It used to be that when I saw the legislation that some members of the General Assembly proposed to become law, I would shake my head in disbelief. Now I have come to expect the unexpected. They simply come from a different part of the state than ours and I dare say a different world sometimes.
Many of the legislators that now represent Northern Virginia come from elsewhere. They were attracted to Virginia by the good jobs available in the Washington area working for the government or working for companies that do business with the federal government. These folks know little about the rest of Virginia. They believe that all parts of Virginia have the same curbed streets that their suburban homes have. These legislators often are surprised when they find out that our lives are much different from theirs.
It is no wonder that they introduce bills that make little sense to my constituents. For example, offering legislation telling how we should deal with our pets and livestock, as if they know better than us. They often have legislation that effects farmers about land protection, not understanding that those same farmers have far more interest in protecting their farms from erosion and water run off than those from urban areas. They believe our primary roads are there for them to get through rural areas as fast as they can. We, however, believe that our primary highways are important to attract rural economic opportunities and that we should encourage job producers to come to our region.
While they are making big plans to limit your rights as a gun owner, my constituents, as well as those in most of rural Virginia, are having massive crowds show up in support of making our jurisdictions Second Amendment Sanctuaries. They do not seem to understand that a police officer might be able to arrive moments after they are called, while in rural areas, the only officers may be on the far side of the county when we call.
MY UPBRINGING IS FAR DIFFERENT
FROM MOST OF MY PEERS
While many in the General Assembly were born into great situations, I, however, was not. I was raised in a family that did not have indoor plumbing until I was six. My father died when I was 12. My mother was left to raise three teenagers on her own. She returned to teaching to care for us.
The above facts, which sound dire, were never perceived that way by us. We were rich in the values we were taught. We were taught to be frugal in everything we did and everything we bought. That frugal upbringing has been part of my entire life, often to the chagrin of my family. It truly bothers me to spend money. Yet, it has made me a better legislator. I often question the wisdom of spending state taxpayer’s money unless there is proof that it is a value.
In addition, my career was in the business world. In both the corporate world and as a small-business man, I understood how important the bottom line is to the success of a business. Not watching costs and spending too much on overhead means that small businesses that do not have the cash flow are limited on how much inventory their business can stock. This limits profit as the business moves forward. Likewise, not treating employees fairly leads to turnover resulting in losing the skilled employees a business needs.
Many of my peers have never had to worry about holding down expenses. Their careers often are government related businesses. Their greatest concerns have little to do with the success of their employer. This is the reason that they often propose legislation that pleases some constituents but causes businesses to consider whether to start or expand in Virginia or move to states that remember that businesses and corporations are created, not to satisfy the wants and needs of their employees, but rather to provide profits to those who have invested in the business by providing a service or product that serves their customer’s needs.
Following what I learned from my upbringing has served me well as I try to serve you. I wish more of them had the same background.
FRANK RUFF JR. serves as the 15th District senator in Virginia. He can be reached at Sen.Ruff@verizon.net, (434) 374-5129 or P.O. Box 332, Clarksville, VA 23927.