Are You Ready for Virginia’s 2016’s Legislative Session?
It isn’t just the holiday season. With a month to go before the start of Virginia’s 2016 Legislative Session, this is the time where the Commonwealth’s American Muslims should be gearing up for their asks of law makers.
It is official: As of the November 4th General Elections, Virginia maintained its slight Republican lead in the Senate and larger Republican lead in the House. Earlier this year, Democrat Governor Terry McAuliffe worked quite well across partisan lines to satisfy both sides of the aisle, with a decent budget to work with and commitment to worthy compromises in key areas of legislation.
Next year will be a crucial and busy one for Virginia in many respects. First, there is the 2016 Presidential election in which Virginia is a critical swing state. Secondly, there will be important Congressional races occurring alongside the Presidential race, where lawmakers like Congresswoman Barbara Comstock are positioned to influence national legislation around such things as immigration. And thirdly, campaign preparations will begin for Virginia’s gubernatorial race in 2017.
So, December 2015 is not just a time for the American Muslim constituency in Virginia to strengthen interfaith ties in the holiday spirit, but also the moment to act on policy concerns and package them each for presentation to the VA General Assembly, convening in the State Capitol on January 13th 2016.
This is when Virginians need to be researching issues, identifying legislators, cultivating partners in advocacy, visiting special interest groups and using social media to garner support. Doors at the Virginia General Assembly are open for Virginia’s Muslims to present a one-page summary of their legislative cause in person at scheduled private meetings with Delegates and state Senators, using viral media to document progress in pushing representatives to action. As the state budget is being allocated, relationships with lawmakers from Fairfax to Henrico counties can potentially affect the types of bills that will be sent to Governor McAuliffe for ratification in February 2016.
A holiday note to Virginia’s Muslims: Presidential elections represent all the glitz and glamour of political power, but the grueling work of state legislatures is where direct influence over daily life can make a difference to the condition of American Muslims throughout the Commonwealth.