Local Commentary

Senator Dick Saslaw’s Richmond Report

saslaw-fcnpI am at a loss for words trying to address the crisis this nation is facing. Bombs being sent to elected officials, including former presidents, people being gunned down in their sacred place of worship… enough! Let this country come together in peace. Stop the now daily experience of violence in this land. I will once again say there is no place for assault-style weapons in the hands of civilians.

Every day we are inundated with “breaking news.” Most of it driven by a “tweet storm” that is often untruthful, uncivil, and/or reckless. It’s no coincidence that this divisive rhetoric is provoking and escalating violent behavior. This reaction is unacceptable in our democracy. The ballot box is how we enact change in this country. A tacit blessing of violence via hateful tweets should not be coming from elected leaders. I am grateful for the agencies that are on the job preventing assaults while at the same time they are derided by others. Not only do they keep people out of harm’s way, they uphold the principles the Founding Fathers set forth when this nation was born.

As we turn the calendar to November, I call to your attention the midterm elections. In Virginia, our interest lies with the federal delegation. There is a mess across the river that needs fixing. Tim Kaine has the experience and temperament to earn our support. Likewise, there is a good chance the U.S. House of Representatives may flip its majority. The Commonwealth and our region benefits from the dedication and expertise that Don Beyer (8th district) and Gerry Connolly (11th district) bring to the table. Additionally, we have the opportunity to repudiate the divisive rhetoric and flippant policies coming from the Oval Office with a vote for Jennifer Wexton (10th district). I encourage you to VOTE for these proven leaders that will put Virginia first.
November 11 marks the 100th anniversary of Veteran’s Day. Virginia is home to many of the men and women who have worn the cloth fighting for our freedoms. From the Pentagon, to Hampton Roads shipyards, many veterans make the Commonwealth their home and find work. We continue to direct our attention to ensuring the services veterans need as they re-enter and transition into our communities.

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VVFS continues its efforts to ensure veteran homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring. Since October 2014, 4,305 veterans have been housed through coordinated state and local efforts. Additionally, we are striving to ensure veterans have services they need for job and career changes. Benefit support offices are open in the Pentagon, with proposed offices for Fort Belvoir and NAS Oceana. We continue to work with higher education to recognize veteran job experience for credentials needed in the workforce. Many businesses and corporations are partnering with the VA to hire veterans.

News about Virginia’s economy is positive. Most economists say things should be good for the next year to eighteen months. However, there are some red flags that may dramatically alter that outlook. We must pay attention to the federal government’s action on the following items and their potential adverse effects on Virginia. Tariffs could hurt Virginia agriculture, particularly in a trade war with China. Existing federal debt may trigger cuts that would hurt businesses dependent on federal expenditures and investment. Virginia is home to many defense contractors and federal IT service providers.

I’ve enjoyed meeting so many of you in recent weeks and months during my visits to neighborhoods in the 35th District. As always, please reach out to me at district35@senate.virginia.gov if you are in need of assistance.

From time to time I get questions about Virginia’s utilization of funds from the lottery. Lady Luck recently was audited and here are the results: record sales of $2.14 billion; record prize pay-out of $1.3 billion; record retailer commissions of $121 million; record annual profits of $606 million; deposited $14 million in unclaimed prizes Literary Fund; collected $4.7 million in VA income tax withholdings; collected $2 million in overdue taxes, fines owed and overdue child support.

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Senator Saslaw represents the 35th District in the Virginia State Senate. He may be emailed at district35@senate.virginia.gov.

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