General Assembly Session Begins January 13th

General Assembly Session Begins January 13th

This afternoon I will have the great honor of being sworn in for the third time to the Virginia Senate. Representing the 37th District in Fairfax County has been one of the highest honors of my life. Thank you for your friendship and support; I couldn’t do this without you.

In even years, like 2016, Virginia holds a 60 day legislative session where we consider thousands of bills and pass a two year budget. I have a full legislative agenda that is still being finalized but I plan on sponsoring around 25 bills and co-sponsoring dozens more this year.

Budget

For the first time in a long time we have good news on our state budget. The Great Recession left us with no good choices, forcing us to cut essential services year after year. It is my top priority to restore as much of the education funding cuts as possible. Governor McAuliffe got us off to a roaring start. He introduced a budget with record setting increases in education spending that would bring per pupil spending to $5,446 by 2018, the highest per pupil investment in Virginia’s history. Among the things increased funding would go towards are 2,500 new teachers to decrease class size, a 2 percent pay raise, and $41 million for cost to compete dollars to help Northern Virginia schools cope with our higher cost of living. I know education funding is the foremost concern of many of my constituents. I’ve heard from many of you who are concerned with the potential cuts to Fairfax County Schools. I share your concerns and am working every day to make sure the state does its part. The process is just beginning and I am optimistic that we will be able to make a historic investment in our schools through this budget.

My Legislative Agenda

As usual, I have a diverse legislative agenda that includes issues dealing with public safety, raising the minimum wage so we can give our economy a jolt, a couple of health care issues – medical marijuana and access to restrooms for those suffering IBS, and a renewable energy bill promoting solar power. Click here to see the full list of legislation that I am sponsoring and co-sponsoring; some of the bills are still in the works. Below, I would like to highlight one of my legislative priorities.

Firearms safety

We all agree that there is too much violence in America. I do not understand how many lives have to be lost, how many tears have to be shed, and how many times I can shake my head in disbelief before we act. There are actions our government can take today that would save lives. Unfortunately, I do not know of any action that can save every life from every violent act. Sadly, it seems to me that this latter point somehow prevents us from doing anything.

This year I am introducing eight bills dealing with the management of firearms. A couple of them will be controversial, like ending open carry, re-instating one gun a month, and creating a civil liability for gun owners whose irresponsibility allows their weapon to be used in a crime. These things shouldn’t be controversial but they will meet inordinate opposition.

However, a few pieces of legislation have unbelievable support, like creating a system for universal background checks, keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of domestic abusers, restricting gun magazines to 10 rounds, requiring a higher degree of rigor in the training required to earn a concealed handgun permit, and making it illegal to allow a child under 7 to possess a gun. The vast majority of Virginians agree with these ideas, none of them restrict a citizen’s second amendment rights, and they have proven to save lives. But, somehow, the likelihood that any of these bills will become law is remote. Somehow, because our legislative remedies won’t prevent every mass murder they are somehow dismissed. The opposition to these ideas believes that the only acceptable way to prevent a “bad guy” with a gun is a “good guy” with a gun. I truly believe that these people have the best of intentions, but they are mistaken, and their mistakes are costing people their lives. The time is now to act.

Contact Me During Session

If you haven’t already, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter. It is a good way to get quick updates on some of the goings on here in the capitol.

If you would like to reach me during session, please email me at district37@senate.virginia.gov or call my Richmond office at (804) 698-7537. You can always reach me on my cell, 703-964-6821. I look forward to hearing from you and working on your behalf during this legislative session.

Sincerely,