Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Episode 611 (1-10-22): The Second Wednesday in January Means the Virginia General Assembly Convenes

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:49).

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 1-7-22.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of January 10, 2022.

VOICES – ~12 sec – “The House will please come to order. Members, please take their seats.” “The Senate will come to order. The senators will please take their seats.”

That was House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax calling to order, respectively, the House of Delegates and the Senate as the Virginia General Assembly convened on January 13, 2021.  This week, those sounds open Virginia Water Radio’s annual introduction to the General Assembly, which convenes this year on January 12.  We set the stage with about 40 seconds of music whose lyrics capture some of the efforts and challenges at work in each General Assembly.  Here’s part of “Try to Change It,” by Bob Gramann of Fredericksburg, Va., from his 2001 album “See Farther in the Darkness.”

MUSIC – ~41 sec – Lyrics: “Gotta focus, time is growin’ short.  I beg for concentraion, I count on your support.  If it weren’t so difficult, I’d have finished yesterday; ask me just what I need: I need another day.   Try to change it, but I can’t change it; locomotive rolls on through hills and snow and rain.  Try to change it; why can’t I change it?  Strength of will, push and pull, I’m bettin’ on that train.”

The Virginia General Assembly—consisting of 100 members of the House of Delegates and 40 members of the Senate—convenes in Richmond each year on the second Wednesday in January.  So-called “long sessions” scheduled for 60 days are held in even-numbered years, while 30-to-45-day “short sessions” are held in odd-numbered years.  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.

Besides the budget, the General Assembly typically considers two-to-three thousand bills and resolutions.  In recent years about 150 to 200 of those bills and resolutions have related to water resources, either directly through impacts on aquatic environments, fisheries, water supplies, or other water uses, or indirectly through impacts on energy and land uses that, in turn, affect water.  The budget also affects water, particularly through funding of natural resource-related departments, such as Conservation and Recreation, Environmental Quality, Wildlife Resources, and the Marine Resources Commission.

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, and bills with a governor’s veto or proposed changes return to the Assembly for further consideration during a reconvened session, usually held in April.   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 virginiageneralassembly.gov.

Thanks to Bob Gramann for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with about 10 more seconds of “Try to Change It.”

MUSIC – ~12 sec – Lyrics: “Strength of will, push and pull, I’m bettin’ on that train.”


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 virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close this episode.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


“Try to Change It,” from the 2001 album “See Farther in the Darkness,” is copyright by Bob Gramann, used with permission.  More information about Bob Gramann is available online at https://www.bobgramann.com/folksinger.html.  This music was used previously by Virginia Water Radio in Episode 506, 1-6-20.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at http://www.bencosgrove.com.


House of Delegates Chamber in the Virginia State Capitol Building.  Photo by the Virginia General Assembly, accessed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/virginiageneralassembly/8006920285/, 1/10/22.

Senate Chamber in the Virginia State Capitol Building.  Photo by the Virginia General Assembly, accessed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/virginiageneralassembly/8006763439/, 1/10/22.


The General Assembly’s main Web page, http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/index.php, 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, http://lis.virginia.gov/lis.htm, provides lists and summaries of all bills, searchable by topic, member, committee, etc.

Video streams of sessions and meetings for both the House of Delegates and the Senate, including committees, are available online at https://virginiageneralassembly.gov/virginiaLegislature.php?secid=20&activesec=2# (click on the + icon at the center top of that page), as of 12-28-21.

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.  Two committees that receive many (but not all) of the water-related bills are the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee, which meets weekly on Wednesdays at 1 p.m., and the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee, which meets weekly on Tuesdays, one-half hour after adjournment of the day’s floor session.  Information about all standing committees as of the 2022 session—including membership, meeting times, and legislation being considered—is available online at http://lis.virginia.gov/221/com/COM.HTM.

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 http://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/.  You can also find members’ contact information at these links:
House of Delegates, at http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/house/members/members.php;
State Senate, at https://apps.senate.virginia.gov/Senator/.

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 http://lis.virginia.gov/h015.htm.  For more information or assistance, phone Legislative Automated Systems at (804) 786-9631 or Virginia Interactive at (804) 318-4133).

The organization Open Virginia’s Richmond Sunlight Web site, at https://www.richmondsunlight.com/, also offers tools for following the General Assembly and for learning about Virginia law.


Virginia Division of Legislative Services, “Commissions, Committees, and Councils,” online at http://dls.virginia.gov/commissions.html.

Virginia House of Delegates Appropriations Committee, “Legislative Budget Process,” online at http://hac.virginia.gov/legislative.htm.

Virginia General Assembly main Web site, online at https://virginiageneralassembly.gov/index.php.  See particularly the following specific pages (all hyperlinked):
About the General Assembly;
Citizen Involvement
Legislative Terms

Virginia Legislative Information System, online at https://lis.virginia.gov/.  For committee information, see https://lis.virginia.gov/221/com/COM.HTM.

Virginia Water Resources Research Center, “Virginia Water Legislation,” online at https://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  This site provides access to inventories of water-related bills in the Virginia General Assembly from 1998 through 2021.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “Community/Organizations” subject category.

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

Episode 143, 1-7-13 – “Music for the Past and Present of the Virginia General Assembly” (annual General Assembly introduction).
Episode 147, 2-4-13 – “Committees Guide the Flow of Bills in the Virginia General Assembly.”
Episode 196, 1-13-14 – “The Virginia General Assembly on its 396 Opening Day, January 8, 2014” (annual General Assembly introduction).
Episode 247, 1-5-15 – “January Means State Budget Time in the Virginia General Assembly” (annual General Assembly introduction, with special focus on the state budget).
Episode 252, 2-9-15 – “Voting on Water in the 2015 Virginia General Assembly.”
Episode 297, 1-4-16 – “Water’s on the Agenda—along with a Whole Lot Else—When the Virginia General Assembly Convenes” (annual General Assembly introduction).
Episode 302, 2-8-16 – “Voting on Water in the 2016 Virginia General Assembly.”
Episode 350, 1-9-17 – “Old English Music Helps Preview the Old Dominion’s 2017 General Assembly” (annual General Assembly introduction).
Episode 353, 1-30-17 – “Voting on Water in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly.”
Episode 359, 3-13-17 – “Subcommittees are Where Many Proposed Virginia Laws Start to Float or Sink.”
Episode 402, 1-8-18 – “The Virginia Legislature Begins Its 400th Year in 2018” (annual General Assembly introduction).
Episode 405, 1-29-18 – “Voting on Water in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly.”
Episode 410, 3-5-18 – “Virginia Electricity Regulation and Water” (on legislation in the 2018 session on electricity regulation).
Episode 454, 1-7-19 – “The Virginia General Assembly, from Jamestown in 1619 to Richmond in 2019” (annual General Assembly introduction).
Episode 460, 2-18-19 – “Voting on Water in the 2018 Virginia General Assembly.”
Episode 506, 1-6-20 – “Action on Budget, Bills, and Other Business Commences January 8 for the 2020 Virginia General Assembly” (annual General Assembly introduction).
Episode 510, 2-3-20 – “Voting on Water in the 2020 Virginia General Assembly.”
Episode 522, 4-27-20
– “Virginia Enacts a New Energy Era” (on legislation in the 2020 session on electricity generation, carbon emissions, and recurrent flooding).
Episode 558, 1-4-21
– “January 13 is Opening Day for the 2021 Virginia General Assembly” (annual General Assembly introduction).
Episode 562, 2-1-21 – “Voting on Water in the 2021 Virginia General Assembly.”


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 http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

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 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.
Episode 606, 12-6-21 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.