Commentary, National Commentary

Senator Saslaw’s Richmond Report

There is normally a bit of drama filling the final days of the legislative session that coincides with the end of terms of office, but this year proved to be exponential for the Senate. Eight seasoned Senators have announced their decision to end their careers in public service to the Commonwealth. As the redrawn districts become the playing field for the upcoming election cycle, new candidates are emerging to fill the open seats and challenge current incumbents. The new class of legislators will be sworn in on January 10, 2024, bringing with them vastly different perspectives and experiences to the legislative process.

Among the list of people departing the General Assembly for a final time are a number of seasoned legislators from Northern Virginia, who have steadfastly represented our region and the Commonwealth. Two of those leaving are Senator Janet Howell, who has over 30 years of service, and Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, Virginia’s first female Speaker of the House. The legislators not returning are leaving a void of power as many of those currently serving hold key positions as prominent committee and subcommittee chairs. With these positions, our region has been guaranteed a seat at the table and ensured our collective voice has been heard through the years.

As we approach a new election season, we must remember that elections have consequences. Whoever wins the majority, will have the power to craft legislation and a budget with implications for decades to come. Now is the time to determine the direction of Virginia. The primary on June 20th is rapidly approaching, with early voting beginning on Saturday, May 6th. Be sure to update your voter registration if your address has changed and be aware of the new districts at play. 

This year’s elections will be critical to maintain and continue the progress we are striving toward––both in Northern Virginia and the Commonwealth as a whole. The election will shape the outcome of women’s reproductive rights, gun violence prevention, public school funding, and so much more. We have already seen countless attacks on those very principles. Senate Democrats are the only reason Virginia is not moving backward. We have protected our rights and values from Republican attacks both in legislation and the budget.

Reaching a compromise on this year’s budget has been a challenge. As we work toward a bipartisan agreement, we are keeping in mind current economic forecasts. With economists predicting a recession in the near future, we are slowing down negotiations and biding our time. Having an accurate revenue estimate is key to fiscally responsible spending. It would be too risky to jump on a budget proposal with high-dollar spending and uncertain revenues on the horizon. Not to mention, this budget is simply to allocate the existing surplus. Prior to adjournment, we passed a ‘skinny’ budget to fund a few essential expenditures. Making that list was a $250 million to fix the Department of Education’s miscalculation announced back in February, as well as a mandatory rainy-day contribution and a technical fix to the Virginia Retirement System. The existing biennium budget, which was passed in the 2022 session, will stay in effect until we can reach an agreement on how to distribute the surplus.

At the end of March, we saw yet another horrific act of gun violence, this time in Nashville, Tennessee. After the attack, we learned the shooter was able to legally purchase seven guns while simultaneously undergoing treatment for an emotional disorder. There were no red flag laws to prevent or delay the shooter from legally purchasing and possessing these highly lethal weapons. Back in 2020, under a Democratic Governor, House, and Senate, we were able to pass red flag laws that prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands. Just this past session, Republicans attempted to reverse some of those efforts by relaxing gun purchasing and ownership laws. Our Democratic majority in the Senate was the only shield to prevent those irresponsible measures from becoming law.

As I continue to serve out my final months in office, please reach out with any questions, concerns, or constituent requests. My staff can be reached at


  • Dick Saslaw

    Dick Saslaw represents the 35th District in the Virginia State Senate. He may be emailed at