The Governor is in Richmond today to present his 2016-2018 two year budget plan to the joint money committees of the House and Senate. Some details have been released in advance, and thanks to an improving economy we can look forward to substantial increases in K-12 education funding, funding for Veterans programs, and a tax cut. Unfortunately my column deadline was early in the week, so the details will have to wait for a future column. In lieu of a budget update, my December column will be a look back at the year that was.
2015: A Musical Review
Regular readers of this column and my e-newsletters already know that I use music lyrics to set the theme for my periodic missives. A hook, I hope, to get you to read the substance. This year I got off to a running start (to the tune of Steppenwolf’s Get Your Motor Runnin’) as the House of Delegates convened for its shorter 45-day session in January. I had an ambitious legislative agenda that included carrying the Governor’s bill to restore Virginia’s one-handgun per month purchase limit, the repeal of Virginia’s same sex marriage ban, and a $15.15 minimum wage proposal.
Of course, as session went on, and many of those proposals died quiet deaths in subcommittees, I vowed to take Taylor Swift’s advice and Shake It Off. My email soliciting your opinion on the big issues of the session were prefaced with lyrics from Information Society’s I Wanna Know What You’re Thinking and as we neared the deadline for final action on bills, I used The Eagles’ Life in the Fast Lane to describe the pace of work in Richmond.
At the end of the session, a number of my less controversial bills became law, the General Assembly reached a budget deal a day early and “The Lego Movie’s” Everything is Awesome was the song of the moment. Of course, it wouldn’t have been right not to include “Frozen’s” Do You Want to Build a Snowman in a winter weather advisory e-newsletter.
Once session ended, I generally send e-newsletters less frequently, but that doesn’t mean that the lyrical review ends. To invite constituents to a petition signing event to get me on the 2015 ballot, The Muppets’ Together Again seemed appropriate.
In March, I received the lowest grade on the Tea Party’s legislative scorecard; considering that a win, Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy made its debut. Keeping the theme alive, my 2015 campaign kickoff also had a rock and roll theme with Billy Joel’s It’s Still Rock ‘n’ Roll to Me.
The Beatles’ classic Taxman led the e-mail previewing the reconvene session, when the General Assembly returns to Richmond to consider the Governor’s amendments and vetoes, since it fell on tax day, April 15. We spent a good deal of time debating the omnibus ethics reform bill.
For information on I-66, Steve Miller Band’s The Mercury Blues fit quite nicely as did Minnie Riperton’s Loving You when commemorating National Loving Day.
On July 1, the day new laws go into effect in Virginia, you might have wondered why I was quoting Queen’s Bicycle Race, until you read further and learned a number of new laws protecting cyclists had been added to the books.
As the year went on, and state revenue forecasts came in above expectations, we went with the obvious We’re In The Money. Elton John’s I’ve Seen That Movie Too was the perfect lead in to my report on our August Special Session on redistricting, full of plot twists and a surprise ending when the Senate adjourned abruptly, saving a Supreme Court justice, but scuttling any hope of drawing a new congressional map.
Moving into the fall and election season, Radiohead’s Electioneering and Alice Cooper’s Elected were a perfect match. The Beatles’ Hard Day’s Night and Revolution provided the backdrop for an election thank you and for a request for legislation ideas for 2016. Most recently, Ziggy Marley’s Changes highlighted the first three bills I introduced as well as the many ideas I received from my readers.
I have received a lot of positive feedback about my e-newsletter format and am excited to continue the lyrical tradition into 2016. If you’d like to sign up for my e-newsletter and never miss a single lyrical update, please go to my webpage, www.MarcusSimon.com, and click Sign Up on the right hand side.
Delegate Simon represents the 53rd District in the Virginia House of Delegates. He may be emailed at DelMSimon@house.virginia.gov