Tammy Mulchi: A look at my first week in the Assembly

Published 12:00 pm Friday, January 26, 2024

The General Assembly session is now at full steam, having started on Jan. 10. My election results were not certified until Jan. 17 and I was sworn in at the end of session that same day. I was able to start my official duties immediately.

On Thursday, I received my three committee assignments, and I am very pleased. I will serve on the committees on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources, Transportation and Privileges, and Elections. Like this whirlwind election, there was little time to get acquainted with how things work, as I had my first Transportation Committee meeting on Thursday afternoon. This is one reason it was good that I had many years of experience working with both former Sen. Frank Ruff and Del. Tommy Wright. I was able to go straight to work with no on-the-job training necessary.

Committees are considering long dockets of legislation submitted by the Senators, and bills are beginning to come to the floor for consideration by the full Senate. In the coming weeks, I will discuss the legislation that I am introducing this session, as well as some of the key issues me and my Republican colleagues are working on.

CRACKING DOWN ON FENTANYL 

As part of our effort to keep Virginians safer, my Republican colleagues in the Senate and I want to crack down on the illegal sale of fentanyl and other dangerous drugs that often lead to deaths from overdoses. These deaths are tragic, and the heartbreak and grief families and loved ones go through is indescribable. They also add to the burdens placed on first responders and health care services. It is so important that we do everything we can to prevent these deaths and hold accountable those who played a role in these tragedies.

Republicans supported legislation to crack down on those involved in deaths due to dangerous illegal drugs. Under the Republican bill, an individual illegally providing drugs that are responsible for the death of the user could be charged with second-degree murder—even if no money was involved. My Republican colleagues and I think it is common sense that with the number of deaths due to substances like fentanyl increasing, it is time to hold the people who provide these drugs that result in death accountable for their actions. Most Democrats on the Courts of Justice committee refused to support this common-sense measure and the bill died on an 8-7 vote.

RETURNING CONTROL TO VIRGINIA 

A few years ago, Democrats passed a law requiring that Virginia’s rules related to auto emissions and electric vehicle mandates mirror those the California Air Resources Board (CARB) set. This means that California bureaucrats — who work and live 2,500 miles away, and are not even elected by Californians, never mind Virginians — are setting rules Virginians are forced to live by whether they are right for us or not.

Because of this, Virginians are on course to phase out sales of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035–the same schedule California has set for itself. It doesn’t matter that companies like Ford are cutting electric vehicle production because sales are below expectations. It doesn’t matter that battery life is lousy in the cold weather here. It doesn’t matter that it will cost billions to upgrade the electric grid to give us the capacity to charge all these cars. Because of the bill passed by the Democrats a few years back, Californians make our rules, not Virginians. My Republican colleagues and I want to change that. A bill was put forward to return control over these rules to Virginia, co-sponsored by every Republican in the State Senate. Even with all that support, Democrats used their majority on the Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee to kill the bill. Sadly, that leaves Californians in charge of telling Virginia what our auto emission standards should be.

KEEP AN EYE ON THE ASSEMBLY 

As always, I encourage you to watch the General Assembly session. You are welcome to visit in person in Richmond and view the proceedings from the gallery. But you can also stream each day’s session here: http://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3. Session typically begins at noon each weekday except Friday, when it generally starts at 10 a.m. or 11 a.m.. Always check these times, as they can change when needed. You may also be interested to know that committee meetings are also streamed. A list of upcoming meetings with links to streaming are here: https://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3.

As always, I want to hear your views, opinions, suggestions, and questions related to legislation or state government. While my schedule is often hectic and subject to change, I would love to say hello to you if possible.

Tammy Mulchi serves as the District 9 state senator. She can be reached at senatormulchi@senate.virginia.gov or by calling 804-698-7509.