Opinion: Commentary: Virginia Virtual Session Begins!

Opinion: Commentary: Virginia Virtual Session Begins!

Here’s how to see more of what’s happening in the General Assembly

This week on Wednesday, Jan. 13, we embark on yet another historic legislative session, our first regular session in 402 years that will be totally virtual (using our computers to go on-line). This will also be the first non-budget year session in decades where we may not have enough votes to extend session from the Constitutionally mandated 30 days to 45 days, which means we will have to work even harder and quicker than ever before to get the people’s business done, though the Governor could call us into a special session if necessary. I am very thankful to Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, Leader Charniele Herring and the rest of our House leadership for the decision to remain virtual. Indeed, with the recent passing of one of our beloved colleagues in the Senate to this terrible virus, as well as the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 throughout the nation, our need to do the people’s business while also keeping ourselves, our staff, and importantly, our families safe during this pandemic is our utmost priority.

As I have written before, for this session each House member has a limit of seven bills that we may introduce. With this limited number of bills, I am filing legislation mostly technical in nature and within the policy purview of the subcommittees I chair. A few relate to ABC and gaming legislation, including extending the time skilled games will be allowed in the Commonwealth to offset the economic devastation sustained by too many small businesses and restaurants, and an important technical clean-up of last year’s big casino bill. Also, as a member of the Appropriations Committee, I have introduced budget amendments to assist in saving River Farm as the community jewel that it is, fund the undergrounding of the utilities on Richmond Highway, and a host of other important matters which I will write about in the upcoming weeks as we debate their merits during this session.

Visit here to see all of the bills where I am the Chief Patron or Chief Co-patron: https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?211+mbr+H281.

So, how can we connect during this session when we will not be able to gather in person in the Pocahontas Building in Richmond?

My staff and I have set up a virtual scheduling system, where we have blocked off 15-minute meeting slots for constituents, lobbyists, and stakeholders to meet with me virtually on Zoom. This way I am able to meet with anyone who is interested in issues that matter to them, including legislation that will be voted on, budget amendments to fund critical projects around the Commonwealth, or important issues concerning us at home in the 44th district. As always, priority for scheduled meetings will always be for 44th district residents. You can sign up here: https://go.oncehub.com/PaulKrizek.

While I will certainly miss welcoming constituents and other stakeholders to my Richmond office in person this session, I believe that virtual office hours will make meeting with me and other legislators even more accessible than during a normal session year. The public will be able to sign up to meet with legislators and give testimony about legislation on committees online, allowing them to be part of the process without having to make the long trip to Richmond and fighting for space in our small committee rooms.

To review bills, access our daily meeting calendar, view committee live streams, and more you can visit the LIS website. Although we won’t be gathering in Richmond, there are still plenty of ways to make your voice heard! Visit the iHOD website to attend online committee meetings and reserve your spot during public comment periods.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to give virtual public testimony:

Go to https://lis.virginia.gov/ and click on “meetings.” This brings you to https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?211+oth+MTG

You are now viewing the Meeting Schedule. Click on the link next to the meeting you would like to attend.

You will be brought to the HOD Speak homepage.

This is where you can sign up to speak during the public comment period of your meeting of interest. Note: you have to list the bill number of the bill you are speaking to when you sign up. Do not use the bill name.

I look forward to seeing you soon from “Virtual Richmond!”