The second week of the 2018 General Assembly session wrapped up last Friday and it feels like we’re finally hitting our stride. As we cautiously celebrate the doors reopening at federal agencies in Washington and settle into a semi-regular rhythm, the hours are filled reviewing bills, discussing policy, hearing testimony, and sneaking in a quick lunch on the 100-year-old desks of the Senate floor. In between, I have had the pleasure of receiving many visits from constituents and am humbled by the dedication of those who drove over 100 miles to voice their perspective on upcoming legislation.
It’s been a difficult start for those of us advocating for gun violence prevention. The Senate Courts of Justice Committee voted down my bill that would have addressed loopholes that allow people prohibited from purchasing firearms from a licensed dealer to obtain firearms from a “private seller.” A glimmer of bipartisan progress emerged, however, as my legislation to ban bump stocks and other devices that make semi-automatics fire like machine guns (SB1) advanced for further consideration to the Senate Finance Committee. Machine gun possession is already heavily regulated at the federal and state level, and it makes sense to treat deadly firearm attachments, which turn semi-automatic weapons into de facto machine guns, with the same scrutiny. Five Senate Republicans joined all six Democrats to move the bill forward.
I serve on three committees, where I play a part in deciding which legislative proposals will advance to the Senate floor — a key step on legislation’s journey to the Governor’s desk. In the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee I’ve learned more than I ever thought I’d know about fox penning, feral cats, and yogurt manufacturing. We also work to rejuvenate our oyster population, protect animal welfare and preserve Virginia’s natural beauty.
Ensuring a fair and efficient voting process is one of my highest priorities and, as a member of the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee, I’ve introduced eight bills to do just that.
Governor Northam’s first official action was to sign Executive Order 1, which forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, status as a veteran, and other protected classes in public employment — a policy that has been put forth by four of the past five governors. However, if we’re going to continue to attract forward-thinking companies to the Commonwealth, we need a permanent policy. SB 202 represents my continuing effort to permanently codify these protections. As a member of the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee, I was happy to see my fellow committee members advance the bill on a decisive 12-3 vote.
A flurry of orange cards has appeared on my desk this week, giving notice that this or that bill will soon be considered in committee. Some proposals have been appearing on that desk, in one form or another, for several years. Fourteen years in the General Assembly have granted me some longer-term perspective, however, and while I have seen many of my proposals become law, others require persistent effort each year. Once again, I have introduced legislation to decriminalize marijuana, which has steadily gained more allies, including several Republicans this year. My bill would make people who possess small amounts of marijuana subject to an escalating fine, from $50 to $250 per violation, rather than a criminal record.
Over three town hall meetings this past weekend, I was able to hear a multitude of questions and concerns on pending legislation. Your valuable input on issues ranging from disability waivers and education, to Metro and non-partisan redistricting, was informative and engaging. On Saturday, I will be in Alexandria and Arlington for two more town hall meetings. I hope that you will join us.
Saturday, Jan. 27, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., Mount Vernon Community School, 2601 Commonwealth Ave., with Del. Mark Levine.
Saturday, Jan. 27, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m., Walter Reed Community Center, 2909 16th Street S., with Del.e Alfonso Lopez.
Please consider following me on Twitter @AdamEbbin, liking my facebook page at facebook.com/ebbincampaign, emailing your views to me at email@example.com, and taking my survey at www.AdamEbbin.com/Survey.
It is my continued honor to serve the people of the 30th District.