My top 10 moments of 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, I was reminiscent of all the great things that happened in the last 365 days. It was hard to choose, but below are my top 10 moments of 2016:

1. Finishing session 1 day early
For the second straight year, the Republican led General Assembly advanced our legislative priorities, crafted a conservative and responsible state budget, and worked diligently to complete its work ahead of schedule. By adjourning early, Virginia taxpayers saved over $25,000.

2. Fitbit challenge earning CHHS $3,000
During the 2016 General Assembly Session, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield held the first ever “Health Generations Fitbit Challenge” for members of the Legislature. Each participant had their walking progress tracked for 52 days of the 60-day session.

I walked 461 miles during the challenge, finishing 3rd in the competition and earning $3,000 for the Colonial Heights High School Athletic Department.

3. WW2 “Dawn of Infamy” 75th anniversary event
December 8th marked the 75th anniversary of America’s entry into the Second World War. As Chair of Virginia’s World War I & World War II Commemoration Commission, it was my pleasure to help recognize the men and women that served with honor and distinction around the globe from 1941 to 1945.

At the “Dawn of Infamy” event, over 90 WWII veterans were in attendance while many more veterans watched the ceremony live via satellite from locations across the Commonwealth.

4. #DistrictDay
The 66th district is home to many small businesses, charitable organizations, and noteworthy citizens. To highlight the diverse talent in the 66th, we started a #DistrictDay campaign on social media to share this great information. If you know someone or something worthy of recognition, email me at kirk@kirk.aodev4.com.

5. Site selection on new veterans care centers
A multi-year effort is finally making progress. Sites have been selected for new veteran care centers in Fauquier County and the Princess Anne area of Virginia Beach. The new veterans care center will be a state-of-the-art facility providing skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, as well as short-term rehabilitative care.

The Commonwealth is home to approximately 800,000 veterans and 150,000 active-duty military members and their families. These 2 new locations will bring Virginia up to 4 care centers.

6. GO Virginia – a new way of doing economic development
This session I successfully carried legislation establishing the GO Virginia initiative that is meant to shake up how economic development is done in Virginia. GO Virginia will provide a more business-led approach to economic development by strengthening Virginia’s economy with encouraged collaboration between business leaders, the education community, local government, and state government.

Subsequently, various business advocacy organizations recognized my work on this issue. The VA Chamber of Commerce named me the Business Advocate of the Year and the Virginia Gateway Region honored me as the Economic Development Ambassador of the Year.

7. Winning the Supreme Court Restoration of Rights case
On July 22nd, the Virginia Supreme Court declared Governor Terry McAuliffe’s unilateral executive order restoring the political rights of 206,000 convicted felons as unconstitutional. The opinion was a sweeping rebuke of the governor’s unprecedented assertion of executive authority. It was a major victory for the Constitution, the rule of law and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

8. Republicans dominate federal elections
During this year’s election, the American people spoke clearly and elected Donald Trump and Republican majorities in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. Voters delivered a clear mandate for Republican leadership. It is now time for Washington to get to work and deliver on their promises.

9. Photo ID laws upheld
The Democratic Party of Virginia’s challenge to our photo ID laws came to a decisive close on December 13th with a 3-0 ruling in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the voter ID law. The ruling is a victory for common sense safe guards designed to promote integrity in our election process. Unfortunately, their lawsuit unnecessarily cost Virginia taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars because once again Virginia was unable to rely on its elected Attorney General to defend the law of the Commonwealth.

10. JMU beats ND to go to National Championship
As a James Madison University alumnus, I was thrilled to see our JMU football team beat five-time defending Football Championship Subdivision Champion North Dakota State. They head to the Division I NCAA Championship in Texas on January 7th against Youngstown State. Go Dukes!