Most of the nation’s attention became focused on the inauguration of our 45th President Donald Trump in Washington D.C. I congratulate our new president and stand ready to work with him as he attempts to force our national leaders to live within their means and reverse some of the worst job killing regulation in our nation’s history. We hope the President will keep his promise to repeal Obamacare that has led to massive increases in the cost of healthcare while reducing options for our citizens. We also support his effort to rebuild our military and put radical Muslim terrorists on notice that have grown in strength over the past six years.
In most years, activities in Washington wouldn’t loom as large over Richmond as they do this year. The election of Donald Trump, however, indicates a change in policy as significant as it was eight years ago when Barack Obama took office. Even before he took the oath of office, the anticipated change in federal policy could be seen in Richmond.
Meanwhile, one hundred miles to the south of D.C., things were very busy at the Virginia Capitol in Richmond. With this session limited to forty-six days and over 2,000 bills and resolutions to consider, getting down to work is a necessity.
Governor McAuliffe certainly recognized the change when he rolled out his proposed budget in December. For the first three years of his administration, he insisted Virginia fully implement Obamacare by adopting its Medicaid expansion plan. For all three years, the General Assembly rejected the plan. Virginia is now so fortunate that we did not increase the welfare rolls by over 400,000, nearly a quarter of which would have been non- United States citizens. Now it appears that if we had dramatically increased the welfare rolls, it would have cost Virginia billions in the future.
This year, Governor McAuliffe did not place the funding for Medicaid expansion in his budget although he did ask for the authority to unilaterally expand the program, something he undoubtedly knows has no chance of being approved. What was different this year? The incoming Trump administration and the Republican majority in Congress have pledged to repeal and replace Obamacare. And now, those states that adopted the costly program are facing the grim potential it may not continue in its current form.
In Richmond, committees spent the week working and considering bills. The House and Senate have until February 6 – a little over two weeks from now – to complete work on bills filed by their respective members. That means the pace can seem breakneck at times, especially during “short” sessions. Many of my own bills have been assigned to Senate Committees for consideration, and I began presenting them to my colleagues this week.
We had quite a few visitors from the 23th District pay us a visit this week. Charles Kolokowski, Bedford Town Manager; Megan Lewis, COE Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance; Prof. Gerard Sherayko, Randolph College; Vicki Gardner, and Barb Nocera, Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce all visited us last week.
Are you planning a visit to Virginia’s Capitol between now and February 24? If you are, please consider stopping by our offices in Room 621 of the General Assembly Building. If there is an issue under consideration this session on which you’d like to share your views, please send us an e-mail at District23@senate.virginia.gov. Next week, I’ll have more information on the latest activity at the Virginia Capitol. Until then, have a great week