Our reconvene session was held, despite the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. The annual "veto session' was truly surreal.
As chair of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, I was very proud of the priorities we had funded. We had balanced the budget (as the state constitution requires) while increasing teacher and state employee compensation, increased support for K-12 and higher education, made historic increases to early childhood programs. We made unprecedented investments in capital projects, including state parks and college facilities. Human services were augmented and we even added dental coverage for low income adults and increased pay for our underpaid personal care workers. Climate change challenges were being addressed. The list went on and on. Today everything is uncertain.
June 4, 2019
Stopping gun violence has always been a major priority of mine. I ran on the issue my first race in 1991 and every election since then. Every year I have introduced at least one bill to combat it.
A new chapter is opening in my life. Totally unexpectedly, I have become a children's book author! Let me tell you about it.
February 18, 2019
People are always surprised to learn that in Richmond we often work across party lines for a common goal. Let me give you a couple examples.
February 8, 2019
This has been the week from h--- here in Richmond. All of us, regardless of party, are shocked and devastated by the recent revelations about our Richmond leaders. Ralph Northam, Mark Herring, Justin Fairfax, and Tommy Norment are men we have known and worked with for years. Worse, we have trusted them to lead our state. We are all trying to sort through what is true and what isn't.
At the same time we are being surrounded and queried by press - most of whom know little about Virginia. They don't know about our shameful racist past or about how hard we have been working to overcome it.
January 26, 2019
One of the best parts of my job is meeting with citizen advocates. They are uniformly well informed, sincere, and committed to making Virginia better. They are not paid but are devoted to their cause.
When we are not in session I meet with citizen advocates and constituents either at their group meetings or in my family room. They are often surprised to meet at my home but the fact is that legislators are not provided an office outside of Richmond. Since I am a full time Senator, we meet at my home.
January 18, 2019
The Legislature is Hard at Work
Most of my time in Richmond is spent on the budget. As the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee and a longtime Senate budget conferee, I must know the budget inside out. Given that it is 632 pages long, that is not easy! In the Senate the Finance Committee deals with both tax policy and appropriations. In the House, those topics are divided into two major committees.
July 23, 2018
Heading Into Coal Country
BIG STONE GAP/MOUNTAIN EMPIRE COMMUNITY COLLEGE:
When I think of economic development in Southwest Virginia, I think of drones. And when I think of drones, I think of Jack Kennedy. Jack, a former State Senator and current Clerk of the Courts in Wise, has been the cheerleader in the region and in Richmond about the possibilities that drones present.
July 18, 2018
MARION: I was eager to visit Marion because I wanted to talk with Eric Blevins. Eric wrote an op-ed last April in the Richmond Times Dispatch about the drug addiction crisis in his hometown. Eric is in his early thirties and at about thirteen started using various drugs and alcohol. He has been clean for over six years. Currently, he is a peer counselor and is studying to become a licensed counselor. He has seen or experienced it all. I reached out to him to see if he would share his story and advice with me.