Press

Obenshain Statement on Budget Passage

May 13, 2024

RICHMOND, VA – Today, Senator Mark Obenshain (R- Rockingham) voted in favor of the next biennium budget during today’s Special Session of the General Assembly.

Senator Obenshain made the following comments regarding the budget bill:

I am thankful that the discussions between budget conferees and the Governor over the past few weeks have been an exercise in collaboration to come up with a proposed budget we considered and passed today. With no new taxes, historic investments in I-81 and funding for other important priorities, this budget is a good thing for Virginia families, and I look forward to its implementation over the next two years.

When the General Assembly sent a budget to Governor Youngkin in March, the Democrat-controlled finance committees proposed significant tax increases on Virginia families to help pay for new spending in the budget. I opposed that budget and after weeks of negotiations, I am happy to report that we passed a final budget with no new tax increases on Virginians.

Further, the General Assembly’s budget sent to Governor Youngkin in November mandated that Virginia be required to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative which would unnecessarily raise electric utility rates for every Virginian household. Thankfully, we negotiated this tax through electric rates out of the final version of the budget passed this week.

In addition, not included in the final budget was a Democrat-championed push to increase the minimum wage in Virginia to a level that would have greatly harmed the ability of our businesses, especially small and medium sized companies, to continue growing. Thank you to our budget conferees and Governor Youngkin for standing up for small businesses.   

I am especially pleased that several key funding components were included in the final budget that directly impact the Shenandoah Valley.  First, $3.0 million in the first year of the budget has been appropriated  to repair and upgrade the dam at Lake Shenandoah in Rockingham County, which is owned by the Department of Wildlife Resources. This has been a long overdue and much-needed repair for many years now and I’m glad to see that the conferees included this funding in the final budget.

Second, with the impending closure of Augusta Correctional Facility this July, it leaves an adverse financial impact on Town of Craigsville and Augusta County.  This budget keeps the $3.8M funding from the Commonwealth for a bond defeasance for the Town of Craigsville to assist with this closure. This funding will be used towards paying off the loans that the Town of Craigsville has on the water and wastewater infrastructure. Augusta Correctional Center has historically contributed operational funding for the wastewater plant and paid water usage rates to the Town.

Finally, there are additional general funds allocated to Interstate 81.   $70 million has been appropriated for the first year of the budget to support the advancement of projects in the Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Program. An additional $175 million has been set aside for Interstate 81 paid for by surplus tax revenue from quarter 1 of 2024.

The new budget will be effective July 1, 2024.   A full list of Senator Obenshain’s bills from the 2024 General Assembly session may be found here.

Senator Obenshain represents the Second District in the Senate of Virginia. The district includes the city of Harrisonburg and the counties of Bath, Highland, Page, Rockingham, and Augusta (part.) He is a member of the Senate Committee on Courts of Justice; Commerce & Labor; Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources; and the Finance and Appropriations Committee.

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Obenshain Statement on Bill to Curb Fentanyl Crisis in Commonwealth Denied Hearing in House of Delegates

February 16, 2024

Legislation, passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 38-2, was docketed in House and then refused a hearing

RICHMOND, VA – Today, Senator Mark Obenshain’s (R- Rockingham) Senate Bill 469 was docketed to be heard in the Courts of Justice Criminal Subcommittee in the House of Delegates and then was abruptly removed without a hearing or testimony. 

This bill addresses the issue of counterfeit drugs, particularly targeting those laced with deadly substances like fentanyl. In 2022, the DEA confiscated over 59.6 million counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl, but the real concern lies in the millions more that slipped through and made their way into the Commonwealth. Notably, fake oxycodone pills led to nine overdoses in Loudoun County schools this past year. 

Senator Obenshain said of its abrupt removal and rejection of a hearing, “Tragically, virtually every person in the Commonwealth has someone close to them or knows someone with a close connection to someone who has died of a drug overdose, fentanyl in particular. I was grateful to my colleagues in the State Senate for passing this bipartisan bill out of the Senate with only two nay votes. When I was notified of its docketing to the Courts of Justice Criminal Subcommittee and confirmed that it would receive a hearing, I looked forward to presenting the contents of this bill to the committee. After arriving to present the legislation, the chair unilaterally declared that the bill would not be heard.” 

He continued, “The bill provides three avenues to get at those who are manufacturing and altering these drugs for sale: It elevates penalties for violations related to adulterated or misbranded drugs, also known as counterfeit drugs. It criminalizes the possession of ‘encapsulating machines’ and ‘tableting machines’ (pill presses). It also extends the existing penalties for manufacturing methamphetamine with a minor or incapacitated person present to those who commit the same act of manufacturing counterfeit drugs with fentanyl. In addition to giving prosecutors tools to go after these drug dealers, it also protects children who live in homes where fentanyl laced drugs are being manufactured. This is the same protection we are providing children who are present in meth labs.”

Faythe Silveira on behalf of “Fentanyl Moms,” a group committed to raising awareness of the opioid crisis and the deadly effects of fentanyl, commented, “We are in shock and pain that the House subcommittee refused to hear Senator Obenshain’s bill that would make it harder for traffickers to make pressed fentanyl pills or manufacture drugs with minors present. Families should not have to wait another whole year to see change.  What is it going to take to stop this crisis? 2,000 people in Virginia, many in their teens and 20’s, died from fentanyl in the past year. Fake pressed pills account for many of those deaths. Thanks to Senator Obenshain and other champion legislators for trying to stop the flow of poisonous fentanyl.”

Obenshain concluded, “In addressing the challenges posed by fentanyl, the General Assembly must put petty partisan politics aside and come together to prioritize treatment, robust drug education programs, and increase public awareness. And given the crisis we face from fentanyl, we also need to make sure we disrupt supply chains and production processes. This partisan action means that Virginians must wait another year and ensures that more children, teenagers, and young adults will die as a result of this fentanyl poison.”

Senator Obenshain represents the second district in the Senate of Virginia. The district includes the city of Harrisonburg and the counties of Bath, Highland, Page, Rockingham, and Augusta (part.) He is a member of the Senate Committee on Courts of Justice; Commerce & Labor; Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources; and the Finance Committee.

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Senator Obenshain Releases Statement on Public Safety Bills

February 2, 2023

RICHMOND, VA- Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) issued the following statement today in response to the Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee’s action on key public safety bills.

“Yesterday, on a party line vote, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee voted to kill two bills that I patroned to protect our families across the Commonwealth. The first would have  established a criminal penalty for any individuals who intend to intimidate a judge by picketing or parading near the home of that judge.

Threats against judges are up 400% since 2016, many of which were motivated by political extremism. In 2022, an armed man attempted to kidnap or murder Brett Kavanaugh and his family. In 2020, a federal judge’s son was killed and her husband was seriously wounded after a man targeted them in their own home.

Our justices are a critical part of our democracy and we depend on them to administer justice by applying the law, not out of fear or intimidation. Moreover, there is just no excuse for targeting justices with the deliberate efforts of political extremists whether from the right or the left to intimidate the families of the public servants.

Another bill killed, on a party line by Senate Democrats was one that would have established judicial presumption that those arrested for rape, robbery, or murder – would not be released on bail. As a part of the Democrats’ so called social-justice reforms the past few years, progressives in the Virginia House and Senate removed all presumptions against bail that existed in our code, even for the worst of the worst -those accused of rape, robbery, or murder.

This reckless “reform” has put dangerous offenders back on the street where they are free to reoffend while awaiting trial, such was the case in the tragic murder of Karla Dominguez whose boyfriend, released on bail, proceeded to rape and murder her.

Look, I get it. It’s an election year and Senate Democrats are looking to solidify support from their ultra-liberal base voters who often push policies that overlook the safety of families across the Commonwealth for the sake of so-called social justice. What they fail to recognize is that “Social-Justice” needs to be applied in a way that does not ignore victims and that many of these victims are persons of color.

But I stand for the safety of our justices and Commonwealth families, election year or not.”

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 Judiciary; Commerce & Labor; Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources; and Transportation Committees.

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Obenshain Statement on the Line of Duty Act Bill Advancing to Senate Floor   

January 26, 2023

RICHMOND, VA – Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) issued the following statement in response to SB 1228 reporting unanimously from the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee yesterday. 

The tragic death of two officers almost a year ago at Bridgewater College still stings our community. After the death of John Painter and J.J. Jefferson, it came to light that they were not eligible for any death benefits as police officers because private college police departments were not eligible to enroll in the state administered Line of Duty Act (LODA.)  I am grateful that Governor Youngkin offered a budget amendment last year which provided both families with the death benefit that would have been available to any other law enforcement office who died in the line of duty. I strongly suspect that this was an inadvertent oversight that escaped notice until the death of two officers. I promised the Governor and private colleges last year that I would introduce legislation this year to make them eligible to enroll in this program. If a private college elects to enroll, they would be required to pay premiums for participation, so they will pay their own way. With the advancement of my bill, we are making progress in our efforts to do right by law enforcement officers and their families,” Obenshain said.

“I am pleased that the bill reported from committee with votes from Democrats and Republicans and I am looking forward to its final passage in the Senate later this week.”

The full text of SB 1228 can be found here.  Senator Obenshain’s full list of legislation for the 2023 session can be viewed here.

SB 1228 will now move to the Senate Floor for a full vote later this week and then will move to the House of Delegates.

Senator Obenshain currently 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 Judiciary; Commerce & Labor; Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources; and Transportation Committees.

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Obenshain Releases Statement on RTD Bail Report

May 16, 2022

New Report Shows Democrats’ 2021 Bail Law Eroding Public Safety

HARRISONBURG – Today, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-ROCKINGHAM) released the following statement:

The report out today from the Richmond Times-Dispatch regarding violent criminals being released with little to no bond is deeply disturbing. Senate Democrats in 2021 pursued liberal so-called criminal justice priorities with such fervor that they ignored clear warnings that Virginians would suffer the consequences.

When we warned Democrats, who unanimously supported the measure, that this would be the result, they demurred. Now they say the judges must be wrong. That, however, is of little comfort to victims of rapes, robberies and other violent crimes whose attackers are being released immediately after arrest.

The RTD reports that in Chesterfield County, 48 people charged with assaulting a family member were released without having to post bond in the past 60 days. Additionally, criminals charged with assaulting police officers and malicious wounding have been released within a span of two months in Chesterfield County.

These are a result of the 2021 Democrat law that removed all presumptions against granting bail to criminal defendants, irrespective of the seriousness of their crime. Republicans sounded the alarm then and I opposed this bill when it was before us last year.

I hope that the Democrats in the Senate who pushed for this bill will think twice about opposing efforts to reinstate presumptions against bail for serious offenses after seeing these consequences. We warned against this sweeping approach, but Democrats insisted. Now it’s time to fix this horrible mistake and refocus on protecting the safety of our neighborhoods and Virginia families,” Obenshain said.

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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).

Obenshain Releases Statement on Failure of Senate to Confirm Parole Board Appointments

March 10, 2022

RICHMOND, VA – Today, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) released the following statement following the failure of Senate Joint Resolution 169:

“Today, Senate Democrats voted to kill SJ 169 which would have confirmed 4 out of 5 of Governor Youngkin’s appointments to the Parole Board. The Privileges and Elections Committee reported the bill on March 1 which typically would have been followed by two consecutive days of voting to pass the resolution, resulting in these nominees being confirmed. However, Senate Democrats delayed the vote until today (the penultimate day of Session) presumably with an intention all along of voting down Youngkin’s nominees but a motive to wait as long as possible so as to limit retribution from the chamber down the hall.”

Obenshain continued, “I call it like I see it…this decision is cutting off the nose to spite the face. By torpedoing this resolution, they are ensuring that no paroles are granted until replacements are seated on the Parole Board. Filing a resolution with the intention of killing it is the height of cynicism. It certainly is not consistent with the manner in which the Senate prides itself in conducting its business.”

“I find it puzzling,” said Obenshain, “that this demonstration represents an attempt by the Senate Democrats to double down on Governor Northam’s scandalized Parole Board. Let’s not forget the multiple reports of knowing or reckless violations of the law allegedly committed by members of Northam’s Parole Board. In particular, the allegations that Chair Adrienne Bennett violated the state constitution by not remaining impartial in the Martin case and requesting an examiner to falsify a report.” 

Last year, credible accusations were made detailing violations of Northam’s Parole Board including:

  • Releasing parolees without notifying victims as required by law
  • Releasing parolees without notifying Commonwealth’s Attorneys as required by law
  • Efforts by Parole Board to cover up actions of former Chair Adrienne Bennett who abused her power as Chair
  • Violating an executive order requiring all executive agencies to cooperate with a state inspector general investigation

Obenshain concluded, “Despite the Inspector General refusing to investigate further complaints against Northam’s Parole Board, I’m grateful that we have an Attorney General who takes the allegations of misconduct seriously and urges further investigation and, if proper, prosecution against those responsible for these violations. I just wish Democrats in the Senate would stop playing with the future and career of these qualified nominees which will only serve to hinder the rights of those who deserve to be evaluated for parole eligibility.”

Senator Obenshain represents the twenty-sixth district in the Virginia Senate.  The district includes the city of Harrisonburg and the counties of Warren, Shenandoah, Page, Rappahannock and Rockingham (part).  He serves on the Senate Judiciary; Commerce & Labor; Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources; and Transportation Committees.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:  Jennifer Aulgur or Connor Smith

PHONE: (540) 437-1451 or (804) 698-7526

EMAIL:  [email protected] or [email protected] 

Obenshain Statement on Passage of Elder Abuse Prevention Bill

February 25, 2022

RICHMOND – Today, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) released the following statement following the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 124.

“I’m happy to report that my SB 124 passed the House of Delegates unanimously yesterday afternoon and is headed to Governor Youngkin’s desk for his signature. It’s a travesty that financial abuse of our elderly is more and more prevalent every year. Protecting this vulnerable population has long been a priority of mine and this bill is one more step in holding bad actors accountable for financially exploiting an incapacitated adult.”

SB 124 creates a new criminal offense for people who misuse a power of attorney to exploit the person who they were supposed to be helping and protecting.  When someone gives a power of attorney to another, he or she is entrusting that person with a position of trust and great responsibility. The opportunity for abuse is significant and when that happens, there should be an additional charge for the breach of trust, above and beyond that which applies to simple theft.

The federal government estimates that the costs of financial fraud against seniors exceed $2 billion annually. According to a recent elder needs survey, nearly one in five Americans aged 65 and older have been victims of elder financial abuse. The survey claims that over $36 billion is lost each year to financial exploitation, criminal fraud and caregiver abuse. 90 percent of perpetrators of fraud are known to their victims.

The closer the tie between perpetrator and victim, the greater the damage. A detailed study of elder financial abuse in Utah found that the amount stolen by people who knew their victim averaged $116,000 — nearly triple the haul taken by strangers. Criminals within the family got even more: $148,000. And the thieves who stole the most money — $262,000, on average — were the victims’ children.

Obenshain concluded, “Facts matter and the reality is that this combination of vulnerability and financial means puts elders in enhanced danger of exploitation. I’m grateful to my colleagues in the House of Delegates and the Senate for their support of this bill. I look forward to this becoming Virginia law so that we can continue to tamp down on elder abuse in our society.”

Senator Obenshain represents the twenty-sixth district in the Virginia Senate.  The district includes the city of Harrisonburg and the counties of Warren, Shenandoah, Page, Rappahannock and Rockingham (part).  He serves on the Senate Judiciary; Commerce & Labor; Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources; and Transportation Committees.

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Obenshain Statement on Failure of Charter School Bill in Senate Committee

February 3, 2022

RICHMOND – Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) issued the following statement in response to the failure of the Senate Education and Health Committee to  report the charter school bill, SB 125 on a vote of 7-8 earlier today. 

“I am extremely disappointed by our failure to pass the regional charter school bill this morning.  It is always hard for good policy to overcome political interests.   Sadly, those paying the highest price for this action are children in a handful of localities with failing schools,” Obenshain said.

“I believe all children deserve a quality education regardless of their zip code.  I consider myself an ‘all of the above’ guy when it comes to improving our education system and charter schools is just one piece of the puzzle. My bill would have extended a lifeline to areas with underperforming schools, giving parents another option for their children to receive better educational opportunities.   There are only 7 charter schools in Virginia.  To me this is completely unacceptable.  We had an opportunity today to really make a difference in the lives and education of children but due to the party line vote, the Democrats in the Senate turned their back on our children,” Obenshain added. 

SB 125 (which can be viewed here) would have created regional charter school divisions made up of two or three school divisions. A division would be eligible to participate if it meets two sets of criteria:  they have an enrollment of greater than 3,000 students and their SOL scores for English and Math in grades 3-8 are in the bottom quartile of the Commonwealth. 

45 states and the District of Columbia have charter schools.   Charter schools have only been around since the 1990s and studies show that they are most successful in school divisions that are not performing well.  They can free up constraints that have been imposed on school divisions and work “outside the box” to provide a quality education to the students they serve. 

“I will not give up the fight for education reform, charter schools and opportunities for Virginia’s children.  I believe that this will make the most difference in the lives of our children, more than anything else that we do here at the General Assembly,” Obenshain concluded.

Senator Obenshain represents the twenty-sixth district in the Virginia Senate.  The district includes the city of Harrisonburg and the counties of Warren, Shenandoah, Page, Rappahannock and Rockingham (part).  He serves on the Senate Judiciary; Commerce & Labor; Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources; and Transportation Committees.

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Senator Obenshain and Delegate Gilbert Announce DMV Connect Program in Strasburg

May 25, 2021

Legislators to Bring DMV Services to Constituents

HARRISONBURG, VA – Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) and Del. Todd Gilbert (R- Mt. Jackson) are pleased to announce that they are partnering with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to host a DMV Connect program on June 7,8, and 9 at the Town Hall in Strasburg (174 East King Street Strasburg, VA 22847.)  Services will be by appointment only and priority will be given to residents of the 26th Senate District and 15th House District. Appointments will be available in fifteen-minute increments from 9am until Noon and 1pm until 4pm each day.   

“We have heard from many constituents that they are still unable to schedule DMV appointments for two months or more.  These delays are a result of the Governor’s unwillingness to fully re-open DMV offices across the Commonwealth.  Citizens need to be able to efficiently access DMV services and I am proud that Delegate Gilbert and I were able to partner with the Town of Strasburg to bring the DMV Connect program to our districts, “ Obenshain said.

“I am pleased that Senator Obenshain and I are able to bring the DMV Connect program to the Strasburg area. With many of our constituents experiencing unduly delays in attempting to schedule timely appointments at the DMV, we appreciate the collaboration with the Town of Strasburg to help provide this service,” Gilbert said.

DMV Connect can assist individuals with driver’s licenses, REAL ID, i.d. cards, disabled parking placards, vehicle titling, address changes, vehicle registration and other essential services. Road testing and vital records requests cannot be accommodated at a DMV Connect program. More information can be found at the DMV Connect website.

Individuals can call Senator Obenshain’s office at 540-437-1451 thru June 4 to make their appointment.

Senator Obenshain represents the twenty-sixth district in the Virginia Senate.  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 Judiciary Committee and is the former Chairman of the Virginia State Crime Commission.

Delegate Gilbert represents the fifteenth district in the Virginia House of Delegates, which includes all of Shenandoah and Page, and portions of Warren and Rockingham counties. Delegate Gilbert serves as the House Republican Leader and is a member of the Rules and Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources, and Finance committees.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OBENSHAIN CONTACT:  Jennifer Aulgur

PHONE: (540) 437-1451

EMAIL:  [email protected]

GILBERT CONTACT:  Jeff Walters

PHONE: (540) 459-7550

EMAIL: [email protected]

Obenshain Calls on Governor Northam to Fully Lift Statewide Mask Mandate

May 14, 2021

CONTACT:  Connor Smith

PHONE: (904) 235-3562

EMAIL:  [email protected]

Today, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) released the following statement in response to Governor Northam’s limited modifications to his statewide mask mandate lifting it in some circumstances and only for those adults who are fully vaccinated.

“At this point, everyone in Virginia has had an opportunity to sign up for a vaccination. Virginians can be trusted to decide for themselves whether or not to wear a mask.”

“States like Texas and Florida lifted their mask mandates and reopened their states nearly 3 months ago – after their states’ most vulnerable citizens had an opportunity to secure vaccinations. And they did it without experiencing the surge predicted by the liberal political class and pundits. We need to quit succumbing to crazy pseudo-science and the political weaponization of COVID.”

“Common sense, experience, and science have converged here, yet Governor Northam has persisted in his stubborn refusal to adopt anything but half measures. I am calling on the Governor to end the mask mandate in its entirety, to trust Virginians to make the right choices for themselves and their families.”

“Remember that the mandate covers anyone 5 years or older. Lifting the mask mandate for only those who have been vaccinated still leaves it in place for 5-year-olds, despite a total lack of science to support masking kindergarteners – or at least they would be kindergarteners if the Governor would reopen schools.  The Governor should lift the mask mandate, in its entirety, and proceed to reopen Virginia – now.”

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