The 2018 General Assembly session is now in full swing! During the past week, committees started the process of hearing initial debate on bills that the legislature will consider this session. This year, I will be serving as Chairman of the Rules Committee. Rules will hear many “big ticket” bills, as well as bill denoting state designations, resolutions, and appointments to boards and commissions.
Address to the Joint Assembly
On Monday, newly inaugurated Governor Ralph Northam delivered his Address to the Joint Assembly. My maiden speech to the House only a few days before expressed my desire to work with the Governor to find practical solutions to everyday issues. Sadly, the Governor delivered a highly partisan speech the mentioned the word “bipartisan” only once. He certainly made a point to mention limiting the 2nd amendment rights of law abiding citizens and implementing carbon caps. I don’t think those should be top priorities. I think the governor missed an opportunity to continue the theme of cooperation that the House is attempting to set as we start our work this year.
We must stay focused on jobs and education and not getting wrapped up in the controversial partisan issues the Democrats seem insistent on passing. There’s a lot of work to be done over the several weeks. My team and I are just getting started, and hopefully these first speeches by the Governor were the exception, not the new normal.
We came up with eighteen issues we wish the Governor would have spent more time on. If you would like to see what our priorities are, and compare them with the partisan agenda laid out by the Governor, you can click here.
Virginia Editorial Boards Praise GOP Leaders
In case you missed them, I wanted to show you several news articles from the past week where editorial boards praised Republicans for the way we organized and our efforts to ensure government is more transparent for you. Below are a few excerpts:
Credit is Due to Assembly Republicans
(Lynchburg News-Advance -01/13/18)
“Republican leaders of the House of Delegates announced that, beginning with the current Assembly session, all subcommittee votes will be recorded, revealing to the public how each member voted.”
EDITORIAL: General Assembly now broadcasting committee hearings
(Free Lance Star-01/11/18)
“KUDOS TO Virginia’s General Assembly for making the public’s business a little more transparent. Starting this past Wednesday, committee hearings will now be streamed live and archived, something that open-government proponents have been seeking for years.”
Editorial: Cheers for more General Assembly live!
(Richmond Times Dispatch-01/12/18)
“There’s good news from Capitol Square. In a bipartisan move that enhances transparency and makes it easier for citizens to watch their government at work, the General Assembly will livestream House and Senate committee hearings.”
On Wednesday, Appropriations Committee Chairman Chris Jones spoke to members about the state budget process. The budget is the most important thing we do in the General Assembly. It is not a partisan piece of legislation and the best opportunity we have to work across the aisle. I promise to be a good steward of your tax dollars. We will be consistent with what we have done in the past and work efficiently and in a transparent manner. The budget we pass will be structurally balanced and show a commitment to the core functions of government.
This year I have signed on as a copatron to a budget amendment introduced by Delegate Luke Torian (D-Prince William) that will provide Family & Individual Support (FIS) waivers so that Virginians with developmental and intellectual disabilities can receive the care they need.
You can view all introduced budget amendments on the state budget website.
Sanctity of Human Life
Today in Washington, D.C., the annual March for Life took place. Each year, thousands of Americans gather in support of innocent human life. My friend and candidate for the US Senate, Delegate Nick Frietas of Culpeper, gave a moving speech about the importance of defending all life. Nick eloquently spoke on behalf of all of us who believe that life begins at conception, and reminded us of the compassion and respect that we must have for each other.
2018 Session Survey
My session survey is still open and I need your input. Many of you may have already received it in the mail, but I encourage you to fill it out online here. Please share the survey with your friends and neighbors in the 66th district to fill it out as well. Your thoughts on important issues will drive my work in Richmond. Please make sure you complete and send in your survey by the end of January.
Telephone Town Hall
On Tuesday, January 23rd, I will be holding a telephone town hall to discuss the 2018 session. Telephone town halls are a great way for me to directly communicate with hundreds of people in Chesterfield and Colonial Heights at one time. Using a unique polling feature, you’ll have the opportunity to cast your vote key issues, and I’ll be able to share the results within minutes. Please email respond to this email with your best contact number and address to be sure you are included in the call.
Visitors to the General Assembly
It was great to welcome representatives from the Richmond Home Builders Association to the Capitol to discuss the ongoing recovery of the homebuilding industry. As the economy continues to recover from the Great Recession, we hope that new home construction will continue to increase.
I also met with Dr. Sam Galstan, a dentist in Chester, along with students from the VCU School of Dentistry. They kindly reminded me that while session may be busy, one must be diligent about brushing and flossing.
General Assembly in the News
Here are a few news stories from this week that you may find of interest.
- Finally, Virginia delegates will be on the record when they advance, kill bills in committees
- Virginia House ends secrecy in committee votes
- That was quick: Va. Republicans say new governor is off to a bad start
- Republicans accuse Northam of “highly partisan” speech, say bipartisanship just became more difficult
I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office over the coming months. I value the feedback you provide on a continual basis as it helps me do a better job of representing you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (804) 698-1066. You can also join the conversation on our social media pages by liking my Facebook page or following me on Twitter.