Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Episode 297 (1-4-16): Water’s on the Agenda—along with a Whole Lot Else—When the Virginia General Assembly Convenes

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (3:56)

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio,  an image, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 12-30-15.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of January 4, 2016.

SOUNDS – 4 sec

Every year, at noon on the second Wednesday of January, the convening gavels sound at the Virginia General Assembly, calling to order 100 members of the House of Delegates and 40 members of the State Senate.  Those 140 legislators typically consider 2000 to 3000 bills and resolutions, including the Commonwealth’s budget.  Usually between 100 and 200 General Assembly bills each year have something to do with water or with land uses that can affect water.  What topics, do you think, are or ought to be on the General Assembly’s water agenda?  Have a listen for about 10 seconds to one possible list, and see if your choices are there.

VOICES  - 11 sec – “Chesapeake Bay! Southern Rivers!  Groundwater!  Stormwater!  Water Quality!  Water Supply!  Gas Pipelines!  Offshore Energy!  Climate Change!  Land Use!  Wetlands!”

Those and other important water issues often get some General Assembly attention.  But, of course, the Assembly has a lot more on its mind than just water.  Taxes, health care, education, transportation, and other big issues challenge legislators’ time, energy, and negotiating skills.

Whatever the topic of legislation, however, state legislators are always focused on what groups of constituents might be affected.  Have another listen for about 10 seconds to a list of some of the constituents the General Assembly must consider.

VOICES - 8 sec – “Landowners!  Businesses!  School kids!  College students!  Households!  8.3 million Virginia residents!”

Lots of topics, lots of constituents – plus, the sessions move fast and the decisions can have widespread and important consequences.  Those are the legislators’ challenges.  But Virginian citizens have a big challenge, too: following the work of their elected representatives and voicing their opinions.  Citizens can follow legislation and find contact information for General Assembly members online at  By participating, citizens add their voice to the long history of debate in Virginia’s legislature, which began in 1619 as the House of Burgesses.

Thanks to several Virginia Tech colleagues for lending their voices to this episode.  And we close with a few seconds of a tune that may have entertained Virginia legislators as far back as the 1600s: “Greensleeves,” performed here by Timothy Seaman of Williamsburg.  

MUSIC – ~ 13 sec.
For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


The voices in this episode were recorded in October 2015 at Virginia Tech.  Thanks to those colleagues who participated.

The performance heard in this episode of the traditional tune “Greensleeves,” from the 1998 album “Celebration of Centuries,” is copyright by Timothy Seaman and Pine Wind Music.  More information about Mr. Seaman’s music is available online

Illustration by George Wills, Blacksburg, Va.,


Virginia General Assembly Web site, at

Wisconsin Historical Society’s American Journeys Web site, “Proceedings of the Virginia Assembly, 1619,” online at


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (

Previous episodes on the Virginia General Assembly are the following:
Episode143, 1/7/13
; – Music for the Past and Present of the Virginia General Assembly;
Episode 147, 2/4/13
– Committees Guide the Flow of Bills in the Virginia General Assembly;

Episode196, 1/13/14
– The Virginia Legislature on its 396th Opening Day, January 8, 2014;
Episode 247, 1/5/15
– January Means State Budget Time in the Virginia General Assembly;

Episode 252, 2/9/15
– Voting on Water in the 2015 Virginia General Assembly.


This episode may help with the following Virginia 2010 Science Standards of Learning (SOLs):

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
6.7 - natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; and water monitoring.

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
6.9 – public policy decisions regarding the environment.

Life Science Course
LS.11 - relationships between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.

Earth Science Course
ES.6 – renewable vs. non-renewable resources (including energy resources).
ES.10 – oceans, including economic and policy decisions affecting oceans, the coastal zone, and the Chesapeake Bay.
ES.11 – the atmosphere, including human influences on climate.

Biology Course
BIO.8 – dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including effects of natural events and human activities.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2008 Social Studies SOLs:

Virginia Studies Course
VS.3 – first permanent English settlement in America.

Civics and Economics Course
CE.1 – social studies skills that responsible citizenship requires.
CE.7 – government at the state level.
CE.9 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

World Geography Course
WG.10 - cooperation among political jurisdictions to solve problems and settle disputes.

Government Course
GOVT.1 – social studies skills that responsible citizenship requires.
GOVT.8 – state and local government organization and powers.
GOVT.9 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.
GOVT.16 – role of government in Va. and U.S. economies, including examining environmental issues and property rights.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at