Frank Ruff: Off to the races
Published 12:30 pm Thursday, January 26, 2023
This week, General Assembly activity has been fast and furious. Most of my time has been in sub-committee or committee action before legislative proposals go to the full Senate for consideration. If bills do not get a majority vote in committee, the rest of the Senate members get no say on that issue. So far, the bills that I am the chief sponsor of have been approved. Some of those also must be blessed by the Finance Committee if there is concern they might have an impact on the budget. Unlike in Washington, our budget must remain balanced.
Included in those that have had positive votes deal with the following issues:
• Legislation needed for LEGO to open a manufacturing facility in Virginia.
• Allowing operating businesses and town and city governments to work creatively to address the issues surrounding vacant unkept buildings.
• Requiring horse drawn carts and buggies to have lights or reflectors on the roads.
• Tuition assistance opportunities for those in the National Guard.
• Allowing Richard Bland College to make the final step to be independent from William and Mary.
Next week, we expect to have the first hearing on the transformational legislation dealing with workforce training. Currently, we spend many dollars in various training programs with little follow through on whether that training results in required skills certification, little knowledge of whether those we have trained have gotten jobs, nor, if they got a job, were they able to hold that position.
For us to move forward with new or expanded economic projects, we must grow the workforce. If not, we are simply playing musical chairs wherein the new business hires away from existing businesses that then must hire and train new employees. This process causes upheavals in each affected business.
I will attempt to keep you posted on legislation as the session progresses.
The headlines generally don’t tell much about each session. However, the news media has the right to focus on that which interests them. For example, most everyone understood that, with divided government in Richmond, there would be little or no action on some issues, yet these received the headlines.
• Gun issues that protected constitutional rights or attempts to limit those rights.
• Right to life versus pro-abortion issues. Friday, all Senate bills, even one that would prohibit abortions in the third trimester with exceptions affecting the mother’s life, were voted down on a party line vote. It made no difference what exemptions were included to protect pregnant mothers.
• Every Senate proposal that would return security to the ballot box met a similar end. Efforts to end ballot harvesting and requiring IDs were defeated.
• Senate bills that would have returned common sense to Virginia’s energy policy were defeated on party line votes. This occurred even as some Democrats admitted that there was no way Virginia could meet the California standards that the majority and former Governor Northam tied us to in 2021.
Another headline issue was the issue of jobs in the Danville/Pittsylvania region. An entity that partnered Ford and a communist Chinese company, CATL, was considering coming to Berry Hill Mega Site. That proposal fell through as more light was shone on the relationship of the two partners and how they appeared to be circumventing Washington to reap the benefit of a significant amount of taxpayers’ dollars.
We have had a great turn out of constituents this past week. The Agribusiness dinner attracted many from the district. As well, there was a huge turn out on “Lobby Day” on the Martin Luther King holiday. Many Second Amendment rights visitors dropped by. I regret I couldn’t see everyone. More manageable were the numbers when the sheriffs came. They were led by this year’s president of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, Halifax County Sheriff Fred Clark.
On Wednesday evening, in coordination with the Virginia Association of Counties, the Center for Rural Virginia (which I am honored to chair) hosted a reception for those local government officials. That evening and the next day, I was glad to hear their perspective of those issues that we will be voting on that affect our communities.
Frank Ruff Jr. represents Charlotte in the state Senate. His email address is Sen.Ruff@verizon.net.