The General Assembly got off to a bumpy start last week. The new Democrat majority appeared unprepared to assume control. Normally session rules to conduct business are adopted within the first hour of convening; unfortunately, this took three days to get done this year, putting us behind schedule. I think the Democrats are finding that governing is very different than campaigning.
This is the long session and is scheduled to run for 60 days. Things move very quickly during session. We will have to deal with thousands of pieces of legislation and budget amendments in just a few weeks.
If you would like to come down for a visit during session, please let me know and I would be happy to schedule a tour.
Not only did it take longer for the rules to be adopted, but there were some significant changes to the rules. The first change was empowering the House Rules Committee to change the rules regarding discrimination and guns without a vote by the full House. In the past, any changes to the rules required a vote by the full House. This change allows a committee to make rules that affect all Delegates without their approval. It is also the only committee that does not have proportional representation, it is stacked with 13 Democrats and only 5 Republicans, the other committees reflect the 55/45 split in membership.
Another significant rule change is the banning of firearms and knives (with a blade over 3 inches) in the Capitol and legislative buildings. This was adopted by the Joint Rules Committee last week and changes a long-standing policy of allowing people with a concealed carry permit to possess a gun.
People have been allowed to carry a firearm at the Capitol for almost 20 years with no negative incidents, there was no need for this change. “Gun free zones” do not prevent criminals from using guns to commit crimes, all they do is make it harder for law abiding citizens to defend themselves.
One of the consequences of the Democrats’ Capitol gun ban is that visitors must go through airport-type security before getting the opportunity to speak to their representatives. If you are coming to the Capitol this session, please allow extra time to go through security.