How Much Have We Lost?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Quantico Creek Area Coal Ash Remediation to Move Forward

Picture of coal ash on hand of Amy Adams from
Appalachian Voices during Dan River Spill (NBC News)
Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new rules on the construction, maintenance and remediation of coal ash ponds which are used at coal-fired power plants.  This has consequences for the 36th District and communities along the Potomac River and other areas of the Commonwealth.

There are currently five old coal ash ponds at Dominion Resources Possum Point Power Station in Quantico, Virginia which is in the 36th District.  Coal ash or fly ash is the end product of burning coal to create electricity.  Decades ago, it was common practice to mix it with water and store it in ponds into a "slurry."

If ponds are not properly lined with impermeable barriers, then they can leach toxic metals into ground water and surface water.  According to some sources, depending on the coal used, they can leach toxic elements such as arsenic, beryllium, boron, cadmium, chromium, hexavalent chromium, cobalt, lead, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, selenium, strontium, thallium, and vanadium, along with dioxins and PAH compounds.  Metals like this store in the fatty tissues of fish and can aggregate in fish consumers such as birds or humans.  Modern practice is to store ash in dry landfills. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Weekly Column: Transportation Funding Hearing Comes to Route 1

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of April 5, 2015.
Transportation Funding Hearing Comes to Route 1
Last week, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) held public hearings at the South County Government Center at the request of Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay and  Board Chairman Sharon Bulova.

These deliberations include whether to help fund the $14 million estimate for the initial design and environmental analysis of widening U.S. 1 from Fort Belvoir to Napper Road near the Costco, including reserving space for bus rapid transit to Woodbridge and constructing a sidewalk and multi-use path along the entire length.  It also includes about $60 million for widening U.S. 1 in Prince William County (Featherstone to Mary’s Way and Fraley Boulevard to VA-234).
First, here’s some background. Virginia’s transportation system suffered from a twenty-year funding shortfall, and the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) “borrowed” maintenance money (paving and bridge reconstruction) so there was something to spend on construction. This is why about 75% of the secondary roads in the 36th Senate District now require paving.   In 2013, the General Assembly passed legislation, now law, raising taxes to fund about 20% of our known long-term new construction needs. The bill had statewide and local components.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Annual Little Hunting Creek Cleanup April 11, 2015!

In 2007, Fairfax County named Little Hunting Creek "the trashiest creek in Fairfax County."  Three years ago we started to do something about it. 

Since the start of this annual clean up, our volunteers and I continue to work and improve the quality of our local watershed. This past year, the cleanup collected over 300 bags of trash, 17 shopping carts, carpets, a mini-car seat, a mannequin leg and a lawn chair in just 9 hours.

It is that time of the year again! I am once again teaming up with the Alison Ferguson Foundation and The Friends of Little Hunting Creek. 
Del. Scott Surovell’s Annual
Little Hunting Creek Cleanup
Saturday, April 11, 2015
9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hybla Valley, VA
 Please join us at one of the following locations:
  • LOCATION #1 Janna Lee Avenue BridgeFrom Route 1, turn west on Buckman Rd, Right on Janna Lee Ave., to the bridge over little Hunting Creek  
  • LOCATION #2 Creekside Village Location: Take Janna Lee Avenue all the way through Creekside Village Apartments, until terminates at the end of the parking lot 
  • LOCATION #3 At Mount Vernon Shopping PlazaMeet on Fordson Rd., beside the Duron Store at the northeast corner of Mount Vernon Plaza. Parking is available behind Shopper's Food Warehouse and the post office, or on Cyrene Drive in South Meadows Condos. DO NOT park in the limited parking in front of Duron and neighboring stores. Be sure to wear rubber boots- the easiest access is to walk in the channel.
For your safety, please wear closed toed shoes, such as tennis shoes or boots during the clean up. Additionally, we will provide light snacks throughout the day.         

 If you are interested in attending, please RSVP below so we can bring enough supplies for everyone.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Endorsement of Senator Puller in 36th District

I am proud to announce that State Senator Toddy Puller has endorsed my campaign for State Senate.

Senator Puller has served the 44th and 36th Districts with distinction for 24 years.  Her passion for veterans, improving U.S. 1, education, and the legacy of George Washington will leave big shoes to fill, and I am honored to have her support.

Below is an email she sent out this afternoon on my behalf:
For 24 years I have served in the state legislature, and for the past 15 years serving the people of the 36th senatorial district. But now it is time for the next generation.
I am pleased to endorse Delegate Scott Surovell for Senate, because I know he is not only a capable leader and passionate advocate, but he is always upbeat and looking to the future.

He was one of the best chairmen the Fairfax County Democratic Committee has ever had. He created new programs and fundraising events to promote Democrats. He showed he was a capable leader willing to work with others to accomplish large goals. 
Scott grew up in Mount Vernon and graduated from West Potomac High School, but has never used that familiarity as entitlement. He takes nothing for granted and is a tireless canvasser, knocking on the doors of every one of his constituents along Rt. 1. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

March 5, 2015 Storm Update

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning, until 9 p.m. this evening for Northern Virginia. They expect the storm to dump 4-8 inches  of snow on the Mount Vernon area.
I have cut and pasted an excerpt from the Weather Underground's forecast as of 10:50 a.m. on the right.  You can click on it to enlarge.

The following information should help you prepare for the storm:

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Top 20: A 2015 Legislative Summary

This is an overview of legislative highlights from the 2015 General Assembly session.  Last week, I discussed the budget and some of my bills. 

Generally speaking, this session was less contentious than the prior five regular sessions in which I have served mainly because the majority caucuses refused to hold hearings on many of the most controversial bills even though many were introduced.  Bills restricting birth control, limiting abortion, redefining fetuses as persons, limiting rights based on sexual orientation, marginalizing our newest residents and allowing guns in airports were denied hearings and votes.    

Here are some highlights.  Governor Terry McAuliffe could amend or veto these bills or parts of them.  He must  act by March 30.  My votes are in parentheses for the bills that I had an opportunity to vote on (Y/N).

#1 – Firearms Expanded
The General Assembly passed legislation to make it easier for convicted stalkers, mentally ill people and convicted felons to obtain concealed weapon permits (CWP’s) for use in Virginia (N);to require local sheriffs to process background checks for machine gun purchases (N), to ban local governments from prohibiting loaded shotguns in vehicles for CWP holders (N), and to prohibit law enforcement of most other states from electronically verifying the validity of Virginia CWP’s (N). 

Legislators rejected my legislation to prohibit people declared mentally incompetent from possessing ammunition (Y);  Governor McAuliffe’s legislation banning people subject to protective orders from possessing firearms; bills to require universal background checks for firearm purchases, restore Virginia’s “one-gun-a-month” law, and legislation suspending CWP’s when holders accumulate child support arrearages.  CWP holders currently owe at least $15 million in back child support.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Weekly Column: Budget Tweaks, Execution Secrecy and Ethics

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of March 2, 2015.
Budget Tweaks, Execution Secrecy and Ethics
In the last week of the recent General Assembly session, we passed a budget and some of the most contentious legislation of the session.  We actually adjourned one day early on Friday, the first session in the six regular sessions in which I have served that has finished early.
Here's a quick rundown on several bills:
Four of my bills passed both houses and are with the Governor for his action.  I described them in my column last week.  I hope they will be signed into law without any amendments.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Begging for Education Technolgy in Fairfax County

Ensuring every public school student has access to technology has been a goal of mine for the last three years. Electronic textbooks are here and the learning resources that are now online are critical resources for our children to access. 

Kids get it.  Watch this news story by Peggy Fox featuring my Janetzy Marisco where she lays it out. 

However, most school systems, including Fairfax County, have failed to prioritize funding technology purchases.  Obviously, some blame for this lies with a lack of state funding, but in jurisdictions like Fairfax County where the state only provides 20% of the school budget, waiting for the state to show up is not a plausible excuse.   

Several large Virginia jurisdictions are already purchasing computing devices for all of their students - Henrico, Albemarle, Arlington, Alexandria, and Chesterfield.  Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun Counties continue to lag behind.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Weekly Column: Ninja Weapons, Shotguns and State-run Local Schools Struck

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of February 24, 2015.
Ninja Weapons, Shotguns and State-run Local Schools Struck
In the fifth week of the General Assembly session, several of my bills moved toward passage and a few controversial bills are being debated. 
Surovell Legislation Moving
First, my legislation to protect Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit proceeds, plus child support and spousal support arrearages from creditors, passed the full Senate Courts Committee and should clear the full Senate on Monday as I write this column.  Second, my legislation to simplify the process of continuing lawsuits when parties pass away cleared the Senate last week and was sent to the Governor.
Third, my bill to waive Standards of Learning tests for elementary and secondary students with high scores on Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests was added to another bill to grant greater flexibility to school systems to waive Standards of Learning tests. That legislation will likely pass the Senate as well.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Weekly Column: Ethics, Electricity Bills and Budget Negotiations

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of February 17, 2015.
Ethics, Electricity Bills and Budget Negotiations
The General Assembly is now in its fifth week of the 45-day session and starting budget negotiations.  Four of my bills are moving through the legislative process.   The Senate will consider two this week.

This past weekend about 75 people shared their views at my town hall meeting with Senators Toddy Puller and Adam Ebbin at the Mount Vernon Government Center.  We appreciate the interest and the feedback. 
Ethics "Reforms"
Each body passed ethics bills last week.  The legislation creates a new overall gift cap of $100 for all local and state elected officials in Virginia .  It allows an exception for educational travel approved in advance by an Ethics Advisory Council.  It also contains an exception for “widely attended events,” such as the banquets in our area for local charities, and the bill incorporates a proposal I made last session to prohibit the Governor from accepting a gift or contribution from an entity seeking a Governor’s Opportunity Fund grant.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

February, 2015 Winter Storm Information

Weather Underground Forecast as of 10:20 p.m.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning, from 4 p.m. Monday February 16th to noon on February 17th for Northern Virginia. They expect the storm to dump 4 or more inches of snow and sleet on the Mount Vernon area. Snowfall is expected to begin on Monday afternoon and could become heavy at times.

I have cut and pasted an excerpt from the Weather Underground's forecast as of 10:20 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 15 on the right.  You can click on it to enlarge.

Although I am in Richmond for the General Assembly Session and we will remain in session during the storm, my staff will be available to deal with problems and I will continue to post updates about outages and other information as it is available. 

The following information should help you prepare for the storm:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Weekly Column: Bills on Protecting Child Support, SOL Flexibility, and Consumer Protection Pass

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of February 10, 2015.
Bills on Protecting Child Support, SOL Flexibility, and Consumer Protect Pass
The third week of the “short” session of the General Assembly brings us to “Crossover.”  “Crossover” is the midpoint of the session when both houses must complete work on their own bills and begin work on bills from the other chambers.    
Several of my bills have moved forward.  First, last year, one of my Amundson Fellows from West Potomac High School, Colleen O’Grady, suggested that I introduce legislation allowing school systems to waive Standards of Learning (SOL) testing for students who achieved a certain score on an Advanced Placement test in the same subject.  My bill was rolled into legislation proposed by another member granting local systems more flexibility to waive SOL tests and passed the House of Delegates unanimously.

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