With this column, we’re introducing a new feature: a daily journal of the activities of Sen. Dave Marsden, who represents the 37th District, which includes portions of Annandale. We hope it will give a readers a better sense of how the state Senate operates, as well as provide an update on the issues Marsden is dealing with.
Sunday, Jan. 8
I packed up the car and stopped by a constituent’s house to pick up information regarding 100 percent disabled veterans whose homes are in trusts and are able to receive the intended property tax relief. We spend a lot of time in the legislature, trying to fix loopholes like this one in the bills we pass. Later that afternoon, we held a Democratic Senate Caucus meeting, where we discussed our options under the constitution and the rules of the Senate to deal with who will organize as the majority party—or how to establish power sharing. We will be dealing with this in three days.
Monday, Jan. 9
In the days leading up to the first session, there legislators meet with individuals and groups having business with the General Assembly. My day started with a meeting with interior designers. They are worried that Gov. McDonnell’s budget removes the requirement that they be certified and licensed to perform their duties. They made a compelling case about how important interior design can be toward creating safe environments. I met also with officials from the Department of Juvenile Justice about how to reorganize the state’s juvenile justice resources to create a more efficient and effective system.
My last meeting was with the commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles who updated me on the great strides the DMV has made in online services and reducing wait times at DMV customer centers. Northern Virginia customer centers still have the longest waits due to volume.
Tuesday, Jan. 10
Many of my bills are reflections of the good ideas brought forth by constituents, members of the business community, or the administration. I agreed to sponsor two bills today. The first is on behalf of the Humane Society, which deals with the boom in the creation and operation of fox pens. Foxes are purchased and placed into fenced enclosures ranging from 100 to 900 acres. Competitions are held between dog owners as the dogs track the foxes. Often the end result is the fox being killed by the dogs. This is not hunting, this is not sporting, and this is not the Virginia way. Virginia has 41 of these pens.
I was also asked by the secretary of education to carry a bill for Gov. McDonnell ending what is called the Kings Dominion rule, which prohibits starting school before Labor Day. The current practice leads up to two weeks of dead time after the Standards of Learning tests. Starting the school year earlier will create more classroom time for students and make our schools more competitive nationally.
Finally, I met with two groups of UVA students who needed my perspective on mock bills they were introducing for a class.
Wednesday, Jan. 11
The session opened at noon, and after swearing in, the lieutenant governor broke a tie and established the Republicans as the majority party. They were able to re-write the rules that the Senate operates by and determine committee chairs and assignments. Later that night we returned to the Capitol to hear the governor’s State of the Commonwealth speech. It is always an exciting time and one that fills you with a sense of pride in Virginia having the oldest continuously serving elected body in the Western World. The governor agreed to meet with me next week on juvenile justice issues.
Thursday, Jan. 12
Today was Banker’s Day at the General Assembly Building, and I was visited by a number of bankers from Fairfax. The Asian Chamber of Commerce reception was held during the day, where I was able to speak for several minutes about tax issues.
My first Transportation Committee meeting was held this afternoon, and I was asked to serve on a subcommittee that will deal with the more complicated bills. The day was capped off with the biggest event of the session, the Agriculture Council dinner, featuring Virginia food products. It is a time for all of us to reconnect with one another and get ready for the session.
Friday, Jan. 13
I learned today that my bill to co-designate the East Sea as the name for the Sea of Japan in Virginia textbooks will be heard on Monday. I arranged to have people come down to Richmond to testify in favor of the bill. William Hong, president of the Virginia Korean American Association, agreed to come with a host of others.
Saturday, Jan. 14
We held a press conference with print, television, and radio representing the Korean community in the Washington, D.C., area on the East Sea, and apparently this issue is resonating in Korea, where it has been on television and radio news shows.
That’s all for now, more next week