Virginia’s newest U-S senator, Tim Kaine, delivered his maiden speech on the Senate floor this week. His first address to his colleagues came much earlier than expected.
The Senate floor is viewed by many as a sacred space. That’s why most freshmen lawmakers wait months before addressing their peers in the austere chamber. But with billions of dollars in budget cuts slated to rip through his state on Friday, Senator Kaine broke unwritten Senate protocol and spoke on the floor before even finishing his second month in office.
A bill that is now under review by Governor McDonnell strengthens current state laws on stalking —although its sponsor says the law still needs to be even tougher. Delegate Jennifer McClellan hopes her bill will encourage law enforcement to take reports of stalking and domestic abuse more seriously. It would become a felony if someone convicted twice of stalking had also been convicted of committing violent acts against the same victim within five years. It would also apply if the aggressor had violated a protective order within that period.
The passage of Virginia’s transportation-funding bill was not the only change of heart that took place in the General Assembly this session. Another was tackling a growing traffic-safety hazard that did not even exist a generation ago—and making it a primary offense. It not only toughens current state penalties against texting while driving, but it targets similar communications.
President Obama was in Newport News, Virginia today highlighting the impact of pending budget cuts on the state's defense industry. Virginia Republicans are glad the president is highlighting the state's robust defense industry. But Virginia Congressman Randy Forbes says the president's time would have been better spent in Washington negotiating with congressional leaders.
After being eclipsed by other issues for a couple of years climate change is now back in the spotlight on Capitol Hill.
Republicans control the U-S House and many oppose taking action to address climate change. In his State of the Union address President Obama opened the door for lawmakers to work with him on the issue but he also laid a line in the sand.