Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Getting Ready for the 2017 Virginia General Assembly Session, it Starts on January 11th

The 2017 Virginia General Assembly session begins in Richmond, VA 8 weeks from tomorrow, on the second Wednesday of January. 

This will be my 9th 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. 

2017 is an odd-year so we are looking at a Short Session (30 calendar days) as opposed to an even-year, Long Session (60 calendar days). 

Three 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 2017 session started on July 18th of this year; this is because it’s a Short Session. In a Long Session Bill filing doesn’t start until November. 

As you know this was an election year but NOT for our Governor OR the Virginia House or Senate so there is no inauguration on the horizon OR the swearing-in of new Delegates and Senators to delay the real start of the 2017 session. Short sessions (odd years) are intended to hit-the-ground-running, so they do not follow an election. 

In anticipation of the 2017 G.A. session bills I deleted the 2016 Virginia G.A. page and Committee Member page a few weeks ago. If anyone needs the information posted on that old page I can email it, just let me know. 

By early December I will create a new 2017 Committee page that won’t be finalized until the end of the first week of session AND a 2017 Virginia General Assembly page (see Directory on right side of screen) this is where I’ll post all relevant Bills to this platform. At first the page will only be updated weekly but by the second week of January until the end of session the page will update daily, sometimes multiple times in a day. 

All Virginia 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 2017 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.  

Do you know who your one State Delegate and one State Senator are?  

Are you in one of the 4 VA Districts with a new Representative in January 

Are you in one of the 3 VA Districts that will NOT have a Representative when the 2017 General Assembly session begins on January 11th?

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 8 sessions (2009-2016) 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/ 

Richmond Sunlight can have delays in Bills being posted prior to January 1st, and sometimes pre-session the R.S. website can have other issues. On R.S. 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. 

If you are on Twitter, so am I @MaryDofVA . You can re-tweet Action Items and news articles all year long. 

Take few minutes in the next week to find out who your VA 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 11, 2017. 

Thank you. 

Mary Devoy