Friday, January 30, 2015

2015 General Assembly session update: Week 3

The Pogge Post

2015 General Assembly 

96th District, Virginia House of Delegates     January 30, 2015
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During Session:

General Assembly Building

Room 403

Capitol Square

Richmond, VA 23219



Please send mail to:

P.O. Box 196

Norge, VA 23127
Legislative Aide
Amanda Johnston
With only 30 days remaining in this year's short General Assembly session, I am pleased to report positive progress on several legislative goals. As I mentioned last week, the Republican agenda includes initiatives to support veterans and improve our system of higher education. These bills are continuing to move through the legislative process. During the past week, the House also heard legislation to reduce bureaucracy at the K-12 level. Following is information about bills that may be of interest to you.
Did you know that there are more than 35,000 home schooled students in Virginia? In fact, when my children were young, I chose to educate them at home for several years. As such, I understand firsthand the need to select a curriculum that suits a child's individual needs and learning style. I also recognize that valuable life lessons are learned in extracurricular activities like high school sports. For this reason, I strongly support House Bill 1626, the "Tebow Bill." This legislation permits home educated students to participate in public school sports. Earlier this week, the bill passed the House of Delegates on a vote of 57-41.

A common complaint from educators and parents alike is the bureaucracy that often characterizes our system of public education. To address this challenge, the House today passed House Bill 1674. This legislation will reduce the burden of annual accreditation by rewarding schools with a track record of success. Based on criteria established by the Board of Education, a school's accreditation status may be reviewed once every two years or once every three years, rather than having an annual review for every school. This change permits teachers and administrators to spend more time on student learning and give local leaders needed flexibility without sacrificing accountability in our schools.

As vice chair of the House Education Committee, I hear frequent feedback and criticism about Virginia's Standards of Learning (SOL) assessments. This input helped shape House Bill 1490, legislation that expedites retake of SOL tests (with the exception of the writing SOL assessment) to all students regardless of grade level or course. Currently, expedited retake is only available for assessments that are required for high school graduation.
Transparency in government: holding land trusts accountable

Throughout the year, I hear from Virginians who desire increased governmental transparency and accountability. As a legislator, I take seriously this challenge. I recognize that government must adopt needed reforms in order to remain answerable to voters and taxpayers. 


For this reason, I introduced House Bill 1488. This commonsense legislation allows parties in a conservation easement to participate in a dispute mediation process overseen by the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation. Currently, parties in the easement must pursue litigation in order to resolve disagreements. My bill will add standards of transparency to the resolution process.


To share brief background information, Virginia's conservation tax credit program is voluntary, allowing property owners to conserve their property through perpetual conservation easements.  Landowners donate property, such as farmland or a historic parcel, to a qualifying public or private conservation organization. In return, the property owner receives a tax credit.


Virginia's popular conservation tax credit program has facilitated the preservation of many historic and otherwise significant properties. Because taxpayer dollars help support this program, I believe that the process and program must be transparent. House Bill 1488 will provide much needed reform, and I am pleased that the bill passed out of the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee with strong support. The bill is now on the House floor, where I expect it to pass on Monday. 


To view media coverage of this legislation, please read the following Richmond Times-Dispatch article: House panel backs bill to curb overreach by land trusts.

Photo taken by Bob Brown (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Around the District
Although the General Assembly is currently in Richmond, there are opportunities for political engagement at home. 

Local Republican Committees

James City County Republican Committee

York County Republican Committee


The Duty of the Jury, hosted by The Constitution Leadership Initiative

When: 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 31, 2015 

Where: 1609 George Washington Memorial Highway, Tabb, VA 23693

Details and RSVP information: click HERE 

General Assembly Visitors
Yet another busy week in Richmond brought many visiting constituents. Listed below are a few of the organizations that were represented.

Dental Hygienists
Family Foundation
Farm Bureau
Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance
Homeschooled Students
Hotel Motel Association
League of Women Voters
Military Officers Association of America
Thomas Nelson Community College
Virginia Catholic Conference
Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools
York County School Division

If you are in Richmond, please stop by my office for a visit. To reach me by phone or email, please call 804-698-1096 or email

Enjoy the weekend and have a safe Super Bowl Sunday!
Delegate Brenda Pogge

Paid for and Authorized by Brenda Pogge for Delegate
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Brenda Pogge for Delegate | P.O. Box 196 | Norge | VA | 23127

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Save the Date! 2015 Gala with former Governor Jim Gilmore

Lincoln Reagan Gala

The Premier Fundraising & Fellowship Event 

for Virginia Peninsula Republicans

2015 Committee Members


Ms. Juanita Bailey

Hampton Roads

Republican Women's Club


Ms. Dayle Brittain

Historic Triangle

Republican Women


Ms. Kris Butz

York County

Republican Committee


Ms. Lou Call

Newport News Republican Committee


Mrs. Lynda Fairman

York Republican Women's Club


Ms. Lori Goldstein

Williamsburg City

Republican Committee

Ms. Amanda Johnston

James City County

Republican Committee


Mr. Paul Keddell

Poquoson City

Republican Committee


Ms. Lynda Nestor

Jamestown Heritage Republican Women

Mr. Matt Scott

Hampton City

Republican Committee

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Save the Date! 
2015 Lincoln Reagan Gala
featuring The Honorable Jim Gilmore
Former Virginia Governor
Saturday, March 14, 2015
Fort Magruder Inn and Conference Center

6945 Pocahontas Trail

Williamsburg, Virginia 23185


6:00 p.m. - Private Sponsor Reception with Hors d 'Oeuvres

6:30 - 9:00 p.m. - General Reception, Silent Auction & Dinner

Additional information and a formal invitation 
will be forthcoming.
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Sponsor the 2015 Gala!

Sponsors replying by February 1, 2015, will be listed on the mailed invitation.

A standard invitation will be provided after February 1.

For more information, please call 
757-903-6311 or email
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York County District 5 Report and Crime Watch Update - January 2015

Dear Neighbors,


The District 5 Report for January 2015 is designed to keep you informed of local activities and government actions that might impact your family, home and neighborhood.*  Crime Watch information is included as an addition to your neighborhood Crime Watch Program.  Comments and questions are always welcome.  I greatly appreciate your help in disseminating the report to other residents in our community.




Tom Shepperd

Chairman and District 5 Representative

York County Board of Supervisors


Home (757) 868-8591

Cell (757) 604-3079


------District 5 and Crime Watch Report January 2015*------


Report Content:


            - Crime Watch Report

            - Announcements

            - Transportation Updates

            - Board of Supervisors Actions Impacting District 5 (Recap since September 2014)

            - Notes


1.  Crime Watch Report


            a.  There were three crimes involving the discharge of weapons in and around District 5.  The first incident was off Lakeside Drive in District 4 near the Poquoson River.  A homeowner thought he was shooting at a deer but instead ended up shooting his neighbor who died of his wounds.  The shooter is charged by the York County-Poquoson Commonwealth Attorney with murder.  The second incident occurred at a residence in the Running Man neighborhood.  The homeowner was awakened in the night to find an individual on the lower floor of the house.  When challenged, the intruder made a break for it towards the kitchen and in the process fired a couple of rounds into the ceiling, which buckled the floor near the homeowner upstairs.  No one was hurt.  The third incident is not well known.  It occurred in December in Poquoson around 8 a.m. and involved a homeowner firing a gun through the front door of her home at an unknown assailant. The unknown assailant turned out to be a 93 year old lady with a walker who became confused as she crossed Wythe Creek Road and, thinking she was at her home, somehow made it up onto the porch and tried to enter the house.  The elderly lady, being hard of hearing, did not hear the homeowner shouting for her to go away.  At this point the resident decided to open fire on whoever was at the door.  Fortunately for the elderly lady and the homeowner, no one was hurt.  However, they did have to repair the bullet hole in the house across the street.


Comment:  The U.S. Constitution gives us the right to bear arms.  It does not give us the right to indiscriminately shoot at people or things.  Yes, you have a right to protect yourself using deadly force under certain circumstances but in doing so you better be ready to face the consequences of your action.  All three of these incidents mentioned above are classified as crimes.  One involves murder, one the use of a weapon during the commission of a felony (minimum of 3 years in prison), and luckily, one that resulted in only a Class 1 misdemeanor charge (1 year in jail and $2,500 fine). 


            b.  Despite the three weapons incidents, York County is a pretty safe place to live, especially District 5.  Much of our safety is attributable to neighbors watching after neighbors and a willingness of residents to cooperate with law enforcement. In reviewing the crime reports for our area over the past eight months, much of the Sheriff’s reports involved juvenile activity such as fights at school or some type of vandalism.  There were numerous reports of fraud such as use of stolen credit cards to purchase gas, shoplifting or the use of a routing number to transfer funds or cash a check.  Evidently, check washing is still alive and well.  In November in the Meadowlake Farms subdivision, there was a report of larceny from a car in which a GPS, cell phone charger, and CD were taken.  Also, there were three incidences of auto tampering in which nothing was stolen.  On January 5th a larceny from an auto occurred in the Oakwood Drive area near the Dairy Queen on Route 134.  In that incident a GPS and checkbook were taken. 


            c.  January 15th a homeowner on Champions Path reported a burglary attempt.  Nothing was stolen but a suspicious person 5 feet 6 inches tall was seen watching the house and ran away when confronted. 


            d.  Home Break-in Update – I discussed the outcome of recent cases in and around District 5 with York County and Poquoson Commonwealth Attorney Ben Hahn.  You may recall the brazen home burglaries that occurred in 2014 where the culprits broke open doors and windows, threw bricks through windows, and used ladders to enter homes during all hours of the day and night.  In many cases, the residents were home and woke to find the culprits rummaging through the house.  Three of the individuals were tied to some of the crimes -- two brothers and a “friend.”  The “friend” turned state’s evidence and one of the brothers was sentenced to 20 years with 15 years suspended.  The other brother and “friend” are awaiting sentencing.  The value of a suspended sentence is that if the individual is involved in another crime, the judge can impose some or all of the suspended time.  This was the case with a home burglary that occurred in York Colony about four years ago in which jewelry was stolen from an elderly couple in York Colony, which is off of Carys Chapel Road.  The culprit was given a suspended sentence but, after being caught in another burglary, had six years of his suspension revoked and is now serving time in the state prison.


2.  Announcements


            a.  It is an honor to once again serve as the Chairman of the York County Board of Supervisors.   This is my fourth time as Chairman since being elected to office in 2001.   I will make every attempt to enhance communication and the flow of information between local government and the citizens it represents.   Ensuring that the government works in an efficient and effective manner is fundamental to the County’s ongoing success.  I look forward to working with my fellow supervisors and hearing from you over the coming year.


            b.  The District 5 Town Meeting was held on October 16, 2014.  To view the briefing slides, go to the County’s webpage at  When you get to the page, select County Government then scroll down and click on Board of Supervisors.  On the Board of Supervisors page the briefing is posted under “Link” on the left side of the page.   The briefing is quite extensive and provides a good look at how the County fits and ranks within the Hampton Roads, Commonwealth of Virginia and eastern portion of the U.S.  The briefing will remain available online for approximately one year.


            c.  The County’s 2015-2016 budget development process is underway.  The Board is asking for your general thoughts on what you believe to be important funding topics.  Also, we are asking for your input on various aspects of the budget as they are made public over the coming weeks and months.  On January 20th, the Board held its first budget comment period in which citizens emphasized the need to increase funding for the performing arts and bike lanes.  Supervisors will meet with the School Board on February 3 in York Hall and there are 6 work sessions planned for March and April.  The public hearing for the budget will be on April 23rd with budget adoption on May 5th.  You can provide comments to the Board of Supervisors by emailing, or calling the voice mailbox at 890-3220, or calling each of the Supervisors at the numbers listed on the Board’s webpage at  Also, you can mail your comments to Board of Supervisors, P.O. Box 532, Yorktown, VA 23690.  As always, you can contact me at any of the email addresses or phone numbers listed under my signature block at the beginning of this report.  I look forward to hearing from you.


            d.  Nominations for Outstanding Youth Awards – Each year, the Youth Award Scholarship Program provides 4 worthy students with a $500 scholarship.  The nomination categories are Community Service, Compassion, Courage and Overall Achievement.   Anyone can nominate a deserving student.  Nominees must be residents of York County and currently enrolled in grades 9 through 12 in a public, private or home school.  You can download the nomination forms from the York County Youth Commission’s website at   Hard copies of the nomination forms are available at any of the York County libraries, the Williamsburg-James City County libraries, and the Parks, Recreation and Tourism office at 100 County Drive.  The deadline for submission is February 26, 2015 at 5 p.m.  For more information, call the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Office at 890-3500.


            e.  Gardeners – The York County/Poquoson Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension is offering free pruning clinics to assist homeowners through hands-on learning.  The clinics are held in February, which is a dormant month and the best time to prune ornamentals.  Pruning clinics will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.  The clinics will be: February 7th at Grafton True Value Hardware on Route 17, February 21st at Taylor’s Do-It Center on Wythe Creek Road in Poquoson, and February 28th at Ken Matthews Garden Center on Route 17.  Please register by emailing or by calling 890-4940.  Please provide your name, address and phone number and reference the clinic you wish to attend.


            f.  Garbage Bin Issue - I received several complaints from residents concerning garbage bins being left open or lying on their sides after the collection truck passes through the neighborhood..  Here is the response I received from the Executive Director of the Virginia Peninsula Public Service Authority (VPPSA).  “There are two important factors to get closed lids with automated collection of carts.  The first is placement of the cart by the resident.  The carts and collection equipment are designed to operate with the handle facing the house and the opening facing the truck.  When properly placed, the lid automatically closes after being emptied.  If the cart is placed backwards - with the handle facing the street - it is unlikely that the lid will close.  The second factor is the driver.  When the driver is in a hurry and returns the cart too quickly or the cart hits the ground too hard, the lid will often pop open.  We have made efforts - and we know the County has also worked - to notify residents of the correct way to place the carts at the street.  We have had several discussions with County Waste Management regarding the need for drivers to return carts in such a manner that the lids do not pop open and that the carts remain upright.  Our experience, for the most part, has been that the County Waste drivers are careful about returning the carts after collection.  We are most likely to find open lids and carts on their sides when the work load is heavy and drivers feel that they need to move fast.”  Neighbors, please let me know if this continues to be an issue within your community.


3.  Transportation Updates


            a.  Big Bethel Turn – The June 2014 District 5 Report stated that VDOT would adjust the lines at the intersection of Big Bethel Road and Victory Boulevard so that there would be a dedicated left turn lane for northbound traffic on Big Bethel.  Unfortunately, VDOT is now saying that after further review there is insufficient room for the line adjustment.  While VDOT did not kill the project, it is my expectation that no further work will be done on the intersection until Victory Boulevard is widened.


            b.  Widening of Victory Boulevard (Route 171) –  The widening of Route 171 requires that the highway project first be included in the 2040 Hampton Roads Long Range Transportation Plan.  This does not mean that the project will have to wait until 2040 to get started.  The Hampton Roads Long Range Transportation Plan is updated every couple of years by the Hampton Road Transportation Planning Organization and used to prioritize road projects for funding.  Transportation funding continues to remain tight throughout the Commonwealth but thanks to changes in state code, the cities and counties of Hampton Roads are now able to generate dedicated funding for highway projects in our area.  Currently, there are 190 road projects throughout Hampton Roads competing to be included in the 2040 Plan.  Poquoson, Hampton, Newport News, Joint Base Langley-Ft Eustis and NASA-Langley have joined with York County to support the inclusion of Rt. 171 in the 2040 Plan.  We should know later this year if Victory Boulevard makes it into the 2040 Plan.


            c.  George Washington Memorial Highway (Route 17) Widening Update – Weather continues to delay this $64 million transportation project.  Construction, which started in 2013, was originally slated to end at Wolf Trap Road in December 2016.  Phase 1, which includes Harwood Mill and was scheduled to be complete in December 2014, is now scheduled for completion sometime in the Spring of 2015.  VDOT informed the Board of Supervisors that construction of Phases 2 and 3 were started earlier in an attempt to keep the entire project on track.  It now appears that the three phases are being blended, which makes it is very difficult to determine when specific segments of Route 17 will be completed.  As it stands now, the project is still scheduled for completion in 2016.


            d.  Update on I-64 – The Hampton Road Transportation Accountability Commission (HRTAC) approved the funding to widen all three segments of I-64.  Phase 1, which begins at Exit 255 (Jefferson Avenue) and ends at mile marker 248 just passed the Fort Eustis interchange, is funded for $144 million.  Construction will begin in 2015 with the addition of one lane in each direction.  Revenue from gas and sale taxes in Hampton Roads is being collected at a rate of about $200 million a year.  As the revenue is collection, the HRTAC will authorize additional bonds for Segments 2 and 3.  Total cost of the I-64 peninsula improvements to include the Ft. Eustis interchange is $753 million.


            e.  Wythe Creek Road -  Previously, the Cities of Poquoson and Hampton announced improvements to Wythe Creek Road, which included the construction of a new bridge from Poquoson to NASA.  The project now appears to be short about $10 million and until the funds can be identified the project is on hold.


            f.  Request to lower speed on Hampton Highway (Route 134) – I have received several requests from residents in District 5 to ask VDOT to lower the speed limit on Hampton Highway from 55 to 45 miles per hour.  Previously, VDOT denied the request.  If you have any comments concerning the speed limit on Route 134, please let me hear from you.


            g. VDOT has informed me that there are no slurry or surface treatments scheduled for District 5 streets in 2015.


            h.  It appears that a large subdivision is being planned for the track of land in Poquoson that lies between the Woods of Tabb subdivision in York County and Poquoson City Hall.  Champions Path in the Woods of Tabb subdivision will be a street connection to the new subdivision, which will also connect to Victory Boulevard.


4.  Board of Supervisors Actions Impacting District 5 (Recap since September 2014)


            a.  Search for New County Administrator – The Board authorized the hiring of the executive recruiting firm, Colin Baenziger & Associates.  The firm will receive applications, conduct background checks, and forward candidate profiles to the Board.   The Board expects to make a selection in April or May.


            b.  Changed Zoning Ordinance Chapter 24.1 to allow for an increase in the number of large political signs (Ref. Ord. No 14-16, 9/16/14).


            c.  Authorized a Special Use Permit for a seafood harvesting home occupation at the end of Calthrop Neck Road (Ref. R14-107, 9/16/14).


            d.  Authorized private weddings and receptions at the Hornsby House Inn in Historic Yorktown (Ref. R14-108, 9/16/14).


            e.  Authorized the Marquis Community Development Authority (CDA) to issue $5 million in additional bonds. York County is not responsible of any of the bonds issued by the Marquis CDA (Ref. R14-122, 10/07/14).


            f.  Amended the Zoning Ordinance to establish new use parameters for commercial farming throughout the County.  Two useable acres are now required for commercial farming.  Home gardens, orchards, vineyards, etc. were not impacted by the ordinance change (see Sec. 24.1-271) (Ref. Ord. No. 14-19 & 14-20R, 10/21/14).


            g. Defeated a County Zoning Ordinance change proposal to rezone numerous parcels of land to R-33 (Residential- Low Density Single-Family Residential) Ref. Ord. No. 14-23, 11/18/14). 


            h.  Approved the inclusion of FEMA Floodplain Management Area Overlay District revisions into the County Ordinance.  This action requires a 3-ft. freeboard above the 100 year flood plain.  Freeboard is space between flood water and the floor of a building.  Taking this action reduced the overall cost of flood insurance for homes within York County (Ref. Ordinance No. 14-22, 11/18/2014).


            i.  Approved a $298,000 contract to improve stormwater flow from the 10-acre lake in the Woodlake Crossing subdivision as part of the Moores Creek Project.  Construction is slated to start in the spring of 2015 (Ref. R14-146, 12/02/14).


            j.  Approved a mutual aid agreement with Langley AFB to provide fire rescue services and emergency medical services (Ref. R15-11, 01/20/15).


5.  Notes


            a.  Elimination of Libraries?  Occasionally, a citizen will suggest that we do away with our libraries.  This suggestion is based on the notion that since every household now has one or two computers connected to the Worldwide Web, libraries are an outdated idea.  Facts to do not support this recommendation.  For example, there are currently 61,000  library cardholders that use our two libraries and over 269,000 items were checked out over the past year.


            b.  Virginia’s ranking on taxes.  The ranking shows that there is an overreliance on local taxes to pay for core services.  For example,  in 2011, Virginia ranked 15th out of 50 states in per capita local taxes but 34th in per capita state taxes.  The state ranked 25th in per capita spending for education when state and local spending are combined but only ranked 39th when state spending is considered separately. (Source: Virginia Compared to Other States, JLARC, 2014 Edition,


 * Comments and opinions expressed in this report do not necessarily represent the position of other members of the York County Board of Supervisors.  All email correspondence to and from this address is subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act and to the Virginia Public Records Act, which may result in monitoring and disclosure to third parties, including law enforcement.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Rob Wittman's Weekly Update

Click here to                      visit my website

In just the first few weeks of 2015, conversations with folks in the First District have shown me that despite the arrival of a new Congress in Washington, Virginians remain skeptical of Congress's ability to get things done. It is very clear that it will take more than a few new faces to convince the American people that their elected leaders are serious about achieving results. Instead, a change in the governing culture of Washington as a whole is absolutely critical to prove that Congress is capable of completing the business of this nation.

A major concern of mine is that Congress has become stuck in an unhealthy pattern in which budgets are neglected and government funding bills are put off until the last minute. Our constituents sent us here to do our jobs, and we must not procrastinate. Instead, Congress must return to a state of regular budget order, in which it passes budgets and appropriations bills on time rather than bloated, short-sighted funding bills at the eleventh hour. To that end, I began the year by introducing two pieces of legislation, which I believe will help to ensure better accountability in Washington.

The first is the No Budget, No Pay Act (H.R. 174). I believe that if members of Congress expect to be paid, we should do our jobs. This bill would prohibit members of the House or Senate from receiving pay if their respective chamber does not pass a budget by April 15, 2015. A long-term budget blueprint for the next fiscal year is absolutely critical for long-term planning, and it sets guidelines for the appropriations bills that follow. There is no reason why we can't get this done.

I have also introduced the Stay on Schedule (S.O.S) resolution (H. Res. 17), which would change congressional rules to prohibit the House of Representatives from taking an August recess unless it has passed all regular appropriations bills to fund the government by July 31. I have consistently demanded that Congress remain in Washington to complete the business of the nation. This resolution is a commonsense measure that will get us on a path to regular budget order.  

I am honored and humbled to serve the First District in the new Congress, and I am committed to bringing accountability to Washington. The No Budget, No Pay Act and the S.O.S. resolution represent the first step toward achieving that goal. I am eager to build support for these pieces of legislation, and I will work tirelessly to secure their passage.

The main streets of Virginia's First District are full of ideas to get our economy back on track, and your feedback is critically important to me as I serve you. I can be reached by telephone at (202) 225-4261, through my website (, on Facebook (, and via Twitter (



Yorktown Office
401 Main Street
Yorktown, VA 23690
Phone: (757) 874-6687
Fax: (757) 874-7164

Stafford Office
95 Dunn Drive
Ste. 201
Stafford, Virginia 22556
Phone: (540) 659-2734
Fax: (540) 659-2737

Tappahannock Office
508 Church Lane
Tappahannock, VA 22560
Phone: (804) 443-0668
Fax: (804) 443-0671

Washington D.C. Office
2454 Rayburn H.O.B.
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4261
Fax: (202) 225-4382



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