Ken Plum: Busy life in Richmond
For at least five days a week through the end of February I will be in Richmond for the annual General Assembly session. The normally quiet Capitol Square starts to buzz with activity as the 100 members of the House of Delegates and the 40 members of the State Senate, their staff of one or two persons per members, and the more than 800 lobbyists who work the session come to town. Add to that number the citizens, advocacy group members, and constituents who come to the session, and the elevators in the General Assembly Building get packed and create jams in all the hallways of persons waiting for them. As quickly as all this assemblage occurs, it will fold up and disband just as quickly in late February when the session adjourns. The citizen-legislators return to their homes and professions where they have to live for the rest of the year knowing the consequences of the laws they have passed.
My temporary residence in Richmond has changed as the apartment I rented in the past on Church Hill near historic St. John’s Church was not available this session. Instead I am living in an apartment three blocks from the Capitol on Broad Street in the Miller and Rhoads residences. For almost a century the premier downtown department store in Richmond was Miller and Rhoads. The store closed more than a decade ago when it could no longer compete with suburban shopping center stores. The façade of the building has been left intact including its large sign, but the interior has been converted to a Hilton Garden Inn Hotel and Miller and Rhoads Residences of condominiums and rentals. Its easy access to the Capitol means that I may not move my car during the week. Next door is a temporary ice skating rink that brings more people downtown. Carpenter Center with its grand theatre is also next door.
Communication during the session has been enhanced with all the electronic advances. I was in the pilot program nearly a decade ago that grew into total use of laptops in the legislature. This session I am among those field-testing the iPad for use in the legislature. Almost all communications from constituents comes by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). Since the legislative process moves so quickly, snail mail is not a practical way to communicate during the legislative session.
The historic Capitol building in Richmond is an interesting place to visit any time of the year. Please call my office if you need help in planning a trip. My local office number, 703.758.9733, is forwarded to my Richmond office without additional cost to you. Hope to see you in Richmond soon.
Ken Plum is a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.