January 31, 2014
Events in the Virginia Senate

In 2011, all forty seats in the Virginia Senate were up for re-election. Democrats had control of the Senate, and drew the district lines to pack likely Republican voters into as few districts as possible. The net result of such redistricting is that, no matter how high the total take of the state's vote, Republicans would have great difficulty picking up actual seats. They also put Republican Senators into districts with each other. Nevertheless, the voters had the final say. Republicans took a strong showing of 58% of the vote, but won only 50% (20) of the seats.

With the Lt. Governor victory of Ralph Northam this past November, Senate Democrats have now regained governing control of the Virginia Senate.

Despite Senate Rules requiring a 2/3 vote to make any changes, this past Tuesday Democrat Senators, with the help of the Lt. Governor's tie-breaking vote, made a precedent-setting decision that a new Senate exists every time a new face arrives on the Floor. Concluding that decision meant the Senate had no valid rules by which to operate, they put aside the existing rules and enacted a new set with a simple majority vote. If the presence of a newly-organized Senate is determined by which faces are in the room, the Senate is going to need to reorganize itself quite frequently.

With their 42% of the vote mandate, Democrats proceeded to take 100% of the chairmanships; remove people from standing committees without concurrence; and stack committees with majorities as high as 64.7%. This was done in the middle of a legislative session - in which subcommittees and full standing committees have been working for several weeks. Such a re-organization is quite a disruptive act.

Most concerning is new Rule 19(i), which says that the lone senator who chairs the Rules Committee can unilaterally decide that a Senate bill - amended by the House in a manner he does not like - will not go to the Senate floor. Instead, it will be diverted to the committee he chairs. That committee can then kill the bill, protecting their membership from having to vote Yes or No in an up or down vote, on the Senate Floor.

This undermines the important concept of a bicameral legislative body. Each body is supposed to have the opportunity to amend the other's legislation, with the body of origin accepting or rejecting the changes. The result of such an exchange determines if the bill goes into a committee of conference or not, to be agreed upon for possible final passage. Under this new rule, 19(i), that bicameral system is undermined substantially.


Despite the unfortunate political gamesmanship this week, I know that you elected me to represent you and our shared principles in the state Senate, and not to dwell on partisan bickering. I remain committed to being your effective advocate in the Virginia Senate, and will make sure your voice is heard, loud and clear.

Legislative Update

As of Wednesday, January 29th, all of my remaining bills have successfully passed the Senate and are now pending in the House, for their consideration. It is unlikely that the House will have a chance to deal with Senate business until after Crossover on February 11th. Once committees and subcommittees begin handling Senate bills, I will again be presenting my legislative package for voting.


In the meantime, we still have full committee dockets of Senate business to deal with, within the next week and a half. There truly won't be any slowing down, before Crossover.


The communication from constituents has continued to be helpful, wonderful, and informative. I appreciate it greatly. Please, do not hesitate to contact us. I can best represent you by hearing from you, and thank you for the privilege of service.





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Special Elections in Chesterfield!
Please remember to vote on March 18th in the special elections for School Board (if you live in the Midlothian district) and for Sheriff (county wide). 
If you are unsure where you need to go to vote, please visit the State Board of Elections and find your polling location!
Visitors This Week

The winter weather may be disrupting traffic in many areas, but the flow of visitors through the General Assembly Building and to my office has not slowed down!

Over the last week, we were glad to meet with a wide variety guests, constituents, and representatives, including:
Chesterfield Education Association, Chesterfield County Council of PTA's, Extra Special Parents, National MS Society, Virginia Association of Funeral Directors, AFL-CIO, Southside Electric Cooperative, Commissioners of the Revenue Association of Virginia, Equality VA, Chesterfield NAACP, representative business owners with the Virginia Hospitality & Travel Association, John Tyler Community College, the YWCA of Richmond, Virginia Oral Health Coalition, the Virginia Catholic Conference, students from Saint Gertrude's High School, Massey Cancer Center, Richmond Area Citizens for the Arts, and students from George Mason University.

Our thanks to the constituents, groups, and drop-in visitors that came by the office this week and took time to let us know what was on their mind!

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