Session begins in Richmond

Published 3:09 pm Thursday, January 19, 2017

The 2017 General Assembly session has Officially begun. The year will be a short session (46 days) as our primary responsibility is to make adjustment to our biennial budget. However, we are still putting forth a breadth of legislative proposals aimed at creating jobs, improving healthcare costs and creating more educational opportunities. There is a lot before us this year, but we will be focused on doing the work of the people and completing the session on time.

The House officially gaveled into session on Jan. 11 at noon. A new transparency measure was announced on the first day: the video archiving of each day’s session. The new archive, available from the Virginia General Assembly website, will allow the public to view the floor proceedings of the House during the 2017 session on demand. The House also created a search feature that will allow viewers to search by bill or by member.

That evening, Gov. Terry McAuliffe delivered the annual State of the Commonwealth Address. As this is McAuliffe’s final year in office, a great deal of his speech was a review of his time as governor.

Republican Del. Ron Villanueva (Virginia Beach) and Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant (Henrico) delivered the Republican perspective on the State of the Commonwealth. The reminded us that with last November’s elections, there are big changes coming to Washington. Some of these changes, like rebuilding our national defense and including coal in a comprehensive approach to energy independence, will greatly benefit Virginia. But it is here in our state Capitol where a lot of work is going to be done that directly benefit all Virginians.

I have patron several bills this session. HB 1429 would honor Air Force veterans by allowing DMV to issue plates with the Air Force Emblem. HB 1532 would increase the allocation of money to the Fire Program Fund, which supports volunteer fire departments. I have also patroned HJ 627, which would direct a study of the Virginia lottery to give more money to local school boards for education.

Finally, HB 2308 would add conservation officers to the list of retired law enforcement that are able to carry a handgun without a permit.

I am opposed to HB 1900, which provides that a dog owner be subject to a civil penalty of $100 if the owner’s dog strays on posted property without permission.

Tommy Wright represents Lunenburg County in the House and is a resident of the county. He can be reached at or (804) 698-1061.