Ken Plum: Busy time in Virginia politics
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President Franklin Roosevelt once tried to change the date of Thanksgiving to always be later in November, but he was stopped by merchants who wanted maximum time to sell their goods before Christmas. In those days holiday shopping started the day after Thanksgiving rather than the increasing practice of starting on Thanksgiving evening. However the schedule is arranged, the last month of the year turns out to be very busy for most everyone, but especially for members of the legislature.
The Virginia General Assembly session gets under way on Jan. 8, but a great amount of groundwork goes into preparing for it. Beyond taking care of our personal and family responsibilities in December, legislators are rushing to survey constituents on their issues and concerns, get bills drafted and move to Richmond for at least 60 days starting in January. The two-hour trip from Reston to Richmond–when traffic is moving–means I have to find a temporary place to lease during the legislative session. The revitalization of downtown Richmond has greatly expanded housing options. Besides the usual hotels that give discounts for a longer stay there are furnished apartments and condominiums available for short-term leasing. Many of those housing units are in older buildings that were factories, warehouses, and stores in the past but have been turned into beautiful apartments that retain much of the original brickwork and heavy wood framing that give them real charm. Miller and Rhoads–the Macy’s of Richmond for many decades–has been converted into a hotel and condominiums. The Canal Lofts apartment building in which I will be living was originally a Lucky Strike cigarette manufacturing plant. The original tobacco warehouses next door are apartments. My legislative assistant will be renting an apartment in a building that used to be a bank.
Beyond finding a place to live is the most important work of deciding what legislation to introduce and what legislation introduced by others is important to co-sponsor. There is no shortage of local governments, interest groups and individuals to make suggestions. Most of the requests to the professional staff of the House of Delegates to turn an idea or concept into the legal language of a bill are placed in December although such requests continue through to the first week of the session.
Please email your recommendations on needed legislation or support to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Senator Janet Howell and I will be having our usual pre-session public hearing on January 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the Reston Community Center Hunters Woods, 2310 Colts Neck Road. Please complete my legislative survey at2014 survey, or if you need a printed copy of the survey email me your name and address or leave it in a message on my office phone: 703-758-9733.
On January 11, 2014, we will be inaugurating Terry McAuliffe as Governor along with Senator Ralph Northam as Lieutenant Governor and Senator Mark Herring as Attorney General. For details on inaugural activities, visit www.inauguration2014.com.