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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Getting Ready for the 2016 Virginia General Assembly Session: Do You Know Who Your Two Representatives Are? Have You Introduced Yourself to Them? Have You Signed Up to Receive Their Newsletters?


The 2016 Virginia General Assembly session begins in Richmond, VA 9 weeks from today, on the second Wednesday of January. 

This will be my 8th session as a volunteer advocate working for data-driven reform of Virginia’s Sex Offender Registry and Laws. 

The annual Virginia General Assembly is where new State laws are proposed, debated, voted on and passed onto the Governor to be signed into law, amended or vetoed. 

2016 is an even-year so we are looking at a Long Session (60 calendar days) as opposed to an odd-year, Short Session (30 calendar days).

 


Two years back, I posted How a Bill Becomes a Law in Virginia it outlines the process of a bill moving through the Virginia Legislature as well as the differences between a Short and a Long Session. 

The filing of bills for the upcoming 2016 session did NOT start early (July) as it did last year, this is because it’s a long session; filing for 2016 begins next week on Monday November 16th. 

As you know this was an election year but not for our Governor so there is no inauguration on the horizon, but there is the swearing-in of new Delegates and Senators to delay the real start of the 2016 session. Short sessions (odd years) are intended to hit-the-ground-running, so they do not follow an election. 

In anticipation of the 2016 G.A. session bills I have deleted the 2015 Virginia G.A. page. If anyone needs the information posted on that old page I can email it, just let me know. 

In early December I will create a new 2016 Virginia General Assembly page (see Directory on right side of screen) this is where I’ll post all relevant bills to this platform and I will update the bills status daily or weekly.  

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

During the 2016 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.  

Now the 2016 Virginia General Assembly Committee page won’t be able to finalize until January after the 18 new members have been sworn in and assigned to their Committee seats. This page once complete will also be in the Directory on the right side of the screen. 

Do you know who your State Delegate and Senator are?  

Will you have a new Representative in January? 

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. You should introduce yourself to them this month either via email or with a phone call. 

The Virginia 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, http://legis.state.va.us
Bills are post almost immediately on this website. 


 Sign up for Lobbyist-in-a-Box Service:  http://lis.virginia.gov/h015.htm 

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 7 sessions (2009-2015) 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).  http://leg1.state.va.us/101/lis.htm 

Lobbyist-in-a-Box Guidelines, http://leg1.state.va.us/h015.htm 

Review Past Virginia Sessions (1994-2013) Legislation, http://leg1.state.va.us 

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

2.     Richmond Sunlight Website http://www.richmondsunlight.com/ 

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. 

If want to stay up-to-date on this blog for Action Alerts you can either:

  • Sign up for newsfeeds via Posts (Atom) , netvibe Google and My Yahoo
  • Sign up for email alerts that go out in the late afternoon once a day for any new posts
If you would like share Posts from this blog 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 in the next 2 weeks to find out who your Delegate and Senator are OR will be, introduce yourself to them, save their Richmond contact information (for when they arrive in Richmond) somewhere you can easily access it during G.A. session, also decide how and if you plan on tracking bills during session and if you want to follow this blog. Then you can enjoy the holidays knowing you haven’t missed any alerts or bills in the interim and you’ll be ready when Virginia session begins on January 13, 2016. 

Thank you. 

Mary Devoy