The Virginia Senate underwent a significant transfer of power last week following the elections of Senators Jennifer Wexton (D-Loudoun) and Lynwood Lewis (D-Accomack). The Senate is again evenly split 20-20 — as it was before the 2013 statewide elections. However, Lt. Governor Ralph Northam (D) gives Democrats a crucial tie-breaking vote and control of the chamber. On Tuesday, we Democrats moved to change the committee chairmanships and compositions to reflect our new majority. This means the Senate will now offer a counterbalance to the sharply conservative House of Delegates.
As a result of the transfer of power, I have been given two additional committee assignments. I now serve on the Commerce and Labor Committee, which considers critical issues involving economic development. I have also become a member of the Privileges and Elections Committee, which hears legislation regarding voting access and constitutional amendments. I remain on the General Laws and Technology Committee as well as the Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee. While I expect this docket to keep me quite busy, these committees greatly impact the overall direction of the Commonwealth and I look forward to delving further into these important topics.
This is the final week before the Feb. 11 Crossover, the date by which each legislative chamber must complete work on its own bills and thereafter only consider bills passed by the other body. Most of my bills have advanced through committees and the full Senate, but there are a few which still need to be voted before next week’s deadline.
One such bill would establish a pilot mental health program in the Virginia Community College System. I introduced legislation that would provide counseling services at four campuses around the state. Given the rash of violent tragedies at colleges around the nation, I hope that access to mental health care will reduce the loss of life and improve the quality of life for many students. I am pleased to report that this bill was unanimously passed out of the Senate Education and Health Committee. It will now be considered by the Senate Finance Committee.
Thanks to all who attended the Lee District Legislative Town Hall Meeting last Saturday with Senators Toddy Puller and George Barker, Del. Mark Sickles and Supervisor Jeff McKay. For those who could not make it to that one, there will be another meeting for Alexandria and Arlington residents on Saturday, Feb. 15 from 10 a.m.-noon at the Charles Houston Recreation Center (905 Wythe Street, Alexandria, 22314.) Del. Rob Krupicka and I will be there to brief attendees on the legislative session and answer questions.
If you’re in Richmond between now and March 8, please stop by my office and see me. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 804-698-7530 with your thoughts on legislation or state-related matters. I am active on Facebook and Twitter (@AdamEbbin).
It is my continued honor to represent the citizens of the 30th Senate District.