Never in the 10 years of service as your Senator have I ever seen what is going on here at your state Capitol.

Virginia’s Capitol has been surrounded by 6-foot-high chain-link fencing. We have not had such restrictions imposed at the Capitol in anyone’s memory, but the new Democrat majority is imposing new restrictions on the general public, General Assembly staff, the media and even legislators.

The barriers that surround Capitol Square were put in place as part of the preparations for a rally planned for this year’s “lobby day,” which, as usual, took place on the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Monday. This year, gun control has become a major issue being considered during the session. As such, groups for and against Gov. Ralph Northam’s gun control agenda made plans for their supporters to be in Richmond on that day. Those favoring Second Amendment rights planned a rally for Capitol Square, bringing many of the thousands of Virginians who have attended meetings of their local governments on this issue over the last two months.

On Jan. 10, with barely any notice to the public or even to the members of the Senate, the Joint Committee on Rules met and finalized rules for the Pocahontas Building and other areas surrounding Capitol Square. The one major change to the rules involve the ability to carry a firearm on Capitol Square. The joint committee decided that not only will guns be banned from the Capitol Square, all persons entering the Capitol and Pocahontas Building will be required to walk through a metal detector and be wanded by Capitol Police each time they enter the building.

On Jan. 13, the staff for the entire building were required to stand in long lines, wasting taxpayers’ money, and bringing the legislative process to a screeching halt. My Legislative Aides, like all others, stood in line for an hour and a half, waiting to get in the building. Unfortunately, this new police state created by the Democrats will continue, as it is one piece of their gun-control agenda.

With each successive action, the governor and the Democrats have been increasing their accompanying rhetoric. Although hundreds of gun rights supporters visited the Capitol last Monday without incident, and meetings of local governments dealing with this issue also have been without incident, the implication coming from the Northam Administration has been that a gathering of Second Amendment supporters must be inherently dangerous. Taking precautions to ensure the safety of the public — particularly when they’re exercising their First Amendment rights – is a core responsibility of government. Thousands visit the General Assembly each year to visit their representatives and witness Virginia’s government in action.

It is clear that the liberals from Northern Virginia fear, that’s right, fear law-abiding gun owners in Virginia who dare to utilize their First Amendment right of free speech and assembly to petition their government to protect their Second Amendment right to bear arms. It is as if the Democrats want to protect their big government from the citizens it is supposed to serve. If you have an opinion on an issue that the Democrats agree with, then you are welcome here; but, if you have an opinion that conflicts with their big government agenda, then you are not welcome here, and if you come here, they will put up a wall to keep you out. Funny, I thought the Democrats didn’t like walls.

But despite the current situation here, I am still working vigorously to not only propose legislation, but to see it go all the way to when Northam signs it in to law. This legislative session, I have a wide variety of legislation that will help the constituents of my district as well as the citizens of the entire commonwealth.

For example, I have brought back the Driver’s License Suspension bill (SB 1), which will require that the Department of Motor Vehicles to re-issue driver’s licenses that have been revoked or suspended solely due to unpaid court fines. Not only will this bill allow anyone with unpaid court fines to establish a payment plan with the courts to pay back the fine(s) owed, it will prevent the court system from suspending driver’s licenses for any other reason without written notification to the driver. All driver’s licenses that have been suspended due to any unpaid fines will be reinstated by July 1. This bill will take Virginians out of the “debtors’ prison” that has in effect been created by this old draconian policy, so they can legally drive to work, make a living and repay their court fines. Virginians, especially some of those in my district, do not have the financial ability to pay court fines and should not have to choose between putting food on the table and paying their court fines.