The 2017 Legislative Session Begins:
The Virginia General Assembly is described as “the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World.” It dates from the establishment of the House of Burgesses at Jamestown in 1619. It is always a humbling experience to be a part of this historic body and to help make decisions that are meant to keep Virginia strong and prosperous.
We are quite different from the Federal government in many ways, but the most important is that we are a citizen legislature -- elected citizens from many walks of life meeting for just a brief time and then returning to our homes and jobs.
In January and February, we convene to deal with the State Budget and State laws and then go home to live in our districts the remainder of the year. This year’s session is 46 days – nicknamed the “short session.”
We work hard during these days in Richmond and at an extremely fast pace. It is like drinking from a firehose.
For this legislative session I have put in several bills that include some requested by constituents, some that deal with public safety and some that could help the economy of our region. I will report on them as they come forward.
Currently we are moving forward on an economic development project that actually was introduced last year. It could be a long-term boost to our area. It started with a Study Resolution that I introduced last year asking the Secretary of Transportation to look at the feasibility of an Inland Port for our region.
There is currently a Memorandum of Understanding and a feasibility study/survey of manufacturing companies to find out the volume of freight distribution within 100 miles and to find out who would be interested in shipping by train in or out of an inland port to the Port of Virginia.
Hopefully that will be completed by spring so that we know if an Inland Port is economically viable for the area. There is only one inland port in the state and it is located in Northern Virginia.
I have introduced HJ 609 which asks for a Constitutional Amendment. It would allow Circuit Court Judges in Virginia to restore voting and other rights to convicted felons---provided they have served their sentences and completed all of the other requirements needed to have those rights restored.
This is one of several bills filed this year in response to last year’s efforts by Governor Terry McAuliffe to offer blanket restoration of Civil Rights to more than 200,000 ex-felons in Virginia. Republicans sued the Governor. Later, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Governor could only restore those rights on a case-by-case basis, not en masse.
If this resolution passes, it would be considered again next year and then would be on the ballot for citizens to decide whether courts could restore rights, rather than just through the power of the Governor.
As we consider the legislation before us, I always want to know your views about the issues. We are in our offices in Richmond. My legislative assistant, Mary Franklin, is staffing our office here, located in Room 702 of the General Assembly Building.
If you can come to visit us in Richmond, please let us know ahead of time. You can contact us by sending an e-mail to DelDMarshall@house.virginia.gov or by sending a letter to me at PO Box 406, Richmond, VA 23218-0406, or by calling 804-698-1014.
Delegate Danny Marshall (R) represents the 14th House District which includes the City of Danville, Henry County (part) and Pittsylvania County (part).
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