As you know, on Wednesday the General Assembly kicked off its 2013 session. Commonly referred to as the "short session," it is scheduled to last 46 days and, as always, the primary focus will be on updating the biennial state budget through amendment. Already, committees and sub-committees have begun the hard work of sifting through hundreds of bills and initiatives.
Despite clamor from liberals and the media that the General Assembly not "waste time" on so-called "social issues," Democrats in Richmond have introduced a wide variety of bills that fall into just that category. Intended to stir up more controversy and stir the media in Richmond into hysterics as last year, these bills nevertheless threaten the advancements we've made in recent years.
Already, several bills have been introduced that would repeal laws that require abortion center health and safety standards and last year's update to our Commonwealth's law that requires women seeking abortion to be given adequate, accurate information so they can make informed decisions. There also is legislation to repeal our long sought school choice law, along with multiple bills that are introduced on behalf of Equality Virginia, the Commonwealth's largest homosexual rights group. So, when you hear anyone say that conservatives focus too much on social issues, you can report that our liberal friends in Richmond are out-doing themselves on that front this year.
As always, we are bringing forth an agenda to advance our shared values. Next week we will begin e-mailing, blogging, Facebook posting and tweeting "Action Alerts" on various bills. Please make sure you take the time to respond. Legislators must hear from pro-family, pro-life conservatives this year. Every day. Over and over. They are hearing from our opponents. We must match their intensity and persistence. We cannot let the secular left roll back the advances we’ve worked so hard and so long to achieve.
Each year The Family Foundation represents you in the halls of the General Assembly. Our full time policy staff, including myself, our Vice President Chris Freund, and our policy analyst Jessica Cochrane, brings nearly 25 years of experience to the advocacy work we do. We've also brought in two additional lobbyists and a coordinator to make sure that your values are heard loud and clear.
I urge you to be praying specifically for our team over the next two months. Session is a spiritually and physically exhausting time. We need God’s grace, wisdom and discernment as we engage legislators, explain policies and urge grassroots involvement.
The following people have joined us for this session. I'm excited about the team we've put together and look forward to all that will be accomplished:
This will be Steve's eighth legislative session with us as a lobbyist, but Steve also serves as our full-time blogger and social media coordinator. Steve brings a wealth of experience and expertise in government relations, communications and public relations. Steve has in-depth understanding of the nuances of the General Assembly and relationships with dozens of legislators.
A one-time legislative assistant to then-Senator Ken Cuccinelli, Bruce brings experience from inside the General Assembly as well as a wealth of policy experience. The former executive director of the Pregnancy Resource Center Metro Richmond, Bruce has vast experience in the pro-life field.
Tim recently served as a field representative in The Family Foundation's Winning Matters '12 campaign where he covered the Peninsula area. Tim is a graduate of Christopher Newport University and has been doing grassroots campaign work for many years (you may recognize his last name!). He will serve as our General Assembly coordinator, responsible for internal logistics and communications for the GA staff.
We also have several interns and pages assisting us this year. And so it begins . . . a long, hard, relentless 46-day sprint that will take us up and down many twisting roads. But with your help and God's guidance, we will navigate them with great success.