AS a Virginia senator, I have the incredible honor of serving over 200,000 constituents. During my time in the General Assembly, I have worked across the aisle to deliver meaningful legislation to better the lives of my fellow citizens because delivering results—regardless of partisan rhetoric—has always been my track record.
In total, I have carried 192 bills—94 of which have been signed into law. And in true bipartisan fashion, 69 bills that I introduced were signed into law by a Democratic governor.
But despite my efforts to continually work across party lines, it has become more difficult to do so in the last two years.
Health care has been an increasingly important topic for my constituents and for all Virginians. I’ve had thousands of citizens contact me regarding the affordability of their health insurance.
Just last year, Albemarle County made headlines when it had its health insurance rates skyrocket by almost 300 percent. Charlottesville was noted to have the highest premiums in the entire U.S. In my eyes, Obamacare was failing, and I had to do something about it.
During the 2018 session of the General Assembly, I introduced health care legislation that would allow individuals to purchase short-term health insurance. Short-term plans are affordable health insurance options for those who need a bridge between other kinds of coverage or were priced out of the Obamacare market.
Short-term plans help:
Individuals who are between jobs or waiting for employer coverage;
Individuals transitioning out of welfare;
Young adults leaving their parent’s plans; and
Retirees not eligible for Medicare.
Short-term policies offer 50 to 80 percent lower premiums than individual market plans. My legislation was aimed at providing more options and solutions to constituents in dire need of help.
Regretfully, Gov. Ralph Northam decided to play politics instead.
My bill, SB 844, passed the state Senate unanimously with 40 votes. Every single Senate Democrat voted in favor of this common-sense legislation, yet Gov. Northam vetoed it.
In 2019, I decided to carry the same legislation and a companion bill, hoping Gov. Northam would put politics aside and come to his senses. Again, Senate Bill 1240 passed the Senate floor with 40 votes. The bill went to the governor’s desk and again, he vetoed it.
However, this year the Senate had the opportunity to override the veto with a two-thirds vote.
In partisan fashion, every single Democrat voted to kill my health care legislation. These same Democrats who voted to pass my legislation two years in a row decided this time that it’s more important to play games than give a Republican the chance to pass common-sense health care legislation.
Just last month, Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw wrote an op-ed celebrating the fact that Gov. Northam vetoed a bunch of Republican bills: “I am also pleased 34 bills put forth by Republican majorities in both the Senate and the House were vetoed,” he wrote on July 9.
Well, one of these 34 bills that Gov. Northam vetoed was the same one that the minority leader voted in favor of two years in a row.
Each year, I take time away from my family and my business to introduce and pass legislation that has a positive impact on my constituents and all those throughout the commonwealth. For those 45 or 60 days I’m in Richmond, I am laser-focused on producing results.
However, it seems my colleagues across the aisle chose to use the time to create political talking points—all aimed at regaining control of the Virginia House and Senate.
Virginians deserve better.