Obenshain bill aims to help volunteer rescue squads

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 5:20 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Virginia State Senator Mark Obenshain, who represents Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, has introduced a bill that would designate volunteer fire companies and rescue squads as essential services.

Virginia Senate Bill 1246 would make them eligible to receive federal funding like American Rescue Plan money which could only be given to essential services organizations.

“That cut out a lot of funding for volunteer rescue squads and paid rescue squads as well. So this designation is important for many different kinds of grant funding that is going to help keep some of these organizations afloat,” said Obenshain.

Many volunteer organizations have faced financial and staffing struggles in the years coming out of the COVID pandemic and the bill could provide a big boost to them.

“The members are volunteers that put in an incredible amount of time for training, for running calls, but most of these folks are folks who are raising a family and working a job as well. Adding the burden of fundraising on them is a lot to ask,” said Obenshain.

The bill unanimously passed in the Senate last week and has now crossed over to the House of Delegates.

“Next time that there are grants or emergency funding that’s provided it’s going to be critical for these rescue squads and emergency medical services to bear this designation,” said Obenshain.

As the General Assembly session rolls on Obenshain said that he is hoping to see some tax cuts passed.

“We are operating this year with a project 3.6 billion dollar budget surplus and we need to figure out how to best apply those funds to meet the essential needs of the commonwealth and provide taxpayers of Virginia with appropriate tax relief,” said Obenshain. “I strongly support the Governor’s initiative to cut the individual income tax rate and the corporate income tax rate. We’ve got to make Virginia a better place to work and raise a family.”

Obenshain has also introduced Senate Bill 1233 which would increase restrictions on marijuana advertisements with the goal of preventing them from targeting minors.

“Advertisers are pitching marijuana in new and creative ways to children across Virginia. We need to adopt common-sense restrictions on the ability to do that. We have a framework that applies to alcohol that restricts the ability of those who sell alcohol to market it to minors. We need to adopt similar restrictions before this gets out of control,” he said.

The bill passed on a 38-0 vote in the Senate last week and has crossed over to the House of Delegates.