The Virginia General Assembly convenes this week, on the second Wednesday in January, for a short 45 day session, as it does in odd numbered years. Since Virginia adopts a two-year budget plan, the thinking goes, we’ll have less on our plate this session, and should be able to get all our work done a bit faster than we do in a 60-day regular session.
As I head on down the highway, making the 103 mile door-to-door trip from my home in Falls Church to the Capitol building in Richmond for my second regular session as a member of the House of Delegates, I may not be looking for adventure, but I am ready for whatever comes my way.
That includes bills like Prince William Delegate Robert “Bob” Marshall’s HB 1414 to explicitly authorize anyone with a state license (think doctors, pharmacists, real estate agents, even barbers) to refuse service solely on the basis of sexual orientation. We’ve also already seen bills introduced to allow sectarian prayer at public events, and the anti-dream act designed to discourage the children of immigrants from attending Virginia’s colleges and universities.
Rest assured, I’ll be fighting hard to stop bad legislation like this, just as I did last year when Senator Dick Black attempted to introduce sectarian prayer at National Guard events.
My Plan for 2015
It’s not just about playing defense.
This year I plan to introduce bills to move Virginia forward and improve our brand as a great state in which to live, work, and safely raise a family.
I am honored that the Governor has asked me to carry a number of bills on his behalf and on behalf of the administration in this, my sophomore session. I will be carrying the bill (HB 1671) to restore Virginia’s one handgun per month law in an effort to prevent Virginia from once again becoming the go-to state for illegal gun traffickers up and down the east coast.
I will also be carrying the signature bill on the Governor’s Equality Agenda (HB 1600), which would update Virginia’s Code to replace all husband and wife references to spouse, and mother and father to parent, to reflect the new reality that same-sex marriage is permitted and is the law of the land, even in Virginia. This compliments my own initiative, to once again introduce a bill to expand Fair Housing protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity (HB 1454).
I will continue to fight for the little guy – the minimum wage worker, the middle class family, and for those who want to feel safe from gun violence on their way to and from work, and any other time for that matter. I have put in a bill to raise the minimum wage to $15.15, starting in July (HB 1512).
I will also work to bring transparency and accountability to Virginia’s campaign finance laws. I’ve introduced a bill to ban donations by Corporations to candidate committees (HB 1836), and a bill to prevent candidates from converting campaign funds to their personal use (HB 1690). Finally, in an effort to increase participation in State and Local elections, I believe it is time Virginia joined the other 48 states that hold their elections in even-numbered years, when turnout is the highest. I have introduced a Constitutional Amendment (HJ 547) to begin the process for migrating to even year elections in the coming years.
I’ll also put professional expertise to work, proposing a simplification of (and a small cut in) the recording tax on certain deeds (HB 1492). Finally, as a member of the Committee on Science and Technology, I will champion a budget amendment to fund new technology for CrisisLink, the non-profit that provides Fairfax County Public Schools with their suicide prevention hotline, so they can increase their texting services to reach teens in our community.
As you can see, this will be a busy 45 days. The best way to follow my activity, in addition to checking in frequently at FCNP.com, is to follow my updates on Facebook and Twitter.
Yours in service.
Delegate Simon represents the 53rd District in the Virginia House of Delegates. He may be emailed at DelMSimon@house.virginia.gov