What Changes and What Stays the Same? As they leave office, I want to thank Governor Bob McDonnell, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for their service.
Governor Bob McDonnell presented his final State of the Commonwealth speech last week. He leaves a legacy of positive actions in Virginia. Among those, we are again rated #1 for the best state in which to do business.
Four years ago McDonnell ran on “Bob’s for Jobs,” and when elected, he appointed Lt. Governor Bill Bolling as his Chief Jobs Creation Officer. Over those four years the unemployment rate in Virginia has dropped from 7.4% to 5.4% statewide during a very difficult economic time with low nationwide job growth. Unemployment has dropped in our region, but not nearly as much as we need, so that is definitely our main focus.
The new governor, Terry McAuliffe, while on the campaign trail and in speaking to me personally, has stated that “jobs are top priority.” I look forward to working with Governor McAuliffe to help bring more jobs and prosperity to our part of the state.
Some of the work for legislators this week is the vetting of some of the Secretaries who have been selected by the Governor to head the various departments. The appointees will come before legislative committees and then will eventually be voted on by the General Assembly.
As a member of the Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee, I look forward to seeing Todd Haymore from Pittsylvania County come before our committee as Governor McAuliffe’s designee for reappointment as Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.
Agriculture and Forestry is the number one Industry in Virginia. Much of the credit goes to Todd’s work as he has gone world-wide to market Virginia products. Virginia sells soybeans to China, apples to Cuba, bulls to Russia and tobacco (some by way of Danville) to Japan. And at an agribusiness event last week, the Governor announced that his goal is to make Virginia the #1 Agriculture and Forestry state for exports on the east coast.
Thankfully Governor McAuliffe recognized the hard work of Haymore and re-appointed him. It is good to have a hometown person on the Cabinet.
The Secretary of Commerce and Trade designee, Maurice Jones, will come before the Commerce and Labor Committee on which I serve. When I was a member of Danville City Council and during my time in the General Assembly, I have worked with each of the Secretaries of Commerce and Trade to help bring jobs to our state and region.
The job of the Secretary of Commerce is very important to Southside. That person is the salesman for jobs throughout the United States and the world. He talks to companies to get them to locate or expand in Virginia and must be an expert in all that we have to offer.
Also coming before the Commerce and Labor Committee last week were the three judges for the Workers Compensation Commission. The chairman of the commission, Roger L. Williams, is up for renewal. He was interviewed and our committee recommended reappointment. And finally, one of the three commissioners to the State Corporation Commission, James Dimitri, is up for reappointment and will be recommended to serve again.
Fifteen new freshmen delegates were sworn in last week. We welcome Les Adams of Chatham representing the 16th district. He has jumped right in to work. Also, congratulations go to Delegate Charles Poindexter for being selected as the Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee vice-chairman.
As always, I hope that my 14th District constituents will let us know how you feel about the state issues that are before us. If you want to read or keep up with Virginia legislation, you may go on line to: http://legis.virginia.gov/