Friday, November 8, 2013

Are You Ready for the 2014 Virginia General Assembly Session? Have You Signed Up to Receive Alerts, Action Items and Updates?

The annual Virginia General Assembly is where new State laws are proposed, voted on and passed. 

The 2014 (even year) Virginia General Assembly in Richmond, VA is a long (regular) session, 60 days. This is significant because during a long session more bills are patroned/ proposed as the House of Delegate members are not limited in the quantity of bills they can submit, but they do have a limit on odd-years. 

The 2014 session begins on Wednesday January 8, 2014 but because there is a Governor inauguration and the swearing in of new House of Delegates members so the first week to possibly 10 days of session won’t move along bills that actually change any law, they’ll be mostly ceremonial (a commendation or celebration). The swearing-in of new members will also delay the House Committee assignments which in turn delays Committee hearings on bills. 

Do you know who your current State Delegate and Senator is? 

Is your House Delegate going to change because of the November 5, 2013 election just in time for the next General Assembly? 

If you have a brand new Delegate please contact them BEFORE Thanksgiving, before you get caught up in the holiday season and before the Legislators are too busy preparing for session to respond to you. Introduce yourself, tell them what issues concern you and ask them if they remember the email’s Mary Devoy sent them over the summer about the issues surrounding the Virginia Sex Offender Registry and current sexual statutes. Ask them what they think about these problems. Have your family and friends do the same with their Districts Representative. 

The Delegates-Elect (freshman) will not have official State email addresses or Richmond phone numbers until January 2014 so use this link from the Virginia Board of Elections document or go to their campaign websites for current contact information. 

Delegates and Senators listen to their constituents and they know if you’re a registered voter or not and if you are a voter then they listen much more intently. 

The General Assembly Building is at the corner of 9th St. and Broad St in Richmond, VA 23219, behind the Capitol. 
Senate Legislative Information and Constituent Services    - 804-698-1470 or 888-892-6948
House of Delegates Information and Public Relations           - 804-698-1470 or 877-391-FACT 

You can track proposed bills (legislation) as they are posted and move through the process two ways. 

1.      Virginia General Assembly Website,
                       How to Track a Bill, 
         Sign up for Lobbyist-in-a-Box Service: 

a)      You may track up to 5 bills in one Lobbyist-in-a-Box "profile" without a fee. You can also sign-up for email notification triggered by the bill sponsor when bill is referred to a House or Senate Committee or bill contains specific key word(s), phrases, or Code section(s). 

b)      A subscription to Lobbyist-in-a-Box with an unlimited quantity of bills also offers the ability to create multiple profiles, each containing bill lists and notification options. The cost of this service is $400 for state agencies and $600 for all other subscribers.
Note: I’ve tracked bills, hearings and votes for 5 sessions (2009-2013) without paying for this service. You can stay current and informed without spending this excessive amount. -Mary Devoy 

Email notification triggers an email when bills are sponsored by a member of the General Assembly, referred to a House or Senate Committee or contain specific key word(s), phrases, or Code section(s). 

                  Lobbyist-in-a-Box Guidelines, 
                  Review Past Virginia Sessions (1994-2013) Legislation, 

Sign up now, before session even begins so you can adjust your settings and get used to checking on bills. 

2.      Richmond Sunlight Website 

Usually R.S. starts posting bills after January 1st, on the R.S. website you can post comments publically and you can create your own list of bills to track for no charge. But there is no email notification for bills being posted, assigned to a committee and placed on a hearing docket, any amendments or bill movement. You must remember to check each bill everyday with this site. 

In early December I will create a 2014 Virginia General Assembly page (see Directory on right side of screen) where I’ll post all relevant bills to this platform and I will update the bills daily (hopefully) on this blog.  

All Action Alerts will be in posts (not a page) so you’ll see them as soon as you visit this blog.  

During the 2014 session I will post numerous Action Alerts for everyone to act upon and many times there will be less than 24 hours notice of a bill being heard and my Action Alert posting.  

You can sign up for email’s from this blog (scroll down, after D.C. Bills on the right side of screen) and you’ll receive all posts/alerts that get loaded before 5PM (EST) in an email between 5-6PM. There will be days where I might not get in from session to post alerts or hearing notices until after 5PM so if you are tracking bills you should check the blog once in the evening as those email’s won’t go out until the next day around 5PM.  I can change the time email’s go out, but they can only go out once in a 24 hour period. 

If you don’t like email sign-up but do want to stay up-to-date on this blog you can sign up for newsfeeds via Posts (Atom) , netvibe, Google and My Yahoo. 

If you would like share posts or action alerts with other people just go to the bottom of the specific post you would like to share and you’ll see a row of icons. You can email the post to friends or family, you can share it on Facebook or Twitter or if you have a blog of your own you can re-blog the post. 

Take few minutes this week to find out who your Delegate and Senator are, introduce yourself to them, save their Richmond contact information somewhere you can easily access (their district office address, fax and phone number are useless during G.A. session), decide how you plan on tracking bills during session and if you need to sign up for alerts or not. Then you can enjoy the holidays knowing you haven’t missed any alerts or bills in the interim and you’ll be ready when session begins on January 8, 2014. 

Thank you!

Mary Devoy