2018 Special Session June 1

The General Assembly returned to Richmond this week to complete the process of approving Virginia’s 2018-2020 Budget.  The end result was a budget unlike any Virginia has ever enacted.

The Senate Finance Committee crafted and approved a balanced, conservative, and fiscally responsible budget.  It included increased funding for our public schools and state-supported colleges and universities.  It provided essential increases for public safety and health and mental health care, too.  It even featured pay raises for public school teachers, state employees, and state-supported local employees like sheriff’s deputies.

The budget approved by the Senate Finance Committee made substantial deposits to the state’s Rainy Day Fund and set aside more for Cash Reserves, which will improve Virginia’s fiscal stability and help preserve our AAA bond rating.

The Senate Finance Committee’s budget plan met all these priorities without raising taxes.

Overall, the budget approved by the Committee would have increased spending by nearly 7% over the budget under which the Commonwealth is currently operating.  In previous years, that would be considered a generous increase.  But, a generous increase wasn’t enough for the Senate plan to win approval.  Although most Republican senators voted in favor of the Senate Finance Committee’s plan, it was rejected by a majority of the Senate.

In a sign of just how far Virginia has moved away from its tradition of conservative fiscal management, the budget that was ultimately approved increased spending by more than 11%, the greatest growth in state government spending this century.

As has been widely reported, the approved budget includes Obamacare’s Medicaid scheme, making Virginia the first state to expand Obamacare since the 44th President left office over 16 months ago.

To cover the state’s portion of the expense of the expansion, a new $600 million tax on hospitals – twice what the Governor proposed during regular session – was included in the budget that was approved.  Despite this new tax, calculations by the Senate Finance Committee staff indicate that Virginia’s for-profit hospitals will actually increase their bottom lines by $1 billion under the scheme.  As with virtually all taxes, the expense will ultimately be borne by the consumer.

Fans of big government will love this budget.  When you increase spending this much, there’s a lot to spread around.  In radio and television ads, those who supported this budget have been busy touting all the “benefits” of higher government spending.  From a bigger government to an ample supply of pork and earmarks, this budget undoubtedly has something for everyone.  But, that spending is likely not sustainable beyond this budget.

Medicaid is already the fastest-growing expense of state government.  In just 10 years, it has grown from 14% of Virginia’s general fund expenditures to 23%, where it is currently.  Since the general fund also pays for core government services like schools and public safety, Medicaid is continuing to crowd out funding for those other services.

Other states that have expanded Medicaid are already experiencing this phenomenon.  That’s one of the reasons why several states have had teacher strikes this year, as their legislatures learn that Obamacare’s promise of “free” money to expand Medicaid isn’t quite as free as they had hoped.  In its efforts to rein-in federal spending, the Trump Administration has targeted funding for Medicaid expansion to be phased-out.

While this situation does not bode well for Virginia’s fiscal future, there are some immediate effects of this budget you’ll be experiencing later this year.  The budget plan approved does nothing to reduce Obamacare’s high – and growing – health insurance premiums or its exorbitant deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses.  Most consumers should brace themselves for another hefty hike later this year, fueled by Virginia’s decision to fully implement Obamacare.

Since Governor Northam vetoed Senate Republican legislation that would have given consumers more – and more affordable – health care options, Virginians will have to look to the federal government for relief from Obamacare’s costly, same-size-for-all health insurance policies.  Of course, those $600 million in new taxes will have to be paid, too.  That means there will be no relief from the cost of health care.

This is nowhere close to the result I wanted for Virginia, which is why I was among the 17 senators – all Republicans – who voted against this plan.

Although a budget was approved, the Special Session isn’t over yet.  There are some judicial vacancies that still have to be filled.  I’ll be back in the district until then. 

Newman News from the Capitol Sine Die

Newman News from the Capitol Sine Die

The Virginia Senate Republican Caucus today expressed disappointment that a budget

agreement has yet to be reached, but also noted the success

of its legislative accomplishments during the 2018 Session

of the Virginia General Assembly.

Of the nearly 1,000 bills filed by members of the

Virginia Senate, over 360 have been approved and sent to

Governor Northam for action.

“The continuing budget impasse is, understandably, the

most notable result of this year’s regular session,” noted

Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James

City). “There were, however, many initiatives successfully

advanced by Senate Republicans that will make a positive

difference in the lives of Virginians.

 “Our members are particularly proud of our initiatives that will

make healthcare more accessible and affordable, while also offering

greater choice to consumers.

“In addition, we’ve sent legislation to the Governor that will

help create jobs and grow our economy, strengthen our public schools

and higher education, and ensure the safety of all Virginians.

“The continuing budget impasse is frustrating, both to our

members and to me personally. The Senate approved a balanced,

responsible, conservative budget. Senate Republicans remain

unanimously committed to passing a clean budget without Obamacare’s

Medicaid expansion, and we will continue to work towards that goal in

the special session.

“I am proud of what our Caucus has accomplished this year, and

of the serious and substantive approach they have maintained

throughout this session. We will remain unified in our commitment to

advancing responsible and conservative legislation that will benefit

all Virginians.”

I was pleased to see passage of the following bills that will expand opportunity through education. 

SB 368 (Newman) Passed Senate 40-0

Passed House 99-0

Requires Virginia educational programs of higher education to include training and intervention for

students with dyslexia or a related disorder.

SB 969 (Newman) Passed Senate 38-1

Left in House Appropriations

Requires the Board of Education in establishing high school graduation requirements to require verified credit in history and social science.

Senate Democrats today voted to support Senate Joint Resolution 248, formally requesting Governor Northam call a Special Session of the General Assembly to approve a budget agreement.

Yesterday, Senate Democrats rejected two resolutions that would have extended session for 30 and 3 days, respectively.

Today, Senate Democrats joined Senate Republicans and approved Senate Joint Resolution 248 by a 40 to 0 vote.  Subsequently, the House of Delegates introduced and passed its own resolution calling for a special session.  House Joint Resolution 576 was approved after Senate Joint Resolution 248 was communicated to the House.

Both the Senate and House resolutions call on Governor Northam to convene a Special Session.  They would also allow the General Assembly to elect judges during the Special Session.

“I am grateful to Senate Democrats for joining us in approving this resolution for a Special Session,” said Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City).  “I was also glad to see the House follow our lead in issuing a resolution of their own.

“This budget impasse may prove as difficult to resolve as those that occurred in 2006 and 2014.  With more than $3.3 billion separating the two budget proposals on revenues and over $840 million in differences on spending, I cannot envision how this situation could be resolved quickly.

“I agree with Speaker Cox that the ‘two budgets differ dramatically on healthcare.’  There, however, is where our agreement ends. 

“The House’s plan, which they assert was crafted to avoid straight Obamacare Medicaid expansion, is barely distinguishable from straight Obamacare Medicaid expansion.  As demonstrated by the Senate Education and Health Committee, their ‘work requirement’ is little more than a ‘work suggestion’.  The ‘taxpayer safety switch’ they tout is actually featured in all the Medicaid expansion plans promoted by former Governor McAuliffe, including this year’s introduced budget.

“There is only one way to resolve this matter expeditiously: The House needs to produce a ‘clean’ budget, with responsible, conservative, and sustainable levels of spending.”

“The House has been very disingenuous in characterizing the provisions of the Senate budget regarding Medicaid,” Senate President Pro Tempore Stephen D. Newman (R-Bedford) remarked.  “Nothing in the Senate budget plan – nothing – is in anyway comparable to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.

“As Virginians know, the Senate budget plan rightly places a priority on those for whom Medicaid was intended.  We make no apologies for laying out a framework for how future revenues should be directed.  Their claim that our proposal either spends or would spend $440 million is simply false.

“Every Virginia budget includes features that are aspirational in nature.  In fact, the House’s budget has similar features on additional salary increases beyond the two percent they included.  That we prioritized those on the waiting list for intellectual and developmentally disabled waivers is a good thing.

“The Senate budget rejects Medicaid expansion but continues our nearly two decades effort to cover a few thousand of the most vulnerable in our state.

“We have been in contact with the Trump Administration, and they have been unequivocal in their position that states should not be expanding Medicaid.  The House has chosen to ignore OMB Director Mulvaney’s admonitions of at their own risk – and at Virginia’s.

“House Republicans worked with us to pass our Healthcare package, which included practical conservative solutions to provide relief from the high premiums and exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses characteristic of Obamacare.  I hope we can use that model of cooperation, and retain our conservative principles, by producing a budget agreement that spends $800 million less.”

“I relayed to the entire House Republican Caucus yesterday that I do not support their plan or their budget,” said Senate Finance Committee Co-Chairman Emmett W. Hanger, Jr. (R-Augusta).

“I would not support what the House has referred to as ‘straight’ Medicaid expansion.  I would insist on a much more robust work requirement, similar to those we enacted to reform welfare during the Allen Administration.  If the Governor sends down a plan that doesn’t include a real work requirement, bend the cost curve, and stabilize the marketplace, I will not support it.”

“From the first day of session to Sine Die, Senate Republicans have had 21 members united for a clean budget, without Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion scheme,” noted Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan T. McDougle (R-Hanover).  “We have communicated this to House Republican leadership repeatedly.  Yesterday, we reiterated our position to the entire House Republican Caucus.

“We are committed to keeping the promises we made to the citizens who elected us.  Our position on this issue has not changed during this session and will not change in a Special Session – regardless of length.

“As Chairman Jones and Speaker Cox realize that a clear majority of their caucus opposes Obamacare expansion, we look forward to the House joining us in supporting the Senate’s conservative and fiscally responsible budget – without Medicaid expansion.”

###

Senate Approves Republican Initiatives to Lower Cost of Healthcare and Health Insurance

Senate Approves Republican Initiatives to Lower Cost of Healthcare and Health Insurance

WILLIAMSBURG, Va, 13 February 2018: The Senate of Virginia today approved several measures to lower the cost of healthcare and health insurance for Virginians. The bills will increase insurance choice for areas with only one carrier, expand the low-cost catastrophic care coverage option, increase the number of waivers for the intellectually and developmentally disabled, and increase competition among healthcare providers.
Senate Bill 844, sponsored by Senator Siobhan S. Dunnavant (R-Henrico) and incorporating a proposal by Senator Bryce E. Reeves (R-Spotsylvania), would place requirements on health insurers to offer plans in more areas of the Commonwealth. The bill would also allow less expensive “short term” coverage plans to be offered for 364 days instead of the current 90 days.
During debate over the legislation on Senate Floor, Senate President Pro Tempore Stephen D. Newman (R-Bedford), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education and Health, said, “This is a bill we will all remember, and one that should become a model for other states who want to help the middle class.” The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 844.
Senate Bill 935, sponsored by Senators Dunnavant and Frank W. Wagner (R-Virginia Beach), would expand the availability of group insurance plans, allowing more Virginians to participate in insurance “pools.” Passed earlier in the session, Senate Bill 935 was approved by a vote of 38 to 0.
Senate Bill 964, sponsored by Senator Sturtevant, would allow catastrophic health coverage plans, which provide essential health benefits, to be offered to more Virginians. Currently, such plans, which are significantly less expensive than other plans offered under the terms of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), are available only to those under the age of 30. Senate Bill 964 would remove this age limit and make the plans more widely available. The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 964.
Senate Bill 915, sponsored by Senator Dunnavant, would prioritize the funding of waivers for Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled Virginians. Funding for these waivers, for which there is a current backlog exceeding 3,000, has been a longstanding priority for Senate Republicans. In addition, the legislation prioritizes increased mental health and substance abuse treatment. The Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 915.
Senate Bill 266 encompasses several exemptions to COPN, including neonatal care in the Roanoke Valley, and ambulatory surgical centers and MRI services in several regions of the state. The bill incorporates provisions from Senate Bills 235, 354, 365, 806, 848, and 923. Senate Bill 266 was approved by a vote of 20 to 19.
“From the beginning of this session, Senate Republicans have been focused on alleviating the high cost associated with healthcare and health insurance for Virginians,” declared Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City). “Senate Republicans are unified in our commitment to ensuring care to the those most in need, to expanding access to affordable care, and to increasing consumer choice. Until the federal government acts, the measures we approved today will form a framework going forward for Virginia to address the challenges associated with Obamacare.”
“The approval of these bills is an historic step forward in increasing access to care and affordability in coverage for Virginians,” Senator Newman noted. “The Affordable Care Act hasn’t been very affordable, and these bills help to expand the availability of affordable insurance to those who have been denied it since Obamacare went into effect.”
###

 

 

 

Newman News Week 6 February 19, 2018


This week, the 2018 General Assembly session passed the halfway mark of the legislative
calendar, crossover. For the Senate, it’s been a very productive first half.
Senators submitted 994 bills this session. By the crossover deadline, 469 had been
approved and forwarded to the House of Delegates for consideration. That means we killed
one-half of the bills before us which is also an important part of legislating.
The House, of course, returns the favor. They forwarded 589 bills to the Senate. Now,
each chamber will consider only those bills approved by the other. The final three weeks of
session will have delegates appearing before Senate committees and senators appearing before
House committees. Bills that survive this scrutiny are then sent to Governor Northam, and he’ll
have a chance to approve them, suggest amendments, or veto them.
More than any other issue, healthcare has dominated the media coverage of the 2018
session. Specifically, Governor Northam’s efforts to adopt Obamacare’s optional Medicaid
expansion. Under Obamacare, Medicaid, which was designed to be a healthcare safety net for
impoverished children and mothers, the disabled, and some who needed long-term care, would
be extended to able-bodied adults as a substitute for insurance.
Senate Republicans are taking a very different approach from the Governor. We are
advancing a healthcare package of our own, one focused on lowering the cost of coverage and
the cost of care. With affordability a top priority, we approved several bills that will increase
insurance choice for areas with only one carrier, expand the low-cost catastrophic care coverage
option, and increase the number of waivers for intellectually and developmentally disabled
Virginians.
Senate Bill 844 would allow more Virginians to opt for less expensive “short term”
coverage plans. It would also place requirements on health insurers to offer plans in more areas
of Virginia. The bill will help to reduce costs and expand options for the hard working middle
class who are trying to do the right thing for their families. .
Senate Bill 935 would expand the availability of group insurance plans, allowing more
Virginians to participate in insurance “pools.” This would be a low cost option as well.
Senate Bill 964 would allow more Virginians to qualify for catastrophic health coverage
plans, which provide essential health benefits. These plans are a lot less expensive than the plans
available on the exchanges, but are currently available only to those under the age of 30. This
legislation removes that age limit, making the plans more widely available – and bringing
affordable coverage to more Virginians.
Our package has won widespread, bipartisan support. The three bills noted here were
approved without a single dissenting vote in the Senate, a rare feat on an issue that has become
very contentious.
Halfway through the session, friendly faces from home keep coming to Richmond to see
their government in action. We felt an extra layer of protection on Thursday when we welcomed
hundreds of Sheriffs and some of their deputies to the Capitol, including Lynchburg, Botetourt,
and Appomattox Departments. We are so grateful for their courage and service.
Remember, you can always contact our offices by writing us at
District23@senate.virginia.gov or calling us at (804) 698-7523.
We’re heading into the week when the Senate and the House must approve their
respective versions of the Commonwealth’s 2018-2020 Biennial Budget. Next week, I will
highlight the details of the Senate spending plan.
Until then, enjoy the unseasonably warm temperatures and have a great week.

Newman News Week 5 February 12, 2018

The halfway point of the legislative calendar, crossover, is upon us. The pace in the Senate was quicker and the floor sessions longer. 
Although we’re already more than 30 days into this year’s 60-day session, we’re actually not quite halfway done. The second half of the legislative session is when it becomes a lot clearer what will and what will not be approved and sent to the Governor. During the first half of the session, both chambers consider the bills filed by their respective members. When crossover arrives on February 13, the Senate will have considered just under 1,000 bills filed by senators.
After crossover, we will be considering bills filed by delegates that won approval in the House. Although delegates filed more than 1,600 bills this session, the Senate won’t have to consider nearly that many during the second half of session. The House will have winnowed down its bills, approving only a fraction of the ones submitted by delegates.
The Senate has been especially efficient this year. Over 80% of the bills filed by senators have already been acted upon with several days remaining before the crossover deadline.
In Washington, the Senate must approve the appointments made by the President to his cabinet, embassies, and a wide range of other key policy positions. It’s a little different in Virginia. Yes, the Senate must approve appointments to the cabinet and a wide range of boards of commissions. But unlike Washington, the House also gets to weigh in as its approval of gubernatorial appointments is also required.
This week, the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee approved dozens of Governor Northam’s appointees. Now, those appointees will be considered by the full Senate and then by the House. 
There was action on several of my bills this week. This week a couple of my bills received overwhelming support, passing out of the Senate and crossing over into the House. SB 368 which will provide teachers who are preparing to be reading specialists additional training in identifying and instructing students with dyslexia was passed unanimously, while SB 369 that will require our children have a solid background in history and social studies passed by a vote of 38 to 1. Both now head to the House Committee on Education for their consideration. 
More Virginians took the time to come to the Capitol this week. Several stopped by our offices and saw the legislative process up close. We welcomed a contingent of the Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia, conservation representatives and some individuals who came with concerns on various bills. 
Remember, you can also contact our offices by writing us at District23@senate.virginia.gov or calling us at (804) 698-7523.
After crossover is behind us, we consider legislation filed by delegates and complete our work on the Senate version of the Commonwealth’s 2018-2020 biennial budget. That means there’ll be a lot to talk about – and a lot going on – in the coming weeks.

 

Newman News from the Capitol Week 4 February 5, 2018

Newman News from the Capitol Week 4 February 5, 2018
When most people hear the word “Senate,” they think of the United States Senate, a
legislative body known for moving very slowly. Judging from this year’s session, the Senate of
Virginia is very different from the Senate in Washington.
My fellow senators and I have already passed over 200 bills during this year’s session.
Having completed work on more than half of the bills submitted by our members, we are in the
midst of the Senate’s most productive General Assembly session in anyone’s memory.
Even though the General Assembly will ultimately approve hundreds of bills, and send
them on to Governor Northam for his consideration, you won’t likely hear the details of all of
them described in local media accounts. As is the case with most sessions, the attention of the
media is drawn towards “high profile” legislation.
In the world of covering government, “high profile” has become a synonym for
“partisan.” If you’re watching the six o’clock news and hear about an issue we’re discussing at
the Capitol, the odds are pretty good the report will be about a bill on which Democrats and
Republicans do not agree.
In reality, a small percentage of the legislation that is passed each session falls into that
category. While in the Senate of Virginia many bills that are passed win approval without
opposition because of the time we spend to get the policy right.
With the Senate completing its work expeditiously, there was action on several of my
bills this week. My bill SB 969 will make sure our children have a solid background in the
traditions of American and Virginia history. Next, my bill, SB 368 provides incoming teachers
who are preparing to be reading specialists additional training in dyslexia. I also pressed for SB
965 that would remove the provisions of a bill passed four years that resulted in electric bills
being higher than they should have been.
The Pocahontas Building, our “temporary” home, was filled with visitors from across
Virginia this week, including several from home. We enjoyed meeting students from Lynchburg
College and Liberty University. We also welcomed Mayor Joan Foster. Vice-Mayor Treney
Tweedy, Councilmembers Mary Jane Dolan and Sterling Wilder.
There’s only one week to go before crossover, the legislative halfway mark of the
session. With a new month upon us, we are also getting closer to the point in the session where
we approve Virginia’s two-year budget.
If you’re paying a visit to Virginia’s historic Capitol before we adjourn on March 10,
please make it a point to stop by our offices. You can also contact us by writing us at
District23@senate.virginia.gov or calling our office at (804) 698-7523.
Thanks for taking the time to keep up with the latest news from Richmond. I’ll be back
next week with more.

 

Newman News from the Capitol Week 2, 1-25-2018

The first week of the General Assembly session was filled with ceremony and change. In the Senate, the second week was filled with time-consuming work for the people of Virginia.
Governor Northam, Lt. Governor Fairfax, and Attorney General Herring were sworn-in on Saturday, during a ceremony where the sun broke through the rain clouds for just long enough to illuminate the podium where they were reciting their respective oaths of office.
Monday evening, Governor Northam addressed a joint session of the House and Senate, detailing his plans and proposals for this year’s session. 
Like many of my fellow legislators, I had hoped that the departure of Governor McAuliffe would signal at least some relief from the polarizing partisanship of the last four years. With an eye toward higher office and the early contests in Iowa and New Hampshire for his party’s 2020 presidential nomination, the last year of the McAuliffe Administration had developed the feel of an exploratory campaign committee.
Having served in the General Assembly, first as a senator and then as lieutenant governor, for ten years, there was genuine optimism that Governor Northam would bring a more workmanlike approach to the office. 
The Inaugural Address and the Address to the Joint Assembly were both dominated by a legislative wish list of the extreme left of the Democrat party. The word “bipartisanship” only made it into the speech once, around two-thirds of the way through. And when it did appear, it came in the middle of a lengthy plea to fully enact Obamacare in Virginia by adopting its Medicaid expansion scheme.
After a week of ceremonies, the work we’ve been doing considering bills in the Senate continued at a very quick pace. It has to. On the eve of Friday’s deadline for filing bills, Senators had already filed nearly 1,000 pieces of legislation. Based on past history, that number will be even higher after all the bills are submitted.
We had a very productive, if very long meeting this week in the Senate Education and Health Committee, which I chair. Crossover, the day on which the House and Senate must have completed all work on legislation filed by its respective members falls on February 13 this session. That doesn’t allow for a lot of time to consider all the bills that have been filed. 
Not only am I hearing about bills and resolutions that were submitted by my fellow senators, I am also busy presenting legislation I filed for their consideration. I’ll have more about these bills in the coming weeks. 
This week, we had visitors representing the Concerned Women of America, Lynchburg Community Action, many teachers and the Virginia Citizens Defense League. 
If you’re planning to see Virginia’s government in action between now and March 10, please make it a point to stop by our offices in Room E604 of the Pocahontas Building. You can also contact us by writing us at District23@senate.virginia.gov or calling our office at (804) 698-7523.

 

 

Week One Newman News from the Capitol January 15th 2018

The 2018 General Assembly Session opened on January 10th. This year will be a longer, 60-day session where we craft a new biennial budget and tackle important issues such as healthcare, the opioid crisis, and the teacher shortage across Virginia among other issues.
While the Senate was gaveled into session by Governor-elect Ralph Northam on the first day, by the second day of session he was bidding our chamber farewell. As the Senate President Pro Tempore, I was honored to preside over the Senate for the second and third days of session as we awaited the inauguration of our new presiding officer, Lt. Governor-elect Justin Fairfax. It is a high honor to run the Virginia Senate session at the Capitol and I was pleased to allow our next governor time to prepare for the hard work ahead. I look forward to working with Governor Northam for the best interests of the Commonwealth.
The inauguration of a Virginia governor is a very formal affair. It is held on the south steps of the Capitol, a setting that has appeared in several films as a stand-in for the United States Capitol. My additional responsibilities as Senate President Pro Tempore allowed me to lead the Virginia Senate during the Inauguration ceremonies. I joined the Speaker of the House and new Lt. Governor on the stage as we heard from our new Governor during the State of the Commonwealth address. During the course of the day, I participated in many formal ceremonies that are part of every Virginia inaugural. Every aspect of the Inauguration is based on longstanding traditions. Being a part of those traditions serves as a reminder of just how fortunate I am to have been elected to serve in the Senate of Virginia.
The House of Delegates is very different than it was last year. They have a new Speaker, Kirk Cox of Colonial Heights, who was elected on the opening day of session. And, they have 19 new delegates. Of those new delegates, 16 are Democrats and 3 are Republicans, and the House’s partisan balance is now 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats. That’s a lot closer to the 21 Republicans and 19 Democrats in the Senate.
Sessions that occur in the year immediately following a gubernatorial election are always filled with changes. But, the differences at the Capitol this year are exceptionally numerous. In addition to the changes in our statewide elected officials and the House of Delegates, all 40 senators and 100 delegates have new offices in a different building.
The Pocahontas Building, across the street from the Capitol’s entrance on Bank Street, will serve as our temporary housing for the next four years. While the exterior of the old General Assembly Building is still up, it is in the process of being razed. In a week or so, legislators and staff will likely acclimate themselves to the new building. But for now, those trying to find their way around the new building often have confused looking faces, as legislators, staff, and visitors adopt the characteristics of lost tourists. 
The first week of session always brings visitors to Capitol Square, and this year they got to be just as confused getting around the Pocahontas Building as the rest of us. I am happy to report that our office had some friendly faces from home, including our local bankers and members of the Republican Women’s Clubs who were here for their annual luncheon on opening day of Session. 
Our offices in the Pocahontas Building are in Room E604. The main entrance to the building is at 900 East Main Street in Richmond. One thing that hasn’t changed is how you can contact our office during session. Our email address is still District23@senate.virginia.gov and our phone number is still (804) 698-7523.