RICHMOND — Delegate Mike Cherry (R-Colonial Heights) announced that he has introduced three new bills that will support 9-1-1 dispatchers and ban the personal use of campaign funds.
“Our dispatchers are the very first of our first responders,” Cherry said. “They are calm voices on the phone who do far more than simply dispatch an ambulance, police officer, or fire truck. The General Assembly should work diligently to appropriate the necessary funds to fully recognize these public servants as first responders and award them the retirement benefits they deserve.”
Designed to provide a local option, House Bill 630 will give local governments the ability to offer enhanced retirement benefits to their city or county’s dispatchers. The local option, as opposed to a requirement, is in line with Cherry’s position to oppose unfunded mandates on local government.
House Bill 631 aims to offer enhanced retirement benefits for Virginia State Police and Capitol Police dispatchers.
In 2022, Delegate Cherry was recognized by the Virginia Professional Fire Fighters as “Freshman Legislator of the Year” for his work in support of dispatchers.
House Bill 629 will prohibit the personal use of campaign funds. Current Virginia law permits candidates for office–including incumbents–to use their campaign funds for a host of personal reasons including mortgage payments, country club dues, and grocery shopping. The bill importantly sets up a system for filing complaints and handling violations in a way that cannot be weaponized by political opponents.
Regarding House Bill 629, Cherry stated “Campaign funds should be used for campaigning, not for artificially padding a candidate’s lifestyle. Virginia’s reputation as the ‘wild west’ of campaign finance reform isn’t something we should be proud of. This proposal is a significant improvement over the current system. I am hopeful that there will be bipartisan support for this measure.”
All three bills have been sponsored by Delegate Cherry, as well as other legislators, during previous sessions. He remains steadfastly committed to these issues.
A full list of Cherry’s legislation can be found at: lis.virginia.gov.
Background: JLARC study on enhanced retirement benefits