Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Delegate Jeff Frederick's Week 3 Update

From Delegate Jeff Frederick (R-Dumfries/Woodbridge):
- Week 3 Update

--> UPDATE <--

In last week’s update I mentioned how over 2700 bills had been filed by Members of the General Assembly. If you’re doing the math, this year’s General Assembly will have to successfully process an average of 60 pieces of legislation per day during our forty-six day ("short") session. The average member of the House of Delegates filed 18 bills and resolutions this year; the average Senator filed 23 pieces of legislation (I'm a bit above the average at about 35).

The process for dealing with all that legislation is in full swing. Yet, as you might guess, just because legislation is submitted doesn’t mean it will be approved. A lot of bills will pass, of course, but the number won’t likely approach the 2700 filed. Some bills just don’t have enough support to be approved. Others are remarkably similar to other pieces of legislation that were filed, so bills sometimes to get combined to increase efficiency. And, some will pass one house only to be rejected by the other (i.e. pass the House, fail in the Senate, or vice versa). Legislation has to jump through a lot of hoops before becoming law, and only the strong – and, hopefully, the best ideas – survive.

Still, it is sometimes frustrating when good legislation fails and bad legislation succeeds, and frankly, that isn’t such a rare occurrence around here. There are a number of reasons for this: the quick pace; conflicting priorities between the House and Senate, and often, the Governor’s office; the strong influence of special interests; constituent/citizen feedback; party politics; and a range of other circumstances.

The redeeming thing is that frequently, good legislation that does not succeed in one year is refilled in subsequent years for another attempt, and sometimes, the bill finally moves forward. While it is too early to know what bills we are working on now will ultimately become law by the end of session, one good example of a repeat effort we're undertaking this year is to protect Virginians from the effects of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. New London.

That decision – which permitted a local government in Connecticut to seize the property of a private citizen to turn around and sell to a private developer for a project that would allow the locality to collect more tax revenue on the same property than it did previously – caused genuine alarm among advocates of individual property rights, and rightfully so. The ability of government to seize land under eminent domain has been controversial from time-to-time throughout our history. Because the Kelo decision greatly expanded that power for governments, the debate has taken center stage.

Some states have already passed legislation to protect citizens from the effects of the Court’s decision. This year, we're working to have Virginia join their ranks by passing legislation to protect the property rights of individuals.

As we reach the midpoint of this year’s session, known as crossover, there’ll be even more to report. The House and the Senate must complete work on all of the legislation filed by its respective members by February 6th.

Finally, as I've mentioned the last couple weeks, I wanted to again remind you about the Third Annual 52nd District Constituent Day on February 19 (for info, visit http://va52.com/news.asp?docID=94). Of course, our door is always open and constituents are welcome to visit anytime – we’d enjoy seeing you.


As always, if there's anything I can do to better serve you, please don't hesitate to let me know.


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