Friday, January 11, 2013

Del. Mike Watson - Session Newsletter 1-11-2013






Virginia State Capitol Wednesday evening after the Governor's State of the Commonwealth Address

2013 Session

January 11, 2013



Greetings from the Virginia State Capitol.  This is the first of a series of Friday evening newsletters intended to share information about events in Richmond during the 2013 General Assembly session.  Although considered the ‘short session’, this forty-six day stretch should prove to be very busy and very productive. 


We gaveled into session at noon on Wednesday and, after several post-session meetings, came back to the House Chamber to hear Governor McDonnell’s State of the Commonwealth Address.  The Governor shared various statistics indicating Virginia is in better shape than most.  Comparatively, unemployment is lower, the quality of life better, and our state’s economy stronger than most.  But not all news was good.  He identified challenges and critical needs that must be addressed; then he followed with a series of initiatives to address each. 


While the Governor establishes goals and ‘sets the session theme,’ the 140 General Assembly members file and carry bills that will make the day-to-day news and work to fulfill the Governor’s goals.  I mention the 140 members, because each of us is able to draft and promote our own legislation.  The vast majority of bills I have seen from both sides of the isle are intended to address important challenges and to improve life for the citizens of Virginia.  I believe that my bills fall into the latter category and I’ll address each individually throughout the session.


From a personal note, I enjoy the fast pace of session and more importantly the opportunity to make a difference in the Commonwealth.  Frankly, there is a warm feeling that goes with knowing you’ve helped to solve someone’s problem or have implemented a change that will have a lasting positive effect.  I appreciate that my family and my business colleagues support my efforts here, enabling me to fulfill this duty.  Even my neighbors make an extra effort to ensure that Amy and the boys have support while I’m away.   I’ll make every effort to live up to the expectations of each and to all the citizens of the 93rd district and I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to do so.


Respectfully yours,




Contact Me:


As always, whether in Richmond or in the district, we are here to serve you. Until the 2013 session ends, you should contact my Richmond office at:  (804) 698-1093 or email:





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This Newsletter paid for by

Friends of Mike Watson


Governor McDonnell’s final session


Wednesday night, The Honorable Robert F. McDonnell delivered his fourth State of the Commonwealth address as Virginia’s 71st governor.  He outlined a series of achievements followed by challenges and initiatives that will be addressed in the 2013 session.  Among his comments: our unemployment rate is 5.6%, lowest in the Southeast; we’ve created over 150,500 net new private sector jobs since 2010; we’ve doubled our rainy day fund; and we've maintained our state’s AAA bond rating, all while turning a $6 billion budget shortfall into three consecutive surpluses totaling $1.4 billion.  Virginia has established itself as a model for other states.  Washington would greatly benefit by following Virginia's example. 


We do have unique challenges this session. Pursuant to the Affordable Care Act, we must decide if we’ll expand Medicaid from 900,000 to 1,300,000 participants without any provision to increase the number of physicians or assurance that Washington will have the resources to pay its portion of the bill.  The Governor has informed President Obama that Virginia will not operate a state based exchange that “gives limited state control but distinct financial risk.”  He established transportation and K-12 education improvements as two of his primary objectives for 2013 and outlined lengthy proposals to accomplish each. 


In response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school, he proposed additional mental health initiatives and funding.  The Governor proposed ideas to continue successful efforts to clean and protect the Chesapeake Bay.  Finally, he emphasized the importance of creating more jobs, recognizing that improved education and infrastructure are among the most effective tools to achieve that goal.  He also emphasized the importance of workforce development, a subject that I’ve been working with his office on for several months.


Our governor has had an effective and successful three years and wants to spend his last accomplishing these goals and to leave his successor with a strong platform from which to begin.  While this may be his last session, with his record of leadership, I’m certain we’ll be seeing more of him in the future.



2013 – My Key Legislative Initiatives  


Twenty four years ago I started my first business, designing and installing process control systems for manufacturers.  We employed engineers, project managers, programmers, instrument and electrical technicians, mechanics, welders, and other skilled crafts.  These skills were in demand in 1989 and still are today.  However, there are less young people pursuing these options as their chosen career.  As a result, we  have a skills gap, especially in manufacturing where skilled craftsmen are retiring and have fewer qualified employees ready to replace them.


Most of us have heard about the high demand for skilled workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, math, and health care.  As I traveled the Commonwealth with the Business Development Caucus (“BDC”) this year, we consistently heard of the need to focus on training our workforce for the jobs that actually exist, aka workforce development.  This was not a surprise to me.  I watched this trend in my own business and with those of my customers.  In fact, years before I ever ran for office, I’d been speaking with high school and community college students about opportunities in these areas. 


Over 24 years, the skill-sets required of craftsmen have evolved as have the research and manufacturing facilities in which they will work.  The visions of the dirty, lunch pail in hand, all-male workforce leaving the plant when the whistle blows are fading while Advanced Manufacturing is growing.   Men and women mechanics are using precision electronic tools, operators are becoming troubleshooters, and crane operators are using trigonometry and physics.  Opportunities exist.  It’s time we build a workforce to meet them.  For this reason, my primary legislative agenda for 2013 is Workforce Development.


This focus doesn’t preclude me from promoting other important issues. I am patroning bills for child safety, historic asset preservation, job growth, and a host of pro-growth business initiatives with my BDC colleagues.  I will also stay attuned and involved in the process of transportation legislation and will promote the priority of I-64 at every available opportunity.  


K-12 education will be a key focus for 2013 and I’m proud that the Governor has asked me to work with him on several workforce development initiatives.  The benefits of teaching our young citizens skills that will prepare them for prosperous careers are many and worthy of my heightened effort.  I’m proud to make this my ‘legislative theme’ for this session.



Keeping Informed

In the last session, we experimented with a number of strategies aimed at keeping you informed of our activities and important issues.  We’ve learned from these efforts and will use a number of these resources this year.  Among your options:


1)      This weekly session newsletter will offer session highlights, legislative updates and notices of certain activities. 

2)      We will occasionally send letters to groups of individuals when there is legislation that directly affects you, your industry, or an issue that you’ve contacted my office on. 

3)      For day to day updates, I invite you to “Like” my Facebook page at

4)      If you ‘tweet’, you can follow me @Watson4Delegate.

5)      We will routinely update information at our website at

6)      We will host two Telephone Town Hall events this session starting with Thursday, January 17th at 7:00 pm.  We’ll send out a robo-call the night before with dial-in instructions and post information on Facebook and Twitter.  In these events, I’ll offer an overview of session highlights and invite you to offer your feedback as well.

7)      Finally, I have drafted a survey asking for your opinion on several issues.  I hope that you will fill them out and return them as they really do help me to better represent you.  In fact, you can fill out my survey on line right now by visiting:   Please be sure to add any comments to item 13 to further clarify your comments or add other thoughts.


We also want to hear your thoughts and encourage you to:

8)      Email my office at

9)      Call us at (804) 698-1093.

Contact Delegate Watson

General Assembly Office Phone: (804) 698-1093    


Mail: PO Box 6628 Williamsburg, VA 23188                                                                                           

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