By Delegate Bloxom
The first full week of the Virginia General Assembly has come to a close. The House of Delegates body is meeting virtually while the Senate is meeting in person, social distancing in a large auditorium at the Virginia Science Museum. The amount of zoom time that took place during the first week is beyond comprehension. At times I would be in two meetings simultaneously. While in Richmond, it was not unusual to have to be in two separate rooms at the same time, but to have two full committees meet is a real conflict that cannot seem to be avoided in this format. I have two computer monitors viewing the meetings along with a voting device that I can toggle between the two meetings in order to vote. I mention all this to say that meeting virtually is certainly not a positive way to change the Code of Virginia.
My committee assignments remain the same as last year. I serve on the Appropriations committee, Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources committee, and the Privileges and Elections committee. Each committee has a two-hour block starting at 7:00am with full dockets of bills to be heard. The committee meetings go until 3 o’clock in the afternoon when the floor session begins at 4:00pm. Any committee work left unfinished will continue after the floor session adjourns. This schedule of zooming is far from ideal. The public is omitted from the discussion and the patron of the bill makes sure the supporters occupy the zoom session while the opponents of the legislation may not even know that the bill is even being heard.
While it is early in this session, I will venture to say the main priority of the majority party will be to make permanent the election law changes that occurred due to the pandemic. There are also bills that would take Virginia further away from our pro-business position and bills to make more adjustments to criminal justice reform. I will try to highlight some of the bills when the House presents them on the floor in the upcoming weeks.
I encourage you to take a look at the bills that are being considered during the 2021 Virginia House of Delegates session at https://lis.virginia.gov/. You can also stream the committee and floor sessions at https://virginiageneralassembly.gov/house/chamber/chamberstream.php. As always, I welcome you to contact me with any questions or concerns at my district office at (757)824-3456 or email me at [email protected].