Tough time of the year
Published 6:10 pm Wednesday, January 13, 2016
This is a tough time of the year for legislators because this is a period of transition.
Transition from the pleasure of being with family and loved ones to a time of disruption of our lives from excitement and uncertainty.
Disruption because, as the General Assembly session begins, I will be away from my wife and home during the week for the next couple of months.
At the same time, it is a chance to renew friendships and develop new relationships around the capitol. Legislators are on an emotional roller coaster with the excitement that surrounds the opening of a new session.
An opportunity to solve problems, to make Virginia a better place to live, raise a family, and operate a business while understanding that others will have a completely different view of what Virginia should be.
Sometimes those views are different for us that serve rural Virginia than for those in the more urban areas.
Other times the issues are the difference between those of us who believe that you, the people of Virginia, know best your needs and those who believe that government should dictate more and more of our lives.
On the legislative front, I have been working on proposals that I committed to sponsor this year; hoping not to have forgotten anything that I committed to pursue.
This year on the finance committee, I will chair the subcommittee that is responsible for the parts of state government that deal with the commerce and trade secretariat.
These include everything dealing with agriculture, forestry, and our state parks, to protecting our rivers and streams, as well as money spent for economic development.
As you may have read in the governor’s many announcements, he is committed to fund several major projects that are expensive but, if done correctly, could potentially enhance the economy in the coming years.
I have been trying to go through the governor’s proposed budget to determine what deserves support and what should be amended, adjusted or dropped. Our subcommittee will have to work carefully through those proposals.
While I will be working very closely with his administration on many issues, I will be opposing him on other issues in which he and I have significant differences of opinion. Hopefully, we can all work professionally and agree to not let some issues affect others.
No matter how well prepared we are as we pack to go to Richmond, there will be surprises that will pop up and make headlines.
We will just need to address them as they arise. Below are some that you should expect to see before us.
— Expanded Medicaid: The Governor is determined to again raise this issue without fixing a system all know is broken.
— Gun issues will be front and center because of the governor and attorney general trying to repay and win favor with former New York Mayor Bloomberg.
— Workforce changes at our community colleges that I have focused on for several years.
— Federal clean air regulations that will drastically raise the cost of heating and cooling your home while killing jobs.
— Reinstatement of parole in our correction facilities. Some believe that stiff sentencing is unfair.
—How law enforcement and the courts deal with drug offenses and penalties. The question has arisen that the future of young people is destroyed by drug charges of teens.
Frank Ruff, a Republican, represents Lunenburg County in the Virginia State Senate. His email address is Sen.Ruff@verizon.net.