. Visit www.VDH.virginia.gov/coronavirus.

My office is monitoring the situation in Virginia closely and will keep you advised as we learn more. In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to my office at [email protected].

Anti-Corruption Legislation Passes Virginia House and Senate

Anti-Corruption Legislation Passes Virginia House and Senate

Richmond, VA – Today, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) and Delegate Michael Webert (R-Fauquier) announced their legislation to improve accountability, transparency, and oversight within the Warren County Economic Development Authority has passed the House and Senate.

“Transparency is a must for good governance,” Webert said, “and with these bills, House Bills 1527 & 1528, we will begin to restore the public faith in these institutions. These bills are a commonsense starting point for ensuring that these officials have a comprehensive understanding of the State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act and the Freedom of Information Act. In addition, this will require these members to file a Statement of Economic Interest annually. No more operating in the shadows. It’s time for some light and transparency.”

Also speaking to the legislation, Senator Mark Obenshain said, “These bills requiring EDA directors and members to take ethics training and submit an SOEI is a step in the right direction in ensuring government transparency and accountability. We want to do our best to try and prevent what we saw in Warren County from happening again – these bills attempt to do that. Our EDA’s solve complex solutions and bring crucial economic initiatives to our districts. The work they do are much needed shots in the arm to our communities’ economies. The citizens deserve our trust and confidence and these bills help ensure they will have it.”

In short, the Senate and House Bills do the following. They require the executive director and members of each industrial development authority and economic development authority to take training on the provisions of the State and Local Government Conflict of Interests Act (COIA) and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) at least once every two years. The bills also require these members to file a Statement of Economic Interests (SOEI) with the clerk of the local governing body as a condition to assuming office and thereafter annually on or before February 1. These provisions will ensure that there is more oversight and more transparency within these boards.