It is always exhilarating and humbling to sit in the Chamber as the President of the Senate gavels an unruly body of 40 senators into order. On Jan. 10, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam did just that. The next day, Lt. Gov. Northam presided over the Senate for the last time. We wished him well and sent him off to be inaugurated as the 72nd Governor of Virginia.
HIGHLIGHTS OF MY WEEK
Transparency: Committee votes will now be recorded and live-streamed, so Virginians can hear the substantive debates on bills as they work their way through the process. Most bills, especially controversial ones, face their defeat in committee meetings. This long overdue bit of sunshine will enable Virginians to see for themselves how seriously lawmakers are tacking issues important to them. The link to view meetings can be found under the “Members and Session” tab of the virginiageneralassembly.gov website.
Education: Option for Four-Year Teaching Degree: I am proud to say that my bill SB 76 to enable prospective teachers to potentially gain a teaching degree in four years, rather than five, passed out of the Senate Health & Education Committee unanimously. This will reduce the opportunity cost of becoming a teacher, a factor that weighs heavily on prospective teachers who have incurred a large school debt, yet they have the desire to enter an important but low-paying profession.
Children & Families: Kinship Care Bill — My bill (SB 44) provides support payments to relatives who are willing to offer kin in foster care a permanent home. It passed out of the Rehab and Social Services Committee but was referred to Finance. More than 75 percent of the cost of this kingship program, called “Fostering Futures” is born by the Federal Government. I really hope the money committees can find the $45,000 to start this program.
On a lighter note, my bill to help small business that bake alcohol infused confectionery products obtain an ABC license, so they may continue to grow their businesses, passed out of committee, as well.
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The state senator represents parts of Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun.