Thursday, January 27, 2011

Weekly Column: Streamlining Paperwork, Closing Loopholes, Fighting for U.S. 1 & a Town Hall Meeting

The following column appeared in the Mount Vernon Gazette and the Mount Vernon Voice on January 26, 2011 as part of my series of weekly colums.

Streamlining Paperwork, Closing Loopholes, Fighting for U.S. 1 & a Town Hall Meeting
In the General Assembly in Richmond, we are in Week #2 of the General Assembly and the legislative process is moving at a furious pace.

I have introduced fifteen bills and six budget amendments. In addition, several other delegates introduced bills on my behalf as well. Two of my bills have cleared committee and are set to move to the full House of Delegates and on to the Senate.

One allows a parent in Juvenile Court to file one custody and visitation petition for their children in a consolidated case. The courts currently require separate custody and visitation petitions for each child, meaning that in two-child family, a parent just file four petitions and open four cases. My legislation will reduce paperwork, litigation expenses, taxpayer expenses, and just makes common sense.

My second bill clarifies that Commonwealth’s Attorneys have the authority to prosecute first offense infractions involving refusal of mandatory breath or blood tests in Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) prosecutions. First offense Refusal is a civil infraction and the law does not clearly authorize the involvement of a Commonwealth’s Attorney. The Supreme Court of Virginia is presently considering a case that could jeopardize all such prosecutions in Virginia over the next year. My legislation would prevent that decision from preventing future prosecutions.
I presented three of my six budget amendments on Monday: (1) funds for the U.S. 1 Transit Study; (2) an amendment to help purchase a van for Mount Vernon At Home; and (2) funds for a small grant to Fairfax County to expand their “Senior Centers Without Walls” program. They will be considered by the House Appropriations Committee over the next two weeks.

My bill to correct the loophole that decriminalized passing school buses because of the missing word “at” was approved by a House subcommittee and is moving as well.
Transportation is a major focus of this session. The Commonwealth Transportation Board decides which projects to fund . The current commissioners represent areas based on 1930’s congressional district lines. Virginia’s suburban areas have 62 percent of the state’s population and three of nine of the regional commissioner positions on the Board. I introduced legislation to reallocate those seats using current congressional districts so that representation would be fair. The Governor’s Staff is presently analyzing restructuring so my legislation was referred to the Governor’s Commission on Government Reform.

I have received responses to my 2011 Constituent Survey from 550 households so far. Please complete my survey and save some taxpayer resources by completing it online at The survey covers a range of issues including transportation funding solutions, how to improve our schools, what the County should require if they authorize the new Costco, energy efficiency legislation, and many other issues.

In terms of responses I’ve received so far, the condition of the economy, transportation and education are Mount Vernon residents’ top concerns by far. Large majorities of respondents oppose further cuts in services such as education, transportation and health care. Raising teacher salaries is the number one suggestion for improving Mount Vernon’s schools. A large majority of respondents support Costco coming to U.S. 1 only if adequate transportation improvements are made. Extending the Yellow Line from Huntington to Fort Belvoir is the preferred mode of transit on U.S. 1 by far. I appreciate your feedback and I also hope it will help you learn more about the issues I am working on every day in Richmond.

This Saturday, January 29, at 10:00 a.m., Senator Puller and I will be hosting a Town Hall Meeting at the Mount Vernon Government Center, 2511 Parkers Lane, Alexandria, VA 22306 to hear your views, suggestions and questions. I hope to see a full room.

Please also visit my blog, The Dixie Pig, at, for more frequent updates. You can also comment on legislation, set up a meeting or request a Capitol tour at

Good government requires your involvement so please be in touch or come visit in Richmond so I can best represent you in the General Assembly. It is an honor to serve as your State Delegate.

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