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Focus on Fairfax Newsletter of Delegate David Bulova
January 2008

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Greetings from Richmond! The New Year holiday seemed to come and go in a flash. Before I knew it, I was heading south on I-95 for the 2008 Session of the Virginia General Assembly. I look forward to sending out weekly updates from the Capitol to help keep you up-to-date on important issues and to provide some insights that don’t typically make front page news.

Wednesday was opening day – and many of you may have caught the Governor’s State of the Commonwealth address. However, the real action was earlier in the day with the adoption of the House Rules, and then immediately after the speech with the announcement of committee assignments.

The House Rules are adopted on the first day and govern everything from committee size, to voting procedures, to the rules of conduct. Not surprisingly, the rules can sometimes generate a little controversy. One such controversy involves a rule allowing a subcommittee to kill a bill without a recorded vote. Subcommittees, usually made up of five to nine members, are one of those necessary concessions to keep business moving forward. It seems intrinsically un-democratic, however, to allow a small group to kill a bill without accountability. The counter-argument was that subcommittees would lose too much time recording votes and that quick action is needed to screen out bills that simply don’t have a chance of passage. If that was the explicit task of a subcommittee, the argument might make sense. However, I have seen a lot of bills killed that very well may have had a chance of passing in full committee. Either way, citizens deserve to know who voted yes or no on a particular measure. Delegate Ken Plum from Fairfax led the charge to reverse the rule, and I was happy to join in the effort. Unfortunately, the amendment was defeated 45Y to 54N.

Equally debated was a new proposal to limit the number of bills that can be introduced in off-year (odd year) sessions to 10 per member. This is in response to the enormous volume of legislation introduced (1,599 bills in the House last year alone!) – and our limited capacity to give these bills just consideration over 45 days. While I am a little hesitant to limit our ability to respond to constituent issues, the rule is now adopted. At the very least, this will encourage some members to better prioritize the bills they are submitting.

Finally, on a positive note, the House Rules continue to include proportionate representation on committees. This is an important concept. In the past, the dominant party did not always appoint committees with a proportionate representation of Democrats and Republicans. However, even with Democrats picking up several seats, the Republican leadership decided to continue proportionate representation, and as a result, I picked up a new committee seat.

Getting your committee assignments is a little like Christmas – but there is always the possibility of finding a lump of coal in your stocking. For the last two years, I have served on Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources (AC&NR) and General Laws. AC&NR is self explanatory, while General Laws deals with tobacco, alcohol, gambling, the Freedom of Information Act, housing, administrative processes, and anything that doesn’t fit well into another committee. Happily, I was re-appointed to both of these committees.

I am also pleased to have been assigned a third committee, the Committee on Education. Given the importance of education (not to mention that I have a vested interest with two school-age children), I couldn’t be more thrilled. The only problem is that the Education Committee meets on Monday and Wednesday mornings, while AC&NR also meets on Wednesday mornings. Overlapping committees are relatively common (since it is beyond our power to expand the work week). However, it means that I will need to determine which votes I need to be present for, and which ones I will have to miss – a position that I hate to be in. Such is life in the General Assembly.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you are interested in a particular issue. And, watch your mailbox this upcoming week for my 2008 Constituent Survey! You can also fill out the survey on-line at my website. Your feedback really matters.


David Bulova

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Delegate David Bulova

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Fairfax, VA 22031
(703) 310-6752
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Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 698-1037
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