- We've had the second snow storm of the year this week. I think this is the first time since I've been here that this has happened! However, the work of the Commonwealth does not stop once session begins so I haven't missed any time from session!
-The House of Delegates passed legislation Tuesday (which I supported) that will allow Virginians to keep their health plans under the Affordable Care Act. House Bill 1147, sponsored by Delegate Peter Farrell (R-Henrico), passed the House 98 to 0. It's in the Senate now so I'll let you know if it passes.
- In spite of an attempt to amend the Sunday hunting bill (HB1237) to add a local option, the bill has now passed the House and the Senate. The Senate Agriculture sub-committee passed their version of the bill, SB 154, yesterday on a vote of 9-4. It is also expected to pass the full Senate and Governor McAuliffe has already stated that he will sign the bill into law.
- I would like to hear your opinions on some of the more controversial issues being debated in this year's General Assembly session. This week I would like to know how you feel about reforming Virginia's Standards of Learning (SOL) tests. I personally support reducing the number of tests. What do you think?
- It's strange how certain topics really get traction down here sometimes. Yesterday saw a couple hundred Korean Virginians who came to lobby for passage of HB 11 that would require Virginia textbooks to note that the "Sea of Japan" is also referred to as the "East Sea." Many of the women were dressed in their native dress which provided bursts of color in an otherwise drab building! This came after receiving roughly 200 emails in support of the measure. It passed the House sub-committee on a vote of 5-4.
- The State Senate now has an even split of 20 Democrats and 20 Senators. However, with Lt. Governor Ralph Northam casting most tie-braking votes, the Democrats effectively took control of the chamber and claimed majorities on eight of 10 standing committees. This should certainly make the rest of the session interesting!
- I encourage you to follow the actions of the General Assembly. Any legislation can be read in full on the Virginia General Assembly website, http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/. A wealth of additional information on the legislative process can also be found on this site. In addition, you can actually watch video for the House by clicking on the Videos link on my website.
OF LOCAL INTEREST:
- I was visited by the Forlines family this week. They were in Richmond for the YMCA Model General Assembly program. The Model General Assembly program is designed to introduce high school students to the legislative process of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Mock legislation is debated in committee and on the floor of the Senate and House of Delegates. Whitney Forlines, a senior at Fuqua School in Farmville and a resident of Halifax, was elected Lieutenant Governor of the Assembly. Congratulations Whitney!
- This week also saw visits from many of our people. Brenda Powell and Ruth Oakes of Halifax paid me a visit on behalf of the Commissioners of Revenue. Sheriff Thomas Jones of Charlotte came by representing the Virginia Sheriff's Association. A group of health and physical education students from Longwood, led by Dr. Vonnie Colvin, spent the day learning about the legislative process on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, Rev. Frank Coleman, Rev. Kevin Chandler and John Woody visited on behalf of the NAACP. Roma Morris from Prince Edward came by representing Department of Social Services and Ratia Kirby from Halifax came by representing the Massey Cancer Center. Graham Bryant, a William & Mary Law School student from Halifax, was in town to write for his school's newspaper. All in all, it was a good week for visits!
- The DMV mobile unit will be in Charlotte Court House Tuesday, February 4, from 9:00-4:00.