Monday, January 23, 2017

2017 Session - Week 2

It might seem crazy what I'm about to say
Sunshine she's here, you can take a break
I'm a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don't care, baby, by the way...
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth 

~Pharrell, "Happy"

In a surprising turn of events, when the General Assembly returned last week for the first full week of our abbreviated 45 day Session things moved at a very relaxed and deliberate pace, giving us lots of time for thoughtful, non-partisan discussion of legislation that focused on policy considerations over politics. (Actual facts- we were slammed with visits from lobby groups, overlapping committee meetings, and increasingly long floor sessions.)

On Monday, the Gun Violence Prevention activists finally got through to members of the NRA and Virginia Citizens Defense League and got them to agree that no one wants to confiscate their personal firearms. Here I am pictured with the approximately seven million protesters that descended on the Capitol in Richmond. (Actually, I was proud to participate in the gun violence prevention rally alongside my colleagues, Lieutenant Governor Northam and Attorney General Herring as we advocated for commonsense gun violence prevention measures, most of which face a daunting up hill battle against the gun industry).

Legislative Update - Alternative Facts Edition

On Thursday, I had 5 bills heard in 3 different subcommittees.

Early in the day, House General Laws Subcommittee #2, members stood up to the groups who spoke out on behalf of the construction industry and their various trade associations and instead put the City of Falls Church and its taxpayers first by allowing the City to ride the procurement contracts of some of our larger neighbors. (HB 2170). (Actually- after hearing from five different groups representing the construction industry, the bills died for lack of a motion from any member of the subcommittee, avoiding a vote on the matter.)

In a subcommittee of Militia Police and Public safety the subcommittee members agreed that my bill creating a Virginia Specific Soldier's and Sailors Civil Relief Act was more comprehensive and agreed to roll a Republican Delegate's bill into mine and advance it to the full committee. (Actually, my bill was rolled in the Republican version, which incorporated most everything I was seeking to do, so I'll call that an actual win. HB 2147).

Finally at the end of a long day, the subcommittee took a long and thoughtful look at my 3 very reasonable gun violence protection bills (HB 1683, 1684, & 1685) which they agreed were small, common sense measures that would effectively improve the public safety of all Virginians living in urban areas, the Commonwealth's young children, and end Virginia's status as the number one source of crime guns in many major east coast cities. Members of the subcommittee saw the importance of these bills, of which I have long been a champion and advanced all three.

Actually...but now you've recognized the pattern.

I promise to have some good news to report next week. Two bills which were constituent requests advanced on the Floor today and look likely to pass the house. Stay tuned.