How Much Have We Lost?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Fighting for SB390 and Temporary Driver's Licenses for Immigrants

Yesterday, I was joined by the New Virginia Majority, Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACOLAO), CASA, the Commonwealth Institute, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health to present SB 390 to the Transportation Committee, which would allow temporary driver’s licenses to be issued to applicants unable to demonstrate legal residency in Virginia. Unfortunately, the bill was passed by indefinitely by a vote of 7-6 and will not be advanced through the General Assembly.  You can watch the video below.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Weekly Column: Week #3: Firearm Compromise, Equal Rights Amendment Passes, & Vulnerable Users to be Studied

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, The Mt. Vernon Voice and The Potomac-Stafford Local in the week of February 2, 2016.
Week #3: Firearm Compromise, Equal Rights Amendment Passes, & Vulnerable Users to be Studied
 
The third week of the General Assembly saw a major agreement emerge on firearm violence issues, and action on several of my bills.
 
Bills Moving Through
Three of my bills passed the full Senate this week.  My resolution ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) passed on a bipartisan 21-19 vote.  ERA remains five states short of ratification.  The Senate also passed my bill to give consumers a remedy when consumer finance companies fail to include language protecting consumers in their agreements, and prohibiting local governments from requiring homeowners or condo association approval before granting a permit or license.
 
As trains, buses, bicycles and walking become more popular, many states have enacted “vulnerable user” laws – making it easier to convict vehicle drivers of a serious traffic offense when collisions occur with vulnerable users who are seriously injured.  My legislation will be studied this summer.
 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Senator Surovell's Prince William County Town Hall

This weekend I held my Prince William County General Assembly Town Hall in Dumfries, Virginia.  About 40 people attended.  The number one issue on people's minds were the status of coal ash ponds at the Possum Point Power Plant.  The second issue was education and third was probably education.

You can watch the entire Town Hall if you missed here online below.  Thank you to everyone who came out!



Thursday, January 28, 2016

HOT Lanes and Tolling Fairness

This weekend, I was working on our family budget for 2016 and I was going through my spending from last year.  I noticed that between January and April 15, I had no charges on my EZ Pass account.

However, when I got back from Richmond and started campaigning, I spent a lot of time up and down I-95 to knock doors and attend events in Woodbridge, Dumfries and Stafford County.  Between April 13 and the end of the year, I had spent $1,137.07 on tolls. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Interview on Cable Reports with Delegate Torian

Last week, I was also honored to sit for an interview with Woody Evans on Cable Reports along with Prince William Delegate Luke Torian. 

During the interview we were able to discuss our legislative agenda including my legislation to create tolling fairness, extend the Blue Line to Lorton, Woodbridge, Potomac Mills and Dumfries, reform predatory lending, and promote transparency in Virginia government.

Thank you to Comcast Cable and Cable Reports for having me on again!


Monday, January 25, 2016

Weekly Column: Week #2: Reigning in Predatory Towing, Equality for Women, and Budget Requests

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, The Mt. Vernon Voice and The Potomac-Stafford Local in the week of January 25, 2016.
Week #2: Reigning in Predatory Towing, Equality for Women, and Budget Requests 
Aside from the snowstorm of the century, this week brought the start of consideration of legislation and initial work on our state budget. 
Four of my bills were acted on this week.  First, earlier this year, Congress passed the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2015.  Congressman Don Beyer successfully included an amendment that confirmed state and local governments’ authority to regulate towing which had been in doubt. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Interview on This Week in Richmond

This past week, I was honored to be invited by David Bailey to sit on This Week in Richmond which airs on Public Television along with State Senator Jeremy McPike from Prince William County.

We covered what is expected this session, highlights of our legislative agenda, our new committees, and our new districts.  I discussed my legislation on removing collateral consequences, coal ash, commuter fairness, and other issues.

Thanks to David Bailey and This Week in Richmond for having us! 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Major Storm and Rescheduled Town Hall Information

***UPDATE Sunday, 1/24/16 5:00 P.M.***

VDOT advises that they are now moving into cleaning up the 16,000 neighborhood streets in Northern Virginia that are impacted.

Here's a video from VDOT on how to properly clear your driveway to avoid having to shovel a second time.
***UPDATE Sunday, 1/24/16 3:00 P.M.***
We just got off a telephone conference with the Governor's staff who is the Emergency Command Center.
  • Virginia is still in response operations. 
  • All snow moved out as of midnight.  No snow accumulation is projected for next 72 hours.  Temperature is rising.  There is a limited spotty icing forecast. 
  • Please stay off the roads for another day or two unless you absolutely have to get out.
  • Please be careful outside.  EMT's will be very busy with broken arms, wrist, legs, etc. in this kind of weather.
  • There have been five fatalities relating to the storm.  Some from crashes and some exertion related heart attacks.
  • VDOT is still reporting 900 roadways impacted. 
  • Dulles and National Airports are still closed to flights.  Richmond Airport is opening today. 
  • All Amtrak service is closed.  There's limited service going north to Boston.
  • D.C. Metro remains closed.
  • Power companies are reporting only 738 customers out of power.  We are well below average and were very fortunate with this storm.
  • State Police have responded to 6,800 incidents since this started.  1,400 traffic accidents and 2,000 disabled vehicles.
  • National Guard is out on 29 active missions.  They will probably be active through Tuesday. 
  • Down to 30 local states of emergency. 
  • Over a dozen localities hit record-high snow falls and we might be eligible for a Presidential Disaster Declaration.
  • There have been 25 confirmed structural collapses around the state including the Redskins practice bubble in Ashburn and most serious is an apartment in Prince William County that displaced 55 people, and an elderly home in Fairfax County.
***UPDATE Sunday, 1/24/16 1:00 P.M.***
I will update at 3:00 pm after our conference call with the Governor.  In the meantime, you can check the status of plowing in your neighborhood here:


***UPDATE 1100 A.M.***

We just got off a telephone conference with the Governor from the Emergency Command Center in Midlothian and here is what we were told.
  • Snowfall impacted the entire state.  Roanoke 12", Winchester 16", Fairfax 20"+.
  • They are seeing flooding in tidal areas especially in Hampton Roads.
  • Plows are working 24-7.  There are 13,000 pieces of equipment on the road including 7,000 contractors helping with the cleaning. 
  • State Police has responded to 4,400 incidents and 1,100 accidents.
  • There's only been 4 injuries so far and 3 fatalities in Southwest Virginia.
  • Only 4,000 without power right now. 
  • National Guard has been activated - 700 are deployed on 23 active missions.
  • More snow is coming and will end at midnight tonight.
  • Tomorrow - stay home.  People are staying home which is helping them get the roads cleared and keeping things safe.  One Trooper was injured last night while responding to an incident. 
  • Goal is to work all day Sunday to clear the primary roads after snow stops at midnight and to get roads in shape.  Secondary roadwork is expected to start on Monday.   
***UPDATE 800 A.M.***
  • The briefing we received at 700 AM suggests that we are still on track for up to 36 inches of snow in Northern Virginia.
  • Dominion Resources is reporting only 8,200 outages statewide.  This will change as the wind picks up.  More info at http://outagemap.dom.com.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/external/default.html
  • Plows are continuing to work the primary roads.  Some secondary (neighborhood) roads have been plowed, but not many.  More info at http://www.vdotplows.org/
***********

Governor Terry McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency for Virginia due to the impending winter storm Jonas.  Here is some information for you and your family stay warm, safe and secure for the duration of the blizzard.

I will update this post with information as it is made available to me via Virginia Emergency Information Network. 

Winter Storm Jonas is expected to hit Northern Virginia Friday afternoon through Sunday morning and is expected to bring anywhere from 18 - 24 inches of snow and sleet.

 You can prepare by:
  • Monitoring your local news sources for the latest weather conditions
  • Prepare your car for winter driving conditions including having an emergency kit in your vehicle
  • Prepare your home for winter weather conditions in case of power outages
  • Before getting behind the wheel, call 511, go to www.511virginia.org or download the 511 mobile app to get the latest road condition information
  • You may also call 800-FOR-ROAD (800-637-7623) to report road hazards or ask road-related questions at VDOT's 24-hour Customer Service Center
  • When driving, give yourself extra time to reach your destination, leave plenty of driving room between you and the vehicle ahead and slow down
  • Have all of your utility account information on hand in case of power outages 
       Additionally, please use the link and the numbers provided below to stay up-to-date on the road conditions or to report any power outages and road blocks:

Dominion Resources Power Outage Line

Dominion Resources Storm Center Outage and Restoration Updates

VDOT Street Problem Number

1 (800) FOR-ROAD

VDOT REAL-TIME ONLINE PLOW MAP

Other Resources
Fairfax County Police:   703-691-2131 
Prince William County:  703-792-6500
Stafford County:  540-658-4400

You can also download the Commonwealth of Virginia's Ready Virginia App for iPhone and Android by following this link:


TOWN HALL CHANGES
  With the impending blizzard, my colleagues and I have rescheduled our Mount Vernon and Lee District Town Halls.

Lee District Town Hall
Saturday, February 20th, 2016
9:30 - 11:30am
Hayfield Elementary School
7633 Telegraph Road
Alexandria, VA 22315
Mount Vernon Town Hall
Saturday, February 20th, 2016
12:30 - 2:30 p.m.
Walt Whitman Middle School
2500 Parkers Lane
Alexandria, VA 22306
As previously mentioned, stay warm, be prepared and stay alert. If you have any prolonged outages or if your street is blocked, feel free to contact my office at 571.249.4484 or email me at district36@senate.virginia.gov.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Weekly Column: My Committees and Legislative Agenda Part II

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, The Mt. Vernon Voice and The Potomac-Stafford Local in the week of January 17, 2016.
My Committees and Legislative Agenda Part II
Last week, the 2016 General Assembly gaveled into action and I became your State Senator for Virginia’s 36th District.
New Committees
The Rules Committee assigned me to three committees. (1)  The Local Government Committee considers legislation addressing land use, zoning and local government.  (2) The Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee has jurisdiction over the safety net programs, prisons, alcoholic beverage regulation and childcare.  (3) The General Laws and Technology Committee examines bills affecting homeowners associations, gambling, professional occupation regulation, procurement and the Freedom of Information Act.  Each of these has jurisdiction over issues  critical to the quality of life in our area. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Weekly Column: My 2016 Legislative Agenda: Part I

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, The Mt. Vernon Voice and The Potomac-Stafford Local in the week of December 29, 2015.
My 2016 Legislative Agenda: Part I
On January 13, 2016, I take my oath of office as your state senator.  I am planning on introducing approximately forty bills and about a dozen budget amendments in our sixty day session.

Predatory Lending
Predatory lending is a major problem in the U.S. 1 Corridor.  Car title lenders have been abusing this loophole by charging rates over 200% by recharacterizing car title loans as separately regulated car title loans.   To reign in car title lender bait and switch tactics, I am proposing to limit interest rates on consumer finance loans at 36%.  I have also introduced legislation to prohibit car title lenders from using subsidiaries from using the open end credit loophole to also evade consumer protections.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Weekly Column: What's Ahead in the State Legislature

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, The Mt. Vernon Voice and The Potomac-Stafford Local in the week of December 29, 2015.
What's Ahead in the State Legislature

       The 2016, 60-day session of the Virginia General Assembly gavels in on January 13. 
       The legislature will craft a two-year budget, which will be Governor McAuliffe's first chance to put his stamp on the state's finances.  While Virginia’s economy lags behind the national average, revenue is up more than average for the first time since I was elected in 2009 and there are many unmet needs worthy of funding.

Supporting Our Schools and Colleges
        Virginia is currently funding secondary education on a per pupil, inflation-adjusted basis at levels below funding in 2007.  The Governor has requested a billion dollar increase, new teacher positions, teacher pay raises and  full funding for “Cost to Compete,”  a program that supplements salaries for  Northern Virginia school employees. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Announcing the Puller Institute!

At the beginning of her term, Former 44th District Delegate Kris Amundson created a program to engage area high school juniors and seniors in the General Assembly process. In 2012, I renamed the program the Amundson Institute to honor Delegate Amundson's innovative idea and passion for the project. 

I am excited to hand the Amundson Institute over to 44th District Delegate-Elect Paul Krizek and create a similar program further to the Virginia State Senate.  It is dedicated to Senator Toddy Puller and her twenty-four years of service to Northern Virginia in the State Senate and House of Delegates.

Similar to the Amundson Institute, the program will consist of six bright junior and senior high school students who live in the 36th District.  They will travel to Richmond, watch the legislative process at work in the Senate and House Chambers, Committee, meet with policy makers, and tour historic state facilities.

After returning, the students will each give a 10 minute presentation on a state policy proposal that relates to the 36th District. Some of my best legislative ideas have come from student projects!

Applicants should demonstrate strong leadership skills, a strong work ethic and an interest in their state government.

Application Deadline: December 30, 2015
Dates: Sunday, February 14 to Tuesday February 16

You can also read more and watch videos of several introductions of Amundson Fellow introductions on my blog here:
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