This week we enter the cross over period of the 2018 legislative session, namely where House bills are considered in the Senate and where Senate bills are considered in the House.
Electric utility regulation for my district typically means dealing with Dominion Power. A large for-profit utility is something that we as residents of the Commonwealth always give extra scrutiny to because we want to ensure the best service for the least amount of money, and while an organization is making a profit we have to look closely to make sure every part of any deal is fundamentally fair.
Charniele Herring can relate to the needs of many of her constituents because she’s been there.
Herring serves as chair of the House Democratic Caucus and represents Virginia’s 46th district, which extends from the George Washington Masonic Memorial to the city’s westernmost point, in the Virginia state legislature.
Scientific, evidenced-based policy. When I am operating in a policy area that is not one of my primary areas of expertise, I always ask first for scientific, evidence-based research. Whether from doctors, scientists, or social scientists, this is where I start to bring together my values and reality into how I vote on an issue. Over time as new evidence is discovered or proven, it means that my positions sometimes evolve. One of the areas this has happened is in the way we treat marijuana.
Criminal Justice reform has been a hallmark issue for me in my time in the Virginia Legislature. I serve on the House of Delegates Courts of Justice Committee, the Committee on District Courts, and the Virginia Crime Commission. As a lawyer, I believe in justice, and that means we must aspire to a legal system that promotes equality under the law. It means trusting our police force — and making sure that they have the resources they need to engage our community in the respectful and professional manner we have become accustomed to in Alexandria.
With the opening of another legislative session in Richmond, we have seen some of the changes brought about by the sweeping electoral change from November. In the House of Delegates there is more diversity — a chamber that is starting to more closely represent the people who live in our Commonwealth. With the makeup of the chamber shifting significantly to 51 Republicans to 49 Democrats (from 66-34), the verdict is out on what effect the shift in numbers will have on the kinds of legislation that can pass.
In addition to jobs and the economy, Virginia’s future is predicated on how we meet our energy needs. Recently, several bills that impact the environment and the safety of Virginians have made their way through the House of Delegates.
Our future, at least part of it, exists on the internet. Already many in our country and across the world depend on this tool for commerce, information gathering, and even government transparency. However, a real question that has to be posed is how to we access the internet. Many have a connection at home, though in rural areas this is not always the case. Or, in the case of places like Alexandria where competition for service providers does not exist, we live at the mercy of wireless phone companies or our single local cable provider.
At the core of our Democracy we find a central figure … the vote. Voting is how we elect leaders who make the laws that shape our society. It is how we know we are free people and our voices are heard. It is why politicians of all stripes listen to what we say when we write or call or protest. There is nothing more sacred than the ability to cast your vote and have it matter. During the 2017 legislative session voting rights have been a key figure for debate in Richmond.
A safer Commonwealth, with laws that protect us and protect our basic dignity, is something for which lawmakers across the political spectrum strive. While we differ in ideology and how we implement our beliefs into the laws of which we are stewards, we all take real action.
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