Chris on the Issues
The economy of Virginia is strong, but we must be vigilant to keep it that way and to make sure that it works for all Virginians. As a small business owner, Chris understands the needs of job creators and job seekers. He has consistently supported legislation that ensures a healthy and competitive environment for Virginia businesses and workers. New and growing businesses are looking for a skilled workforce, modern infrastructure, high quality healthcare, freedom from burdensome regulations, a low tax environment, and attractive communities. Businesses create jobs and Virginia is rated as the best state in the nation for business. As a member of the House Appropriations committee, Chris takes his responsibility as a steward of the Commonwealth’s finances very seriously and has passed a balanced budget every 2 years. Funding Virginia’s core services requires many difficult decisions, but Chris is committed to delivering maximum value for Virginia citizens. Chris has received the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Champion of Free Enterprise Award 5 times and the Distinguished Advocate for Virginia Business twice for supporting Virginia’s growing economy.
As a Veteran and a member of a family full of veterans, Chris understands the needs of veterans and active duty servicemembers and has been a consistent champion for them in the General Assembly. Chris was the chief patron of the “Veteran’s Courts” legislation that provides options to veterans with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (HB 1691, 2011). In 2016, Chris passed legislation to create a pilot program providing a career path for Army Medics, Navy and Coast Guard Corpsmen, and Air Force Medical Technicians to begin practicing in the civilian healthcare industry (HB 825, 2016), then carried a bill that made this unique legislation permanent in 2018 (HB 915, 2018). Chris led the effort with local and state leaders to secure funding and land for a new Veterans Care Center opening in Virginia Beach in 2021 (HB 477, 2016). Chris added surviving spouses and children of veterans to Virginia’s state employee hiring preferences to ensure that our military families are supported (HB 253, 2012). Chris also expanded the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) program that helps employers find qualified veterans and has now hired 50,000 Virginia Veterans (HB1641, 2015). Chris has been awarded the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Military and Veteran’s Advocacy award twice and named the Virginia Military Officers Association of America Legislator of the Year.
As the only physician running for re-election to the House of Delegates, Chris has a unique perspective and expertise on healthcare legislation. He has consistently written legislation to make healthcare more affordable and accessible by reforming and refining the regulations placed on doctors, nurses, hospitals, and insurers. Chris has passed legislation to reduce unnecessary regulations on doctors (HB 226, 2018), expand insurance options for Virginia families (HB 2443, 2019. HB 2260, 2019. SB 1240, 2019), protect emergency room nurses (HB 1690, 2011), and expand the criteria for inmates to receive psychiatric care (HB 86, 2014). Chris has received the Virginia Healthcare and Hospital Association Hero of Healthcare award, the Virginia College of Emergency Physicians Emergency Medicine Hero award, the Virginia Association of Nursing Friend of Nursing award, and the Virginia Emergency Nurses Association Sponsorship Award.
Our children should have access to a quality education no matter their zip code. Chris graduated from Cox High School and all 5 of his children graduated from Virginia Beach Public Schools. To address the teacher shortage that Virginia is facing, Chris supported a bill that grants teacher licensure to military spouses that are licensed in another state (HB2, 2018). Chris has consistently voted to increase education funding and supported teacher raises including 5% this year. Higher education is vital to the Commonwealth as well, and this year Chris supported legislation that will freeze public university tuition and increase financial aid. Chris has also passed legislation to ensure that Military spouses have access to in-state tuition (HB 1848, 2011) and surviving military spouses and dependents have access to education benefits from the state (HB 576, 2014). For his efforts to strengthen Virginia’s education system, Chris was awarded the Hampton Roads Workforce Council Workforce Innovation Award.
Protecting the Vulnerable
As a community, it is our responsibility to protect the vulnerable among us. Chris has demonstrated his commitment to the safety of his constituents by working to address threats to our community like human trafficking, domestic violence, and the opioid epidemic. Chris has voted to increase penalties for human traffickers (HB 1964, 2015), make it easier to report a crime (HB 1887, 2019), and ease the burden of victims when testifying (HB 2464, 2019). Chris has also voted to toughen penalties on domestic abusers, especially repeat offenders (HB 2042, 2019), while providing additional protections for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault (HB 1852, 2017). The effects of the opioid crisis are felt by too many families in our community. Chris has worked to improve education, treatment, and recovery as well as support children exposed to drugs before birth (HB 1786, 2017).
Recurrent flooding is a growing problem for our community. Chris has led the way in the General Assembly by proposing bipartisan, common-sense legislation to adapt our communities to the risk of flooding. Chris carried legislation to create a cabinet position dedicated to Coastal Flooding (HB 345, 2018) and the legislation that created the Joint Subcommittee on Coastal Flooding (HJ 16, 2014), which he was then selected to lead. He also carried the legislation that created the Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency (HB 903, 2016) and has worked with local, state, and federal authorities to secure funds for studies and projects to mitigate the effects of Coastal Flooding. Chris secured $10 million in state funding for the City of Virginia Beach to purchase and protect Pleasure House Point. He is a member of the American Flood Coalition and was awarded the Sierra Club Leadership Award for his work to address climate change and sea level rise.
Transportation infrastructure is an essential driver of economic growth and quality of life in Hampton Roads. Chris authored SmartScale, a landmark bill that takes the politics out of transportation funding (HB 2, 2014). It prioritizes transportation projects based on their contribution to the surrounding communities and the Commonwealth. This innovative legislation has led to significant investments in Hampton Roads’ transportation infrastructure, including the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel expansion. Chris serves on the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization and the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission where he works to plan and fund critical infrastructure projects in the region. Chris received the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Transportation Reform Advocate Award for his innovative work on this issue. Chris’s SmartScale legislation has been recognized as a national best practice by The Southern Legislative Conference.
Chris is dedicated to ensuring that our community is as safe as possible. To that end, Chris has sponsored and passed legislation to reform and expand Virginia’s specialty docket system to more effectively handle veterans and those suffering from mental illness (HB 1691, 2011). Chris has also passed legislation to improve the quality of mental health treatment in jails and standardize health care for inmates to reduce recidivism and more effectively rehabilitate inmates (HB 1918, 2019). To keep our communities safe, we must invest in sound, smart policies that treat the disease, not the symptom. Chris has supported pay raises for law enforcement and first responders, and legislation to address domestic violence, human trafficking, and opioid addiction.