Howell, Keam, Comstock Discuss Gun Control, Budget
Legislators discussed priorities for Virginia's 2013 General Assembly in Wednesday town hall in McLean.
On Wednesday evening, when Virginia Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd District) announced her plans to introduce legislation that would fix a loophole allowing Virginia residents to purchase firearms from some dealers at gun shows without undergoing background checks, more than 200 McLean residents showed their support with a round of applause.
Similar legislation has been introduced during past legislative sessions, but has not passed, Howell said.
"I’m hopeful that this year we’ve had tragedies of such magnitude that reason will prevail," she said.
But reforming the Commonwealth's gun control laws is only one of many legislative priorities lawmakers representing McLean voiced Wednesday during a town hall meeting at the McLean Community Center.
Funding transportation, budget issues, expanding Medicaid and other priorities are also on the legislator's agendas.
Howell, Del. Mark Keam (D-35th) and and Del. Barbara Comstock (R-34) -- whose districts include parts of Vienna and Tysons -- participated in the forum, along with Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31) and Del. Bob Brink (D-48).
Comstock said she wants to introduce a bill to ensure 75 percent of acceptance offers made by Virginia colleges and universities should go to in-state applicants. She also wants to tackle Lyme disease testing.
Brink, a member of the House of Delegates since 1998, said the legislature is dealing with a lot of budget uncertainty.
"We are finally climbing out of the great recession. Our general fund revenues in our budget have reached the level that they were at in 2008, but at the time time….we still have tremendous uncertainty in our budget and a large part of that uncertainty is due to our neighbors across the river," Brink said.
"The fiscal cliff would have hit Virginia disproportionately," he said. "Virginia is the number one recipient of federal procurement dollars on a per capita basis. We are extremely dependent on federal grants and direct federal spending."
The upcoming legislative session starts Jan. 9 in Richmond.
Howell is planning to host another community forum Thursday in Reston.
Keam, along with State Sen. Chap Petersen, is hosting his annual town hall forum in Vienna from 9 to 11 a.m. Jan. 12 at the American Legion Dyer-Gunnell Post 180's Auxiliary, 330 N. Center Street, Vienna.
Comstock will attend another town hall at 9 a.m. Jan. 5 at the Fairfax County Government Center, hosted by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
Did you attend the town hall meeting? What issues do you think state legislators should address in the General Assembly? Share your ideas in the comments section.