Thursday, January 26, 2012

Weekly Column: Legislation Starts to Move & Speaking Out on Route 1

This column appeared in the Mount Vernon Gazette, Mt. Vernon Voice and Patch on January 25, 2012: 
Legislation Starts to Move & Speaking Out on U.S. 1  
The General Assembly completed its first full week of work this week.
First, two of my bills have been passed by the House Courts of Justice Committee and are heading to the floor of the House of Delegates. One clarifies when an appellate court must calculate interest on remand of an appeal. A second bill makes it clear that a Power of Attorney automatically terminates when unmarried parents file for child custody or visitation or separated spouses file for support.
This week, I also presented a bill to adjust Virginia’s threshold between misdemeanor and felony offenses from $200 to $500. Virginia’s limit is the lowest in the United States and has not been adjusted since 1981. The value of $200 from 1981 is $549 today according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Demanding Action on Transportation

Last week, I gave a floor speech on the status of new transportation funding and the consequences for us in Northern Virginia. Many of the solutions discussed involve funding options that will never be available to fund U.S. 1 improvements because it is not a road that can be tolled.

Earlier this year, I asked the Departmnent of Motor to get me the number of pedestrian accidents on or near U.S. 1. So far they have only been able to get me the data since January 1, 2009.

7 Fatalities
55 Pedestrian Injurires

I cannot imagine that there is another stretch of road in Virginia that is more dangerous to pedestrians.

I gave this floor speech on last week to bring attention to this and the lack of transportation funding in general.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Age of The 44th District's Schools

I'm a local history geek. One of the things I do is keep track of significant anniversaries in our local schools and draft commending resolutions for significant anniversaries.

Here's a list that I've compiled for the founding and closing dates for our area local schools.  Woodlawn Elementary and Groveton Elementary are the oldest followed by Mt. Vernon High School.  There's a great history of Woodlawn Elementary School here.

If you're talking about the actual buildings, I'm pretty sure that Woodlawn Elementary is the oldest in continuous use.  The old Mount Vernon would be second if it were still a school.  I'm pretty sure that either the Bryant Building (originally Groveton High School) or the older part of West Potomac High School (originally Bryant Intermediate) would be next. 

I have some schools here on the bottom that have come and gone through the years including some from a very long time ago.  The Gum Springs School and Springbank School were small black schools that preceded desegregation. 

If you have any of the dates that I'm missing or any corrections, shoot me an email. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

2012 Town Hall Recap

Last Saturday, January 14, 2012, I held a Town Hall Meeting with Senator Toddy Puller and Senator Adam Ebbin.  The introductory statement I gave at the outset is in the video below.

I wrote a short recap of the questions in my weekly column last week which I posted below and Patch also ran an article.

If you were unable to make it and have any questions, please contact me

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Dillon Rule & The Height of Grass

Today, we took up a very controversial bill in Cities, Counties & Towns - the regulation of the height of grass and mowing of weeds.  No, I'm not kidding.

Virginia is a Dillon Rule state.  That means that a locality cannot exercise any power unless the state has expressly authorized it.  Each year, we get a ton of bills that come through from localities asking the state for authority to do different things. 

For example, in my first term, I introduced legislation that would add Fairfax County to the list of counties that could adopt a meals tax by a unanimous vote of the Board of Supervisors instead of referendum.  I also introduced a bill to allow Fairfax County to add a $4 fee to each traffic ticket to pay for an electronic ticket processing system that would eliminate the need for about 10 full-time employees and save the police thousands of man hours.  An Arlington County delegate told me that he had to introduce legislation to allow his locality to issue paychecks twice per month instead of every two weeks.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Weekly Column: New Committees, Redistricting Rockets Through & A Town Hall

This column appeared in the Mount Vernon Gazette, Mt. Vernon Voice and Patch on January 18, 2012: 
New Committees, Redistricting Rockets Through & A Town Hall

On Opening Day, we were notified of our new committee assignments. I was reappointed to the Cities, Counties & Towns and Science and Technology Committees. As the largest jurisdiction in the Commonwealth, it is important that Fairfax County have effective advocates for local government flexibility and to guard against state government siphoning off more local government funds. The Science and Technology Committee will also enable me to continue to work with the fastest growing businesses in Northern Virginia.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Weekly Column: My 2012 Agenda: Transportation, Economic Development, Sunshine & Consumer Protection

This column appeared in the Mount Vernon Gazette, Mt. Vernon Voice and Patch on January 5, 2012: 
My 2012 Agenda: Transportation, Economic Development, Sunshine & Consumer Protection

On January 11, 2012 at noon, the Virginia General Assembly kicked off the 2012 Session. Last week, I wrote about an overall preview of the session. This week, I am writing about my legislation which you can view online at or my website

Congestion on U.S. 1, the extension of the Yellow & Blue Lines, and economic development is the top priority for our area. Congestion on Route 1 affects not just our commutes, but economic development, job creation, the neighborhood revitalization, local school performance, the quality of our local environment, and the value of our homes. Route 1 will not be improved until we get a fair share of construction funding.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Announcing The Amundson Institute!

In 2000, my predecessor Delegate Kris Amundson started her Young Leaders Program in partnership with Cox Communications.  The program introduced some of the top students from 44th District high schools to state government to encourage them to continue their involvement in the state and their community.

A few of her prior classes were covered in the media:

After I was elected, I decided to continue the program and we had six students from West Potomac High School and Mt. Vernon High School participate.  All of them had a great experience and had very memorable experiences and they were also covered by the local media:

The program is such a success and such a good idea, I decided that it needs a better name and I could not think of a better person to name it after other than it's founder.  Starting this year, we are going to call this program The Amundson Institute in honor of Former Delegate Kris Amundson. 

I am still accepting applications for this session.  If you have questions, please send me an email at or if you are ready to apply, click on the link below.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Weekly Column: Session Preview, Budget Shortfalls, Redistricting, Uranium & Social Issues

This column appeared in the Mount Vernon Gazette, Mt. Vernon Voice and Patch on January 5, 2012: 
Session Preview: Budget Shortfalls, Redistricting, Uranium & Social Issues 
On January 11, the newly-elected Virginia General Assembly convenes for a 60-day, “long” session. I expect it to be a contentious one.
The “money committees” estimate that Virginia faces a $1 billion shortfall due to many factors including the end of federal stimulus dollars, Virginia’s sluggish economy, constitutionally-required contributions to Virginia’s “rainy day fund,” required payments to the Virginia Retirement System because of no payments last year, and inflation. Despite the shortfall, the Governor has proposed several hundred million dollars of new initiatives to be funded with cuts to low-income preschool programs, Northern Virginia teacher salary supplements, other secondary education funds, and health care for children and seniors.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Let the Sun Shine on Virginia's Legislature

Some of the most important work we do in the legislature takes place in committee.  Bills are killed, amended, entirely replaced (substituted), or "rolled into" other bills.  Unless you are there, you are left to guess about what was said and why it happened. 

A couple years ago, a fight began raging over whether the General Assembly ought to at least require recorded votes in committee and subcommittee meetings.  Today, recorded votes are the subcommittee are very uncommon.  That issue will continue to bubble.

One issue that I have raised is requiring all of our business to be conducted on the record and we ought to use technology to improve the performance of our Government.