This week is the mid point of the 2008 session, commonly known as "crossover." House and the Senate will complete work on all the bills submitted by their own members, and also will have approved their respective versions of amendments to Virginia's two-year budget. Washington is taking a distinctly different approach to handling the effects of the ongoing recession than Richmond. There is no large-scale cash bailout being proposed in Richmond. The Constitution of Virginia prohibits it. The state cannot incur large debts in an attempt to revitalize its economy. Our budget must be balanced every year; thank God. Still, the latest incarnations of the federal government bailout may result in a windfall from whatever massive spending package emerges, but, federal monies often come with strings, and basing a budget on a one-time cash injection is very risky business.
The General Assembly plans to adjourn February 28 after completing its work on amending the Commonwealth's budget, and the challenging assignment of closing the state's $3 to 4 billion shortfall. I'll have details on what actions the House is proposing to accomplish that task in next week's column.
House Resolution 680 expresses the General Assembly's support for and calls upon the Governor to establish a commemorative commission to honor the life, achievements, and legacy of Virginia Indians on the grounds of Capitol Square. The commission must submit its findings and recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly no later than the first day of the next Regular Session of the General Assembly for the 2009 and 2010 interims. This bill passed the House by a vote of 95-0.
The legislation points out that despite hardships brought about by the loss of lands, languages and civil rights, American Indians in Virginia persisted and continued to contribute to the Commonwealth through agriculture, land stewardship, teaching, military and civil service, the arts, and other avenues of productive citizenship. Representing several state recognized tribes I am proud of this initiative.
A memorial to Virginia Indians and their ancestors would remind everyone who visits the Capitol grounds that Virginia Indians' courage, persistence, determination and cultural values have significantly enhanced and contributed to our society for centuries. The memorial would also be a tangible acknowledgement of the achievements of generations of Virginia's Native people.
Many friendly faces stopped in to visit this week including: Jerry Clark for Mechanicsville, Lisa Brown from Sandston, Abigail Brown, Laura Briere, Leeanne Brooks and Steve Vehorn from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, Charlie Woodhouse and Robert O'Brien of the Virginia Ready-mix Association, Rebecca Collins and Brian Baird of the Virginia Society of Health System Pharmacists, Rev. Helen Zottoli of the United Methodist Church from Aylett, Adalyn Brugger of Mechanicsville representing Planned Parenthood, John Budesky, Jeff Summers, Stran Trout and Bill Whitley of New Kent County government, Jacob Stroman, Hap Connors, Jerry Logan and Kathy Smith of Spotsylvania County government.
If you'll be visiting Richmond during this year's session, make sure to stop by our office, located in Room 715 of the General Assembly Building. You can contact us here by sending an e-mail to Delcpeace@house.virginia.gov or by sending a letter to me at PO Box 406, Richmond, VA 23218-0406. Or, if you just want me to know your opinion on a particular issue, you can call on the toll-free Constituent Viewpoint Hotline at 1.800.889.0229.
Have a great week, and look for more news from Richmond in this same place next week.