Trip to General Assembly

Published 11:33 am Thursday, February 21, 2019

On Feb. 12 I had the chance to learn more about state government by visiting the General Assembly for the first time with Leadership Farmville members.

I am enrolled in Leadership Farmville, a program developed by the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce to promote leadership skills through learning about government departments, both in the state and in Farmville and Prince Edward County. In addition to education about local government, the seven-month course lets people learn more about the area’s health care systems, educational institutions, civic organizations, nonprofits and entertainment.

I’m not a city driver, and I struggled to find parking close to the General Assembly Building. Because of this, I and my group missed meeting Sen. Monty Mason, a Farmville native.

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We were in time to meet State Sen. Mark Peake and Del. James Edmunds, who both represent Prince Edward County. Edmunds spoke about a bill he is patron of that would increase sales tax in Halifax County in order to fund a new high school in the county. He spoke about the extension of the Prince Edward County Enterprise Zone (this is great news).

Peake spoke about working with the General Assembly, took questions from leadership members and about the challenges facing public education, including teaching shortages.

We walked across the street into another building, where the Virginia Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne spoke about the Virginia budget, and the participation of the government, house of delegates and senate to make the budget what it is.

After we met with Layne, we made it back to the parking lot and drove to Tarrant’s Cafe. Over lunch, Tim Pfohl talked about the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, an organization created by the General Assembly to use proceeds from the national tobacco settlement to fund revitalization projects for areas formerly heavily-dependent on tobacco production.

The current Virginia government has a lot to answer for. Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring have been connected to wearing blackface and Lieutenant Gov. Justin Fairfax received allegations of sexual assault from two people.

The General Assembly has the power to determine our equity, quality of life, health, justice, education and business — for us in the Herald coverage area and throughout the commonwealth.

Seeing the building in person and getting to meet a few of the numerous people involved in the General Assembly, it made the reality that much more clear that our state representatives are daily, during the General Assembly, creating, deliberating and passing bills that affect all of us.

I’m grateful to Leadership Farmville for the opportunity to visit the General Assembly. Being aware and participating in the work performed by state legislators impacts all of us. We can work to make that impact for the better.

EMILY HOLLINGSWORTH is a staff reporter for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. Her email address is Emily.Hollingsworth@