Here's what you should be getting ready to do: Decide what issues matter to you - guns, education, the environment, property taxes, Fort Monroe, mental health, long-term care, sexual predators, payday loans or any of the other topics legislators will be trying to address with new laws. Figure out the best way to track legislation that bears on that issue. Identify the key committees that will deal with it, and who the players are on that committee. This is important: Often the only real hearing a bill gets is in committee, and that hearing determines its fate. Pull together your list of who you should contact to tell them what you want/need/will (and won't) put up with/do in fact notice.
This, the first installment, has to do with the state General Assembly, which convenes on Jan. 10. Part 2, below, gives information for statewide offices - the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
Cut them out. Put them somewhere handy: on the refrigerator, next to your computer so you can use it when you e-mail, by the phone if you prefer to call, on your desk if you're a pen-and-paper kind of communicator. How you communicate isn't as important as that you communicate. And with whom.
Your first stop: the individuals who represent you in the House of Delegates and state Senate.
If there's a specific bill that interests you, the office of your representative can steer you to the members of the committee that will be considering it. Or you can just look it up online.
Paying close attention to what your delegate and senator do - and do not do - in the next few weeks will serve you well. Every seat in the House and Senate will be on the ballot come November, and you may have to decide whether to return the current members for another term. The best thing to base that decision on is their track record in office. So keep a close eye on them.
HOW TO KEEP TRACK OF LEGISLATION
HOUSE OF DELEGATES
Address for all delegates:
P.O. Box 406
Richmond, VA 23218
Del. Mamye BaCote (D)
95th District: parts of Hampton, Newport News
Phone: (804) 698-1095
Del. William Barlow (D)