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Sunday, July 21, 2013

For Del. Kory outlines legislative priorities, challenges

Kory answers questions from constituents in Annandale.
Kaye Kory, a Democrat representing the 38th District in the Virginia House of Delegates might not have a Republican opponent, but that isn’t stopping her from mounting a serious campaign for re-election. Kory has been appearing at small gatherings in people’s homes in an attempt to reach out to constituents. The 38th District includes most of Annandale inside the beltway and most of the Falls Church part of Mason District.

While the Fairfax County Republican Committee hasn’t found anyone to run against Kory, she does have an opponent: Jim Leslie, a retired Marine, is running as a candidate from the Independent Greens, a party that split off from the Green Party of Virginia about a dozen years ago. Leslie ran against Kory in 2011, when he got nearly 23 percent of the vote.

At a recent gathering in the living room of a supporter in Annandale, Kory described her legislative priorities, the arcane process for moving bills forward in the state capitol, and her frustration in trying to get things accomplished in a Republican-dominated House. It’s all getting a lot more acrimonious, reflecting the partisan politics in the nation’s capital.  

Speaker of the House Bill Howell (R-28th District) has an extraordinary amount of power, Kory said. He decides which committees bills should go to and who the chairs and members of the committees should be. Sometimes bills never get assigned to committees at all, like a measure Kory proposed to ban smoking on school grounds, which never saw the light of day.

As a member of the Technology Committee, Kory worked with Del. Scott Surovell, a Democrat who represents the Mount Vernon area, to begin addressing the digital divide by requiring school districts to collect data on whether students have internet access at home. Students from Glasgow Middle School came to Richmond to lobby lawmakers, but the measure failed to get out of committee.

Kory also serves on the Cities, Counties, and Towns Committee and the Militia and Public Safety Committee.

In the next session she predicts the Republicans will propose even more restrictive measures on voting. A law that passed in the last term requiring a photo ID for voting will take effect in 2014.

Kory doesn’t think the Democrats will be able to get enough seats in the House next year to wrest control away from the Republicans. The governor has line-item veto power though, so if Terry McAuliff, the Democratic candidate, is elected governor, he might be able to overrule some of the Republicans’ attempts to restrict women’s access to reproductive health, as well as make progress on expanding Medicaid and implementing healthcare exchanges, she said.

Kory predicts women will become increasingly angry as more clinics start to close around the state and women find they’re losing access to all types of healthcare, not just abortion services.

Last session, the GOP even blocked Kory’s attempt to get April designated as Distracted Driving Month, which would have been a boost to driver education in schools. In one bright spot, though, the legislature did strengthen the law banning texting while driving.

Kory worked with Del. Tom Rust, a Republican who represents the Herndon area, in support of Dream Act legislation that would have allowed students who were brought to the United States as children and meet other criteria to attend college at the in-state tuition rate. Rust saw the value of ensuring these youths are educated and become productive members of the workforce, and the bill was supported by business groups, the higher education system, and public school districts. Still, the measure died in committee.

Additional meet-and-greet sessions with Kory are scheduled for July 28, 2-4 p.m., in Falls Church, and Aug. 2, 4-6 p.m., in Alexandria. For more information about these events, contact Sophia Widen, 804-937-4729.   

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