The Virginia General Assembly session began on Wednesday, and clearly, “the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World” will have a 401st year that will be noticeably different from its 400th.  For the first time in 26 years, the House and Senate have Democrat majorities with a Democrat serving as governor.  One-party control has been a rare occurrence over the last quarter century, and it appears that the Commonwealth will be making history this year, but perhaps not the kind of history that we either want, or that will be good for the regions outside of Northern Virginia. 

When one party has not had complete control of government for a very long time, substantial and consequential changes are to be expected.  When that party, like the Democrats, is more uniformly and ideologically left than it was when it last held power, those changes have the potential to be radical.  From what the Governor and the Democrats promised this week, they will be.      

Several of the bills proposed by the democratic majority are radical and uncalled for. Under the banner of making Virginia “safer,” the left is, through a series of bills, essentially destroying the 2nd Amendment, thereby transforming our law-abiding gun-owning citizens into felons; just last Friday, the liberals on the Joint Rules Committee (that they now control) voted to ban all firearms from being possessed by law-abiding citizens at the Capitol, and in our office spaces.   I am sure that all criminals and those that wish to do harm to others will not be hindered by such prohibitions sought to be put upon law abiding Virginians by the liberal left.

Under the banner of  “progress,” the liberal senators and delegates are proposing to repeal the right to work law, raise the minimum wage to an amount that small businesses cannot possibly manage, raise taxes and roll back the tax relief  Republicans passed last year to fuel their liberal social programs, and are proposing legislation that seeks to designate “single family home” developments illegal as being “racist” and “bad for the environment.”  And speaking of the environment, they are even proposing legislation that will ban the use of coal and all other fossil fuel energy sources in Virginia, thereby exorbitantly driving up the price of your monthly electricity and gas bills. Under the disguise of “healthcare,” they are proposing to allow late-term abortions and after-birth abortions “on-demand.” I wish I was joking, but I’m not. And it doesn’t stop there, because these are just some of the bad ideas that they are proposing, there are more; and, the list keeps growing as we approach the legislative filing deadline next week. It is clear that these proposals, along with so many other bizarre ideas, are a part of their larger goal of creating dependency by the people on their state and local government in exchange for giving up their liberties and freedoms. And make no mistake: the democrat majority, mostly originating from Northern Virginia and the city of Richmond, has created a regional strategy that will ignore the needs and citizens of the rest of Virginia. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the next 60 days will be perilous ones for Virginia’s future. We will be keeping you constantly informed of the “goings-on” here at the Capitol.  But as Thomas Jefferson once said, “vigilance is the eternal price of liberty,” and those words still ring true today.  We must all be vigilant and protect what is good about Virginia and keep our state the greatest place to live and raise a family, and the greatest state in which small businesses can grow and thrive.  I urge you all to stay involved in this process, and make your voices be heard in the halls of our state government.  I promise to continue being a tireless advocate in representing and promoting the interests of the citizens of Southside and Southside Virginia as your state senator here in Richmond.

On another note, I received my Committee Assignments this week.  I have been appointed to serve on the Judiciary Committee, Committee on Local Government, and the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources. The democrats removed me from my 7 year service on the Commerce and Labor committee, leaving no one from our region on this very important committee.

The majority party gets to decide on committee assignments.  With a disproportionate number of their members coming from Northern Virginia, the Democrat majority crossed out large regions of the Commonwealth in assigning these committees.  

Southwest Virginia was especially discounted in the assignments.  Consistent with the what has become the Democrat Party’s base of support, Northern Virginia will be decidedly over-represented on key committees such as the Committee on Finance and the Committee on Commerce and Labor. I have drafted over 30 pieces of legislation for consideration by the legislature that if passed, will greatly help our region. Starting in next week’s report, I will detail these bills as they progress through the State Senate.  We continue to focus our legislative efforts in the areas of rural healthcare and education, school modernization, economic opportunity and workforce training issues, bringing broadband to all areas of our region, and the upgrading of our highway infrastructure.

On a happier note, friendly faces from home came early to the General Assembly this session, as the Virginia Federation of Republican Women held their annual legislative day on the session’s second day. Several Career Technical Education Administrators came in to the office to discuss increasing funding and progress in career technical education. The Board of Directors from the Virginia Association for Career Technical Education also stopped in and were introduced on the floor of the Senate.

We had representatives from several parts of the district stop by our office to offer encouragement and support.  I was thrilled to have Tim Kyser and his daughter, Robin Ferguson, Robbie Dooley, Kathy Duncan, Nicole Neal, Melvina Robinson, Kimberly Wilson, Brandon Atkins, Rodger Elkins and Bobby Burchett stop by our offices in the Pocahontas Building. We’d love to have you stop by our offices in Room 504 of the Pocahontas Building if you’re planning a visit to Virginia’s historic Capitol.  You can also let us know your views on any of the issues before the General Assembly by emailing or calling (804) 698-7520.  Thank you for the honor to represent you, and I look forward to writing you next week as the 2020 General Assembly progresses.  God Bless.

State Sen. Bill Stanley resides in Franklin County.