MARSHALL – Adopt laws aimed at restricting the role of government and reforming regulations. That is the approach that Michael Webert in his role as Republican delegate of the 18th
The district includes the Happy Creek District and the East Shenandoah and South River counties of Warren Counties, while it mainly includes the counties of Rappahannock, Fauquier and Culpeper.
Webert tries to fend off Democratic challenger Douglas Ward.
“The best thing I found early on is that I just have fun enjoying people, talking to people … getting to know the community and trying to find ways to make it better,” said Webert. “I’m trying to do better with less government.”
Originally from Colorado, 42-year-old Webert moved to Fauquier County about 20 years ago. As a former radio producer with experience in landscaping, Webert took over the family business and produced vegetables and meat for companies throughout the district.
With his experience as a legislator, he has seen how much and how badly governments can sometimes function.
Webert announced a recent regulatory reform bill he sponsored and said it was possible to make Virginia the leader in regulatory reform as it once was.
“I just became a politician with all that stuff,” said Webert. “I’m just trying to make it easier and better for our voters. And I’m enjoying that.”
With his knowledge of agriculture, Webert aims to address the problem of nutrient runoff in the Chesapeake Bay.
These include planting buffers, adding flexibility to the fences, preventing erosion and creating incentives for farmers, Webert said. He sits on the John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation Commission and was named Chesapeake Bay Foundation Legislator of the Year in 2015, Webert said.
The prevention of this run-off extends to opposition to solar parks as they are currently proposed, said Webert. The angle of the panels can cause runoff as the creation of solar panel fields or “solar farms” also leads to deforestation while losing the beauty of the landscape.
“With more and more resources, we can do it even better,” said Webert about protecting the bay.
A bill he proposed would allow local district overseers to help install solar panel arrays rather than just completing a checklist of qualifications to build them, Webert said.
“There has to be a compromise … a good policy to achieve cleaner energy, but also to keep our bay clean and to make our landscape look like a landscape,” said Webert. “Trees actually have a much more beneficial effect on the environment than a solar panel.”
As a member of the Republican minority in the House of Delegates, Webert said there was not much involved in the legislative process with the opposing Democratic majority.
At the last special session to allocate $ 4.3 billion in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, Webert said he supported some measures like expanding broadband access but didn’t like the process that didn’t ponder how things were decided became.
“Instead of giving the governor a slush fund, we might use it to … [Personal Protective Equipment] and to get everything that schools need to have in class without children necessarily having to wear a mask, “said Webert, criticizing the $ 1.3 billion that the majority of the legislature voted for in the event of a COVID- 19-to reserve resuscitation emergency.
The Republicans’ two-minute alternative proposal to the ARPA spending plan included an initiative called Project Ceasefire, Webert said. The initiative is based on a program in Boston that aimed to provide resources to people who transition out of the gang lifestyle and let them know that relapses will result in harsh sentences.
This program, along with Attorney General Mark Herring, who actually prosecutes criminals under state law, would reduce violent crime, Webert said, while no gun control measures would be taken.
“There are already a number of laws to prevent gun violence,” said Webert.
For Warren County, Webert said he would like the allocation of funds to be changed from per student to using the composite index. It’s a calculation that determines how much money goes to specific locations, provides a more even distribution across rural communities, and was included in the ARPA Republican spending proposal, Webert said.
“If my counties lose on this stuff, I won’t be voting for it,” he said.
In the last full session, the Democratic majority passed the law too quickly, as evidenced by a bill to remove military equipment from law enforcement agencies, Webert said. Included in the bill was a provision to remove 50 caliber cartridges, which include shotgun cartridges. The governor had to change the law to allow shotguns, a firearm that every soldier in the state had to obtain an exemption for prior to the changes, Webert said.
“Such errors were pointed out,” said Webert. “But the arrogance of the other side and the inability to communicate personally made any negotiation impossible.”
Changing the parole board not to let criminals out and be repeat offenders will help lower recidivism rates, Webert said. Virginia previously had some of the lowest relapse rates in the country, he noted.
Allocating funds for law enforcement accreditation, which provides regulatory oversight of the departments by third parties, can also help, Webert said.
Webert said he was given a COVID-19 vaccine, but the choice to receive the vaccine is a personal one and should not be mandatory as students are required to wear masks. That should be left to the parents, he said.
Rappahannock County’s public schools were able to put strict COVID-19 precautions in place and reopened without any problems last year, Webert said.
“I think what the governor did was pretty clumsy,” said Webert. “I think we can find a compromise in the future.”
If critical racial theory is to be taught in schools, it also needs to teach opposing theories, which could include the work of US Attorney General Clarence Thomas explaining how democratic programs have broken the family system, Webert said.
“I think you should teach students how to think, not what to think,” said Webert.
Webert said he was for life but declined to comment on the anti-abortion laws recently passed in Texas. On the right to vote, he said he supported a reform that would include the requirement for a passport to vote and count ballots in real time so they would not be counted en masse at different times of the day.
“People have to trust the voting process,” said Webert.
Medicaid’s expansion may have helped some people, but it doesn’t cut costs as the state budget increased from $ 93 billion to $ 143 billion, with a large portion of it being insurance, Webert said. In the insurance industry, more testing needs to be done to increase affordability, said Webert.
Changing a regulation that limits the number of health facilities in a given area could allow more treatment centers that could help address mental health issues and reduce crime rates, Webert also said.
The election is on November 2nd. The early voting has started.