House has 60 days to manage 2,000 bills

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By The Staff

For the first time since 2005, the Virginia General Assembly has convened its session in the Virginia Capitol. Renovations to the building, frequently referred to here as ?Mr. Jefferson?s Capitol,? were completed just before Queen Elizabeth?s visit last spring. Now, it is ready again to be used for the purpose it was originally intended, and is filled everyday with legislators holding meetings, visitors seeing the General Assembly in action, and tourists appreciating its rich history.

On its first day, the General Assembly heard the annual State of the Commonwealth Address by Governor Kaine. As is customary, the Governor used the address to set out his agenda for the legislative session, as well as to highlight his proposals for the Commonwealth?s biennial budget. Some of these priorities, like improvements to Virginia?s mental health care system, are likely to receive widespread, bipartisan support. Others, like his plans to withdraw money from the state?s Rainy Day Fund and to transfer $180 million from transportation to other programs, are undoubtedly going to be the subjects of some very heated debates.

The House of Delegates considers an average of about two thousand bills and resolutions every year. As in most sessions, this legislation includes some very important proposals that will generate significant debate. Along with new proposals to address the pressing issues of the day are bills that have numerous technical corrections to state law, some less-than-serious legislative proposals, and dozens of commending and memorial resolutions.

To manage this workload in the sixty days allowed under the Constitution of Virginia, the House has fourteen standing committees to process legislation. This year, I have been appointed by the Speaker to serve as Chairwoman of one of these standing committees, the Science and Technology Committee. This new leadership position is an exciting opportunity to influence important legislation dealing with the new challenges we face in technology in both the private and commercial sector. The Speaker has also reappointed me to both the Finance and Commerce and Labor Committees, where we will be assigned our subcommittee positions this week.

I have several key pieces of legislation that I will be working on this year to enhance our efforts in economic development. As those who have followed this column in previous years know, I have focused much of my legislative efforts on improving access to workforce training and creating an atmosphere that will encourage employers to locate in our region. I will update you on these bills and other important initiatives I am working on in the upcoming weeks as we move through the process.

My legislative assistant for the session, Alex Mason, is staffing our office here in Richmond, located in Room 811 of the General Assembly Building. You can contact us here by sending an e-mail to DelKByron@house.state.va.us or by sending a letter to me at PO Box 406, Richmond, VA 23218-0406. If you just want to be sure I know how you feel about a particular issue being considered during this General Assembly session, you can call on the toll-free Constituent Viewpoint Hotline at 1.800.889.0229.

Friendly faces from home are always a welcome sight here in Richmond, so if you?re planning to visit the Capitol between now and early March, please be sure to stop by our office or call my legislative assistant to help arrange a tour of the Capitol, Governor?s mansion, and other places of interest.

This newspaper has generously agreed to print these columns during session, for which I am very grateful.

Have a great week, and look for more news from Richmond in this same place next week.