Focusing on results

Published 5:11 pm Wednesday, April 11, 2018

One committee of the General Assembly that I try to avoid is the Courts Committee. Not only am I not an attorney, but I prefer to spend my time in Richmond focused on things that can actually be of value to law abiding Virginians as they go about their lives either in business or their private lives. I will address several issues later in the column.

The Courts Committee, for the most part, deals with those who flaunt existing law. Often their focus is making laws stiffer, as if that will change a criminal’s activity. Many consider this type of action as “closing the gate after the horse has gotten out.” Think about it, if the risk of a prison term of five years does not prevent a crime, why would a prison term of 10 years? If one is evil enough to enter a school with the goal of going out of this world in a blaze of infamy, how will new laws change that? Banning one particular type of weapon will not stop this type of sick person. It will simply force him to use a different method of creating bedlam. Clearly, we can pass more and more laws, but crazy people care nothing about what laws are or are not on the book.

I would much rather that we spend our time in Richmond, not wringing our hands with feel-good legislation, but rather with taking actions that are focused on changing behavior earlier in life. That is why I have spent so much time and effort on faster credential training in our schools, first in the community colleges and now in our high and middle schools. My belief is that people who have a skill are more likely to focus on the positive things in life, rather than the dark, negative things. It is also the reason I have worked to focus on early childhood development. The early years in life are the most formative. If someone can better identify and correct someone at this age, it may well save him later.


My legislation is not focused on what will make the news but rather how best to serve Virginians and their ability to provide for their families. My bills worked with local government, individual businesses, business groups, state retirees, health care providers, those suffering with Alzheimer’s, the National Guard and Veteran Services. In each case, we reduced burdensome state policies or clarified the law to better serve people and businesses.

One bill that I co-sponsored will permit individuals to buy what is defined as “catastrophic” health insurance. This would clearly help some of those most harmed by “Obamacare” and the taxes imposed on them. Another that Senator Frank Wagner and I co-sponsored would have required the Department of Education to develop a plan of how to begin work skills training in middle school. That one was held over until 2019.

Often, the issue is how can we better spend money to accomplish what the public expects. This year my goal was to better finance the schools in poorer, more rural counties. As more and more of our young people are drawn to suburban counties, many counties are still required to achieve the same goals as the affluent counties without the resources needed. For this reason, it was important to have additional funding. A goal with which we were at least somewhat successful.

Frank Ruff represents Lunenburg in the state Senate. His email address is Sen.