Ensuring every child in Virginia gets the very best education possible
Excellent environmental record
Newport News
Alfred S. Forrest Elementary School


During my eight years in the Senate, I have been a strong advocate for SOL reform and improving education, protecting our children and our environment, increasing jobs and economic opportunity and creating an independent redistricting commission. I am proud that I have worked across the aisle to find common-­sense solutions for many of our most pressing issues.

I have built a strong record of accomplishment and have worked hard to ensure every child in Virginia gets the very best education possible. I served as Chairman of the Public Education Subcommittee, which considers all legislation dealing with K-12 education.  I was the leader in the General Assembly in reducing the number of SOL tests and I passed legislation allowing elementary and middle school students to retake failed SOL tests.

The Virginia Education Association has given me their “Solid as a Rock” award for my commitment to public education.  I was named “Policymaker of the Year” by the Virginia Association for Career and Technical Education.  The Virginia State Reading Association also named me their “Friend of Literacy”.  I am the only person to have been given this award twice.  I was also named “Legislator of the Year” by the Virginia Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (VAHPERD) for my efforts to increase physical activity among school children.

The environmental community has also recognized my efforts.  The Virginia League of Conservation Voters named me a “Legislative Hero” for my pro-environment votes and the Sierra Club has given me an “A+” rating.

Ensuring a pro-business climate in the Commonwealth is very important to me.  The Virginia Chamber of Commerce gave me an “A” rating for my pro-business votes.

Finally, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia has given me a 100% rating for my efforts to protect women’s rights.

It is an honor representing you in the Senate and I look forward to returning in 2016.

Senator John Miller


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Latest News


The Virginian-Pilot
© September 18, 2015

ATTORNEY GENERAL Mark Herring is reorganizing his office's Consumer Protection division to bolster its focus on predatory lending. The move, long overdue and desperately needed, is part of a broader effort to protect Virginians from usurious businesses flourishing across the commonwealth with state lawmakers' support.

Herring, who recently announced plans to seek re-election in 2017, increasingly appears willing to use his office to fill a void created by a legislature that has abdicated its duty to protect the public from unseemly businesses.

Instead, lawmakers have permitted the consumer credit and payday lending industry to wreak financial havoc on lower-income Virginians, with stores dotting the landscape with big promises of easy cash.

The short-term lenders have spread more than $2 million to Republicans and Democrats since 2010; in the same period, proposals to rein in the industry's pernicious effects have repeatedly been shot down by lawmakers apathetic to victims' plight.

In fact, in 2011, lawmakers - including Herring, then a state senator - approved legislation that actually worsened the situation, increasing the number of people who could be lured and ruined by lenders charging more than 200 percent in annual interest by permitting nonresidents of Virginia to take out loans.

But since his election in 2013, Herring has signaled a greater interest in rolling back Virginia’s status as the East Coast’s predatory-lending capital. Herring has partnered with the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to raise awareness of the perils of payday, car-title and other short-term loan operations. His office has taken legal action against two Fredericksburg-area pawn shops suspected of making illegal payday loans, and this year referred 12 complaints against payday and car-title lenders to the State Corporation Commission.     

State data show four out of five consumers who take out a short-term loan end up taking a second one to repay the first. That kind of business practice, in which 80 percent of customers are sucked into a recurring cycle of debt, is nothing short of predatory, and it's why Herring, the CFPB and so many other authorities have warned the public not to be tempted by these lenders' offers.

Consumers would do better to negotiate with their debtors, or try to borrow from friends or family, rather than risk losing thousands of dollars or more through Virginia's vast network of private, short-term lenders.

Unfortunately, Virginia's laws and regulatory structure create an environment primed for loan sharks to tempt unsuspecting, cash-strapped customers and then squeeze them for thousands of dollars. As Herring and others have noted, some customers end up paying far more in interest than they ever owed in principal yet still end up losing their car for missing a payment.

Hampton Roads' Sens. John Miller and Mamie Locke have championed measures to eliminate loan fees and cap interest rates at 36 percent. That would still provide a way for short-term lenders to exist without exploiting the poor.

Until more lawmakers are willing to stand up for the public, rather than cowing to predators out to preserve their own financial strength, consumers in Virginia - and visitors from other states - will have little support beyond the limited help Herring can give.