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Column: Preparing for the Holidays

The holiday season is busy for most everyone regardless of faith and family traditions and the holidays we choose to celebrate. Increasingly there is a trend towards the winter holiday celebration beginning soon after Halloween. Thanksgiving is getting overshadowed with super-hot buying specials that used to at least wait until the Friday after Thanksgiving. Add to the number of holidays the gift buying, family travel and seasonal parties, and you have a very busy time of the year.

Politicians are just like everyone else in having our winter holiday celebrations and traditions. Depending on the holidays we observe, we shop for presents, put up decorations, and plan high-calorie meals and events. On top of all the things that others are doing, state legislators are getting ready for a legislative session scheduled to begin on Jan. 10, 2013. Amidst the holiday merriment, state delegates and senators are reading reports of studies that have been conducted throughout the year. A proposal to lift the ban on uranium mining has brought a massive study report with additional supportive and contrary reports also becoming available. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) has produced several very professional papers on issues it has been asked to review, and legislative study committees are making their reports for the year.

On Dec. 17 the governor is scheduled to speak to the “money” committees of House Appropriations and Finance and Senate Finance to bring legislators up-to-date on any fiscal cliffs the state might be facing. While the economy in Virginia has been making steady recovery, decisions at the federal level could have major impacts in Virginia especially as the federal actions might result in defense spending reductions and other reductions in federal spending in Virginia. The governor at that time may announce more details to a proposal he has hinted at that might respond to our transportation needs.

Recognizing that legislators are getting near their annual trek to Richmond, advocacy and interest groups are increasing their correspondence and meetings to see and talk with us before we leave town. These meetings are very instructive and important, but they do take a lot of time. We need to hear from constituents; we work around all else that is happening during the holidays to make ourselves as available as possible. I ask constituents to take a few minutes from their personal and family activities to respond to my annual pre-session survey included in my legislative newsletter that will be arriving in homes in the near future. The survey also can be accessed on my website at www.kenplum.com.

As is our practice, Senator Janet Howell and I will be having a pre-session community meeting on Jan. 3, 2013 from 7:30-9 p.m. at the Community Center at Hunters Woods. Please come and talk with us about what you think we should be doing this legislative session. Pre-registration is not required. The meeting is informal; we just want to hear from you.

Along with all that is happening in preparing for the legislative session, my colleagues and I will be enjoying the holidays with family and friends. As you will hear from me many times over the next few weeks, I hope you have a happy holiday season!