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Delegate Fowler Begins Legislative Career

January 23, 2014

By Kate Miller
Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. — Delegate Hyland “Buddy” Fowler (R-Ashland) takes a moment to share a laugh with his legislative aide Dale Hargrove Alderman in Fowler’s office at the General Assembly Building in Richmond.

Fowler and Alderman joyfully reminisce about Fowler’s time as a legislative aide for Alderman’s father Delegate Frank Hargrove (R-Glen Allen).

After working for Hargrove for nine years, Fowler became the legislative aide for Hargrove’s successor Delegate John Cox (R-Ashland).

Fowler, the newly elected delegate for House District 55, now holds the seat once held by both Hargrove and Cox and says he learned how to best represent his district — which includes parts of Caroline, Hanover and Spotsylvania Counties — by following in the footsteps of Hargrove and Cox.

“The experience (of working as a legislative aide) was an outstanding education,” Fowler said.

Alderman says there is a “learning curve” as she and Fowler settle into their new positions but says Fowler understands the needs of his constituents.

“He is an asset to the constituents because he knows the district,” Alderman said.

According to the Virginia Public Access Project, Fowler received 56.92 percent of votes — 15,349 of 26,965 votes — in the November election.

One legislative issue of particular importance to Fowler is hunting.

Fowler — who has been a hunter for more than 40 years — introduced House Bill 1146, which would allow an individual who has an apprentice hunting license to hunt unsupervised if he/she completes a hunter education course.

Fowler says he supports hunting as a way for people to experience the outdoors and is concerned about young people not showing an interest in the outdoors.

“It breaks my heart that these young men and women are not going to be out in the woods or experience the miracle of Mother Nature,” he said.

Fowler says he supports Senate Bill 145, which would allow a landowner and his/her immediate family, or an individual with written permission, to hunt on Sundays if hunting is restricted to the landowner’s property.

The delegate says he supports the bill because he supports property rights.

“I don’t particularly like telling people what they do or can’t do on their own property,” he said.

Fowler also introduced House Bill 1227, which would change the tax on premium cigars from a wholesale tax to a retail tax of 6.25 percent on the sale of each cigar.

Fowler says he introduced the bill to help premium cigar sellers succeed and added that the bill is meant to be revenue neutral to the commonwealth to prevent any negative impact on the state’s revenue.
However, he said the terms “revenue neutral” and “premium cigar” have not been clearly defined in the bill, so the legislation will be tabled until the stakeholders can solidify the language of the bill.

Fowler says the struggles he has encountered with HB1227 have made him more aware of the intricacies of legislative issues.

“You find out that it’s (legislative issue) maybe more complicated than what you had envisioned,” he said.

House Bill 990 was also introduced by Delegate Fowler. The measure would apply Virginia’s relocation assistance and real property acquisition policies in the case of transportation projects funded by the state or federal government.

Fowler also says he is interested in numerous legislative issues, including bills that would affect interstate travel.

The delegate says he would probably vote in favor of House Bill 51, which would prohibit driving less than the maximum speed limit in the left-most lanes of interstates.

“Those people (who do not drive at the maximum speed limit) make everybody mad, myself included,” he said with a laugh.

However, Fowler says none of his constituents, including sheriff’s departments, have spoken to him about the need to pass the law.

The delegate says he feels at home speaking to regular people and strives for open communication with his constituents.

“I don’t consider myself a special person,” Fowler said. “I welcome phone calls, emails, any kind of communication as to what issues that they believe are important and why.”