Ray Wylie Hubbard is a Texas troubadour, who I guess is an acquired taste. In the 1970s he wrote “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother.” Later he wrote “Snake Farm” and co-wrote “Drunken Poet’s Dream.” He is worth the price of admission if you ever get the chance to go to a live show. A line from one of his more recent songs is “and the days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, well, I have really good days.”

This is good advice for the Democratic voters who elected majorities to both houses of the General Assembly in 2019.

With a majority in both houses, we have incredible opportunities to do good things. I expect us to fulfill reasonable expectations. However, we should keep in mind that those of us who were fortunate enough to be elected have a responsibility to work together to achieve things that will move all of Virginia forward.

Virginians who are behind efforts to create sanctuary counties all over Virginia, to somehow protect the Second Amendment, should also keep that in mind. Virginia is a Dillon Rule state. Local governments only have the authority expressly given to them by the state. This is why we do not have sanctuary cities with respect to immigration and never needed legislation to ban them. While I appreciate the efforts of local elected officials to represent the interests of their constituents, this designation has no legal effect.

Regardless of which party is in the majority, we need to focus on making investments in public education and workforce development, building an economy that works in all corners of our Commonwealth, promoting public safety, and ensuring a healthcare system and a mental health care system that works for all Virginians regardless of where they live. We have so much work to do.

There are so many things that bind us together as a people. We have to see beyond the issues that divide us into our own camps. For crying out loud, we are all Virginians. We are all Americans. We have to see beyond the things that separate us. We are still the land of the free and the home of the brave. We have built a government that works; a government that is the most democratic and free in the world. We have so much work to do as a people; we cannot forget who we are.

In that vein, I look forward to working with my colleagues to develop a spending plan that works for all of Virginia. The Governor has made a budget proposal that is both humane and ambitious. While I have some concerns about the revenue projections, I believe many of his proposals, especially his plans for community college students and K-12 education, are good for the district as a whole and the Commonwealth.

This session will bring some changes. As the new chair of the Committee on Privileges and Elections, I plan to call a meeting in the coming days to pass the Equal Rights Amendment out to the floor of the Senate. We can then move on to other commonsense legislation on which we can work together on a bipartisan basis. I will serve on the Finance Committee and chair the Capital Outlay Subcommittee.

The 2020 General Assembly Session kicked off this afternoon. The Governor will lay out his plans and explain further his goals in the State of the Commonwealth address tonight. We need to get past the polarization and work together as Virginians. I am ready.

It continues to be my honor to serve you in the state Senate. If I can be of service to you or if you have comments or questions, please contact my office at (804) 698-7525 or by email at district25@senate.virginia.gov.