Budget negotiation proceeded slower than anticipated this year; therefore, we were prevented from finishing on Saturday. It will be better than was expected in December for most folks, however, it will not be all that any group had hoped. We tried to balances the needs of the people with the revenues available. We focused on education, public safety, mental health, and the needs of hospitals and nursing homes, understanding that not doing those would either force local government to raise taxes or place Virginians at risk. We did not raise taxes nor did we allow any earmarks for non-state entities. The economy, while still improving, is not growing as it was three years ago. Many are still out of work. Others are working, but their incomes are below the level prior to the recession. In addition, we have no idea how federal government policies and mid-eastern turmoil will affect the economic recovery. Bureaucratic regulation and higher fuel prices could easily slow any recovery.
Another important issue that we've seen over the last several years is how to best deal with the issue of either state or local government taking your property for what government believes is the better good of the majority of people. Several years ago we passed legislation to strengthen our laws on this issue because of abuse in other states. In some of those cases government was condemning people's homes to make space for rich developers. Many believed this could not happen in Virginia. However in Roanoke that did occur. The city condemned one business because a hospital wanted to expand in the direction of the business. Many of us believed that the risk to landowners was too high. We believed that a clause in the state constitution could better protect individual rights. That proposal passed. Should it pass again a year from now, you, the voters will have the final say as to the question of this becoming part of the constitution of Virginia.
Safety Standards for Abortion Clinics
Last week the biggest news was the debate over the regulation of abortion clinics. This has been an issue for many years. Currently these clinics have very little regulation. Most do not even have resuscitators in case something goes horribly wrong. In some instances, those performing abortions in some of these clinics have lost their license to practice medicine in another state. The bill that passed simply requires these clinics to have the most basic medical needs available should there be a risk to the life of the mother-to-be. In my pre-session survey, no other issue was as one sided as this issue- 97% of those who responded believed abortion clinics should operate with these basic standards.
I encourage you to continue to follow the action of the General Assembly as we will have a special session this spring to discuss redistricting around the state and pass your thoughts to us. You can keep in touch through my website, www.frankmruff.com, by email at email@example.com, calling 434-374-5129, or by mail to P.O. Box 332, Clarksville, VA 23927. We will be sending out a recap of the session within the week.
15th Senate District