February 14, 2006
Today is crossover day for the Virginia Legislature. A day where prospective bills live or die for the year.
Thousands of bills a year pass through their doors, all with the intention of becoming law. Today, those thousands were pared down to hundreds that will move on for consideration.
Transportation, sex offenders, and wine distribution are all topics that the Virginia Legislature has begun to tackle halfway through the session.
"We're about 34 days into a 60 day session. A lot can happen over the next 4 weeks and I expect a lot will happen," said Senator Creigh Deeds.
Delegate Rob Bell began the session in January with 37 bill proposals. That 37 became 15. He says the ideas come from everywhere.
"Every year I just ask people to send me their ideas. And so at the beginning of each session, I start with a stack of about 100 ideas. I think this time I had about 80," he said.
On this crossover day, the Senate worked into the evening. On the last minute docket, energy independence. Deeds focused much of his legislative attention on pro-consumer bills, but says the big hurdle--the budget--is still left to climb.
"The issues are so big. I just find it very difficult to believe that we are going to get it figured out by March 11th. I am hopeful," he said.
While this is only a part time job for these men and women, both Bell and Deeds say they love the challenge.
"I like the fact that when people have a problem and bring it to me, and it's something we think we can fix, we actually get a chance to fix it," Bell said.
"I enjoy the work of trying to figure out what's good public policy for the Commonwealth of Virginia," Deeds said.
The House will begin looking at the new set of bills starting on Thursday. The legislative session is due to end on March 11th.