RICHMOND, Virginia – With the 2020 Virginia General Assembly session having reached the midway point’s “crossover day,” when bills transition from one chamber to the other, Delegate Keith Hodges, R-98, continues his successful focus on rural economic growth, championing bills that directly impact the residents of his Middle Peninsula district and builds on long-term policy efforts that aim to benefit rural coastal Virginia regions.
Out of the 25 bills Hodges patroned in the 2020 session, 17 passed the House (12 unanimously), three were stricken at his request, one was incorporated into another bill and four were carried over by committee to the 2021 General Assembly Session.
“If there is a theme that has emerged from this session, it’s that as a rural community, we need to continue to not just talk about the challenges we face in economic development, but really also hone in on solutions and keep building on our ability to tap into our region’s biggest asset – our blue/green infrastructure and where our waters meet our land,” Hodges said.
“With that being said, because of those great assets, and our natural resources, we are seeing an even greater need to protect the people of our rural regions from others who want to come in and commoditize on those natural resources. Rural communities want to partner with others. But we just need to ensure we are fighting to make sure everyone benefits.”
Among the legislation Hodges has advanced to benefit the 98th District includes the following:
- HB 1267 which permits localities to designate a planning district commission as a land bank entity. Land banks are an important tool to address vacant and substandard housing issues in a community.
- HB 1313 establishes a framework for statewide coordination for flooding matters using existing code under the Flood Plain Management.
- HB 1375, and its focus on living shorelines and resiliency, would include modifications for wave energy and storm surge in the definition of living shoreline.
- HB 1258 adds the Town of West Point to the towns that have the coordinator of emergency services appointed by the mayor or town manager with consent of the town council.
- HB 1262 adds Mathews and Middlesex to the list of counties that may impose a transient occupancy tax at a rate above two percent, but not to exceed five percent. The revenue attributable to a rate in excess of two percent shall be used solely for tourism and travel purposes.
Hodges took a firm stance on land use for rural regions this session, speaking up on the House floor to shed light on the impact to rural regions when their natural resources are commoditized and paying close attention to solar related legislation.
“We need to be aware what it means to leverage rural land for the benefit of urban centers and what that means for the communities that can be literally stripped of its wealth and value,” Hodges said. “We cannot let others come into our rural regions, use the land, create no jobs, devalue property and then just leave the people who live there with no benefit. We need to work together. We need to find solutions that work for everyone.”
Hodges also championed HB 1290 regarding pharmacy benefits managers which requires licensure and regulatory oversight.
“The complex environment of pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) directly impacts people day to day and they likely have not realized it,” Hodges said. “What this bill does is helps protect patient choice, affordability and access to prescription medication by requiring the middleman between pharmacies, insurance plan sponsors and drug manufacturers to be more transparent about their pricing and processes.”
Virginia’s 98th District includes Essex, Gloucester, Mathews, Middlesex and parts of King and Queen and King William Counties.
Stephanie Heinatz for Friends of Keith Hodges