Happy New Year. 2019 is sure shaping up to be an exciting year and I’m eager to get to work during the upcoming General Assembly This year’s session begins on Jan. 9. The Senate Democratic caucus stands at 18 with a special election to fill Congresswoman-elect Jennifer Wexton’s seat occurring on Tuesday, Jan. 8. I am optimistic that Delegate Jennifer Boysko will win and be certified as quickly as possible, bringing our numbers back to 19 Democrats in the Senate. Next Nov. 5 the entire House of Delegates and State Senate will be on the ballot. The stakes couldn’t be higher with each chamber being one seat away from flipping the majorities now held by Republicans.
Last May I began visiting neighbors throughout Senate District 35. We discussed many state issues as well as what is happening to our nation under the current leadership in the executive and legislative branches. Shutting down government is a colossal failure and comes at the expense of dedicated federal workers. An important message you imparted on me is the need to return to civil public discourse and to get something done by breaking through partisan gridlock.
Taking that mantra with me to Richmond, I am proud to carry a piece of legislation designed to do just that. Putting a stop to partisan gerrymandering is one critical step. I plan to introduce and/or support legislation in 2019 that will accomplish the goal.
Virginia is also poised to become the 38th state to adopt the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), making us a critical player in enshrining it in our Constitution. As a staunch supporter of the ERA, I am proud to be sponsoring legislation to get this initiative passed. It is ridiculous that in 2019 this debate of gender equity still rages, and I’m hopeful that we can see the amendment’s passage.
Keeping our economy strong is one of my highest priorities. Working people should be able to sustain the lifestyle they seek as well as take care of their families. The minimum wage must increase for that to happen. Commercial vacancies abound in Crystal City resulting in a financial setback for Arlington County. While some may question the Amazon economic development incentives, all regional governments have embraced the opening of HQ2. I will work across the aisle to keep opportunity and financial security here in Virginia. Additionally, Virginia Tech will be establishing a satellite campus in Potomac Yards to provide the skilled workforce needed.
We also can’t lose sight of the importance of the Grid Modernization Act of 2018. Virginia is moving ahead on renewables working toward reducing our carbon footprint. Our grandkids and great grandkids should inherit a planet they will thrive in. Science is not a myth. And denial is not a remedy for protecting the environment. I expect to see many bills addressing solar energy during this General Assembly.
Neighbors in our district are deeply concerned over gun violence in society. There is no excuse for domestic abusers to have access to their weapons. I will put a stop to that with a bill to close a loophole in the current law. Assault-style weapons do not belong in civilian hands. Just like when we raised the drinking age to 21, I believe we should raise the age for gun ownership. Along with Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety, we have important work to do to provide peace of mind for Virginians who want to end the vicious cycle of gun violence.
As you can see, we have a lot to accomplish in 2019. On a personal note, I am officially announcing my candidacy for re-election as your state senator. I am grateful for the opportunity to represent such an engaged and thoughtful constituency and we’ve accomplished a lot together. We’ve created a world class education system here in NOVA, improved accessibility and affordability to higher education, fought for transportation improvements, healthcare for desperate Virginians in need, and constructed a thriving economy throughout Northern Virginia that has created many pathways to family-sustaining wages. We’ve come a long way. And in a year where Virginia is on the cusp of electing majorities in both houses, think of the possibilities that lie ahead.
Senator Saslaw represents the 35th District in the Virginia State Senate. He may be emailed at [email protected]