Earlier this week, the General Assembly reconvened to consider those bills the Governor vetoed or amended. With that work behind us, my first two sessions in the House of Delegates are complete. Barring an unforeseen call for a special session, I won’t cast another vote on the House floor unless I am re-elected to a second two-year term this November.
This seems like as good a time as any, then, to take a look at the record I’ve made for myself and examine how closely it reflects the promises I made during my first campaign, promises that I intend to carry on during my 2015 campaign, and hopefully through my second term.
In my first two sessions, I introduced thirty-one bills, which covered a range of issues important to our community, a rather ambitious agenda for a first term legislator. Some were ideas I carried on for my predecessor, Jim Scott. Others were Governor’s bills, a few came from constituents, and others were simply progressive or business savvy ideas that just made sense.
Many of the ideas I championed were unpopular with the Republican majority here in Richmond, and my vocal support came with some political costs. I’m proud to have been the first to submit legislation to repeal the same sex marriage ban; I helped spearhead efforts to expand the Fair Housing Statute to include non-discrimination against the LGBT community. I even proposed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15.15/hour, a proposal that received much criticism from opponents although other cities and states have passed similar legislation without the feared economic collapse.
Some ideas, though, were just too popular and important to ignore. During my first session, I introduced a bill to criminalize revenge pornography. A nearly identical bill was introduced a few weeks later by Delegate Rob Bell, one of the most conservative members of the House, but also someone who has seniority and chairs a key subcommittee. With that in mind, we combined our bills, advancing the proposal with his name as the primary patron in order to give it the best chance of success. I promised to reach across the aisle to find ways to work with the majority on important issues, and I believe this example demonstrates that these efforts have been and can be successful.
Just because session is over, though, doesn’t mean my work as your Delegate and advocate is finished.
A major issue that I have heard from many constituents about is VDOT’s proposed I-66 project.
I am working closely with State Senators Dick Saslaw and Chap Peterson as well as Delegate Mark Keam on this issue, which affects all of our districts substantially. I am committed to working hard on your behalf to ensure whatever project is ultimately approved for the corridor has the smallest impact possible on residential homeowners in my district.
In addition to appearing at several community forums, information sessions, and public hearings, I have met individually with VDOT personnel working on the project. I have pressed them to modify the project and encouraged them to remain within the existing corridor so that their highest priority is preserving existing homes and open spaces. We have already seen some success as VDOT has agreed to deviate from their standard protocols, allowing them to move at least one flyover ramp from a residential to a commercial area and reduce the number of homes to be taken for storm water management.
I believe that by continuing a strategy of engagement and sharing of constructive criticism, we can achieve an outcome that is best for our community. It is important that we not only address our traffic issues, but also protect our property values, our quality of living, and the environment. I will continue to represent the needs of our community, doing our best to mitigate the negative impacts associated with this project.
My 2015 campaign kickoff will be this Sunday, April 19 from 3 – 5 p.m. at Clare & Don’s Beach Shack. For more information, please contact Morgan Jameson, my campaign manager ([email protected]). I hope to see you there!
Delegate Simon represents the 53rd District in the Virginia House of Delegates. He may be emailed at [email protected]