The opening of the 2019 session of the General Assembly is rapidly approaching, just a little over a month away! This session, held during the 400th anniversary of the founding of a representative legislative body in Jamestown in 1619, is shaping up likely to be a transitional if not transformative one. The heightened awareness of the public on issues and the widened interest in public participation in civic matters add to the importance and significance of the General Assembly meeting this coming year beginning on Jan. 9.
While I gather information on issues of public concern throughout the year from talking with individuals and groups, I have found that leading up to the legislative session is a time when others want to step up and make their opinions known. That’s why Sen. Janet Howell and I sponsor a community meeting twice each year and encourage public testimony. As has been announced in my newsletter and on social media, we will be meeting with constituents Wednesday evening, Dec. 12 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne. All are welcome. No advanced registration is required.
Likewise, you can make your views known to the entire Northern Virginia delegation on Jan. 5. Pre-registration is recommended as there are many people who offer testimony at that event.
Another option of sharing your views with me is through my online Legislative Survey. Access the survey through my website, www.kenplum.com and click on Legislative Session Survey (top right). The information gathered through the survey is helpful to me not as a poll, but as an opportunity for anyone to express an opinion.
Polling information is valuable to get the overall pulse of the community. The most recent poll of Virginia voters on issues that primarily affect the Commonwealth was conducted by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. The poll found that 81 percent of Virginians sampled support ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. There is a strong advocacy effort underway throughout the state to make Virginia the 38th and final state needed to ratify the amendment. As a supporter of the ERA throughout my legislative career, I look forward to the amendment getting out of committee and being voted on by the entire legislature.
My effort going back to the beginning of my legislative career to establish a nonpartisan redistricting process to draw legislative boundaries has the best chance of approval ever. Nonpartisan redistricting has the approval of 78 percent of voters. Amending the constitution requires legislative approval of two sessions of the General Assembly and a referendum of the voters in order to pass. Passage of an amendment this year is critical to having a process in place for redrawing district lines based on the 2020 census.
The poll found that 49 percent of Virginians sampled support an across-the-board tax cut. At the same time there is support for increasing funding for education programs at all levels.
Please let me know your opinion on issues of importance to you.