Friday, March 12, 2010

Working to Revitalize U.S. 1

The following article appeared in the Mount Vernon Gazette on March 13, 2010.

Two weeks ago, I organized a bipartisan coalition of 31 legislators who signed a letter to Governor McDonnell asking him to designate all of U.S. 1 as "Historic Route 1." The Governor accepted my suggestion. I am hopeful that this designation and the recognition that comes with it will begin to raise the profile of U.S. 1 in Fairfax County and the Commonwealth and create more tourism and jobs, improve economic development and make U.S. 1 a true asset.

Today, I met with the new chairman of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and we discussed my long-term vision of U.S. 1, including extending the Metro Yellow Line from Huntington, improving transit through Hybla Valley all the way to Fort Belvoir, and efforts to stimulate jobs, economic development and redevelopment. I hope to take more steps when I return from Richmond to further promote interest in revitalizing this corridor.

My legislation to level the playing field for Virginia companies who do business with the state or localities passed the Senate unanimously this week. I am hopeful that Governor McDonnell will sign that bill along with my other bills that passed both chambers.

The budget continues to dominate the agenda. Several proposals are being floated addressing the justice system: not filling an empty Fairfax County General District Court judgeship; eliminating one-third of Fairfax County’s Circuit Court law clerks; and eliminating funding for court-appointed attorneys (These funds were added two years ago after Virginia was threatened with a suit over its court-appointed attorney practices); and allowing prosecutors to set classes of cases where they are not seeking jail time making individuals allegedly not eligible for court appointed counsel. These cuts will result in delayed trials, acquittals of guilty persons for procedural defaults, and denying Fairfax County’s residents prompt determination of their legal matters on things as simple as divorces, adoptions or approvals for estate accountings.

As of today, the House of Delegates and the Senate seem to be at an impasse on the budget largely because of the House Republicans’ refusal to accept any of former Governor Kaine’s proposed fee increases and revenue assumptions that allowed the Senate to cut K-12 education by $550 million less than the House did. It is looking like this session may not end this week as scheduled.

Finally, I am also very concerned about the actions taken by Attorney General Cuccinelli this past month attacking environmental regulation and sexual orientation anti-discrimination policies. His recent actions are a step in the wrong direction and endanger our state’s ability to attract jobs, top students and top talent. We can do better.

In the meantime, please visit my blog, The Dixie Pig, at for three to four more articles per week and many of my floor speeches. I need your input so please be sure to share your views and suggestions. It is an honor to serve as your delegate.

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