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Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Va. State Senator Ralph S. Northam~ General Assembly Update #5
General Assembly Update #5
I hope that everyone is doing well and continuing to stay safe and warm during the winter months. As I mentioned last week, "cross-over" is quickly approaching, so we are hearing hundreds of bills in preparation for them to move to the House for consideration. I was right when I predicted that I would not have a spare second leading up to cross-over, as I have been busier than ever. There is still a lot of work to be done, including negotiating the state budget. This means that I will be working hard to ensure that transportation, education and healthcare, and other state priorities are adequately funded. My own legislation has progressed since the last update, and if you ever want to be informed of the status of my bills during the week, please feel free to click here.
A few years ago I worked closely alongside Governor Kaine to enact a smoking ban in restaurants all over the Commonwealth. This year, I am sponsoring legislation that extends the smoking ban to public school grounds and the inside of public buildings. Both of these bills, SB 467 and SB 468, were heard in the Senate Local Government committee on Tuesday, where they passed with bipartisan support. This legislation aims to keep our youth from being subjected to secondhand smoke during a time that they are the most impressionable. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure that both of these important and commonsense pieces of legislation pass on the Senate floor.
The issue of sea-level rise is becoming increasingly dangerous, as it has already started to negatively affect the Hampton Roads and Middle Peninsula regions of the Commonwealth through increased coastal flooding. While the sea is rising, the land is continuously sinking, so the time for us to act is now. In an attempt to address this issue, I am sponsoring legislation that requests the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to study strategies for adaptation to the rise in relative sea level in these localities. This resolution would have scientists document what has already been done in Virginia to address the issue, as well as in other at-risk areas of the United States, in order to allow them to make appropriate recommendations on how the problem should be handled. The Senate Rules committee passed this legislation and it will now be considered by Finance. I will continue to keep you posted on its progress as it continues to move through the legislative process.
I hope that you all have a relaxing weekend and that you will continue to look for General Assembly updates every Friday!