Local Commentary

Senator Dick Saslaw’s Richmond Report

Summer is rapidly coming to an end. Soon school sports will start practice, swim team will conclude, and the easiest commute in the region begins for a short period of time. Many improvement projects in the area are ongoing, and the Metro platform work appears to be on time for completion in September.

This week, the commemoration of the founding of our representative government was launched at Jamestown. The event has been the work of many individuals with a passion to note the launch of a new nation. Four hundred years ago, this was to be a democratic experiment like no other on the planet. At the time, Europe was ruled by monarchies and English rule would soon be challenged by a pioneering group seeking freedoms unknown in their native land. Immigration to the New World began in earnest along with the representative government as we ultimately know it today.

I am proud to be a member of this esteemed body and it is a great honor to be the longest-serving member of the General Assembly. I take my responsibility seriously and treat the job with great respect.

Our nation is enduring challenging times. Every day, we are bombarded with what I consider to be inappropriate rhetoric coming from across the Potomac. While it is duly noted that our forefathers were not always in harmony, their debate was civil and thoughtful. It was not a personal attack in a sound bite. This divisive talk is mean spirited and fosters dissent. I hold fast to the beliefs we cherish — from free speech as well as every other freedom that numerous Americans have given their lives to defend. But I also call on our society to embrace the civility and thoughtful dialogue that brings people together.

It did not come as a surprise but one could not help but be disappointed on July 9 when the Special Session on Gun Violence Prevention came to an abrupt halt almost as soon as it began. Professional polls and my own experience visiting with thousands of constituents during the past year tell me there is common ground when it comes to common sense gun legislation. Let me be perfectly clear: No one wants to confiscate guns from licensed and competent individuals. Hunting is a sport as well as a source of food for many folks.

With that said, most Americans (and Virginians) believe it is important to enact universal background checks. Individuals want to feel safe when a relationship goes south and not become a victim to additional violence. Suicide claims the lives of hundreds of Virginians each year. This is an unnecessary statistic that loved ones often carry with them for the duration of their lives. Firearm enhancers such as bump-stocks really do not have a place in our society. So why the legislative breakdown again? Quite simply, it is time for a change in majority leadership in both the Senate and House of Delegates. I hope you will work toward that change not only in NoVa but throughout the Commonwealth. Elections do matter.

The first weekend in August is a sales tax holiday. Many families can enjoy preparing their children for school as well as saving on their energy efficient appliances. I encourage you to support our local merchants which make a big difference in our community. Check out the savings online at www.tax.virginia.gov/virginia-sales-tax-holiday.

It is also time for the National Council of State Legislators Summit. This year, the week-long conference will be in Nashville. This is an event I attend annually. The speakers are enlightening and the programming is most informative. Many Virginia legislators and professional staff will be there. Legislative ideas are shared with colleagues from around the country. I believe this conference to be one of the most useful resources as we look forward to the General Assembly Session in 2020.

Enjoy the waning days of summer. Without a doubt, climate change is having its effect. I encourage you to put together an emergency kit as the height of hurricane season will soon be upon us.


  • Dick Saslaw

    Dick Saslaw represents the 35th District in the Virginia State Senate. He may be emailed at district35@senate.virginia.gov.