Wednesday, January 27, 2010

State Senate votes to raise taxes, Sen. Ralph Smith updates constituents

Dear Friends,

Today I voted for Virginians' retention of their right to decide if taxes should be raised on food and beverages.  Unfortunately, the majority voted against that right.

This afternoon the Senate passed SB 280 by a 25-15 vote.  If SB 280 passes the House of Delegates and is signed into law by the Governor, every county government in Virginia will be able to raise their local tax on food and beverages as high as they like if a simple majority of the Board of Supervisors agrees. Current law requires that such tax increases be approved by county voters through a referendum. Five counties, including Roanoke and Montgomery, are allowed to increase this tax through a unanimous vote by the Board of Supervisors.

Proponents of such tax increases argue the current thresholds are too high and make it too difficult to raise taxes.  Several do not believe that taxpayers should have a direct say on the level of taxes that they pay.  It should surprise no one, that I  believe it should be difficult to raise taxes and they certainly should not be raised during a recession.

I strongly urge you to contact your Delegate and let him know that this legislation is on its way over and you would appreciate his opposition.  You can use this website,  to check your Delegate's most recent contact information.

Electric Bills 
Several bills addressing Virginia's rising electric rates are currently before the Senate.  I give especially serious consideration to these bills because of the potential for unintended consequences that could aggravate the situation.  While studying the issue, I have come to find that the facts and the statements made by utility representatives are not always the same thing.

I have decided to take an informal and unscientific survey of constituents to verify some facts. I would appreciate it if you could take a look at your last electric bill and then reply to this email with the following information:

1) What electric company or co-op does your family use?

2) What was the cost of your last electric bill?

3) What was the billing period for this payment and how many days were included?

4) How many kilowatt hours did your family use during this period?

I thank you all in advance for your participation.  This information will help me verify some information, answer questions, and better serve you in Richmond.

In future emails, I will update you on the state's budget situation, the progress of my legislative initiatives, and the status of other bills that could affect our region.  If you would like to express an opinion on a matter before the Senate, I hope you will not hestitate to contact me at my Richmond office.  I can be reached there at
804-698-7522, this email address, and on Facebook.

Lendy's Invitation
Ralph K. Smith
Senate of Virginia
District 22

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