Hear ye! Hear ye! The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia is now in session. May God save the people of this Commonwealth!
That is my somewhat tongue-in-cheek sentiment, but it also reflects my real fear at how much damage an ideologically driven legislature can do. Some of that damage comes from things they will not do, and other risks lie in what they will do. The former means things can’t get worse, but that does mean we can breathe easy. The latter may not ultimately occur because Governor McAuliiffe will use his veto pen and is unlikely to be overridden in the Senate.
But I still pray for us every day the GA is I session, and I encourage you to do so, too.
It seems reasonable to assume they won’t advance LGBT equality, but in that way they will actually continue to do real damage. Kids will still be subjected to “therapeutic bullying,” workers will still fear losing jobs (and some will) if they come out, renters will still face discrimination, and transgender Virginians will still lack some fundamental protections.
And they won’t pass Medicaid expansion, so hundreds of thousands will continue to suffer from the lack of adequate health care. Sadly, too many legislators focus only on money and miss how we all are impoverished when some of us face structural obstacles to good health. Failing that test of corporate well-being is missing the true bottom line.
There are some good signs: there may be improvements in public school standards and they may work with the Governor to improve management of public-private partnerships for roads and other public works.
But it seems safe to say they will continue to shortchange higher education in their rush to cut spending instead of raising revenue, and they will do nothing to stop the flow of guns in and out of the Commonwealth (or their unsafe use here).
I am always a hope-filled person– my middle name is Hawley but in many ways The “H” stands for HOPE–but I am praying, my friends, big time.
There are some stand outs–Senators McEachin, Watkins, and Howell, and Delegates Krupicka, Loupassi, McClellan, Plum, and Rust, come to mind (and there are undoubtedly others)–among the sea of political mediocrity in the world’s oldest deliberative legislative body, but on the whole we are not being well-served.
We will survive, I am sure, but oh what a wondrous thing it would be if this fall a goodly number of these legislators were replaced (and not by the voluntary absence of senior members and others who are tired of “the games” too many of their colleagues play). We need a GA with more grown-ups.