Facts from the Floor: Week Five

February 11, 2020

I got off my couch and ran for office because I felt like I was not being represented in government. Rather than continue to complain about it, yell at my TV during the nightly news, and do nothing, I figured out how to get on a ballot and communicate my message with thousands of voters who shared my frustrations. And here we are! Every day I am proud to have a say in the laws we are considering for Virginia. Although I feel frustrated that my party is in the minority and we are outnumbered on many votes, I do have a voice that I make count to represent my constituents who sent me here.

As the Senate completes its work on legislation filed by its members, you may have noticed that we are debating so much legislation that emulates measures already enacted in California and New York. Whether issuing driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, doubling the minimum wage, forcing non-union members to pay union dues, or imposing strict new gun control measures, I sometimes feel like I am in a General Assembly session in Sacramento or Albany rather than Richmond! Now that the Democrats are in the majority, that party’s most liberal members are driving their legislative agenda.

In addition, Northern Virginians lead the key committees that consider and shape legislation in the Senate, such as Finance and Commerce and Labor. As you continue to read headlines about Virginia’s General Assembly approving legislation that sounds more suitable for California, you should probably look to the area surrounding Washington, D.C. for an explanation.

Some of the bills we voted on this week included:

-SB 1: Stops the suspension of driver’s licenses for an inability to pay a fine or fee. Passed 40-0 out of the Senate. I voted YES wanting people to be able to drive and get to work, etc.

-SB 624: Makes geriatric prisoners eligible for parole. “Geriatric” is defined as age 50 in this bill. I voted NO but this bill passed out of the Senate along party line vote of 21-19.

-SB 65: Removes the requirement to show photo ID to vote. I voted NO but the bill passed out of the Senate along party line vote of 21-19. I am adamantly against this bill and think it opens the door to voter fraud.

-SB 491: Removes the requirement for mandatory reporting to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for any illegal immigrant arrested in the state of Virginia. This bill passed along party lines 21-19, I voted NO.

-SB264: I co-patroned this bill giving full prescriptive authority to nurse anesthetists. Passed 40-0. I am fully supportive of advanced practice nurses having full prescriptive authority.

-SB 612: Authorizes a commission to replace Robert E Lee statue as one of Virginia’s two allotted statues in the U.S. Capitol. The Commission will choose a replacement. This bill passed along party lines 20-19. I voted NO.

-SB 64: Defines paramilitary activity (which is a Class 5 felony) as a person who assembles with another person with the intent of intimidating any person or group of persons by drilling, parading or marching with a firearm or any explosive or incendiary device. I voted NO but the bill passed 22-17. This is an attack on our First Amendment rights.

If you are ever interested in reading the full bill description or knowing more details, please go to the General Assembly homepage (https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+men+BIL) and you can enter the bill number and track any bill as it goes through the process to become a Virginia law.

Virginians continue to come to see their Capitol being used to enact laws that will affect their Commonwealth. We had quite a few friendly faces from home stop by our offices this week, including the Hampton Roads 4-H Clubs, Virginia Midwives Alliance, the Virginia Association of Nurse Anesthetists, the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Children’s Health Investment Program of Southampton Roads, and the Independent Insurance Agents of Virginia. If you’re planning a trip to Capitol Square before March 7th, please stop by our offices in Room 518 of the Pocahontas Building and come see us!

Next week is “crossover” when all the bills from the Senate go before the House for a vote and vice versa. I’ll have a complete report on the progress in next week’s column. Until then, have a great week and stay tuned!

SENATOR KIGGANS’ TOP FIVE MOST SURPRISING THINGS SEEN IN THE VIRGINIA SENATE THIS PAST WEEK:

1- Watching our Republican Senate minority leader disagree with the Lt. Gov. and watching the Senate Clerk take both of them plus the Democratic majority leader out of the room for a “talking to” about professional courtesy and congeniality (I assume!)

2- Listening to the democrats propose not only removing Robert E Lee from Memorial Hall in the U.S. Capitol in DC but also taking the statue of George Washington (each state gets two statues in the Capitol).

3- Traditional visit from former Gov. Bob McDonnell who usually attends both party’s caucuses but was “uninvited” to the democratic caucus meeting this year.

4- My husband and I attended a reception at the Governor’s mansion only to have him leave with a copy of the “First Mansion” book about the history of the Governor’s Mansion, signed by the Governor’s wife with the inscription “To My Favorite Fighter Pilot….” for him!

5- Listening to one of the longest debates yet this session concerning a bill which caps training for barbers and cosmetologists to 1000 hours max before they can perform as independent stylists. I don’t want a cap because I think they need all the practice they can get before they take on some of these latest hair styles!