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State Legislature Begins with Bill on Personhood

— As Virginia begins the 2012 Legislative session, many issues are at the forefront in the minds of the residents of the Commonwealth: jobs, transportation, and education. However, in the first week of this new legislative session the focus has shifted. Instead of talking about legislation like HB 191, which would give small businesses a credit for creating new jobs and hiring our graduates, Richmond is abuzz with a radical agenda attacking women. A personhood bill, similar to the one defeated by Mississippi voters last year, is alive and well in the House of Delegates. It was the very first piece of legislation filed.

There will be votes on legislation aimed at suppressing voting rights — making it more difficult for students, the elderly, and the disabled to cast their ballot for a candidate of their choice. Governor McDonnell’s budget strips funding for teen pregnancy prevention centers and legislation will make it even harder to access reproductive healthcare. These are the agenda items facing the General Assembly.

The question becomes how does this extreme agenda help fix the congestion we face in Northern Virginia? How does it help children find success in school? How does this agenda help people get back to work? The simple answer is that it does not.

This session I am introducing legislation that will help spur small business growth and get our graduates into the workforce here in Virginia. I also have filed legislation calling on VDOT to make mass transit a priority as we plan for our future, and I have asked for a JLARC study to look into changing our renewable energy portfolio into a mandatory program with real benefit rather than a lot of incentive for little environmental or economic reward. These are the questions — education, employment, transportation, and the environment that we as a Commonwealth must face, not an extremist agenda pushed by ideologues seeking higher office.

As this session progresses, I hope we can return to a place of sensible solutions and a conversation dealing with the most pressing issues before the people of the Commonwealth. As long as we are faced with extreme legislation, attacking women I will continue to fight back.

Charniele Herring (D-46) serves as the House Democratic Whip and represents Alexandria City in the Virginia General Assembly. She serves on the Courts of Justice and Science and Technology Committees. Visit www.charnieleherring.com and up-to-the-minute updates can be found on twitter @c_herring.