The Virginia General Assembly convened the 2012 Legislative Session on Wednesday, January 11. This year’s 60-day long session is scheduled to conclude on Saturday, March 10.
I have three committee assignments this year, up from two in my first term. I will continue serving on the Science and Technology Committee and this year I have also been assigned to the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee. Finally, I have been selected as the Minority Whip for the Cities, Towns and Counties Committee. Work as the Whip will involve circulating information about upcoming votes and acting as the party spokesman and negotiator in committee when required.
Under the Virginia Constitution, odd years are “short” 45-day sessions, whereas even years are “long” sessions during which the Governor proposes a new budget to be voted upon. The Governor’s proposed budget has some budget cuts which are of great concern to me, only a few of which have made the news. Among them is the dues payment to and proposed Virginia’s withdrawal from, the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, which I have written about before.
One of the ICRPB’s responsibilities is developing water-sharing agreements among the four states which lie in the Basin and DC. This is critically important in times of “low flow”, i.e., a drought. Such conditions have not occurred since the ‘90’s but with the recent extreme weather fronts, we will need a joint plan. If Virginia leaves the ICPRB, any joint planning will occur without us. As a well-known lawyer said, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re probably dinner.”
I have introduced a budget amendment restoring the annual membership fee and a bill to study the ramifications of Virginia’s withdrawal from the Commission.
NO EMERGENCY APPROVAL OF AIRPORT BOARD EXPANSION
HB 252, Expanding the Board of the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA), changes the number of members from 13 to 17. Two of those new members will be from Virginia, thereby enhancing its representation on the Board. This comes at a time when MWAA is in the middle of obtaining proposals for Phase 2 of the Dulles Metrorail extension, a project the transportation community in Northern Virginia strongly supports. The legislators, however, balked at the bill’s emergency provision, which would put it into effect immediately. If the bill goes through the regular legislative process, it will be effective July 1, 2012. I was not persuaded of the emergency nature of the bill. A good case was not made that this legislation was an emergency, and there was no reason that HB 252 would not be passed in the normal course of General Assembly business. The legislative shortcuts associated with an emergency bill include by-passing several deliberative steps, including committee hearings. For those reasons, the emergency bill was rejected by the House. I fully support MWAA’s goals and Virginia’s expanded role in the process, but am concerned that in rushing through the committee process without the testimony of the involved parties, insufficient time was spent considering the impact of our decision upon Virginia taxpayers. A new bill has been submitted without the emergency clause and I look forward to supporting its passage.
Delegate Kory represents the 38th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. She may be emailed at [email protected].