The snow finally arrived, and has decided to stay awhile. But, that hasn't slowed the work in my office. And, what an AwE-some staff I have in that office.
The Education and Health Committee, which I chair, has already handled over 80 of our more than 105 bills. That's all the bills except those that patrons requested to go by for the week, and those pending in the Mental Health Subcommittee I appointed. Though that subcommittee has met several times, I felt we needed a little more time before rolling out the amendment in the nature of a substitute, to address the concerns of the committee members.
The Rules Committee, on which I serve, has been working overtime on ethics reform, and today reported bills to the full Senate. For Virginia, the legal issue coming out of the pending federal case is about who qualifies as a "friend" for reporting purposes. We are not only capping and strengthening reporting requirements, but making it clear that other than immediate family members: for reporting purposes, tangible gift-givers do not qualify as "friends."
Two bills that I've communicated about previously,
Senate Bill 542and Senate Bill 540, have both made it through the full Senate and are on their way to the House for consideration. It's an honor to carry these causes for my constituents, and look forward to them passing the House.
The Finance Committee optedon Wednesdayto continue SB 619 -- which would have eliminated the corporate income tax -- to 2015. A special commission will be studying the issue in the interim.
I was terribly disappointed to hear that our newly-elected Attorney General is going to pick and choose which Virginia laws he will defend. That has the effect of a non-overrideable veto of both the legislative and public referendum process. It is also a decision not to represent the interests of the Virginians with which he disagrees. Any Attorney General - past or present - declaring such a position is failing to properly serve the Commonwealth.
Results: Special Elections
There was another Special Election January 21st in Loudoun and Fairfax, to fill one of the two vacant Senate seats. The Democrat nominee, Jennifer Wexton, prevailed. While my Republican colleagues and I are disappointed that the vacancy is not being filled by a conservative Republican, I do congratulate Jennifer Wexton on her victory and welcome her to the Senate. I look forward to working with her, to further Virginia's interests.
The outcome is still uncertain in the 6th Senate District, where Republican nominee Wayne Coleman is just 9 votes behind Lynwood Lewis. Wayne very wisely requested a swift recount, and that will be held onJanuary 27th. I'm hoping the recount allows me to welcome Wayne as another new colleague in the Virginia Senate.
I want to remind Chesterfield residents of the special elections coming up onMarch 18th. One for School Board in Midlothian, and the other for Sheriff county-wide. It's important to be involved and have your voice heard.
We have received great responses and communications from constituents, in my office. I appreciate it greatly. Please, do not hesitate to contact us. I can best represent you by hearing from you, and look forward to our continued service together.
My office saw over a hundred visitors just this past Monday, as individuals and groups took advantage of the MLK Day holiday to come and visit with their representatives. The flow of traffic continued throughout the week, and included: the School Nutrition Association of Virginia, the Virginia Citizens' Defense League, ABATE of Virginia, the Virginia Hemophilia Foundation, the Virginia Municipal League, representatives from the Virginia Department of Education, NAMI, Virginians for Quality Healthcare, Richmond Peace Education Center, Virginia Society of CPA's, the Virginia Coalition for Fine Arts Education, the Korean-American Society of Greater Richmond, the Richmond Academy of Medicine, the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Radiology, Virginia Credit Union League, and several Homeschool Alumni...we are very sure that this list is not all-inclusive!
Our thanks to the constituents, groups, and drop-in visitors that came by the office this week and took time to let us know what was on their mind!