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ATTN: GREENSVILLE COUNTY TAXPAYERS

Greensville County Business, Professional and Occupational Licenses for 2019 are now due.  To avoid penalties, please secure your 2019 license from the Commissioner of the Revenue’s Office on or before March 1st.  We are located in the Greensville County Government Building at 1781 Greensville County Circle, Rm 132 on Highway 301 North – Sussex Drive.  Our office hours are from 8 to 5 Monday thru Friday.


Martha S. Swenson
Master Commissioner of the Revenue
Greensville County, Virginia

Hundreds of Anti-abortion Activists Rally at Virginia Capitol

By Andrew Gionfriddo, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Among a sea of strollers and picket signs on the grounds of the Virginia Capitol, hundreds of people demonstrated Thursday against abortion — and especially against Democratic proposals to ease restrictions on late-term abortions.

Activists filled the landing of the Capitol steps, flooding down the hill towards Bank Street. Signs declaring “Equal rights for pre-born people” and other anti-abortion slogans poked out of the crowd as children played and their parents watched.

The Commonwealth for Life: March on Richmond featured General Assembly members, anti-abortion activists and representatives of Christian organizations. Chris and Diana Shores organized the rally in just a week after legislation sponsored by Del. Kathy Tran, D-Fairfax, came into the national spotlight.

Questioned by a Republican about her bill, Tran said it technically would allow a woman about to give birth to have an abortion. After critics accused her of endorsing infanticide, Tran said she misspoke. However, conservative commentators — including President Donald Trump in Tuesday’s State of the Union address — slammed Tran, Gov. Ralph Northam and other Virginia Democrats for supporting the measure.

Chris Shores said he and his wife have been in the political arena for years. When news of Tran’s bill broke, they received a slew of calls asking them what they were going to do about it.

“We threw up a Facebook post last week, and within 24 to 48 hours, we had hundreds of people interested in the post,” Shores said. “It was truly organic.”

The rally was the first time the couple has put on an event of this scale. Speakers included Republican Sens. Dick Black of Loudoun County and Bill Stanley of Franklin County; Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper; and E.W. Jackson, a Protestant minister and lawyer who was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 2013.

While the event featured Republican figures and Christian leaders, Chris Shores said the aim of the March on Richmond was outside party and religious lines.

“I didn’t want this to become a Republican pep rally. That wasn’t the point of the event,” he said.

A central theme to the event was denouncing Tran’s proposal, HB 2491. The bill was tabled by a subcommittee and is dead for this legislative session.

Northam, a pediatric neurologist, came under fire from anti-abortion groups after defending the bill on a radio show on Jan. 30. Northam said third-trimester abortions are done “in cases where there may be severe deformities. There may be a fetus that’s non-viable.”

In such instances, the governor said, “The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

Jackson excoriated Northam for that comment.

“Anybody who is prepared to allow a child to die after that child has been born alive does not deserve to be called a pediatrician,” Jackson said. “He doesn’t deserve to be called a governor either.”

Other speeches at the rally criticized efforts in Virginia to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Black, who has opposed abortion in the General Assembly for the past 20 years, said the ERA would be a blow to the anti-abortion movement.

“The ERA is a method that the abortionists want to use,” he said. “If that gets into the Constitution, we will not have any chance to roll back abortion.”

After Trump mentioned the controversy over abortion in Virginia in his nationally televised speech this week, Chris Shores hopes the conversation doesn’t stop.

“We’re going to continue to mobilize and organize and call on pro-life Virginia to stand up,” he said.

General Assembly Bans Holding Cellphones While Driving

By Andrew Gionfriddo, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — The Virginia Senate and House of Delegates on Tuesday each passed bills prohibiting motorists from touching their cellphones while driving.

The Senate approved SB 1341 on a vote of 34-6, and the House passed HB 1811, 69-27. The bills would explicitly ban using a hand-held communication device, unless it is in hands-free mode, while operating a vehicle.

State law currently prohibits only reading email or text messages or manually entering letters or text in a hand-held personal communications device while driving. The legislation would extend that ban to using the device for making phone calls, checking social media and other purposes.

“It is unlawful for any person, while driving a moving motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth, to hold a handheld personal communications device,” the bills state.

Drivers would still be able to operate their phones if they are lawfully parked or stopped or are reporting an emergency.

The legislation passed five days after Bartley King, who was severely injured in a distracted driving accident in 2007 when he was a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University, spoke to senators in favor of the proposals.

In a Facebook post, King recalled his car hitting a tree at 55 mph while he was texting. The crash put him in the VCU Medical Center and left him in a coma for 28 days. He then spent 16 months in a wheelchair relearning to walk.

“I can’t give up and allow others to be hurt as badly as I was,” King wrote. “I made my beloved mother cry and I owe it to her to protect all the other mothers from having to cry for their babies the way that mine did.”

The chief sponsors of the House bill were Republican Dels. Christopher Collins of Frederick County and Michael Webert of Fauquier County and Democratic Del. Michael Mullin of Newport News.

Speaking as a former police officer, Collins said the existing law needed improvements.

“Our current texting while driving statute has just not been enforced,” he said. “The enforcement numbers went way down during the last several years.”

The penalty for a first offense is a $125 fine that rises to $250 for a second or subsequent violation.

“This is going to be straight up — if you have your phone in your hand, you are in violation of a law,” Collins said.

The Senate bill was sponsored by Republican Sens. Richard Stuart of King George County and Frank Wagner of Virginia Beach and Democratic Sen. Scott Surovell of Fairfax.

Under the legislation, the ban on using hand-held devices would not apply to citizens band radios. The bills also would exempt hand-held communication devices that are physically connected to the vehicle and used for navigation or audio transmissions.

Although the House and Senate bills are identical, the legislation still hasn’t cleared the final hurdles. Now, the House must pass the Senate bill, or the Senate must pass the House bill, and then the governor must sign the legislation.

How they voted

Here is how the Senate voted on SB 1341 (Handheld personal communications devices; use while driving).

Floor: 02/05/19 Senate: Read third time and passed Senate (34-Y 6-N)

YEAS — Barker, Boysko, Carrico, Chase, Cosgrove, Dance, Deeds, DeSteph, Dunnavant, Ebbin, Edwards, Favola, Hanger, Howell, Lewis, Locke, Lucas, Marsden, Mason, McClellan, McDougle, McPike, Norment, Peake, Petersen, Reeves, Saslaw, Spruill, Stanley, Stuart, Sturtevant, Surovell, Vogel, Wagner — 34.

NAYS — Black, Chafin, Newman, Obenshain, Ruff, Suetterlein — 6.

Here is how the House voted on HB 1811 (Handheld personal communications devices; use while driving).

Floor: 02/05/19 House: VOTE: PASSAGE (69-Y 27-N)

YEAS — Adams, D.M., Adams, L.R., Ayala, Bagby, Bell, John J., Bell, Robert B., Bourne, Brewer, Bulova, Byron, Carr, Carter, Cole, Collins, Convirs-Fowler, Delaney, Filler-Corn, Fowler, Gooditis, Guzman, Head, Heretick, Herring, Hope, Hugo, Hurst, Ingram, James, Jones, J.C., Jones, S.C., Keam, Knight, Kory, Krizek, Landes, Leftwich, Levine, Lopez, McQuinn, Miyares, Mullin, Murphy, Orrock, Peace, Plum, Poindexter, Price, Ransone, Rasoul, Reid, Robinson, Rodman, Roem, Sickles, Simon, Sullivan, Thomas, Torian, Toscano, Tran, Turpin, Tyler, VanValkenburg, Ward, Ware, Watts, Webert, Wilt, Yancey — 69.

NAYS — Austin, Bell, Richard P., Bloxom, Campbell, J.L., Campbell, R.R., Davis, Edmunds, Fariss, Freitas, Garrett, Gilbert, Hayes, Helsel, Hodges, Kilgore, LaRock, Lindsey, McGuire, McNamara, Morefield, O'Quinn, Pillion, Pogge, Rush, Stolle, Wright, Speaker Cox — 27.

Virginia Sees Population Booms and Big Declines

By Andrew Gionfriddo, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — So far this decade, Virginia has grown — and shrunk — in population.

Seventy of the state’s 133 cities and counties gained population between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2018, according to data released this week by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia. The population of Loudoun County, in Northern Virginia, jumped 30 percent, to more than 406,000.

But the remaining 63 localities — largely rural areas in the southern and western parts of the state — saw population declines. The population of Buchanan County, in the Appalachian Mountains bordering West Virginia and Kentucky, dropped more than 10 percent, to fewer than 21,600 residents.

Overall, Virginia’s population has grown by 6.5 percent since the 2010 census, passing 8.5 million residents last year, according to the Weldon Cooper Center, which generates the state’s official population estimates.

Even so, the state’s annual population growth this decade is the lowest since the 1920s, the center said. During the past five years, the commonwealth’s population has grown more slowly than the nation as a whole.

Hamilton Lombard, a demographer who prepared the annual estimates, said Virginia’s population growth has slowed largely because of “domestic out-migration” — more people moving out of Virginia than into the state.

“Over the last five years, 80,000 more Virginians moved out than residents from other states moved in,” Lombard said. “Many were young families, which helped cause Virginia’s public school enrollment to decline last fall for the first time since 1984.”

The center’s estimates show that Northern Virginia’s population has grown about 13 percent since 2018. Of the 10 fastest-growing localities in Virginia, eight are part of the Washington, D.C., metro area. Besides Loudoun County, they include Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Arlington, Manassas Park, Stafford County, Prince William County and Alexandria.

The other localities in the top 10 are New Kent County, between Richmond and Williamsburg, which grew 22 percent — second only to Loudoun County; and Charlottesville, which grew 13.5 percent.

On the other hand, every Virginia county bordering North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky lost population this decade. Besides Buchanan County, the population declined 9 percent in Dickenson County and 7 percent in the counties of Wise, Tazewell, Alleghany and Surry and the cities of Emporia and Galax. Tazewell and Wise counties each lost more than 3,000 residents.

Augie Wallmeyer, author of the book “The Extremes of Virginia,” attributed the population decline in southern Virginia to a multitude of overlapping conditions.

The most glaring reason is financial insecurity, Wallmeyer said. With the decline of the coal, textile and agriculture industries, Southside Virginia has struggled to provide jobs and economic opportunities, especially for young people. As a result, they move out of the state or to northern parts of Virginia to find work and settle down.

Wallmeyer said other reasons people are leaving could include drug problems in the southern part of the state, lack of higher education and a lack of quality health care.

“The state has known about these problems for quite some time and is taking efforts to put programs in place to make better opportunities available, particularly for young people,” he said.

One effort involves the move by Amazon to invest $2.5 billion in Northern Virginia and open a headquarters in the area. With that initiative, the state will help community colleges provide trade and technical training so that workers can qualify for jobs in today’s more modern economy, Wallmeyer said.

“A big part of that package deal is a significant commitment by the state to drastically increase its training of computer engineering people,” Wallmeyer said. “That’s going to help all of Virginia, not just Northern Virginia.”

He is optimistic that such initiatives can revitalize the economy and stabilize the population in rural areas.

“It’s not going to happen to happen today or tonight or tomorrow, but the seeds are planted,” Wallmeyer said.

Virginia Sports Betting Bills Advance

By Andrew Gionfriddo and Ben Burstein, Capital News Service

RICHMOND -- The odds of Virginia legalizing professional sports betting are improving as bills to authorize sports gambling are advancing in the Virginia General Assembly.

However, legalizing online sports betting may need a little push from companies that wish to bring their business to the commonwealth.

Senate Bill 1238, which would establish the Virginia Sports Betting Department and authorize sports betting, cleared the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology on Tuesday and is now heading to the Senate Finance Committee.

Also making its way to the Finance Committee is Senate Bill 1356, which would change the name of the Virginia Lottery Board to the Virginia Lottery and Sports Wagering Commission. The department would be allowed to accept sports betting wagers.

SB 1238 would prohibit betting on youth and collegiate sports, while SB 1356 would allow betting on youth and collegiate sports outside of Virginia.

The Virginia Sports Betting Department established in SB 1238 would allow for betting entities to apply for a three-year license if a locality votes to approve gambling facilities.

The Virginia Lottery and Sports Wagering Commission of SB 1356 would operate its own facility. While SB 1356 would create an online platform operated by the Lottery, neither bill would legalize private online sports betting.

Still, the push for online sports betting remains alive and well.

Last week, sports betting websites FanDuel and DraftKings lobbied the General Assembly to legalize mobile gambling in addition to sports betting, saying the move would generate millions in tax revenue and help curb illegal gambling in Virginia. Mobile gambling is done on a cellphone, tablet or a remote device with a wireless internet connection.

Sarah Koch, director of government affairs for DraftKings, and Cory Fox, counsel for policy and government affairs for FanDuel, detailed the benefits of sports betting to the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology on Jan. 18.  

Both companies currently operate mobile and web-based fantasy sports, allowing the sites to operate legally as a game of skill, not chance. That’s an important distinction in Virginia, where there’s more flexibility built into the Code of Virginia for games of skills than games of chance. Since there are a number of facets for players to consider, such as statistics or injuries, the operators contend that fantasy sports gambling is more about finesse than luck.

If online and mobile gambling were legalized, DraftKings and FanDuel would be able to open up their sportsbook facets of their websites and apps in Virginia. Both FanDuel and DraftKings sportsbooks act as traditional Vegas style gambling entities and operate in all states where sports betting is legal.

According to Koch, legalizing mobile gambling would help curb illegal sports gambling in the commonwealth.

“Mobile betting allows for advanced age and identity verification, tracking of bet activity, and the ability to restrict or exclude bettors to a greater degree,” Koch said.

Supporters also said the state could get a financial boost if such laws are passed. Fox said Virginia could match New Jersey’s success. He said over $94 million in revenue was generated in the first six months since electronic and in-person sports betting was legalized in New Jersey.

SB 1238 states that 50 percent of the revenue would go to the locality in which it was generated, whereas in SB 1356, 95 percent of the revenue generated from sports gambling would go into the state’s general fund.

Fox said fair tax rates could also assist in the decrease of illegal betting.

“Reasonable tax rates also help attract illegal betters to legal platforms because it allows the operators access to a viable marketplace, while also providing bettors more favorable payouts, further dis-incentivizing betting on illegal platforms,” he said.

Those who oppose sports betting, such as the Family Foundation, have voiced concerns about gambling addiction and collegiate sports betting. Both SB 1238 and SB 1356 aim to mitigate fears of facilitating gambling addiction by funding programs to help compulsive gamblers.

A study was recommended to be completed prior to the passing of any gambling bills. Virginia Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne spoke about the study last week, stating it would be about the public policy and regulatory structure of such bills.

“We have significant questions to answer regarding financial impacts,” he said. The study would look into the revenue sharing between state and local governments and what social impacts legalizing such gambling could bring.

General Assembly to Consider Legalizing Sports Betting

By Andrew Gionfriddo and Ben Burstein, Capital News Service

RICHMOND — Virginia would become the ninth state to legalize sports betting under legislation being considered by the General Assembly this session.

Lawmakers have introduced three bills to legalize sports betting, license betting operations and tax their revenues. Under the proposals, people would be able to bet only on professional sports; betting on college and youth sports would be prohibited.

Many legislators seem to agree that legalized sports betting is inevitable after the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down a federal law prohibiting such gambling in most states.

“Sports gaming is going to be legal across the United States. There is no reason to keep it illegal, when our neighboring states are already moving to legalize,” stated Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, sponsor of SB 1238.

Petersen’s measure would create the Virginia Sports Betting Department to regulate betting operations, which would be located only in localities that agree to allow gambling.

Under SB 1238, operators would pay an application fee of $5,000 and a tax of 10 percent of adjusted gross revenues. The department would keep 2.5 percent of the tax revenue to defray its administrative costs and help problem gamblers. The remaining money would be split between the locality where it was generated and a fund to help community college students.

Two Democratic delegates from Fairfax County also have filed bills to legalize sports betting.

Under HB 1638, sponsored by Del. Mark Sickles, the Virginia Lottery would regulate sports betting. Betting operators would pay a $250,000 application fee and a 15 percent tax on adjusted gross revenues. The lottery would retain 2.5 percent of the revenues to cover administrative costs and assist problem gamblers. The rest of the money would go toward a new initiative called the Virginia Research Investment Fund.

Besides sports betting, Sickles’ bill also would authorize the Virginia Lottery to sell tickets over the internet — a practice now prohibited.

The third bill allowing sports betting is HB 2210, by Del. Marcus Simon. It would direct the Virginia Lottery to regulate electronic sports betting (and, like Sickles’ legislation, to sell lottery tickets over the internet). Simon’s bill would impose a 10 percent tax on the gross adjusted revenue of operations that receive a permit to conduct sports betting. The lottery would keep 3 percent of the tax receipts; the rest would go into a fund to help problem gamblers.

HB 2210 would provide protections for people who may be susceptible to compulsive gambling. For example, people could voluntarily add themselves to a list of individuals who are excluded from engaging in electronic sports betting or buying lottery tickets.

Simon’s bill includes a section on “Sports Bettors Rights” and details procedures to ensure that people who win their bets receive their money, to intervene in instances of problem or at-risk bettors, to protect bettors’ privacy and to provide “transparency of sports betting,” such as the odds of winning a bet.

“I am introducing a Sports Bettors Bill of Rights to make sure that consumers and participants are part of that conversation from the very beginning,” Simon stated.

His “bill of rights” includes provisions to prohibit underage betting and prevent marketing sports betting to minors. Under all of the legislative proposals, sports betting would be limited to Virginians 21 and older — unlike the legal age to purchase lottery tickets, which is 18.

Simon’s bill has been applauded by an organization of sports fans.

“This bill is the most consumer-friendly sports betting bill the Sports Fans Coalition has seen at any level of government,” stated Brian Hess, the group’s executive director. “It is the only piece of legislation that hits all five of our Sports Bettors’ Bill of Rights.”

The coalition’s five principles are “integrity and transparency; data privacy and security; self-exclusion; protection of the vulnerable; and recourse.”

The U.S. Supreme Court opened the door to legalized sports betting in May when it overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. That federal law prohibited sports betting except in states like Nevada that had previously permitted such gambling.

Besides Nevada, sports betting is legal in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Mexico and Mississippi.

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