With the 2012 General Assembly underway, this is my first report as from Richmond as your new senator for the 30th Senate District. As you may know, there has been serious conflicts in the organization of the Senate. With the make up of the Senate split 20 - 20 between Republicans and Democrats, a major dispute arose concerning committee assignments and the ability of the lieutenant governor to break ties. Previously when a tie in the Senate occurred, committee assignments were evenly divided. Unfortunately the Republicans made a power grab as if they had majority party status with full control over committee assignments.
Despite the unfortunate loss of several qualified and veteran Democratic legislators on important committees, Democratic senators intend to keep standing for the families of Virginia.
In spite of the committee structure issue, I was appointed to three committees, Agriculture, Conservation and National Resources, Local Government and Laws and Technology.
Among the 16 pieces of legislation I have introduced with local and statewide significance:
- SB 257 School Calender - Would allow local school boards full authority to set the school calendar and determining the opening of the school year, eliminating the post-Labor Day opening requirement. Already more than half of localities have waivers for this, and it will allow for equal preparation for standardized tests, including the important AP exams.
- SB 259 Human Trafficking - Would require the Board of Education to provide awareness and training materials for local school divisions on human trafficking, including strategies for the prevention of trafficking children.
- SB 260 VA Public Procurement Act - Authorizes localities to procure construction on a best value procurement basis, factoring in safety and quality as part of their bids.
- SB 265 Child Abuse Prevention - Adds athletic coaches and directors to the list of persons required to report child abuse.
I’ve also introduced two resolutions of note: SJ 52, which would direct the Commonwealth Transportation board to make high capacity transit a funding priority, and SJ 93, to direct the study of the use of solitary confinement by the Department of Corrections. I am concerned about inmates spending years in solitary confinement and then in some cases being released directly into the community.
I was pleased that Governor McDonnell endorsed the authority of local school boards to set their own calendars (as does my bill, SB 257) during his State of the Commonwealth Address. However, I stand with my fellow Democrats insisting that increases in funding for higher education and transportation not be at the expense of public schools, public safety, and other major services that create jobs and opportunity for Virginia families.
This session will present challenges, and I am excited and honored to work to meet them on your behalf. I will keep you informed as the legislative process unfolds and encourage you to subscribe to updates at www.adamebbin.com and contact me at email@example.com or 804-698-7530.