Legislative Update – By Senator Bill Desteph

Legislative Update

By Senator Bill Desteph

The 2019 General Assembly is off to a fast start, as is expected of a short legislative session. A lot is accomplished in 45 days. Week 3 saw record crowds, with visitors, committee meetings, and legislative receptions adding to the excitement. It is important to stress the air of enthusiasm and camaraderie in Richmond. We are there to work together to accomplish good things for the Commonwealth. 

The General Assembly provides an opportunity to go on the record, to take a stand, to do what’s right. It’s not all about the legislation we pass – it’s also about the legislation that we prevent from getting out of committee. I am proud to play a role in which laws affect the citizens of my district.

There are many significant issues currently before us. Throughout the year, I heard from constituents emphasizing the need for quality, affordable health care. They stressed the importance of job growth, a vital economy, and public safety. They expressed concern over the proliferation of student debt, and asked for legislation to protect our coastline and our military. I took this information back with me to Richmond, supporting legislation that addresses these concerns. These bills include SB1596, SB1611, SB1674, and SB1689, which drive down the price of health care, increasing accessibility to cost-effective health plans and limiting out of pocket expenses. As chief co-patron of these bills, I will fight for your right to quality, affordable health insurance for you and your family. 

SB1611, which will be voted on by the full senate this week, allows for the increase in

the ratio of apprentices to journeymen in the job market, so more people will have the chance to learn a trade and find work in the Commonwealth. SB1234 also provides for more opportunities for our young people seeking employment, addressing student debt trends so those pursuing higher education aren’t saddled with crushing loans after graduation.

Several of my bills have attracted media attention this year, including SB1573, which addressed Off-Shore Drilling, and SB 1604, focusing on Animal Cruelty. I have heard from many people on both of these topics. While SB1573 did not make it out of committee, SB1604 will be heard this week. You may recall the story of Sugar, a pit bull who was maliciously wounded with a machete. I believe anyone who would torture an animal is a threat to public safety, and am advocating for this crime to become a felony, not a misdemeanor, as it is currently characterized.

As I said, sometimes, legislation is about standing up and doing what’s right. It’s

about being accountable and going on the record. This is how I’ve always conducted

myself—on City Council, in the House of Delegates, and now, in the Senate of

Virginia. When you believe in something, you say so. While many saw this year’s

vote on the Equal Rights Amendment as unnecessary and symbolic, I saw it as an

opportunity. I believe strongly in the equality of men and women. I believe strongly in treating all people with dignity and respect-in our daily lives, in our housing, in our opportunities for success. We are a great nation built on these beliefs. I am honored to represent the citizens of the 8 th District, and proud of my work helping to create an environment in Virginia where our families and businesses can thrive.

More information on the bills I’ve sponsored can be found on the Virginia General Assembly Website, or by going to www.lis.virginia.gov. You can also find me at BillDesteph.com 

or on Facebook and Twitter.

The remaining weeks in the General Assembly promise to be as busy as they

started. Our office welcomes visitors, emails, and phone calls, and we’d be happy to arrange tours of the Capitol and coordinate meetings with your other representatives.

If we can be of assistance in any way, do not hesitate to email, call, or stop by! 

Room 608, Pocahontas Building. District08@Senate.Virginia.Gov. 804.698.7508.