September Update

Dear Friend,

As fall season activities get underway, I would like to provide you with a brief summary of recent events at the Capitol.

A special legislative session called by the Governor convened on Monday, August 17th to address the issue of court-ordered Congressional redistricting. The courts previously ruled that the 3rd Congressional District boundary lines were unconstitutional and assigned the legislature a September 1, 2015 deadline to redraw the districts and make them compliant with the law. Once the legislature reconvened, there was a controversy concerning the election of judges to the Supreme Court. Finally, the Senate voted to adjourn the special session on a 21-20 vote with Lt. Governor Northam breaking the tie. With the adjournment, completion of redistricting by the legislature was not possible by the September 1 deadline. This meant that the boundary lines of Virginia’s Congressional districts will now be redrawn by the courts, who have sinceappointed an outside panel to review the district lines. I appreciate hearing from many constituents about the important issue of redistricting. I will continue to advocate for nonpartisan redistricting, which is the way to avoid these kinds of problems. 

The deadline to register to vote for the November 3 election is October 13, 2015. If you are not yet registered, you can register here, at the Richmond Registrar's office located at 900 East Broad Street or at the Chesterfield Registrar's office located at 9848 Lori Road, 23832. Please call my office if you have any questions. 

Additionally, as the 2016 Legislative Session approaches, I encourage interested 13 and 14-year olds to consider applying to be a House of Delegates Page. Serving as a House Page is a wonderful opportunity that allows young people to learn first hand how our state government works. The application deadline is October 19, 2015. A recommendation letter from a member of the House of Delegates is required. Please contact my office at 804-698-1069 if you have questions. 

As of July 1, new laws have taken effect in our Commonwealth. House Bill 1500, which I introduced to combat the number of drug overdoses in our Commonwealth went into effect. This law, written to save lives, encourages individuals to call 9-1-1 if they or a loved one is experiencing an overdose. The reporter of the overdose will not be penalized if he or she stays at the scene, identifies him/herself, and cooperates with law enforcement. This important change can save lives.

There are also new transportation related laws. When passing a stopped trash collection truck, the driver must slow to 10 mph below the posted speed and move 2 feet to the left of the vehicle. Additionally, law enforcement officials will now be required to obtain a search warrant if they wish to use an unmanned aircraft.

Legislation allowing for a taxpayer to receive a tax refund by check went into effect. I supported this legislation and introduced bills on this subject in previous legislative sessions. 

House Bill 1499 states a woman may now breastfeed in a public place where she is lawfully present. A large community effort surrounding this initiative, as well as more information about the law and rights of breastfeeding women, can be found at RVA Breastfeeds.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I recently attended a Joint Meeting of the House Appropriations, House Finance and Senate Finance Committees. Governor McAuliffe and Secretary of Finance Ric Brown addressed the meeting regarding the status of Virginia’s economy and budget priorities for the 2016 Legislative Session. The Governor indicates that his upcoming budget proposal will include an emphasis on public education and building a New Virginia Economy that addresses the effects of federal sequestration.

The Commonwealth of Virginia recorded a $549.6 million revenue surplus for Fiscal Year 2015, driven largely by a resurgence in individual income tax collections and sales tax collections. However, the surplus money is already obligated by law meaning that it cannot be spent on legislative initiatives. The Commonwealth must make a payment to the Revenue Stabilization Fund (also known as the Rainy Day Fund) after borrowing from the fund last year to combat a shortfall. A payment to the Water Quality Initiative Fund is also required by Virginia law.

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency released its Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants and shift focus to renewable resources. I appreciate hearing from many constituents on this subject and support the Clean Power Plan as well.

There have been renewed efforts for gun safety since two journalists were murdered on live television at Smith Mountain Lake. Alison Parker and Adam Ward were loved by family, friends and coworkers. Subsequently, Governor McAuliffe has recently spoken out regarding expanding universal background checks for the purchase of firearms, legislation which I support.

Beginning September 19, the UCI Road World Cycling Championships will be coming to Richmond. This exciting event will be broadcast on international television and 67 different countries will be sending their top athletes to compete on the championship course in Richmond. This is the first time that the championships will be held in the United States since 1986, this world-class event is expected to attract more than 300,000 spectators. The race course will impact traffic flow in the downtown area. To learn more information about the bike race, opportunities to be involved and information regarding traffic, detours and road conditions, you can visit the UCI Road World Cycling Championships website.

Last month, The Virginia World War I Centennial Committee met at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library in Staunton. The committee heard about various commemorative efforts around the state as well as important education initiatives concerning "the Great War", 1914-1918, as it was known at the time. The Carillon, located in Byrd Park at the south end of the Boulevard, is the official Virginia memorial to World War I. Virginia played an important role in nation's fight to help make democracy safe in the world. 

Heading into the fall and winter seasons, there are many upcoming opportunities to volunteer in our community. September 11 through October 12 has been designated as a “Day to Serve.” Governor McAuliffe and the First Lady are encouraging Virginians to participate and make 2015 the best year for volunteerism in the Commonwealth. You can find out more information about “Day to Serve” here.

HandsOn Greater Richmond is also hosting their annual HandsOn Day of Service on Saturday, October 17th. This is one of the biggest days of service in the Richmond area with over 1,000 volunteers contributing their time and effort to beautifying and enriching our community. To find a volunteer opportunity that suits you, visit HandsOn Greater Richmond. 

Thank you for the honor of serving you in the General Assembly. Please continue to contact me for any legislative or constituent concerns, at 804-698-1069 (my office) or I look forward to hearing from you. 


Betsy B. Carr

June Update

Dear Friend,
Tuesday, June 9 is an election day. Please remember to exercise your important right as a citizen and vote in this primary. All state senators and delegates are up for election in November. In preparation, several precincts of the 69th district will be voting for their senators in the Tuesday primary; all precincts will be voting in the House of Delegates race.  You can find out who is on your ballot here. Polls are open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
In-person absentee voting can be accomplished through Saturday, June 6 at the Office of the General Registrar, 900 E. Broad St., Room 105. For Chesterfield residents, the Office of the General Registrar is located at 9848 Lori Road in Court Square. If you would like any additional information from my campaign office, please call us at 804-767-7530 or e-mail at
Elections matter; every vote is important. The General Assembly passes laws that effect our lives every day.
It is my privilege to serve you and provide you with a legislative update.
The General Assembly reconvened April 15th to consider the Governor’s vetoes and amendments to legislation that passed during the Session, which ended in late February.
The governor vetoed 17 bills and those vetoes were sustained by the General Assembly so those bills will not become law. You can read more about each of the vetoes and amendments here.
While the Governor was successful in upholding his vetoes, several of his amendments were more controversial. In a bipartisan effort, the General Assembly rejected the Governor’s amendments relating to law enforcement’s use of drones to collect information on citizens without a warrant. Other amendments relating to law enforcement’s use of license plate readers (LPR) elicited bipartisan concern. The Governor proposed allowing law enforcement to keep information obtained from LPRs for 60 days, while the General Assembly fought to shorten the timeframe to seven days. While it is important to provide law enforcement officials with the tools that they need to ensure public safety, I support limiting the use license plate readers and protecting Virginians’ right to privacy in our technological 21st century world. Ultimately, the Governor vetoed the legislation limiting law enforcement’s use of license plate readers for data collection, which means that the current law that only allows data pertinent to a criminal investigation to be retained without any specifications regarding the timeframe or other boundaries remains the law.

Additionally, during the April session, the General Assembly was tasked with settling the ethics reform bill. With unanimous votes in both Houses, the General Assembly passed the ethics bill applying to state and local officials. It will go into effect on January 1, 2016. The Governor’s top priority amendment was accepted, which adds an annual aggregate $100 cap on gifts to state and local officials from people seeking to influence the government.

Unfortunately, the Governor’s amendment to close the loophole that would allow legislators to accept free travel to ALEC conferences without disclosure or other limits was rejected by the General Assembly.

Since the General Assembly concluded on April 17th, I have been engaged in the community at civic meetings and events as well as with continuing General Assembly business. I was appointed to two commissions: the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules and the Housing Commission. I look forward to working as a member of these commissions and to representing the 69th district in these groups.
The House Appropriations Committee is instrumental in the General Assembly’s most important work: deciding how to spend taxpayer dollars. I was pleased and honored to be appointed to that committee. On our recent House Appropriations Capital Outlay tour we visited several educational, health, and recreational facilities, which serve Virginians andreceive state funds. Over four days we saw Christopher Newport University, Old Dominion University, Eastern Virginia Medical School, the Port of Virginia, Virginia State University, Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation, Longwood College, the Carilion Research Center/Virginia Tech, Virginia Military Institute, Western State Hospital, the Frontier Culture Museum University of Virginia, Lake Anna State Park and University of Mary Washington. Along the way, we heard additional presentations from the College of William and Mary, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Norfolk State University, Virginia Tech, James Madison University, and the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
This was the first such Appropriations Committee tour in a number of years. The information we learned will be extremely helpful as we make decisions about spending priorities to best benefit citizens of the Commonwealth for the immediate and long-range future.

Thank you for the honor of serving you in the General Assembly. I look forward to hearing from you and continuing to work for you. My door is always open. For any legislative or constituent concerns, you can contact my legislative office at 804-698-1069 or


Betsy B. Carr

End of Session Update

Dear Friend,

It is a privilege to serve you and to provide a brief summary from our recent General Assembly Session, which ended February 27.
The countless calls, e-mails, and letters received from constituents and supporters, like you, throughout session are always greatly appreciated. Hearing your concerns and information is very important because it helps me to best represent you and the 69th district.
Each year, the vote on the budget is the most important one cast by legislators because it demonstrates the spending priorities for our Commonwealth. This year House Bill 1400 amends the state’s budget for the second portion of a two-year cycle. The $35 billion represents general fund dollars, taxpayer money that is allocated largely to education, health, and public safety. It provides much needed pay raises for state workers, teachers, and state police and maintains level funding to K-12 public education.
The budget increases teacher retirement funds by $190 million and provides a significant payment for the Rainy Day Fund to anticipate future shortfalls. It invests in expanded health care and increases TANF benefits for families. There is money to fund school breakfast pilot programs at elementary schools where free and reduced lunch eligibility exceeds 45%. There is more money in the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to help recruit more companies to Virginia.
Although Medicaid expansion was not included in this budget, along with other worthy investments, I voted for it because it includes important items that should be adequately funded this year. The budget was ready a record two-days early, before the vote occurred, allowing time for adequate examination. As a final product, it represents much time and hard work from finance leaders in House and Senate as well as important priorities of Governor McAuliffe.
Now the Governor will review the budget bill and offer any amendments at the Reconvene session of the General Assembly on April 15th.
Concerning my own legislative efforts, I introduced legislation for the second year aimed at reducing the number of drug and alcohol-related overdose deaths in our Commonwealth. HB 1500 encourages individuals to contact 9-1-1 or emergency medical services in the event that they or a loved one is experiencing a drug overdose. When I introduced this bill in 2014, it failed to pass subcommittee. After receiving substantial feedback from the Courts of Justice subcommittee, I worked over the past year with many stakeholders, such as public health officials, physicians, law enforcement, Commonwealth Attorneys, the Attorney General’s Office, community members, and the ACLU, to develop legislation that addresses everyone’s concerns. The bill passed both houses and will become law. Hopefully, it will increase calls to 9-1-1, save lives, and decrease overdose-related deaths.
For the past three years, due to numerous constituents, certified public accountants, and other concerned citizens, I have introduced legislation to allow the default method of payment for individual income tax refunds to be by check rather than by deposit or debit card. This year, my legislation,HB1346, was incorporated into Delegate Ware’s successful HB1286, which will become law. The passed bill will allow for an individual to select payment to be made by check, direct deposit, or debit card.
Continuing with a priority of ensuring that our Fourth Amendment right is secure in the 21st century, I introduced HB1348, which became a part of Delegate Marshall’s HB1408 and will become law. This bill requires law enforcement to obtain a warrant in order to intercept or obtain information from telecommunications, such as cellphones, or in order to access a person’s real-time locational data. Colloquially, this is referred to as “stingray” or “cell site simulators” or “ISMI catchers.”
“Stingrays” are often used to combat crime by tracking down suspected criminals. However, when utilized, the data of nearby bystanders is collected too. In order to protect our right to privacy, transparency and reform should be incorporated as technology evolves.
At the recommendation of a constituent, I introduced a successful bill,HB1345, which expands the list of items eligible for exemption during the Energy Star and WaterSense Sale Tax Holiday. Under current law, only fluorescent light bulbs are exempt; however, this bill updates the Code in keeping up with current technology by allowing both compact fluorescent (CFLs) and light emitting diode (LED) light bulbs that meet the Energy Star program requirements.
The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in the United States. Commemorating how far our country and Commonwealth has come in terms of equal rights and opportunities for all people is important. Many younger citizens are unfamiliar with the hard work and sacrifices that took place to ensure that women would be allowed to cast their vote in public elections. HB2281 would have established the Commission for the Commemoration of the Centennial of Women's Right to Vote. It enjoyed the support of the League of Women Voters, many community groups, and Virginia history academicians.
While the bill successfully passed the House, it ultimately failed to become law due to a last minute deal brokered between Senate and House Rules committee leaders. It was agreed that two of three bills related to commission in conference would pass, but unfortunately, my  bill was not one of the two chosen. I will re-introduce the bill again next year, hopefully, with a successful outcome. Since it took 41 years for the 19th Amendment to pass originally, it may not be surprising that this commemorating bill may take two years to pass.

Other legislation that I introduced but was not passed by the General Assembly related to non-partisan redistricting (HJ624 and HJ706), codifying the restoration of rights process (HJ604), supporting productive reentry after someone has paid their debt to society (HB1680), and creating a model policy for the use of body cameras on law enforcement (HB2280). These issues are important as they embody principles of fairness, transparency, and equal opportunities for all people.

Other legislation I sponsored and co-sponsored is listed here.
During this session, among several key issues addressed were ethics reform, Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) reform, transportation funding, and campus sexual assaults.
Ethics reform legislation (HB2070) imposes an annual $100 cap on gifts, which includes travel, entertainment, sports outings, and dining. An ethics advisory panel is created to oversee mandatory disclosures of legislators and address questions or issues that officials may have in terms of appropriate actions. The panel does not have the authority to investigate or enforce. All disclosures will be filed electronically to insure transparency.
The General Assembly passed legislation (SB1032 & HB1776) to turn the ABC Board into an independent authority beginning on July 1, 2018 to allow time for the transition. The new authority will be required to submit a six-year operating plan as well as annual accounting and proposed procurement and personnel policies to the Governor and General Assembly.  The General Assembly will also continue to use the profits generated from ABC to support the general fund budget.
During the 2013 legislative session, the General Assembly passed significant reforms for our transportation system and funding mechanisms. This year, due to inadequate funding streams, a transportation omnibus bill (HB1887) was passed to address the budgetary holes in the transit capital funding. This bill would allot $40 million annually from highways and freight rail to transit and would change the way that VDOT uses a formula to distribute funding for highway construction by giving localities increased opportunities for road funding.
Due to recent high-profile sexual assaults on college campuses, many legislators tried to address the issue through legislation related to reporting of sexual assaults. After much debate and input from community stakeholders, the final bills passed attempt to protect the sexual assault victim and also prevent the next occurrence
On the environmental front, SB1349 caught the attention of local advocates. Senator Wagner’s bill SB1349 freezes the base electric rates for Dominion Virginia Power, and also stops the State Corporation Commission (SCC) from conducting two-year reviews to determine how much profit the company made. In an effort to compromise, amendments were added to allow Dominion to expand their solar energy in Virginia and require the company to offer energy assistance programs for low-income, disabled, and elderly costumers. Proponents of the bill stated that the legislation would provide stability as a final ruling is awaited from the Environmental Protection Agency to determine whether Virginia will be required to reduce its carbon emissions or close coal plants.  Even though the main reason the bill was introduced was to maintain stable rates, I voted against the bill after hearing constituents’ concerns and opposition. However, it successfully passed.
You can learn more about legislation passed during this session here. Governor McAuliffe has thirty days to sign or veto the legislation passed by the General Assembly. Any legislation he does not sign, veto, or amend will automatically become law. 
As tax preparation season is underway, those who make less than $60,000 annually are most likely eligible for free access to name-brand tax preparation software products to prepare and file their taxes. The Free File program comes at no cost to the government, as it is a public-private partnership between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the tax preparation software companies.  To find out more information or begin using Free File, visit the Virginia Department of Taxation’s website.
Thank you for the privilege of serving you in the General Assembly. Please feel free to contact my office at 804-698-1169 or e-mail me at if you have any questions or concerns.