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Facts from the Floor: Week Two

January 20, 2020

As I finished my first full week of session, I am amazed at how much has transpired in just five days. My day usually starts before 0700 and ends if I’m lucky around midnight. It’s intense but I love it! It’s an awesome feeling to be in the room as the news happens and to read about it later in the paper. I’m surrounded by wise, well-spoken legislators (& a lot of lawyers!) who speak passionately on the various bills that make it to the floor of the senate. It’s an honor to be in the room and to do my part representing my district and voting for the people who put me in my office.

As I said many times on the campaign trail, we must find ways to reach across the aisle and find compromise. However, listening to the debate that happened later in the week concerning three “gun bills” reminded me that there are major party differences, especially concerning interpretation of the Constitution. The three bills that were voted on this week on the floor included:

SB 35: Locality gun bill: Would permit localities to restrict law-abiding citizens Right-to-Carry or transport of firearms under a wide variety of circumstances.

SB 69: One gun a month: Limits law-abiding citizens to purchase only one gun a month (one hand gun in 30 day period)

SB 70: Background checks: Requires gun owners to obtain government permission before selling or trading firearms to another individual without exception.

I voted ‘no’ to all three above bills after listening to both sides arguments and agreeing that these three bills were in violation of the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, would have hurt law-abiding gun owners, and most importantly would not have prevented the shootings in Virginia Beach nor elsewhere. All three passed due to the Democratic majority. There was no mention of mental health at any point during the day. There will be more debate this coming week on more “gun bills” including the red flag bill. Monday is Gun Lobby day and we are expecting up to 100,000 people to visit to exercise their First Amendment rights. Virginians on both sides of the gun control issue have been peacefully and safely participating in “lobby day” activities for decades. This year, the Governor declared a state of emergency for the area around the Capitol, banned the possession of weapons, and put up temporary fencing around the Capitol. And while the Governor has cautioned people against participating this year, I will be here to welcome and listen to the people who have elected me to represent them. Stop by and see us in Room 518!

Among other bills that were discussed and voted on in my committees this week was a bill to eliminate Lee-Jackson Day as a state holiday and to make Election Day in November a holiday in its place. Another bill was presented to lower the age of prisoners eligible for parole to age 50 (which was defined as “geriatric” much to my dismay). I voted “no” to both of these bills.

Week TWO of session ended mid afternoon Friday and I came home to see my family whom I missed dearly this past week. The highlight of my weekend was welcoming home two squadrons from Naval Air Station Oceana on Sunday who returned from a ten-month deployment- the longest carrier deployment since the Cold War era. There’s nothing like a Navy Homecoming to remind why I get up everyday to fight for our families, our state, and to keep our country the best place in the world to live.

In closing, I leave you with my Top 5 Most Shocking things I saw this past week….

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

1- The line that wrapped around the block on Monday morning after the “gun ban” in Capitol buildings. It took my staff over an hour to get through the metal detectors and in the front door!

2- I sat through a 40-minute discussion on the legality of goat grazing along riverbeds in the Agriculture committee meeting. Learn something new everyday!

3- During “gun debate” on the floor, I learned that Virginia is apparently the cause of the gun violence problem in New York…. Hhhmmmm….

4- According to proposed legislation, the definition of “geriatric” is now age 50! (In the medical world, it’s 65!)

5- The same people who are opposed to walls to keep illegal immigrants out of the United States are ok with installing 6-foot fences to keep Virginia citizens out of their capitol.

Facts from the Floor: Week One

January 13, 2020

Week one of my first General Assembly session has come and gone in the blink of an eye. It was an amazing three days that started off with my entire family, parents, and many local friends joining us for a day that included the Commonwealth Prayer Breakfast, my swearing in to the Virginia Senate, a delicious cake reception, and a long day in the chamber waiting on the House to organize and rules to be presented. The day concluded with the Governor’s State of the Commonwealth address and a reception at the Governor’s mansion. My goal was to watch and learn this first week and get a feel for how this session would go.

I got off my couch last March and worked my tail off to earn a seat in the Virginia Senate because I felt like Virginians like myself were under represented in state government. I come from a district that is fairly evenly split in numbers of Democrats and Republicans. As you know, I won the election on November 5th with just over 50% of the vote (50.87% to be exact!) That means HALF of the people who live in the 7th district lean toward electing a conservative legislator to represent them. In a district with a Democratic governor, two Democratic Senators, a Democratic congresswoman, and 3 out of 4 Democratic state delegates, I am the only voice many of my constituents have in Richmond. I take that responsibility seriously.

I went to Richmond with the mindset that there would be a spirit of congeniality and bipartisanship on many issues. I saw glimmers of this but also quickly realized that there is a fractured atmosphere in the General Assembly with new victors who are exuberant that their “progressive” agenda can now be realized without much recourse. There were many times I felt like the Democrats wanted to pour salt on the wounds of the new minority Republicans without much hesitation. With the delay in established rules, a last minute and very unorganized committee meeting to ban guns in the Capitol, and an unprecedented holdup over timelines for bills and budget amendments, my optimistic outlook become tinged with skepticism. Maybe it was just an off-week. Maybe not…..

My first committee meeting was eye-opening and the first time I had to make tough votes on controversial issues, namely parole and food stamps. For the record, I would have been happy to vote for allowing geriatric and terminal illness patients to be eligible for parole after felony convictions, but the addition of the group “permanently physical disabled” with no concrete definition as to what degree of disability would be considered, forced me to vote “no” to the bill as a whole. Hearing loss in one ear? Loss of one toe? The Democrats did not allow for an amendment to remove the term “permanently physically disabled” and I voted “no” to the parole with felony conviction bill keeping the rights of victims and families of violent crimes in mind.

The second tough vote was to allow food stamps to continue for persons convicted of drug-related felonies. A reformed, nice young man stood before us telling us of his difficult past of growing up with an addicted mother, no electricity or food, and wrongly getting involved in a life of drugs and how food stamps would have made things easier for him if he was eligible. His story specifically told of being hungry and forced to get a job at a restaurant to be able to afford to buy food. From there he went to barber school and subsequently turned his life around. Although I recognize that some people are faced with unfair challenges throughout life, I want them all to realize that same motivation this man realized and the path to success that employment brings and I, therefore, voted “no” to this bill.

Click Here to View Senate Committees

Week one of session ended early afternoon on Friday. I was happy to drive home to Virginia Beach to have the weekend to spend time with my husband and children and to sleep in my own bed for a few days. Next week starts bright and early Monday with a Local Government committee meeting. I am looking forward to a new week and to representing my constituents who sent me to Richmond to speak for them. In closing, I leave you with my Top 5 Most Shocking things I saw in the Virginia Senate this past week….

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

1- One of the first orders of business was the House rulebook which changed pronouns to add the word “she” every time word “he” was mentioned.

2- Being in a roomful of people during Governor’s State of Commonwealth surrounded by people hooting and hollering while giving standing ovation to the mere mention of allowing women to have abortions. No abortion should ever be applauded.

3- House leaders falsely blaming Capitol police for suggesting banning guns in General Assembly buildings.

4- Being assigned seating on the far left side of my first committee meeting while ALL other Republicans sat on far right side thus isolating me from my party.

5- Arriving to first day at work greeted by several topless women holding ERA signs! In my opinion, not the best tactic to secure equal rights….!

Jen Kiggans for Virginia Senate Announces Campaign Manager

June 27, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Email: info@jenforsenate.com

Virginia Beach, VA – Jen Kiggans – Navy pilot, nurse practitioner and political outsider – today announced Jonathan Ewing is joining her team as campaign manager in Virginia’s 7th Senate District.

“I’m excited to welcome Jonathan to our team. He brings a wealth of political experience engaging voters of all political parties and backgrounds,” said Kiggans. “I know he’ll help us build on our momentum, fire up local activists and fight for all those who want a leader in Richmond who believes in public service, not serving the special interests or their own self interests.”

Deeply committed to a strong grassroots operation, Ewing is passionate about talking to voters at their doors, on the phone and throughout the community. He began his political career as a regional field director in Alabama. He then served as statewide field director in Wisconsin, deputy political director for the 2018 Montana Victory Program, and as campaign manager for a State Delegate candidate in Virginia.

“Jen isn’t a typical politician. Fighting for others is part of her core character, and I know she’ll take that fight to Richmond,” Ewing said. “The choice on November 5th is clear, and I’m excited to help share Jen’s winning message with the people of the 7th District.”