Many important issues dominate General Assembly session 2013 - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Many important issues dominate General Assembly session 2013

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Virginia's General Assembly is back to work in Richmond. On the docket are a number of issues that could directly impact you.

If you drive a car, buy something in a store or go to the doctor your life will be directly impacted by the 2013 General Assembly session. The state legislature has only 45 days to tackle some big issues.

It is an odd year. That means a shorter calendar and only updating the current budget, not starting from scratch. Both sides are hoping there will be opportunities to get things accomplished.

"I think it needs to be," said Sen. John Watkins (R-Powhatan) "Whether it bears out that way I'm not sure."

Sen. Don McEachin (D-Henrico) agreed.

"It's my hope that this year's session will focus on kitchen table issues, education, transportation, Medicaid expansion," he said. "Those are the things that impact the lives of everyday Virginians."

Unlike last year's, session which was dominated by contentious social issues, Governor Bob McDonnell and the leaders of both houses seem ready to tackle those issues that could directly impact you.

Among them: 

  • A ban on texting while driving.
  • A new funding mechanism for transportation which could either eliminate or increase the gas tax.
  • Making a decision on the future of uranium mining, something that has been pushed off for several years.

Watkins in particular has spent a great deal of time on uranium mining.

"We've got to make sure it is done safely there is no question about that," he said. "But why do we prolong the denial of the property rights of that individual?"

And while much of 2013 was spent shouting, both sides feel optimistic this year will be spent making progress. But there are no guarantees, especially in an election year. 

"I anticipate that we will have more fireworks similar to what we had last year," said McEachin. "But my hope is we will focus on those kitchen table issues."

The stage is now set for a busy month and a half. And while both sides say they are hoping to work together, those passionate about social issues are not backing down. Both pro-life and pro-choice activists held events today promising to defend their positions.

The governor will give his State of the Commonwealth Address tonight at 7 p.m. You can see it streaming live on NBC12.com.

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