Monday, November 18, 2013

Surovell & Ebbin Launch Effort to Repeal Hybrid Tax

Last year, the General Assembly adopted a $100 per year tax on hybrid vehicles as part of our the transportation funding legislation.

Senator Adam Ebbin and I started an effort to repeal this tax which resulted in over 7,300 Virginians signing a petition urging the veto of the tax.  Governor McDonnell eventually reduced it to $64.

I wrote about it here:

Today, Senator Ebbin and I introduced legislation to repeal the tax.  Our press release is below.

November 18, 2013

Contact: Senator Ebbin – Sam Bosch
Contact: Delegate Surovell - Megan Howard


Legislators say tax on technology punishes drivers who choose to do the right thing

November 18, 2013.  Senator Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and Delegate Scott A. Surovell (D-Mount Vernon) filed legislation on Monday to repeal the recently enacted $64 per year tax on hybrid vehicles.  The bill are numbered House Bill 4 and the Senate Bill number is pending.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Weekly Column: U.S. 1 Version 2.0: Reducing Congestion

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, The Mt. Vernon Voice and Patch in the week of November 12, 2013.
U.S. 1 Version 2.0: Reducing Congestion
This  is the third article in my weekly series examining the U.S. 1 Multimodal Alternatives Analysis, our transit choices and why extending the Metro subway Yellow Line is the best alternative. Last week, I focused on how our transit choice for the highway will improve outcomes in our schools. This week I focus on traffic.
U.S. 1 has a long history. The road’s current alignment through the 44th District is a consolidation of three or four local roads realigned between 1915 and 1935 into U.S. 1 and widened in the early 1970s. Before the Shirley Highway (now I-395) in 1941, it was the major north-south road in the eastern U.S.. Afterwards, it just became a major north-south road. Today, it remains the primary way in, out and through the 44th District.  
U.S. 1’s current configuration presents many problems. First, there are only two ways for the 120,000 people between Fort Belvoir, Huntley Meadows and Alexandria, plus commuters to cross Little Hunting Creek – U.S. 1 and the George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWP) – and no route west between Lockheed Boulevard and the Fairfax County Parkway (or Woodlawn after Mulligan Road opens in about six months ). This creates numerous choke points, like those at Kings Crossing and Buckman Road and at Woodlawn Plantation when U.S. 1 is widened through Fort Belvoir in about four years.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Fairfax County Still Leads in Childcare Waiting Lists

As I wrote last week in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, preschool and affordable childcare are approaching crisis in the 44th District as our schools continue to struggle.  How did we get here?  

The Clinton Administration saw significant reforms to what was then called "Welfare" programs.  Welfare was renamed "Temporary Assistance to Needy Families" or TANF.  One of the major reforms was that parents were expected to work if they wanted to continue to receive TANF benefits.

Given that many parents lacked job skills to earn living wages, the cost of childcare was frequently more than the net income a parent could earn working.  The account for this, the government began paying for childcare subsidies so that parents could work and develop job skills.  The New York Times wrote an excellent summary of the problem here:

Friday, November 8, 2013

Why I Hate Electronic Voting Machines

Today’s battle over the “missing” Fairfax County 8th Congressional District absentee votes has given me flashbacks.  

In 2009, I was chairman of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee.  Gerry Connolly was elected to Congress in 2008.  In January, 2009, Sharon Bulova was elected Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in a special election. 

Upon her resignation, a special election was held for Braddock District Supervisor.  John Cook and Illryong Moon faced off on who would represent Braddock District's 100,000 citizens.   As we waited for the votes to come in, everyone was waiting for the votes to come in for the largest (and Democratic leaning) precinct in the district – Fairview – while margin between the candidates stood under at 70 votes.  If Fairview Precinct gave Mr. Moon the same margin it gave President Obama in 2008, it would change the result of the election.

While I was waiting at the victory party, I received a phone call from one of my former Mt. Vernon District Precinct Captains, Michael Gropman, who had moved to Fairview and was inside the polling place.

He told me there were two touch screen voting machines (technically called "Direct Recording Electronic Machines" or "DRE’s") in the precinct and that the “master” machine that communicates wirelessly with all machines in the precinct and tabulates the entire precinct's vote was spitting out tapes that were causing the precinct vote totals to be nearly double the total number of voters that had passed through the precinct that day.

The machines were examined.  After it was determined they could not produce accurate results, they were turned off, sealed and taken to the Fairfax County Government Center.  Mike met me at the victory party.  We went into a booth and I took a recorded statement from him about what he had observed.  I was concerned litigation was coming. 

We arrived the following day for the Canvass.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thank You 44th District!

On Tuesday, November 5, 18,387 of the 44th District's 80,000 residents participated in the 2013 Election.  Seventy-one percent of them chose to give me the honor of continuing to represent our community in Richmond.

Since I was first elected in 2009, the long-term improvement of the U.S. 1 Corridor has been my number one priority and it will continue to be. The extension of the Yellow Line is the long-term solution to redevelopment on U.S. 1.

The U.S. 1 Corridor is projected to add 40,000 new residents and 17,000 new jobs in the next 30 years. We need to lay the groundwork for moving those people now.