This is an exciting week in Richmond with many important issues facing the General Assembly. There is one of particular note that I know everyone around the Commonwealth is talking about right now — the reconfirmation of Helen Dragas. The vote will take place today, Jan. 21, and as I have mentioned before, I will not support her confirmation. I believe her actions during the summer and since then have damaged the reputation of our stellar flagship university. These are serious matters and should not be rewarded with a reappointment.
Several of my bills on military and veteran issues are gaining support and moving ahead. My “V3” bill (Virginia Values Veterans) SB 829, will create a pilot program in the Commonwealth to reduce the high unemployment among veterans. The unemployment rate among veterans is almost twice as high as the civilian population. V3 will provide incentives for businesses to attract, train, hire and retain veterans. Attorney General Cuccinelli is supporting this bill and enthusiastic about the pilot program it would create.
Constituent mail continues to pour into my office and I appreciate seeing my fellow Americans exercise their right by making their voices heard on issues they care deeply about. Some of the topics covered in the past two weeks include the Second Amendment and gun control, lifting the ban on uranium mining, Medicaid reform, ending work place discrimination and “smart meters” coming to Dominion Power and Virginia. Please continue to contact me on issues of concern. Hearing from constituents helps me better represent the people of the 36th District.
And finally, I am asking my constituents to write to their congressman and to U.S. Senators Warner and Kaine, as well as to the Federal Communications Commission on the issue of 911 service during and after storms. For those of you not familiar with the issue, the recent hurricanes and last summer’s derecho showed serious flaws in our emergency response abilities. Most of our 911 call centers in Virginia experienced partial or complete outages for several days after the derecho. Over 2 million people Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio were unable to reach 911 after 17 call centers lost service completely.
This is unacceptable. And we must press those at the federal level to do more to work with the providers and local governments to fix the problems and strengthen our 911 system. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has stated that he will “propose measures to improve reliability of the existing 911 networks.” Please insist that he carries through on these proposals to keep Virginians safe, especially at our most vulnerable moments.