Monday, January 4, 2021

Episode 558 (1-4-21): January 13 is Opening Day for the 2021 Virginia General Assembly

Click to listen to episode (4:41)

Sections below are the following:

Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Extra Information
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.)

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 12-31-20.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of January 4, 2021.

This week is our annual preview of the Virginia General Assembly, which convenes this year on January 13.  We start with some music and a short General Assembly quiz.  Have a listen for about 20 seconds to part of “The Lass of Gowrie,” a traditional tune from the British Isles, which might have entertained General Assembly members in centuries past; it’s performed here by Timothy Seaman of Williamsburg, Virginia.  While you listen, consider this question: what do the numbers 1619, 100, 40, 60, 30, and 46 have to do with the General Assembly?

MUSIC – ~18 sec – instrumental.

Here are the quiz answers:

The first meeting of the Virginia legislature was held in Jamestown in 1619.

The current General Assembly consists of 100 members of the House of Delegates and 40 members of the Senate.

And the Assembly convenes for a scheduled 60-day “long session” in even-numbered years and a scheduled 30-day “short session” in odd-numbered years.  In practice, the 30-day sessions are usually expanded to 46 days. 

In each session, thousands of bills and resolutions are proposed.  Usually about 100 to 200 bills relate to water resources, either directly through impacts on aquatic life, water supply, or other water uses; or indirectly through land uses that affect water.  The state budget also affects water, particularly through funding of water-related departments, such as Conservation and Recreation, Environmental Quality, Game and Inland Fisheries, and the Marine Resources Commission.  A new biennial budget is proposed in each even-numbered year session for the upcoming two fiscal years, while amendments to the current budget may be considered every year.

Action on measures in the General Assembly involves sub-committees, full committees, and floor debate.  Passed bills go to the governor for approval, veto, or proposed changes.  All along the way, citizens, interest groups, and other stakeholders vie to have a say through information and opinions.  You can join in by following the Assembly’s work and by communicating with your local delegate or senator about issues of concern.  Tools to help you do so are available online at

Thanks to Timothy Seaman for permission to use part of “The Lass of Gowrie.”  We close with some more music, this time by the Harrisonburg- and Rockingham County, Virginia-based band, “The Steel Wheels,” with a song whose title reminds us of what the 140 General Assembly members are called to do every January.  Here’s about 25 seconds of “Get to Work.”

MUSIC – ~27 sec – Lyrics: “Wake up in the morning and get work; wake up in the morning and get to work.  Got a lot of work to do; gonna go do it; gotta get to it.”


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close this show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


The version of “The Lass of Gowrie” heard in this episode, from the 1998 album “Celebration of Centuries: Acoustic Instrumental Music for Williamsburg, Jamestown, & Yorktown, Virginia,” is copyright Timothy Seaman and Pine Wind Music, used with permission.  More information about Mr. Seaman is available online at  This music was used previously by Virginia Water Radio in Episode 402, 1-8-18 (General Assembly preview episode for 2018).

“Get to Work,” from the 2019 album “Over the Trees,” is copyright by The Steel Wheels, used with permission.  More information about The Steel Wheels is available online at; at; and in a July 2015 interview with Cory Kuklick for the WHURK Newsletter, online at

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at


Painting of the first meeting of the Virginia House of Burgesses in Jamestown in 1619.  Image from the Virginia General Assembly, “About the General Assembly,” online at this link.

Old Virginia House of Delegates chamber in the State Capitol in Richmond, January 31, 2018.

Virginia House of Delegates floor session at the State Capitol in Richmond, January 31, 2018.

Virginia Senate floor session at the State Capitol in Richmond, January 31, 2018.


The General Assembly’s main Web page,, offers several useful features, including member lists, session calendars, live video of floor sessions, and information on legislative processes.  The Legislative Information System (LIS) Web site,, provides lists and summaries of all bills, searchable by topic, member, committee, etc.  Streaming of floor sessions is available at for the House and for the Senate.

Committees are key parts of the General Assembly process.  Legislation about water or about activities that can affect water may be assigned to any of several standing committees, most of which meet weekly during the General Assembly session.  Streaming of House committee meetings is available online at; streaming of Senate committee meetings is available online at  Two committees that receive many (but not all) of the water-related bills are the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee.  Information about all standing committees as of the 2021 session—including membership, meeting times, and legislation being considered—is available online at

To express an opinion on legislation, citizens are requested to contact their respective delegate of senator.  If you do not know your representatives or their contact information, you can use the online “Who’s My Legislator” service, available at

You can find members’ contact information at these links:
House of Delegates, at;
State Senate, at

The Lobbyist-In-A-Box subscriber service also offers free tracking for up to five bills, and it offers tracking of more than five bills for a fee; visit  For assistance, phone Legislative Automated Systems at (804) 786-9631. 


Andrew Kuntz and Valerio Pelliccioni, “The Traditional Tune Archive,” online at  “The Lass of Gowrie” entry is online at

Virginia Division of Legislative Services, “Commissions, Committees, and Councils,” online at

Virginia House of Delegates Appropriations Committee, “Legislative Budget Process,” online at

Virginia General Assembly main Web site, online at  See particularly the following specific pages (all hyperlinked):

About the General Assembly;
Citizen Involvement
Legislative Terms

Virginia Legislative Information System, online at  For committee information, see

Virginia Water Resources Research Center, “Virginia Water Legislation,” online at  This site provides access to inventories of water-related bills in the Virginia General Assembly from 1998 through 2020.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the “Community/Organizations” subject category.

Following are links to previous episodes on the Virginia General Assembly.

Episode 143, 1-7-13 – annual General Assembly preview.
Episode 147, 2-4-13 – on General Assembly committees.
Episode 196, 1-13-14 – annual General Assembly preview.
Episode 247, 1-5-15 – annual General Assembly preview, with special focus on the state budget.
Episode 252, 2-9-15 – annual “voting on water” episode.
Episode 297, 1-4-16 – annual General Assembly preview.
Episode 302, 2-8-16 – annual “voting on water” episode.
Episode 350, 1-9-17 – annual General Assembly preview.
Episode 353, 1-30-17 – annual “voting on water” episode.
Episode 359, 3-13-17 – on General Assembly subcommittees.
Episode 402, 1-8-18 – annual General Assembly preview.
Episode 405, 1-29-18 – annual “voting on water” episode.
Episode 410, 3-5-18 – on 2018 session legislation on electricity regulation.
Episode 454, 1-7-19 – annual General Assembly preview.
Episode 460, 2-18-19 – annual “voting on water” episode.
Episode 506, 1-6-20
– annual General Assembly preview.
Episode 510, 2-3-20
– annual “voting on water” episode.
Episode 522, 4-2-20
– on 2020 session legislation on electricity generation, carbon emissions, and recurrent flooding.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2020 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2018 Science SOLs

Grades K-5 – Earth Resources
3.8 – Natural events and humans influence ecosystems.
4.8. – Virginia has important natural resources.

Grade 6
6.9 – Humans impact the environment and individuals can influence public policy decisions related to energy and the environment.

Life Science Course
LS.9 – Relationships exist between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.

Earth Science Course
ES.6 – Resource use is complex.
ES.8 – Freshwater resources influence and are influenced by geologic processes and human activity.
ES.10 – Oceans are complex, dynamic systems subject to long- and short-term variations, including effects of human actions.
ES.11 – The atmosphere is a complex, dynamic system subject to long-and short-term variations, including effects of human actions.

Biology Course
BIO.8 – Dynamic equilibria exist within populations, communities, and ecosystems, and  natural events and human activities influence local and global ecosystems and may affect the flora and fauna of Virginia.

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Virginia Studies Course
VS.10 – Knowledge of government, geography, and economics in present-day Virginia.

Civics and Economics Course
CE.1 – Social studies skills that responsible citizenship requires.
CE.7 – Government at the state level.
CE.10 – Public policy at local, state, and national levels.

World Geography Course
WG.18 - 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.15 – 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

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15
– on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15
– on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16
– on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16
– on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18
– on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18
– on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18
– on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18
– on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19
– on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20
– on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20
– on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20
– on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.