April 22, 2017

Issues Facing Virginia Voters

Ballotpedia, “the online encyclopedia of American politics and elections” invited Cliff to respond to a series of issue questions.
Full responses can be found here: https://ballotpedia.org/Cliff_Hyra
On Criminal Justice
On Virginia’s Economy

Unleashing Innovation in Virginia

As Governor, Cliff Hyra will unleash the potential of small business owners and entrepreneurs by:

  • Ending inefficient, job-killing business taxes such as the Business, Professional and Occupational License (aka BPOL) tax that taxes gross receipts, not profits, the Merchant Capital tax, the Machine and Tool tax, and the business personal property tax, which deter business formation and innovation
  • Ending state occupational licensing requirements for cosmetologists, interior decorators, nail technicians, etc.

Don’t Squash Virginia’s Boom in Food/Drink

Virginia has over 15,000  food and drink establishments, and the industry employs 368,000 Virginians.  This is all despite Virginia having some of the most obscure and obstructive food and beverage laws in the region.  Let’s be even more competitive by:

  • Allowing establishments to “give away” liquor at cost or loss as a customer perk or promotion
  • Privatizing the Virginia ABC: Allow brewers and distillers to sell in non-VABC stores
  • Allowing restaurants, bars to pay wholesale price for liquor like surrounding states
  • Freeing mixologists to innovate with craft cocktails. Don’t require cocktail ingredients to be approved by VABC
  • Reducing or repealing state requirements for food sales in establishments that serve liquor
  • Ending forcing establishments to prove via receipts 45% monthly food sales
  • Advocating for slash or repeal $4000 monthly food sale and $2000 “substantial meal” requirements
  • Loosening up “Happy Hour” regulations
  • Encouraging localities to repeal or reduce business-killing “meal taxes”
  • Freeing farmers and food artisans to sell their farm-produced and home-produced goods directly to the consumer
  • Allowing breweries and wineries to participate in unlimited festivals, special events, and tastings
  • Lifting the arbitrary $100 cap on beverage purchases that breweries are allowed to make for tasting events
  • Ending bizarre restrictions on allowable cost and materials of Point-of-sale advertising materials supplied by brewers
  • Permitting consumption of small amounts of beer by tour guides at licensed breweries for educational purposes
  • Allowing food trucks to operate state-wide with their state license, ending the requirement for dozens of separate licenses with disparate fees and regulations
  • Assisting and encouraging localities to streamline and eliminate unnecessary food truck regulations, such as anti-competitive restrictions on operation of food trucks in downtown areas and pointless restrictions on food truck trailer size in suburbs and on private property.
  • Avoiding state-wide increases to the minimum wage that have the potential to devastate employment in low cost-of-living areas of Virginia.


  • Exempt first $60,000 of household income from state tax. To avoid massive marriage penalty, allow $30,000 exemption for individuals. Taxable income above that taxed at flat 5.75%


  • Appoint a commission modeled on 2002’s Governor’s Commission on Efficiency and Effectiveness (aka “Wilder Commission”), chaired by former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, appointed by Gov. Mark R. Warner
  • Authorize commission to explore Wilder Commission’s stated objectives to “Identify redundant and ineffective services” and “Streamline and consolidate state agencies and programs”
  • Implement Wilder Commission recommendations still relevant in 2017, including downsizing state government real estate holdings that are underutilized or vacant
  • Reduce the Commonwealth’s criminal justice expenditures by ending the counterproductive drug war in Virginia
  • Freeze new state spending for two years
  • Close tax loopholes identified by Governor Warner, saving taxpayers over $600M each year
  • End subsidies for big business and other crony capitalism
Criminal Justice
  • According to the Justice Policy Institute, Virginia’s criminal justice budget was $3 billion in 2013 and continues to grow, with about half of that number for jails alone. The direct cost to incarcerate a young person in a juvenile facility in Virginia averages $120,000 per year. Direct costs to incarcerate one adult prisoner were $29,000 annually in Virginia in 2016, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections. Indirect costs may bring that total much higher (loss of tax revenue, loss of wages/spending, breakup of families)
  • In Virginia, drug arrests are trending up whereas they are trending down nationally, while in the Old Dominion and nationally, violent and property crimes and arrests are way down
  • Stop enforcing laws against marijuana possession – legalize marijuana and set it on a level playing field with tobacco and alcohol, thus generating tax revenue estimated at over $200M and reducing opioid overdoses
  • Legalize hemp (which contains no THC), creating a new industry in rural Virginia, including growing, processing, refining and manufacturing final products
  • Grant absolute pardons to prisoners in jail only for drug use (after completion of anti-recidivism/treatment programs)
  • Make arrest quotas illegal
  • End the abusive suspension of driver’s licenses for failure to pay trivial fines and for minor drug offenses to help keep at-risk Virginians employed
  • End civil asset forfeiture abuse: Require a criminal charge before property can be seized, send proceeds to the general fund and not police, and return property to the owner when a criminal conviction is not obtained
  • Bail reform: Experiments with bail in other states have shown equal or better results with much lower costs to the accused – many fewer poor people forced to stay in jail because they can’t afford bail
  • Reintroduce parole for non-violent offenders to encourage rehabilitation and good behavior and to reduce recidivism
  • Increase the felony larceny threshold from $200 (the lowest in the nation) to the national average of $1,000 or more. Studies show that low thresholds waste valuable resources without any benefit in crime reduction
  • Make restoration of voting rights automatic after all sentences and probation are served.
  • End trial by ambush by requiring prosecutors to turn over police reports and other evidence to the defense before a trial
  • Introduce more competition and choice by expanding Virginia’s charter school program, modeling it on the New York state program that shows much success, especially in the African American community. Emphasize the importance of education in growing Virginia’s economy, reducing inequality and promoting growth across all of the Commonwealth
  • Make public schools more adaptable and competitive
  • Repeal Virginia’s expensive, antiquated Standards of Quality (SoQ) funding formula. Replace SoQ’s and SOLs with growth measure testing at beginning and end of the school year to measure gains attributable to individual teachers and schools, and identify best practices for adoption throughout the Commonwealth
  • Start a program to find budget savings by improving energy efficiency of schools that are in disrepair
  • Invest in expansion of successful career and technical schools that are currently oversubscribed and turning students away
  • Move from our current regulation-based healthcare system to an innovative healthcare system, using best-practices from other states to achieve better outcomes and efficiency. Look to Texas and their model for efficiency, as people from neighboring states currently travel there to receive care
  • Repeal Certificate of Public Need regulations that deter healthcare innovation, increase costs and reduce access to healthcare
  • Explore options for increasing price transparency to facilitate a more market-based health care in Virginia
  • Expand legal care-giving roles for mid-level dental providers, nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants by removing requirement of direct supervision of a physician in clinics in medically under-served or high-unemployment areas, both rural and urban
  • Allow the purchase of insurance across state lines to increase competition, reduce costs and facilitate innovation
  • Explore allowing medical care out of state or out of country where cost is lower and quality equal or better
  • Ensure gasoline tax and car registration taxes are directed to road maintenance
  • Explore “pay as you go” funding for new roads with tolls, proffers, impact fees
  • Continue and expand public-private partnerships to add new infrastructure at no cost to the taxpayer

On the Pipeline Proposals

I oppose the taking of private land by the federal government for the benefit of private companies such as Dominion. I would ensure that the environmental review is conducted fairly and thoroughly, according to the law, without any favoritism shown to Dominion because of its size or perceived political clout.  Virginia’s excellent eminent domain reforms need to be enshrined in the state Constitution to avoid backtracking from future legislatures.” – Cliff Hyra

  • Unlike the other candidates, I have taken no campaign contributions from Dominion, and will not accept an environmental review process that does not comply with Virginia law
  • I oppose the pipelines because the pipeline proposals would involve the taking of private land by the federal government for the benefit of private companies, including Dominion, and because the state environmental review process has not applied Virginia standards.

Equal Rights

  • Repeal all prohibitions of same-sex marriage, civil unions, and partnership recognition, bringing the constitution and code of Virginia in line with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges
  • Prohibit discrimination in public employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity

Accountable Government and Political Competition

  • Require all votes taken in the Virginia General Assembly, including in committees, be recorded and made available to the public
  • Lower number of signatures required for ballot access in statewide elections from 10,000 to 5,000, equal to the requirement for presidential candidates
  • Recognize any political party achieving 2% or more in a statewide election as an established political party that is not required to meet burdensome petitioning requirements, to bring Virginia in line with national standards and increase political competition and participation
  • End gerrymandering
  • Establish instant runoff voting so that voters are not penalized for voting for their first choice candidate
  • Prohibit the spending of campaign funds for personal use

2nd Amendment

  • Protect important 2nd Amendment constitutional rights against encroachment by restrictions proven to be ineffective, such as limitations on magazine capacity and on broad categories of firearms, “one gun per month” rules, etc.
  • Keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the severely mentally ill

Eminent Domain

  • Enshrine Virginia’s “Public Need” reforms in a constitutional amendment so that private property is not taken for the benefit of private companies
  • Increase compensation to 110% or more of market value, acknowledging that market value is not the appropriate measure of the value of the property to the owner

Environmental Laws

  • I oppose the pipelines and would ensure that any project receives the full environmental vetting process, regardless of what companies are proposing the project and how politically powerful they are.
  • I oppose uranium mining in Virginia because of the critical importance of environmental safety and the health of all Virginians. I cannot support the blanket ban because it constitutes an uncompensated regulatory taking of private property and exposes the Commonwealth to substantial legal liability. I would prefer either strict regulations that guarantee environmental safety or for the state to purchase the land, either of which would end the costly ongoing lawsuits. I would not accept any regulatory regime that could not guarantee the health and safety of all Virginians, and anticipate that such regulations would render any mining operations uneconomical.
  • Ensure that developers bear the cost of flood mitigation and other foreseeable environmental hazards, not taxpayers
  • Align the interests of developers, property owners, and local governments to avoid flooding and other environmental concerns efficiently and effectively
  • Balance environmental concerns with economic growth and employment


  • Recognize the rights and autonomy of the disabled to make their own decisions
  • Reform Virginia’s broken Medicaid waiver system- replace long queues of ten years or more with family means testing
  • Refocus spending priorities to shore up services for the disabled
  • Improve available facilities and professionals

Confederate Monuments

  • The state should get out of the way and let localities make their own decisions, preferably in as democratic a fashion as possible.
  • I prefer compromise solutions that achieve broad consensus over divisive decisions by bare majorities, which have the potential to increase polarization and foster resentment
  • On a personal level, I have concerns with monuments honoring Confederate war heroes on public land, secured and maintained with taxpayer funds