The following is Senator Dick Black‘s end of session report.
The final week of session has come and gone, and Virginia still doesn’t have a budget, but some progress is being made.
The final days of the 2012 Legislative Session are finally here. This was an unusually busy week with visitors. I was honored to host Pastor Gary Hamrick, from Cornerstone Chapel, to give the invocation at the opening of the Senate on Monday. Stephen Spielberg and his film spent the week filming scenes for his upcoming movie “Lincoln”.
The big news this week has focused on the budget. Although the Senate Democrats have continued to obstruct its passage, there were some encouraging signs. A group of negotiators from the House and Senate began to meet to discuss the differences between the House’s approved plan and the plan the Democrats killed. And, two Democratic Senators were among those participating in the negotiations, which is encouraging.
On Wednesday, the Democrats changed tactics and put together a list of items they want included in a budget. The list, however, totaled $450 million and did not include how the items would be paid for. Then on Thursday, Senator Colgan, a Democrat from Prince William who is the longest-serving Senator in Virginia history, delivered a speech to the Senate indicating that he does not want to see the budget process drag into April. That was the first indication that any Democratic Senator might be willing to break from his caucus and vote to pass a budget. After his speech, a newspaper reporter said to me, “Wow, I thought he was about to say he was voting to pass the budget!”
If you haven’t already done so, I’d encourage you to send a message to Senate Democrats (if you have problems with the link, the emails can be found below) demanding that they stop holding the budget hostage for political purposes and pass the budget. Also, write letters to the editor in your local newspapers, comment in on-line papers, blog, and get the message to your friends on Facebook and Twitter. If enough people demand a budget, they will have one.
The budget impasse notwithstanding, the General Assembly had a remarkably productive session in terms of the number of bills enacted. More than 800 bills have already been approved and sent to Governor McDonnell for consideration this session. By the last week of session, the Governor had already signed 166 bills.
Next week, I will send my Top Ten list of bills that garnered the most interest by the public, based on the number of messages we received. I will give you a brief description of the bill, an update on how I voted and what happened to the bill.
With the end of the regular session, my Capitol office will now be returning home to the 13th District. I will be returning to the Capitol frequently as we work to resolve the budget impasse of course, but my office will be operating in the district, not the General Assembly building.
Senator Dick Black
Follow Senator Black on Facebook to keep up with events in Richmond, and please don’t hesitate to contact our office during the legislative session at (804) 698-7513.
List of Senate Democrat Emails:
District39@senate.Virginia.Gov; District29@senate.Virginia.gov; District25@senate.virginia.gov; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org