Like many citizens across the country, Virginians are increasingly frustrated with their government.
They feel that the political parties are so far from each other, politically, that they cannot come together on anything, even the simplest of things that forward the common interest. To many Americans, some issues are common sense and they cannot understand why their elected officials in Washington, Richmond or other state capitals are unable to work together on much of anything.
With the legislative session almost over, Virginia legislators may be providing some light at the end of the tunnel. We leave on Gov. Terry McAuliffe's desk two bills passed with bipartisan support. At the beginning of the session, I introduced a bill that would open Virginia's offshore to the development of energy resources in a responsible way. This is an enormous opportunity for Virginia. Not only will it create new jobs in the commonwealth, it will increase revenue for our state that helps us keep our books balanced and make smart spending decisions.
The legislation creates a $50 million special emergency fund to cover any mishaps in development. The remaining revenue will be deposited into the General Fund for purposes such as education, veteran services, transportation and job growth.
The bill makes Virginia a major leader in securing America's energy future. In fact, even President Obama's Interior Department is now considering responsible drilling off of the East Coast. Why? It makes sense. The development of these resources is not just a domestic issue; it's a national security issue as well. Energy made in America makes our country more secure and less reliant on unstable foreign sources of energy.
Speaking of security, another bill I introduced at the beginning of this session currently sitting on the governor’s desk would extend the rights of our men and women returning from war in Iraq or Afghanistan, many of whom suffer from post-traumatic stress, to use service dogs in public establishments similar to the way blind citizens use them. This bill also passed both houses of the General Assembly with bipartisan support.
Research and science has proven that service dogs are a therapeutic way to help our men and women in uniform returning from war to get through their troubling situations. Currently, these heroes are unable to bring their service dogs into public facilities, often being told to remove the dog from the premises.
My bill simply expands the ability of service dog usage to those men and women who have sacrificed their lives to keep America free and secure, by allowing them to bring their canine companions into public establishments.
These bills give Virginia the opportunity to send a loud message to the country that when it comes to looking out for the interests of our citizens, we can work together on common-sense issues that create opportunity for our state and its citizens. I encourage the governor to sign these bipartisan pieces of legislation and move Virginia forward by increasing our ability to create jobs, enhance our economy, balance our budgets, and look out for the men and women in uniform who have kept our country secure by putting their lives on the line for us.
Virginia State Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, is a former U.S. Army Ranger. Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions for editorials, available at this link.