In an effort to keep Virginians aprised of what their government is up to, we thought you might want to know what the voters of the Commonwealth hath wrought upon us with its decisions last November. Herewith, then, a look at how the new Senate may look and act. Let's start at the top, with the new Majority Leader, Senator Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield), who once said on the Senate floor, "There will never be enough money for me" in the state budget and who said last year that property rights are not in the constitution. Sweet! He's also violated Senate order and protocol in verbally abusing Family Foundation lobbyists, at one point causing then-Senator Bill Bolling to call him out. The rumor is that Saslaw and the new liberal leadership will ignore proportionality and bi-partisanship and constitute committees with a 10-5 Democrat/Republican ratio, despite a two seat majority. So much for playing along to get along all these years, right RINOs? What did the extended hand of having Democrat sub-committee chairs and proportional ratios get you now that you are in the minority? Congratulations!
Another favorite to look for is Senator Janet Howell (D-32, Fairfax), who is the new chairman of the Privileges and Elections Committee, where all constitutional amendments originate. Last year she patroned, and got passed, a bill requiring teens to get parental permission to go to tanning salons. Funny how she doesn't think teens need parental permission to join extracurricular school clubs and activities, and is ardently pro-abortion. She also argued on the floor once that parents aren't capable of raising their own children. Go figure.
Other committee chairs include Senator Henry Marsh (D-16, Richmond) who earned a whopping 15 rating on the most recent Family Foundation Report Card, Courts of Justice; Senator Mary Margaret Whipple (D-31, Arlington), another militantly pro-abortion legislator, Rules; and Senator Patsy Ticer (D-30, Alexandria), Agriculture. We didn't know Alexandria had such a thriving farm community.
In addition to the extreme liberalism of the new chairs, they also are all from Northern or urban Virginia. So much for Democrat diversity — no rural Democrats are in the leadership or are committee chairs, shutting out a large percentage of Virginians from the highest levels of the legislative process. If you have a drawl, you don't belong.
The impact these types of changes are likely to have don't get a lot of notice as liberals are pretty good at erecting facades of "moderation." They're hoping you won't notice what really goes on at the General Assembly this year.
Of course, it's not that the old Senate did much of consequence, except ram tax increases at us and kill almost every commonsense pro-life, pro-family, education-reform, tax-relief and spending-restraint bill. They did, however, throw a bone at pro-life, pro-family Virginians (that is to say, the majority of us) with an occasional school bus or Internet filters bill, especially during an election (read: primary challenge) year.
Still, this new bunch will present a massive set of challenges. Instead of defeating good legislation, they will attempt, with a willing governor, to pass bad legislation. So get active. Write, e-mail and call your senators (and delegates) this session, even those in the leadership (their contact information is above, linked to their names), and let them know how their actions of certain bills will affect Virginia's families. Follow legislation at the General Assembly Web site (also linked above). Most important, stay engaged for the next 60-plus days. The liberals are hoping you won't notice. We do.