News

RELEASE: Obenshain Bill Helps Elder Abuse Prevention

February 5, 2020

 Obenshain’s Elder Abuse Prevention Legislation Passes Senate

Legislation Would Increase Interagency Communication Dealing with Elder Financial Exploitation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Jennifer Aulgur

PHONE: (804) 833-1081

EMAIL: jennifer@markobenshain.com

RICHMOND, VA  – Today, Senator Mark Obenshain released the following statement regarding the passage of SB 695 in the Virginia Senate.  SB 695 directs the Office of the Attorney General to establish ongoing communication with the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services  to ensure that adults 60 years of age or older or 18 years of age or older and incapacitated have access to information regarding the prevention of potential patterns of financial exploitation.

Obenshain said, “Sadly, financial exploitation in Virginia is on the rise.  My bill will increase communication between the agencies that deal with consumer protection and elder financial abuse and prevention.  Hopefully, this will promote better awareness, education and perhaps increased analysis of trends in elder abuse financial exploitation.”

SB 695 was modeled after similar legislation passed last year in Pennsylvania.   

According to a recent report from the Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services, in FY 2018 Adult Protective Services had 12,000 substantiated abuse, neglect, or exploitation cases.  Financial exploitation jumped by about 30% in 2018 compared to the previous year. Data from the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call Data Book for 2019 shows that in Virginia, over 178,000 telemarketing complaints were filed, and Virginia ranked #8 in number of complaints.

Earlier this week, the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office warned of a new telephone scam targeting Shenandoah Valley residents where the caller pretends to be a member of the sheriff’s office and tells people they have missed court, have a warrant, or owe a fine and must pay over the phone.

“Senior citizens are one of our most vulnerable populations.  Unfortunately, when they become victim of a financial scam it’s often difficult to recover any of the money which they have lost.  It is my hope that this bill will help our seniors stay vigilant and not fall victim to frauds and scams,” Obenshain continued. 

Senator Obenshain represents the twenty-sixth district in the Senate of Virginia. The district includes the city of Harrisonburg and the counties of Warren, Shenandoah, Page Rappahannock and Rockingham (part).  He is a member of the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee.

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NEWSLETTER: General Assembly Update Vol. 2

February 5, 2020

Friends,

      We’re almost halfway through Session with what we call Crossover fast approaching.  By next Tuesday, the Senate must act upon all its legislation which is still outstanding.  The bills that pass will “crossover” to the House of Delegates where they will go through the same process as they did in the Senate.  

      Since this Session began, it has become abundantly clear that the Democrats’ California modeled liberal agenda will not only negatively impact our Second Amendment rights, and the common sense limits on abortion, but they are also determined to disrupt our energy sector and business environment. 

      Four issues in particular took center stage – all of which will be costly for our Commonwealth and fall on the backs of hard working Virginians.

      First was the issue of prevailing wage. In 1931, Congress passed the Davis Bacon Act, which required contractors to pay the “prevailing wage” to employees on most federally funded construction projects. The Davis Bacon Virginia version that was passed out of committee this week is essentially the Democrats’ attempt to legally price fix the wages of construction workers in government projects.

      Putting aside the fact that the Act was originally passed back in the 1930s to prevent non-unionized black and immigrant laborers from competing with unionized white workers, the Davis Bacon Act prevents smaller contractors, of which there are many at home in the Shenandoah Valley, from being able to afford to pay this “prevailing wage.”

      The bill that came out of committee that establishes Virginia’s version of the Davis Bacon Act is bad for Virginians, particularly those at home here in the Valley that will no longer be able to compete with large out of state unionized contractors.

      The next issue that Democrats pushed out of committee this week was collective bargaining for public employees. This bill would repeal the prohibition on public employee collective bargaining for local government employees (including teachers and school board employees.)  It’s important to note that teacher collective bargaining has been shown to have a negative impact on student achievement.  A study done in the Yale Law Journal suggests that any positive impact that unions have on high performing students, if indeed there is any, is gained at the expense of lower performing students. Moreover, a 2018 study in the Economics of Education Review suggests that teacher collective bargaining is associated with lower overall student achievement and that great proportions of students are scoring at the bottom of the performance distribution and smaller proportions score at the top tail.  Overall, collective bargaining isn’t about helping improve our education system or help our students — it’s only about money. Take a look here at one of the worst consequences of collective bargaining in New York.

      The final piece of this liberal trifecta dealt with energy and utility bills – the Virginia version of AOC’s Green New Deal.

      Virginia Democrats are determined to bring a California styled environmental makeover to Richmond. California passed its own “Climate Action Plan” over a decade ago.  Let me tell you how that’s worked out for California:  CA’s residential electric rates are 40% higher than the national average, 70% higher than Oregon and 50% higher than their neighboring states of Nevada and Arizona.  The state’s wind and solar resources (which have been the primary source beneficiaries of its energy policy mandates, subsidies, and tax schemes) provided about only 1% of consumption in 2006 and only 7% in 2016. 

      The Democrats’ bill mandates that Virginia must generate 100% carbon free energy by 2050 but they do not care what it will cost taxpayers and customers.  Electric and utility bills will skyrocket to offset the costs of these mandates and renewable projects.  This is not a good direction for the Commonwealth and I will oppose these initiatives.

      Next up will be efforts to repeal or eviscerate Virginia’s Right-to-Work law by adopting the so-called Fair Share Act.  Sen. Majority Leader Dick Saslaw’s Fair Share Act (SB 426), would require non-union workers at some businesses to pay labor union dues as a condition of employment.

      While right-to-work laws don’t prohibit unions from organizing in Virginia, they do establish precedent that Virginia workers can’t be fired for refusing to join a union or pay its dues. In Virginia, 4% of workers are union members, compared to 10.3% nationally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

      Saslaw’s bill would authorize employers to require non-union workers to pay a “fair share fee” to a related labor union to reimburse that union for representing the interests of the nonmember employee.

      Bills like this one is the first step to repealing Virginia’s Right-to-Work status which would stifle our economy, cripple our AAA bond rating, and be detrimental to job growth. Chambers of Commerce, the Virginia NFIB, and a number of other business coalitions oppose repealing our Right-to-Work law and the Fair Share Act, as do I.

      The Governor has said publicly he can’t “foresee” Virginia repealing its right to work laws….well we shall see. With the direction that the Democrats at taking thus far, I have little confidence in the Governor’s prior statement.

      On a positive note, we have had a great group of visitors over the past two weeks.  It was Electric Cooperative Day last Monday and we enjoyed meeting with representatives of Rappahannock Electric and Shenandoah Electric Cooperative.  Also stopping by were our Commissioners of the Revenue, Rappahannock Board of Supervisors, Harrisonburg Boys & Girls Club, Shenandoah Music Festival, Bridgewater College, JMU Occupational Therapy, VAIL, and educators from Rockingham County.   I also enjoyed getting to see my good friends from Luray Caverns and the VA Beer Wholesalers Association.

      We are here in Richmond until March 7. My staff and I welcome the opportunity to see you if you are visiting the General Assembly. My office is Room 502E in the Pocahontas Building. I appreciate hearing your views on pending legislation.  We have received thousands of emails this session already and hundreds of calls.  Thank you for your advocacy on issues which are important to you.  You can always let me know your views on any of the issues before the General Assembly by emailing me at mark@markobenshain.com, calling my district office in Harrisonburg at 540-437-1451 or my General Assembly Office in Richmond at 804-698-7526.

      More updates coming soon!

Best,

Mark Obenshain

RELEASE: Obenshain’s Bills for Warren County Economic Development Authority Pass Senate

January 29, 2020

Obenshain’s Bills for Warren County Economic Development Authority Pass Senate

Bills to Improve Accountability, Transparency and Oversight Head to House for Hearing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Jennifer Aulgur

PHONE: (804) 833-1081

EMAIL: jennifer@markobenshain.com

RICHMOND – Senator Obenshain (R-Rockingham) today announced an update on legislation that has passed the Senate.

Obenshain’s SB 701 requiring executive directors and members of each economic development authority to complete the Virginia Conflict of Interest Act (COIA) and Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) training passed out of the Committee on General Laws and off the floor of the Senate to the House of Delegates unanimously.

Also passed unanimously was Obenshain’s SB 703 which requires executive directors and members of each economic development authority to file the Virginia Statement of Economic Interest (SOEI) with the clerk of the local governing body.

Obenshain said of the two bills, “These bills requiring EDA directors and members to take ethics training and submit 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,” Obenshain continued. “The citizens deserve our trust and confidence and these bills help ensure they will have it.”

Senator Obenshain represents the twenty-sixth district in the Senate of Virginia. The district includes the city of Harrisonburg and the counties of Warren, Shenandoah, Page Rappahannock and Rockingham (part).  

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NEWSLETTER: Week 1 in the books

January 13, 2020

Friends,

The Virginia General Assembly began its fifth century on Wednesday.  Clearly, “the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World” will have a 401st year that will be a stark contrast from its 400th.

For the first time in 26 years, the House and Senate have Democrat majorities with a Democrat serving as governor.  One-party control has been an exceptional occurrence over the last quarter century.  Republicans enjoyed this status in 2000 and 2001, and again in 2012 and 2013.  Except for those four years, Virginians have elected governments that were divided between the two parties since 1993.

While the House of Delegates is experiencing some pronounced changes, things are somewhat more stable in the Senate.  Our chamber has five new members this year, three of whom previously served in the House.  The majority has shifted from the Republicans to the Democrats by a margin of 21-19.  But both parties retained their leadership teams. 

As the Democrats have not had complete control of government for a very long time, substantial and consequential changes are unfortunately coming. They are more uniformly and ideologically to the left than they were when they last held power, so these changes have the potential to be more extreme.  From what the Governor and the Democrats promised this week, they will be.    

 Two days before session began, the Governor laid out his agenda for the 2020 session.  If you’ve managed to watch any of the debates between the Democrat presidential candidates, you would have recognized much of the Governor’s rhetoric.  Bernie Sanders or Tom Steyer would have been perfectly comfortable delivering these proposals….and they might have even made Elizabeth Warren blush.

On guns, they are pushing universal background checks, even for gifts between family members, “red flag” laws that would allow confiscations with little or no due process, imposition of quotas or limits in the form of “one gun a month” on the sale of handguns, and a so-called “assault weapons ban” that would render unlawful the sale or even possession of a wide array of rifles and a staggering percentage of the full sized semi-automatic handguns. Just Friday, the Democrats on a party line vote with little notice and no discussion passed a new policy banning guns at the Capitol and at our legislative office buildings.  Not even members of the General Assembly can conceal carry now while at Session.

The Democrats even called in former NYC Mayor, Michael Bloomberg to come to Virginia the day before session to collect on his dividends for funding his liberal candidates.  You can read about that here.

In addition to gun legislation, their listed priorities also include increasing the minimum wage by more than 100% from $7.25 to $15.  Senate Majority Leader Mamie Locke (D-Hampton) has introduced legislation calling for this increase by December of 2022. 

Look also for a revival of the Delegate Kathy Tran bill to remove all restrictions on abortions.  This is the legislation that shocked America last year when Governor Northam explained in cold clinical terms how this legislation should allow doctors to allow babies to die even after they are born.

They are also calling for an expansion of taxpayer and utility consumer subsidies for trendy green energy projects and housing subsidies.

On the education front, they plan to move forward to provide in state tuition to undocumented students.

Finally, on voting, expect broad changes that remove important safeguards to ensure the fairness of Virginia’s elections.

There are many other bills that have been introduced by members of this new liberal Democratic majority that aren’t included in their publicized agenda but which they are going to push just as hard.  Some of those will include the evisceration of Virginia’s Right to Work laws and legal reform to allow class action lawsuits in Virginia.  While Republicans controlled the Virginia General Assembly and held many of these liberal initiatives at bay, Virginia gained the reputation as the best state in American in which to do business and we created hundreds of thousands of high paying jobs.  These and other changes put that status at great risk. 

Here, you can read an article that further highlights the aggressive Democrat agenda this Session. 

Elections certainly have consequences and if the Democrats are able to hold together, they have the votes to make Virginia look a lot more like left coast states and to do great damage to our individual rights and our economy.  Rest assured that I plan to do everything in my power to block these liberal agenda items and to bring to light their consequences for Virginia.  I will not vote to weaken our Second Amendment rights.  I will not vote to put small business out of business by repealing our Right to Work Laws.  I will vote for any measure that threatens our individual liberties.

I do, however, need your help.  Share this and future messages with friends and family.  We need to let our friends and neighbors know what’s at stake and to enlist them in our effort.  You can also help by sharing this on social media or making your own post on social media.  You can help by writing letters to the editor or calling talk radio.

Hats off to the Democrats.  They did a great job of identifying, registering and getting to the poles new liberal voters, especially in Northern Virginia and Richmond.  We need to do the same thing in identifying new conservative voters across Virginia, motivating them and keeping them informed.  We can do this together and start winning statewide elections again in Virginia.  Until then, as this General Assembly Session is likely to show, we are going to have some bitter pills to swallow.

On a lighter and more positive note, I received my Committee Assignments this week.  I will remain as a member on the Senate Courts of Justice – now call the Judiciary Committee, Commerce & Labor; Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources, and will be a new member on the Senate Transportation Committee. 

The majority party gets to decide on committee assignments.  With a disproportionate number of their members coming from Northern Virginia, the Democrat majority shortchanged large swaths of the Commonwealth in doling out these assignments.  Southwest Virginia, Virginia Beach, and the Richmond area were especially discounted in the assignments.  Consistent with what has become the Democrat Party’s base of support, Northern Virginia will be decidedly over-represented on key committees such as the Finance & Appropriations and Commerce and Labor committees.

Friendly faces from home came early to the General Assembly this session, as the Virginia Federation of Republican Women held their annual legislative day on the session’s second day.  Additionally, we had bankers from First Bank & Trust and Farmers and Merchants Bank visit this week on Banker’s Day.  I also enjoyed seeing many of my agriculture friends at the Annual Agribusiness Banquet, one of highlights of the Session.

We are here in Richmond until at least March 7.  My staff and I welcome the opportunity to see you if you are visiting the General Assembly.  My office is Room 502E in the Pocahontas Building.    You can always let me know your views on any of the issues before the General Assembly by emailing me at mark@markobenshain.com or by calling my district office in Harrisonburg at 540-437-1451 or my General Assembly Office in Richmond at 804-698-7526.

Have a great week and more updates coming soon!

Best,

Mark Obenshain

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to Headline Obenshain Campaign Event

April 4, 2019

Oysters with Obenshain Event on Thursday, April 11

HARRISONBURG – Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) announced today that former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker will be the special guest at the annual Oysters with Obenshain fundraising event.  The event will be held next Thursday, April 11 at 5:30 pm at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds. 

“I am delighted that Governor Walker will be coming to Virginia for this annual event.  I was a proud to support him when he ran for President in 2016. Like me, he is a committed conservative and can speak to the importance of our Valley values of limited government, personal responsibility and individual liberty.  What has always impressed me about Scott Walker is his ability to as a Republican build diverse coalitions and consistently win elections in a blue state without compromising his principles.  We look forward to giving him a warm Virginia welcome to the Shenandoah Valley,” Obenshain said.

The Oysters with Obenshain seafood social has been the signature campaign event for the Senator each year since being elected in 2003.  The event draws more than 200 attendees and is held at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds.  For more information, please visit my website or call 540-437-1451.

Just last week, Senator Obenshain was officially confirmed as the Republican nominee for the 26 th  District in the Senate of Virginia. The election will be held on November 5, 2019.

“I look forward to this year’s campaign and hope that the voters in my district will allow me the honor of continuing to serve them for another four years in Richmond,” added Obenshain.

Senator Obenshain represents the twenty-sixth district in the Senate of Virginia.  The district includes the City of Harrisonburg and the counties of Warren, Shenandoah, Page, Rappahannock and Rockingham (part).  He serves as Chairman of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee and Chairman of the Virginia State Crime Commission.

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