Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Design Your Own Transportation Plan!

Transportation seems to be the hot topic this session.  The Governor has a plan, a few other delegates have popped out plans.  Lots of talk.

Given all of the various moving parts, things were getting fuzzy about exactly how much money was in play.  Earlier this week, I touched base with the some of the House's finance staff about the revenue generated by various options and came up with an interactive spreadsheet that allows you to game out various tax, fee and/or revenue proposals. 

After I made it available for public download, Taber Andrew Bain here in Richmond and Navid Oshan-Afshar over at The Tyson's Corner Blog set them up as full-on interactive do-it-yourself transportation calculators. 

You can build your own transportation funding plan here:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Construction Begins on Telegraph Road!

Today's Patch is reporting that construction is about to begin on the intersection of Telegraph Road, South Van Dorn Street and South Kings Highway.

Anyone who tries to get through that intersection at rush hour knows that it is somewhere you want to avoid.  It typically takes 2-3 light cycles to get through the first light and another 1-2 cycles to get through the second light depending which way you are going.

When I knocked doors in the Lake Devereaux neighborhood in the summer of 2011, the #1 complaint I heard was drivers pulling into their neighborhood to make an illegal u-turn to avoid the light.  I even arranged for VDOT to hang an additional sign up to provide additional warning (I'm not sure it helped much).

It's also important to note that this project is being paid for by the County with monies generated by a new tax on commercial property authorized by the 2007 General Assembly.  Unless the General Assembly steps up with some new revenue, this local tax and federal government will continue to be the only source of money for major road improvements.

At least this is getting done. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Weekly Column: A Week of Sunshine, Online Textbooks and Car Title Lenders

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, the Mt. Vernon Voice and Patch in the week of January 29, 2013. 

A Week of Sunshine, Online Textbooks and Car Title Lenders

Last week in the General Assembly was a busy one. I have introduced 15 bills, three constitutional amendments, one study resolution, seven budget amendments, and I am Chief Co-Patron on four bills. In two days, I presented twelve bills, cast about three hundred votes at four different committee hearings and two floor sessions. As a child of the 80s, it’s more like the late stages of Atari Missile Command (see left).

Three of my bills were referred to study commissions. One would require the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to abide by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The SCC is an independent agency that regulates Virginia utilities, insurance, securities and corporations. My legislation to allow real estate brokers to determine who can close down their business upon death was also referred to the Housing Commission for analysis. Right now, it’s a race to the Realtor Board which is unfair to owners and heirs.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2013 Session Appearance on Cable Reports

Today, I appeared on the Cable Reports with Delegates Kaye Kory (D-Falls Church) and Mark Keam (D-Vienna). 

We discussed online textbooks, legislation relating to Route 1, litter problems, predatory lending, Freedom of Information Act, reproductive choice, the special Tyson's Corner tax district, the Medicaid expansion and the Governor's Transportation plan. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Weekly Column: Progress on U.S. 1 Funding, New Bills, and Redistricting Surprise

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, the Mt. Vernon Voice and Patch in the week of January 23, 2013. 
Progress on U.S. 1 Funding, New Bills, and Redistricting Surprise
Legislation has started to move through the legislation as the hard work of legislating began during the second week of session.

First, we made some progress securing state funding for the next study required to widen U.S. 1. We hope to have this locked in by the end of session, but I am very optimistic and we are setting up meetings with Fairfax County to confirm the process.

At the beginning of the week, I presented my legislation that would allow Virginians to vote to repeal Virginia’s 2006 constitutional amendment prohibiting any recognition of same-sex relationships. In committee, I argued that marriage is about loving, committed couples who want to make lifelong commitments to each other in good times and bad. I also feel that that denying couples that chance at the happiness that comes with being married just because they are gay is hateful and unfair.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Medicaid & The 44th Distict

Medicaid is the state's health care program for low income families, children, the disabled and the elderly.  I just received the 2013 "Medicaid at a Glance" report for the 44th District. 

Here's some interesting statistics about your community. 

Total Allowed Costs:  $39,574,482

Covered Population
11,402 people or about 14.1% of 44th District residents.
  • 8,533 Children (75%)
  • 866 Blind & Disabled (8%)
  • 631 Adults (6%)
  • 586 Pregnant Women (5%)
  • 465 Aged (4%)
  • 311 Other (3%)
Of this population, 105 people are disabled in home/community-based waiver programs.  47 are in nursing home facilities. 

Most Utilized Hospitals
  • Inova Fairfax Hospital
  • The Alexandria Hospital
  • Virginia Hospital Center - Arlington
  • Mt. Vernon Hospital
  • Potomac Hospital Corporation
Most Utilized Nursing Facilities
  • Manor Care of Alexandria, Virginia LLC
  • Mount Vernon Nursing Center
  • Woodbine Rehabilitation Health Center LLC
  • Manor Care of Arlington, Virginia LLC
  • Sleepy Hollow Manor

Monday, January 14, 2013

Weekly Column: Transportation Solution Debate Begins in Richmond

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, the Mt. Vernon Voice and Patch in the week of January 16, 2013. 
Transportation Solution Debate Begins in Richmond
Governor McDonnell’s transportation proposal dominated the first three days of session. I welcome this long-overdue debate. The improvement of Route 1 is exactly the kind of project that has been stalled because of the lack of state money because it cannot be tolled or cannot be improved by a public-private partnership. It will only happen with real money from new tax revenue.

Virginia’s gas tax, one of the lowest in the nation, has been at 17.5 cents since 1985. As roads crumble and Metro struggles to move more passengers, Virginians cannot expect to have a reliable transportation system without infusing more funds. This means we all have to face up to increasing the gas tax. The preliminary results of my constituent survey are that 55% of my constituents agree.

I commend the Governor for putting forth a transportation funding proposal for debate, but I do not view his proposal as the right solution. We will be debating several approaches.

The Governor’s plan has five components: (1) eliminate the $0.175 gas tax except for diesel and replace it with a new 0.8% general sales tax dedicated to transportation; (2) divert .25% of the existing sales tax from education, public safety and healthcare and fund transportation; (3) dedicate an new vehicle $15/year registration fee and dedicate these funds to intercity rail and transit; (4) impose a $100 annual fee on alternative fuel vehicles; and (5) dedicate sales taxes from internet sales s to transportation, if Congress authorizes states to tax internet sales (a big if).

Three years ago, Virginia Department of Transportation’s report, VTRANS 2025, concluded that the state’s transportation maintenance and construction funding shortfall is between $4-5 billion per year over the next 20 years. Governor McDonnell’s plan will generate only $3 billion over five years according to initial estimates. In other words, the Governor’s plan funds no more than 12-15% of the actual shortfall. His math does not work.

Friday, January 11, 2013


The initial responses to my constituent survey are starting to come in and after 70 random responses generated  by my 8,000 piece mailing and newspaper column, here's some interesting trends:
  • Transportation has overtaken improving the economy as one of people's Top 3 concerns (65% v. 57%)
  • An overwhelming majority wants a Yellow Line Extension versus anything else:
    • 64% Yellow Line Extension
    • 12% Light Rail
    • 9% Bus Rapid Transit
  • 74% Oppose the $25 million Private School Tax Credits we enacted last year
  • 74% Support paying more for renewable energy
  • 80% Support No Excuse Absentee Voting for Seniors
  • 65% Support Enhancing Medicaid Reimbursement for in home providers
  • 84% Support Licensing for In-Home Health Care Providers
  • 61% Support Incentives for Energy Efficient Vehicles
  • Top Choices for Funding New Transportation Construction:
    • 55% Support Raising the Gas Tax
    • 49% Support Raising the Sales Tax for Transportatio
    • 23% Support Using Public Private Partnerships
  • Top Choice for Improving Schools was Lower Class Sizes
    • 30% Lower Class Sizes
    • 16% Higher Teacher Salaries
    • 12% Better Preschool & Quality Childcare
    • 12% More Funding to School Boards
    • 4% Computers for Every Child 7th Grade and Up
  • 50% Support Raising Taxes to Fund Higher Education:
    • 20% Raise the Sales Tax
    • 20% Other
    • 17% Do Nothing
    • 16% Reinstate the Estate Tax
    • 14% Raise the Income Tax
Make your voice heard!  Fill out my constituent survey today! 

Weekly Column: General Assembly Preview Part II

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, the Mt. Vernon Voice and Patch in the week of January 8, 2013. 
Legislative Preview Part II: Budget Cuts, Road Shortfalls, and Uranium
Last week, I wrote about a few of the bills and budget amendments I’m going to be carrying this session.  This week, I am going to write about some of the broader issues in play this session.
First, the State Budget has dominated legislative sessions since I was elected in 2009 and that is not likely to change.  Although revenues are up over the last year by $340 million, due to the constitution and laws on the books, most of that money is already committed to the “Rainy Day Fund,” transportation, water quality improvement, and repaying the state retirement that was not funded in the 2010-2011 budget biennium.  The remaining amount is $40 million or about $400,000 per delegate seat – that’s it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Weekly Column: Some of My 2013 Legislative Agenda

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, the Mt. Vernon Voice and Patch in the week of January 1, 2013. 
Some of My 2013 Legislative Agenda
The 2013 Virginia General Assembly will convene on January 8 in Richmond for a 45-day or “short” session.

I would like to share with you some of the bills and budget amendments that I will propose. Next week, I will talk about some of the broader issues in play this session. 
When I requested suggestions from my constituents, I received over 50 ideas and I considered all of them in putting together my agenda. Thank you. 
I covered one of my bills in my column two weeks ago , a bill to prohibit use of a mobile phone while driving for any purposes other than a voice call.