Friday, March 9, 2012

Delegate Mike Watson Newsletter





Delegate Watson at a press conference with the Sheriffs Association

Letter from Mike:






In the last few newsletters we have been counting down weeks to the end of session.  After tomorrow, we will start counting up…the number of days after the end of ‘regular session’ in which we do not have a budget.  In the House, having passed a budget bill twice now, we are making every effort to move forward and have our conferees already working to resolve difference between our budget and the Senate items that we suspect will be in their budget.  However, as I write this letter a final budget agreement does not appear to be eminent.  Some of our readers might recall me talking about calling my wife from the Capitol Steps in Washington a couple years ago.  I told her “this place is broken and can only be fixed by the states”.  I would not have guessed that I would be facing similar partisan gridlock when I came to Richmond.  That said, I do have faith that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle will come around and do what is right for the citizens of the Commonwealth.  Certainly they recognize the burden that will be placed upon public safety, transportation, schools, localities and other state agencies by delaying our budget.  


As we transition out of Richmond and back to our districts, our team will be setting up our two district offices.  We will be finalizing plans for several Town Hall meetings and organizing a number of events.  We will address some plans in this newsletter with more information coming out as we finalize dates, locations, etc. in the coming weeks.  I encourage you to visit our website at as we will routinely update information there.  If you are on Facebook, you may want to visit the DelegateWatson page as well. 


This has been an exciting eight weeks.  I have gotten several worthy bills through the system, still working to keep my budget amendments intact and have learned much about our legislative system.  Officially, our last day of session will be on Saturday and I am looking forward to getting back to our district as there is much to do once there.   I have my share of homework in the nine months before 2013 and I am eager to report progress to you along the way.  One of these projects will break new ground.  As a teaser, I will simply ask you to keep your eye out for press releases in a couple weeks.


Barring unforeseen events here in Richmond, our next newsletter will be sent from the 93rd district.  I look forward to seeing you in our district offices, at events and around town.   Please contact my office if we can be of assistance and know that I am grateful for this opportunity to serve. 


Signing off from Richmond.




Contact Me:


As always, we are here in Richmond to serve you. We want to hear what you think about the legislation pending before the House, or if there's anything we can do to help you.


My office can be reached at:


(804) 698-1093


or via email at


"Like" Me on Facebook


The most up-to-date information can be found here

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District Offices


For the convenience of all constituents, we will have two 93rd district offices.  In Williamsburg, we will staff an office at 1201 Jamestown Road (the white building at the corner of Jamestown Road and Route 199).  This location is just down the street from the campus of William and Mary and is an extremely convenient location for folks in James City County and Williamsburg.  For our friends in Newport News and York County, we have an office in the Cybernetics Building on Victory Boulevard.  Both offices should be up and running within a couple weeks and once we are set up, we will post our contact information and office hours on the web.



I-64 – Post Session Project


It is a rare instance to be at a meeting in the district when transportation, or more specifically, I-64 does not become a major topic.  Throughout his campaign, Mike talked about the need to get this project on the state’s priority list and to develop a reliable funding strategy.  Having a session under his belt and a better understanding of our statewide transportation crisis, it has become clear that the strategy of submitting this project in whole, hoping it will eventually be funded, simply will not work.   To use Mike’s words, “It will be long after I am gone before the state strokes a check to fund additional lanes between Newport News and Richmond in one fell swoop”.  In his opinion, we will only make progress by segmenting this project and getting creative to address our bottlenecks a section at a time.  Mike has already started efforts to advance this idea and will continue to work on it throughout the summer and next year.  If we can break this into more affordable segments, we have a much better chance of getting portions funded as part of a statewide transportation initiative.   We will also have a better chance of securing funding once we set specific priorities, and we can use this as a negotiation tool when dealing with other regions on their transportation priorities.  This will not happen overnight, but we will keep you posted on his progress.



Flounder and Jobs


This session you have likely heard about Mike’s bill to ensure that Tourism Projects receive their full earned revenue share.  You also heard about his Habitat for Humanity bill, efforts to reform BPOL and the Machine & Tools tax and even his Energy bill.   But you may not have heard about HJR 96, his Summer Flounder resolution, or “Flounder Jobs Bill” as he jokingly refers to it.  The Commercial Fishing Industry is managed by a 14” flounder size limit while recreational fishermen are restricted to 17.5” and larger, and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) currently estimates 94% of all VA flounder caught by recreational anglers must be thrown back and that they suffer a 10 – 20% mortality rate after being returned.  As a result, over 2 million flounder die every year while anglers keep fishing until they catch the larger, more productive fish.   Furthermore, this self-defeating restriction has stifled a once thriving Flounder Charter Boat industry.   Mike’s HJR 96, which has the backing of VMRC management and received unanimous votes in both the House and the Senate, instructs the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to modify its formula for setting Summer Flounder size limits, taking these and other facts into consideration, to bring the recreational size limits more in line with the commercial fishery.  Implementation of this resolution will promote a Charter Boat industry rebound, increase saltwater fishing license purchases, increase business at tackle shops and marinas and allow recreational anglers to actually keep some of their Summer Flounder catch.  Surprisingly, it is a jobs bill after all.      

Contact Delegate Watson

Phone: (804) 698-1093     Email:

Mail: General Assembly Building P.O. Box 406 Richmond, Virginia 23218

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