Summer is near the halfway mark with the 4th of July having come and gone. Celebrating the birth of our nation is a proud tradition. While the beach, a bar-b-q, parades and fireworks are things we look forward to, it is all a good time to remember that the Declaration of Independence was signed on this day, setting in motion a new chapter in history.
Once again, our country is on the precipice of change. A little over a year ago, we witnessed one of the most contentious and unusual presidential campaigns in my lifetime. Incredible as it may be, 17 U.S. agencies confirmed our democratic process was violated by a foreign power. Additionally, the surprise outcome challenged the value of the Electoral College vs. the popular vote. We are six months into a tumultuous term and states are being directed to submit registered voter records to the federal government for “ review.” Governor McAuliffe (joined by other states) has declined to comply with this request from an ad hoc Election Commission for Voter Integrity, tasked with uncovering fraud committed in 2016. At the same time, we still have yet to hear of any retribution for foreign cyber attacks on our democratic election.
There was a time when presidents would address the nation on radio and TV as those media came into their own. Today, social media in the form of 140 characters on Twitter is becoming the norm for communicating with Americans. In my opinion, the “messaging” coming out of the White House is nothing short of inappropriate and unacceptable. The tone of the rhetoric has caused many parents great concern as they grapple with raising their children and the issue of bullying. I believe we must step up and defend common decency and the decorum it brings to a civilized society.
While some are attacking the role of media in our society, I am grateful for the service they provide readers, listeners, and regular watchers. It is important to recognize the media’s role in our culture. Recently, the media has been providing coverage of the newly enacted laws of the Commonwealth. Additionally, I have mailed out my annual Richmond Report and posted it on my website, www.dicksaslaw.com. I recommend a deeper dive at lis.virginia.gov.
In and around the 35th District, moving people from place to place remains a top priority. Work continues on the revitalization of the Metro and its management. Former Congressman Ray LaHood is spearheading a study into the role Virginia will play. I look forward to hearing from him in the near future. We need a multimodal approach to breaking through gridlock.
A more controversial transportation infrastructure initiative is the I-66 project. While you may not agree completely with VDOT, this process has been as transparent and collaborative as possible. Designs have been revisited many times and ramps have literally been moved to best meet the public’s input. It is a major undertaking to facilitate moving people to schools, their jobs and their families. The region continues to grow and we need to get ahead of that wave before it dictates our quality of life any further.
Solar energy appears to be high on the radar for many of our neighbors. While our current president shows an unfortunate affinity for coal, oil and other energies of the past, solar is a clean, efficient, unlimited energy source that is finally starting to get the proper amount of attention in our Commonwealth. Fairfax County is providing a tax credit to individuals that make the investment to go solar. Virginia boasts the ninth-fastest-growing solar jobs market in the nation and the number of solar jobs has grown nearly 100 percent in the past year to 3,236. Additionally, clean-energy business revenue in Virginia has increased from $300 million in 2014 to $1.5 billion in 2016.
As you enjoy the warm weather, to play safely and enjoy your family and friends.
Be a good neighbor and check on the elderly who may need assistance on particularly hot days. School age children will report back to school on August 28.
Senator Saslaw represents the 35th District in the Virginia State Senate. He may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.