Update from the General Assembly | Week Three
Greetings to the Constituents of Virginia’s 19th House District:
On Monday, more than 22,000 supporters of the Second Amendment traveled to Richmond to lobby the General Assembly in what is considered one of the largest rallies in Richmond’s history. The men and women who traveled to the Capitol did so in order to prevail upon their elected officials the importance of our right to protect ourselves and our families. The gathering was as diverse as it was respectful. These law-abiding citizens came from all walks of life and political persuasion, showing the nation that while they may disagree on some political issues, they understand the magnitude of these attempts to infringe upon our constitutional right.
The First Amendment was exercised effectively as a result of the Second. Many chose to stand outside of the fencing erected at the behest of the Governor and instead lobbied their legislators on the streets surrounding the Capitol Grounds. No one was injured and the city was left cleaner than the day before. The impact that this peaceful demonstration had on those fortunate enough to witness it firsthand is difficult to overstate. In the end, January 20th showed that our constitutional right should not be weakened over what is largely a mental health issue.
Unfortunately, these efforts fell on deaf ears as gun controls bills have passed through subcommittees in the House. Though we can hope the Senate will be a moderating influence, it is certain that a number of these bills will be passed and signed by the Governor. While challenges will most certainly be made through the legal system, the most effective way to enact policy in our democratic republic is through the ballot box. I urge you to register to vote, and to exercise your right to do so in every election.
The House of Delegates continues to plod along, with subcommittee meetings that typically concluded in the afternoon now lasting well into the night. Compared to last session 500 more bills have been introduced in the House and we are only now just beginning to hold votes on the floor. A large number of the bills being presented add regulatory burdens on businesses and seek to drastically alter the landscape that earned Virginia the honor of being the best state to do business. The efforts to artificially increase wages and repeal right-to-work will have far reaching implications when it comes to attracting jobs to Virginia and retaining the ones we have. The market should dictate wages and workers should not be coerced into paying membership dues for groups they don’t want to join.
I continue to advocate on behalf of my budget amendments. These include funding to facilitate the proposed school system merger between Alleghany County and the City of Covington, establishing a fund to attract airline service in Virginia, restoring desperately needed funds for Circuit Court Clerks and Deputy Clerks, and establishing Department of Conservation & Recreation law enforcement officers into the state’s retirement system. I am also carrying an amendment alongside Senator Newman that will create a Central Virginia Community College System satellite campus within the National D-Day Memorial. The D-Day Memorial Foundation’s vision for its future has huge potential for Bedford and will ensure that the sacrifices of our World War II veterans will not be forgotten.
Thank you to everyone who visited with me in Richmond. I enjoyed meeting with Wende Gaylor of the Bedford Chamber and its group of individuals participating in Leadership Bedford. I also enjoyed meeting with businesses represented by the Virginia West Business and Legislative Coalition to discuss their priorities and the legislation impacting their operations. On Wednesday, the Roanoke Regional Chamber presented me with an award for securing the funding for much-needed improvements along the I-81 corridor. These improvements will ensure that our transportation system is able to facilitate economic development opportunities in our region. This would not have been possible without the efforts of the business community, and I am grateful for its continued support. I also had the pleasure of speaking with representatives of the forestry and paper industries, which contribute more than $17 billion annually to Virginia’s economy in a sustainable fashion. With 1,700 bills passing through the House of Delegates, these visits inform me a great deal, and your efforts are appreciated and valued.
As always, please contact my office to let me know your position on current issues. I can be reached on the Richmond office phone number (804) 698-1019 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The General Assembly Building continues to be renovated and my office is now located at Room E405 in the Pocahontas Building on 900 East Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219.
Delegate Terry L. Austin
19th House District