Virginia Capitol Connections Summer 2022

Virginia Capitol Connections, Summer 2022 11 By Delegate Wren Williams My first session here at the House of Delegates has been an amazing experience. I have certainly missed being home with Britt, my family, and my farm. But the chance to advocate for my home and my district with a seat at the table here in Richmond has been a humbling opportunity. I got started in politics in 2019 because my home county of Patrick desperately needed help. Our local hospital had just shut down the year before. The local government had run our county into the red and drained our emergency fund to almost nothing. The state was about to take over our county’s finances, force us to hike our real estate tax by 22 percent, and force us to take austerity measures. Something had to be done. So a group of us stepped up and ran for office. We flipped control of the Patrick Board of Supervisors and School Board and got our finances on the right track. But in order to fight for our community on bigger issues like our hospital, broadband, cell service, economic development, and our conservative values, we needed a voice in Richmond. So I ran for House of Delegates. The most welcome surprise working in Richmond for my first session is realizing the great number of connections at our fingertips to solve problems and make things happen for our district. We have made tremendous progress towards getting a hospital reopened in Patrick County, aided by the passage of our hospital bill, HB1305, passing through the House and the Senate with unanimous support. We have also connected with brokers and service providers for broadband, cell service, and other essentials that our residents in Franklin and Henry need to thrive. As an attorney-by-day, I really enjoy bringing movers-andshakers together and figuring out creative solutions to problems. Working with people from our district and making things happen at the state level has been an absolute joy. I am forever grateful and want to thank the 9th district for sending me here to represent them. Delegate Wren Williams is a Republican representing the 9th District, which includes Patrick, and part of Franklin County and Henry. By Delegate H. Otto Wachsmann, Jr. My first year in the House of Delegates has been an amazing experience. I am very grateful to represent the 75th District. While I have a moment to reflect, I think of the two months of the General Assembly session. Perhaps it’s all the business cards that I am taking out of my desk drawer that makes me think this way. All of the people that I did not know just a few weeks ago. The staff is absolutely incredible. They know and love their jobs. All of them go beyond their duties to make certain we have the best chance at being successful. In some respects, it seems like days and in other ways, it seems like I have been here for years. In either case, I think how fortunate I am to have this opportunity. Each night there are scores of bills to review for the next morning’s committee and House floor sessions. Some of the content is familiar yet some of it is completely new which forces one to reach out to your experts back home or lean on your fellow Delegates who are more knowledgeable on the subject matter. Then there are the state office liaisons. They can be extremely helpful with issues back home. Other times a bill comes up and I just stop and ask myself what was that delegate thinking? That is not how my industry does things. But we work it out and we both learn. The bill gets pulled or gets better. It will probably reappear in another session. We learn a lot about each other in the same party of the House as we move through this process. It gets too easy to feel comfortable staying among yourselves to understand your group’s dynamics yet halfway through you also discover you may have failed to make the effort to reach out and get to know those “across the aisle.”Yes, that is too easy to lose track of, but it is very important. We are all here to represent our constituents. We really do need to work together. But there is the Senate, I must do a much better job of getting to know more of them next session. Next session, this session has been a learning and building year. So, what was my score for this session? Everyone wants to know the score, right? While I only introduced four bills, I am fortunate to have three of them make it out of the House and the Senate. The Town of Ivor will be able to adopt its golf cart ordinance (HB 88). The people will be assured that outside money will not be able to influence the local electoral process (HB 205) and what I am most proud of is HB 1162. I carried this bill for the Virginia Community Healthcare Association which protects rural healthcare centers from having insurance companies pay less for their prescriptions just because the center can purchase medications under government contract. Without this protection, some of our rural areas could be in danger of losing their pharmacies and their local health clinic as well. I am proud of this bill because it protects those of us in rural areas and because I was successful with a bill that few in the General Assembly are likely to have a great understanding of. In addition, this will be the last year that the General Assembly will be in the Pocahontas Building as we will be moving to the new General Assembly Building. I am looking forward to the new building as well as what is to come. Delegate Otto Wachsmann is a Republican representing Brunswick, Emporia, Franklin City, Greensville, Southampton, Sussex, and part of Lunenburg. After crossover, the passing, defeating, amending, and conforming of legislation from the Senate is in some ways a less arduous task but still a lot of effort and work. My legislation has seen it all this year. I’ve had bills pass both the House and Senate unanimously and one sent to a conference committee. Serving on the House Education Committee was very exciting since education was one of the major issues in my campaign last year and was a focal point of Governor Youngkin’s victory. We were among the busiest committees in terms of legislation. One of the most surprising things about my first session in the House of Delegates was actually a very pleasant surprise. In the press and media, every article about politics makes it seem like no one gets along and everything is a partisan fight. In reality, there is a lot more bipartisanship and hard work to get good bills passed, fair negotiation on amendments, and good faith to pass good legislation. Several of my bills passed with overwhelming support from both Republicans and Democrats, and the number of bills that pass the General Assembly with near or unanimous support is much more than you would have ever thought. Certainly, there are party-line votes because of deep differences between Republicans and Democrats on several key issues. But I was happy to learn that overall, those divisions are much less numerous than I thought there would be. Delegate Anne Ferrell Tata is a Republican representing the 82nd District, which includes part of Virginia Beach. V