How Much Have We Lost?

Monday, December 28, 2015

Weekly Column: What's Ahead in the State Legislature

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, The Mt. Vernon Voice and The Potomac-Stafford Local in the week of December 29, 2015.
What's Ahead in the State Legislature

       The 2016, 60-day session of the Virginia General Assembly gavels in on January 13. 
       The legislature will craft a two-year budget, which will be Governor McAuliffe's first chance to put his stamp on the state's finances.  While Virginia’s economy lags behind the national average, revenue is up more than average for the first time since I was elected in 2009 and there are many unmet needs worthy of funding.

Supporting Our Schools and Colleges
        Virginia is currently funding secondary education on a per pupil, inflation-adjusted basis at levels below funding in 2007.  The Governor has requested a billion dollar increase, new teacher positions, teacher pay raises and  full funding for “Cost to Compete,”  a program that supplements salaries for  Northern Virginia school employees. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Announcing the Puller Institute!

At the beginning of her term, Former 44th District Delegate Kris Amundson created a program to engage area high school juniors and seniors in the General Assembly process. In 2012, I renamed the program the Amundson Institute to honor Delegate Amundson's innovative idea and passion for the project. 

I am excited to hand the Amundson Institute over to 44th District Delegate-Elect Paul Krizek and create a similar program further to the Virginia State Senate.  It is dedicated to Senator Toddy Puller and her twenty-four years of service to Northern Virginia in the State Senate and House of Delegates.

Similar to the Amundson Institute, the program will consist of six bright junior and senior high school students who live in the 36th District.  They will travel to Richmond, watch the legislative process at work in the Senate and House Chambers, Committee, meet with policy makers, and tour historic state facilities.

After returning, the students will each give a 10 minute presentation on a state policy proposal that relates to the 36th District. Some of my best legislative ideas have come from student projects!

Applicants should demonstrate strong leadership skills, a strong work ethic and an interest in their state government.

Application Deadline: December 30, 2015
Dates: Sunday, February 14 to Tuesday February 16

You can also read more and watch videos of several introductions of Amundson Fellow introductions on my blog here:

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Coal Ash Water Permit Public Comment Session

Full Room at 12/8/15 DEQ Public Comment Meeting on Dominion Coal Ash
Water Discharge Permit
Tonight, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) hosted their official public comment hearing in Woodbridge.  Over 100 people turned out.

The hearing revolves around Dominion Resources application for a permit to discharge 172 million gallons of water used to store coal ash into Quantico Creek and the Potomac River.


Delegate Scott Lingamfelter and I both provided comments.  Woodbridge Supervisor Frank Principi spoke and communicated that the Prince William County Board of Supervisors passed a unanimous resolution asking for extension of the public comment period.  We also heard from the Mayors of Dumfries and Quantico.  The Mayor of Quantico likewise asked for more time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Weekly Column: General Assembly Must Address Many Needs

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, The Mt. Vernon Voice and The Potomac-Stafford Local in the week of December 2, 2015.
General Assembly Must Address Many Needs
 
At the State Senate annual Finance Retreat two weeks ago, staff updated the State Senate on Virginia's economy, projected revenues and significant budget issues expected during the 2016 session to begin on January 13.  The news is a mixed bag.
 
First, Virginia’s economy is still struggling.  Thanks to the “Sequester,” large, across-the-board, federal budget cuts, federal spending in Virginia is down by 33 percent over just last year.  That’s $24 billion fewer dollars coming into the Virginia economy.  Not surprisingly, economic growth has been flat statewide.  Twelve percent of homes are still short sales due to stagnant home prices and our predicted economic growth for 2016 is about one-third less than the national rate.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Possum Point Coal Ash Public Comment

Public comment on coal ash disposal on Possum Point in Prince William County is open through mid-December.  The time to make your voice heard is right now.  

In 1948, Dominion Virginia Power opened the 650-acre Possum Point Power Station located on the Potomac River near Quantico and Dumfries, Virginia.  Through 2003, Dominion deposited approximately 3.7 million cubic yards of coal ash - the byproduct of burning coal - into five different ponds near the Potomac River (Ponds A-E) - equal to a layer of about one foot of ash spread over 1,800 football fields.  Dominion describes the history here:


Given their age, the ponds were not built to modern standards and only one has any amount of "lining" (and the amount of lining in that pond is debatable).

Coal ash is well-known to leach lead, mercury, selenium, chlorine, arsenic, boron, hexavalent chromium and other heavy metals.  Experience at other sites has found heavy metals leeching into groundwater. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Weekly Column: Newport News Shipbuilding and Virginia's Port, Important to the Entire State

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, The Mt. Vernon Voice and The Potomac-Stafford Local in the week of November 25, 2015.
Newport News Shipbuilding and Virginia's Port, Important to the Entire State

Last week, I joined the Virginia Senate's Finance Committee in Portsmouth for briefings on   Virginia’s economy, revenue projections  and other important issues facing the state legislature.  More on that later.  While in Portsmouth, I toured two significant and under-appreciated Virginia assets. 
While neither the shipyard nor the Port is located in Northern Virginia, both have a significant impact on our quality of life and the entire state’s economy.  A healthy Port of Virginia has beneficial ripple effects across the whole state.
Newport News Shipbuilding
Newport News Shipbuilding, dating to 1886, is the only facility in the United States capable of constructing an aircraft carrier and one of two in the country that can build a submarine.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

TOMORROW - Coal Ash Disposal Hearing

PUBLIC INFORMATION HEARING REGARDING DISPOSITION OF COAL ASH DUMPS

Wednesday, November 18, 20157:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
VA Department of Environmental Quality
Northern Regional Office
13901 Crown Court
Woodbridge, VA 22193
Official Meeting Notice
 
           Tomorrow, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will host a public information hearing at its Woodbridge office regarding the future of five large Dominion Virginia Power coal ash dumps dating to the 1950's less than 1,000 yards from the Potomac River near Quantico and Dumfries. 
 
           Four ponds are entirely unlined.  All contain large amounts of coal ash waste which is well known to contain high levels of hazardous metals including lead, boron, cadmium, selenium, arsenic, and hexavalent chromium. 
 
           DEQ is proposing to allow Dominion Virginia Power to release treated industrial wastewater and storm water at a combined rate of 172 million gallons per day from eight outfalls from these ponds into Quantico Creek and the Potomac River. They are also proposing to allow Dominion to cap existing coal ash waste deposits in place instead of remove them to locations well away from the Quantico Creek and the Potomac River.  
 
            You can read more information about the coal ash problem on my online newsletter, the Dixie Pig here:
 
 
            It will be one of very few opportunities for the public to obtain information and ask questions before a decision is made to leave this waste in place in our community for generations.
 
            Please attend this hearing and contact my office if you have any questions or need further information!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Thank You 36th District Voters!

The final results are in and thanks to all of your hard work, financial support, and most of all, your votes, I will be sworn in as the next Senator for the 36th District in January.
 
The results were decisive across the board:
  • We prevailed in 16 of 17 precincts in Fairfax County and won Fairfax County 68% to 31%
  • We prevailed in 20 of 26 precincts in Prince William County and won Prince William County 57% to 43%
  • We split Stafford County precincts 2 v. 2 and only lost the County by 131 votes
  • We won the district by 60%, but the absentee by 68% and showed the state the difference that a real absentee voting program can have in a race.
Although we did not regain control of the Senate of Virginia last night, we had many results in the 36th District to be happy about.  When I run a campaign, it is very important to me to help all of the candidates that I run with - up and down the ticket.  We are all stronger when we work together.
 

Monday, October 19, 2015

In Person Early Voting Has Begun!

In-person absentee voting is underway in Northern Virginia.  Information about all three jurisdictions in the 36th District is below.

You can vote early in-person if you have a reason.  Some of the most common reasons are:
  • You work outside the county you live in
  • Your commute/work takes you away from home for 11 or more hours between 6 am and 7 p.m. on Election Day
  • You are ill or disabled (including difficulty standing in line)
  • Pregnancy
  • Active Duty Military or dependent of the same
  • In college outside of county of residence
  • First responder
A full list of reasons is here.

You can also electronically file your request to vote by mail here:

 
 PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY EARLY VOTING



FAIRFAX COUNTY EARLY VOTING
STAFFORD COUNTY EARLY VOTING



Sunday, October 11, 2015

Michael Pope and WAMU Highlight Victims of Car Title Lending

Over the last week, WAMU reporter Michael Pope aired an insightful five-part series highlighting the stories of Virginia car title lending victims. 

Finding these victims and highlighting their stories took a lot of perseverance and it's an impressive series. 

 I have been fighting these practices for the last three years.  In 2013 and 2014, I introduced HB2323 and HB973 to give the Board of Supervisors the authority to limit the number that can locate in an area and in 2015, I introduced HB2011 prohibiting consumer finance companies from locating in the same storefront - which is a major focus of this story. 

You can listen to each story here:
Story #1 - Inside The Fast Cash World of Virginia Car-Title Lenders (Oct. 5, 2015)

Story #2 - How Virginia Became the Region's Hub For High-Interest Loans (Oct. 6, 2015)

Story #3 - For Military Personnel, High Interest Lenders Aren't Far Away (Oct. 7, 2015)

Story #4 - As Repossessions Pile Up, Critics of Car Title Lenders Call for Change (Oct. 8, 2015)

Story #5 - Inside Virginia's Car-Title Loan Industry and Why It Drives Watchdog Groups Crazy (Oct. 9, 2015)
Attorney General Mark Herring has announced a new unit to focus on predatory lending and on Friday, Governor McAuliffe announced that he is also going to propose an interest rate cap.  No word on what that number will be, but it's nice to finally have some company fighting these companies. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hurricane Joaquin Storm Information

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for Northern Virginia due to the approach of Hurricane Joaquin. 
 
We are expected to receive heavy rain over the next three days as shown on the right. 

The path of the storm is still highly uncertain given existing weather patterns so please continue to monitor events.

The following information should help you prepare for the storm:  

Friday, September 11, 2015

Action Needed on Predatory Lending

Last month, I released my new political advertisement discussing the problem of exploding predatory lending on U.S. 1.

Today, I held a press conference with Attorney General Mark Herring regarding the continuing problem of predatory lending in the U.S. 1 Corridor and his recent decision to set up a unit in the Attorney General's Office specifically focused on enforcing Virginia's laws against predatory lenders.



Car Title Lenders on Route 1 are preying on working families and service members with up to 264% interest rates. It's wrong. As your Senator, I'll stop these outrageous rates.
Posted by Scott A. Surovell on Wednesday, August 19, 2015
There are several things we can do to get this under control:
  • Allow local governments to limit the number of predatory lending businesses that can locate in a neighborhood.
  • Limit predatory lenders from locating within a certain radius of their targets such as military bases or casinos.
  • Prohibit car title lenders from co-locating other financial institutions that offer different products in the same storefront.
  • Cap interest rates at thirty-six percent.
I have here is media coverage of our press conference.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Weekly Column: More Access to Clean Solar Power for Virginians

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, The Mt. Vernon Voice and The Potomac-Stafford Local in the week of September 1, 2015.
More Access to Clean Solar Power for Virginians
Last week, the State Corporation Commission (SCC) approved an innovative solar program proposed by Dominion Resources, a project that will enhance consumer choices and facilitate clean, renewable energy production for many Virginians.
 
As Virginia implements the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, the state's utilities  need to transition to systems that reduce carbon emissions and deliver reliable, affordable power to  homes and businesses.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Secretary of the Commonwealth to give Voter Restoration Update in Mt. Vernon

 
Governor McAuliffe has restored more peoples' voting rights in 18 months than any governor has in 4 years and the Route 1 Corridor has a high concentration of people who are eligible for restoration. It is important to spread awareness about the restoration process and my campaign has already identified a dozen people who are eligible to have their voting rights restored.
 
 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Fort Hunt Park Public Comments

The National Park Service is in the process if revising their long-term use plan for Fort Hunt Park.

Their initial proposal was met with a health rebuke from our community.  I wrote about it here, accepted hundreds of community comments, the National Park Service heeded our comments and the process was further revised:

 
 
The National Park Service is now out with their final two proposed alternatives (three if you count "no action").  My public comments are below.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Surovell Calls for Debates Across the 36th District

Mount Vernon, Virginia- Today Delegate Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax), challenged Republican nominee Mayor Jerry Foreman to debates across the 36th district.

"It's time for Mayor Foreman to stop hiding behind negative push polls and debate me face to face", Surovell said.  "I propose we hold a series of debates in every section of the District so the voters can come hear our vision for the Route 1 Corridor."

Surovell proposed a debate in every part of the district- organized by the two campaigns or any community groups willing to do so.  To date, no debates have been proposed by any group in the 36th district.

Surovell's plan includes 6 debates, with them held in each of the following areas:

Stafford County
Lee District (Fairfax County)
Mt. Vernon District (Fairfax County)
Occoquan/Coles Districts (Prince William County)
Woodbridge/Neabsco Districts (Prince William County)
Potomac District (Prince William County)

"Our district spans nine magisterial districts in three counties, and runs for over 20 miles along the Potomac River", Surovell noted.  "I hope Mayor Foreman will accept my challenge and we can begin planning debates immediately."
 
 
###

Friday, July 17, 2015

Fairfax County Change on U.S. 1 1960-2010

Fairfax County Channel 16 has come out with a new video featuring some historical highlights of the U.S. 1 Corridor 1960-2000's. 

The video features discussion of change on U.S. 1 through the years has some nice segments on Gum Springs, Mount Vernon High School, Montebello, and Woodlawn.

Great cameos by area history buff Michael Bohn, Gum Springs History Curator Ron Chase, SFDC Executive Director Edyhe Kelleher, Pamela Hess Executive Director of Arcadia Center for Food and Sustainable Agriculture which is about to launch a major initiative at Woodlawn, and a few clips of me.

Great production which summarizes our local history.  You can watch below.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Biking Through Coal County

Woke up this morning at the Comfort Inn in Big Stone Gap, Virginia which is currently populated with about two dozen cherry pickers to restore power lost last night.   This morning, I'm heading over to Wise, VA to serve as a panelist at a continuing legal education class on Drones and Spacelaw.

Driving up here last night, all I could think about was August, 1996 when I rode a bike across the United States. 

After getting a bike "tune-up" from an aggressive technician in Carbondale, IL, I noticed that my rear shifter had become a bit more erratic.  Once we hit the Ozarks in Missouri, it basically started to fail which was lots of fun going up hills with 15% grades.  When I got to Hindman, Kentucky it was basically completely dead and I knew there was no way I was going over the Virginia mountains with only about three gears (the low ones that aren't good on hills).

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Weekly Column: Prompt Action and Cooperation Needed to Clean the Potomac River

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, The Mt. Vernon Voice and The Potomac-Stafford Local in the week of July 6, 2015.
Prompt Action and Cooperation Needed to Clean the Potomac River
This past week, the senior member of Virginia’s congressional delegation introduced legislation to remove the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to hold Virginia accountable for failing to clean up the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.  People should be deeply disturbed. The Potomac provides drinking water to five million people.
 
A Rich History  
The Potomac River was once a bountiful asset and source of employment.  In 1604, Captain John Smith wrote of fish so plentiful he could spear them with his sword, oysters that “lay as thick as stones” and schools of fish so plentiful that his men attempted to catch them with frying pans. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Weekly Column: Predatory Lending Continues Its March Through Virginia and U.S. 1

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of June 23, 2015.
Predatory Lending Continues Its March Through Virginia and U.S. 1
The Virginia’s State Corporation Commission latest annual report says that predatory car title lending is thriving in Virginia .  With nearly three dozen car title lenders between Alexandria and Quantico on U.S. 1, this is troubling news, except to the lenders out to make big profits.    You can read the full report on my online newsletter –The Dixie Pig – at scottsurovell.blogspot.com 
Car title lending began in our state in 2010 after Virginia limited interest rates on payday loans and predatory lenders argued that a new option was needed.  Virginia law authorizes lenders to lend money at rates up to 30% per month which equates to around a 297% annual percentage rate (APR).  A consumer can  borrow up to 50% of their vehicle’s equity and the loan term is limited.   

Monday, June 15, 2015

California Ordered to Repay $331 Million - Is Virginia Next?

Today, $350 million worth of chickens came home to roost in California.  Virginia might be next and here's why. 

In the aftermath of the 2008 mortgage-driven financial crash, federal, state and local government budgets were walloped.  One of the jurisdictions hardest hit with foreclosures was Prince William County.  Property values plunged.  Vacant houses were everywhere as people dumped houses that they could never afford with adjustable rate mortgages coming due for readjustment purchased with "no doc" loans.

In 2011, Attorneys General across the United States reached a $25 billion settlement with five major banks regarding illegal and abusive mortgage lending practices.  Virginia's share of the settlement was over $66 million and was directed to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to disburse.  As part of a floor debate, I made the card on the right.   

Here's what the court's order said Virginia could do with the money:
Each State Attorney General shall designate the uses of the funds set forth in the attached Exhibit B-1.  
To the extent practicable,such funds shall be used for purposes intended to avoid preventable foreclosures, to ameliorate the effects of the foreclosure crisis, to enhance law enforcement efforts to prevent and prosecute financial fraud, or unfair or deceptive acts or practices and to compensate the States for costs resulting from the alleged unlawful conduct of the Defendants.  
Such permissible purposes for allocation of the funds include, but are not limited to, supplementing the amounts paid to state homeowners under the Borrower Payment Fund, funding for housing counselors, state and local foreclosure assistance hotlines, state and local foreclosure mediation programs, legal assistance, housing remediation and anti-blight projects, funding for training and staffing of financial fraud or consumer protection enforcement efforts, and civil penalties 
Accordingly, each Attorney General has set forth general instructions for the funds in the attached Exhibit B-2.
What did Virginia do in the 2012 Session? 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

My Endorsement for Mount Vernon Supervisor


With the retirement of Supervisor Gerry Hyland, Mt. Vernon is losing passionate fighter with decades of experience. Our next Supervisor must be an experienced leader that will fight for our community's fair share of resources and who has a track record and results.

Mount Vernon has four good candidates who are running.  Each have their accomplishments and positive attributes.

However, Dan Storck is the only choice for Mount Vernon and I am proud to endorse his campaign for Supervisor for the TUESDAY, JUNE 9 DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY. 

Dan has lived in the Stratford Landing neighborhood of Mount Vernon for over 25 years with his wife Deb and their three children. He previously served as President of the West Potomac High School PTSA and President of Good Shepherd Housing's Board. Dan was first elected as the Mount Vernon Representative to the Fairfax County School Board in 2004. 
 
Unlike the other candidates, Dan can also point to specific concrete results that he has achieved for the Mount Vernon District.
  • Opened three brand new schools (South County H.S., South County M.S. and Laurel Hill E.S.) in Mount Vernon in order to tackle overcrowding issues
  • Worked to fund construction for two entirely new elementary schools on the Route 1 Corridor in the next few years (at Fort Belvoir E.S. #2 and Pinewood Lake-Area E.S.)
  • Renovated or expanded ten existing Mt. Vernon schools with an additional Mt. Vernon seven schools in planning or currently under renovation
  • Personally re-worked the financing of the South County Middle School development and saved taxpayers $35 Million in financing
  • Fought for full-day kindergarten for all Fairfax County Schools
  • Created the Smart Services, Smart Savings initiative that has saved taxpayers $1 million by increasing efficiency and cutting unnecessary costs
  • Secured a needs-based staffing formula which secured a lower relative student-teacher ratio for most Mt. Vernon area schools
  • Fought to create the Priority School Initiative which supplements staffing at the neediest schools
  • Prioritized teachers' salaries in the budget
Dan understands the challenges facing Mount Vernon's schools because he has been forced to deal with the underfunding of our schools for the last twelve years and understands why Supervisor Gerry Hyland has been fighting to raise funds for our schools for years.  Like Supervisor Gerry Hyland, fully-funding Fairfax County Public Schools will be a priority for Dan.

Dan also understands that the strength of our schools is directly tied to the quality of housing and transit on the Route 1 Corridor and has made clear to me that he will work to revitalize Route 1 and extend the Yellow Line as soon as possible.

He has also made clear that he finds the explosion of predatory lending on U.S. 1 intolerable and that he will fight to get them under control. 

In order to fight for these priorities, he needs your support.   Please join me in voting for Dan Storck on Tuesday, June 9 and click below to get involved with his campaign this week.
 
http://www.danstorck.org/volunteer/

Monday, May 25, 2015

Weekly Column: VDOT Still has a Huge Amount of Catch Up

The following appeared in the Stafford and Potomac Local on May 25, 2015.
VDOT Still has a Huge Amount of Catch Up

As the weather warms and summer nears, we are approaching the road mowing and paving season in Northern Virginia.  Several paving projects are coming to eastern Prince William County and northern Stafford County in the 36th District. 

Click to Enlarge
VDOT plans to pave I-95 from Neabsco Creek to Smoketown Road, all of VA-123 and Old Bridge Road from VA-123 to Minnieville.  Cardinal Drive will get a new surface from U.S. 1 to Minnieville as well.  Southbridge will see new blacktop in on Wayside Lane, Pine Ridge Boulevard and several surrounding streets.  VDOT will pave the entire length of Joplin Road from U.S. 1 to Bristow Road and all the streets of the entire town of Quantico.  Main Street (U.S. 1) between Curtis Drive and Quantico Gateway Drive through Dumfries is also scheduled to be repaved. 
Many of Stafford County's secondary roads are in better condition than streets in other areas since many are newer.  In northeastern Stafford County, VDOT will resurface half a dozen streets around Dorothy Lane and Anita Drive in Garrisonville with all of Stefaniga Road.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

2015 Amundson Institute Presents Policy Projects

This past year, I held my 5th consecutive Amundson Institute. This engaging program was orginially
founded by my predecessor, the Honorable Kris Amundson. This program allows for the 44th District high school juniors and seniors that qualify for the program to join me during the Virginia Legislative Session. During this time, the students experience the Virginia state government first hand, while learning the intricate legislative process.

I was fortunate enough to have 6 very qualified students from Mount Vernon and West Potomac High School join me in Richmond this year and see what the politicians they read about do. From West Potomac High School, we had Kelly O'Meara, Margret O'Meara, Jayne Orleans and Emma Kelly. From Mount Vernon High School, we had Catherine Ming and Taamson Joshua. These 6 students were chosen because they demonstrated a passion for their school work, community and leadership. 
   While the primary component of the institute is the trip to Richmond, I also require that each individual student pick an issue to present that they are both passionate about and pertains to the 44th District. In the former years, I have drafted bills based on these projects.


       This year, the students addressed a variety of subjects:

***To see a specific student's presentation, please click on their name and you will be redirected to their project***
  • Ms. Emma Kelly, a junior at West Potomac High School, presented on the need for free screenings for 504 Plans for standardized testing. A 504 Plan is used to ensure that students with mental or phyiscal handicaps receive the help and assistance they need in order to succeed in school. Currently, children who are physically and mentally disabled that need a 504 Plan evaluation, but cannot afford it are suffering during standardized tests due to lack if assistance. Ms. Kelly proposes a bill that would allow these economically disadvantaged households easier access by requiring schools to have therapists in place that are able to diagnose and implement a plan to help these students succeed. 
  • Ms. Jayne Orleans, a senior at West Potomac High School, proposed implementing riparian buffers to protect the Potomac River from nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. In large quantities, these pollutants create Dead Zones, areas of water with excessive nutrient pollution, that causes aquatic life to either leave the area or die. Ms. Orleans proposes that by utilizing riparian buffers, we would be able to help protect our local water and environment from excessive runoff.
  • Mr. Kelly O'Meara, a senior at West Potomac High School, proposed mandating school programs that would teach both parents and students how to effectively manage teen stress. Mr. O'Meara came up with this proposal due to the recent increase in teen suicide because of academic and social pressures. He proposes that by encouraging more mandated and open communication between students and their families, we might be able to help parents and children learn how to balance school work, while encouraging stress-reliving personal time. 
  • Ms. Catherine Ming, a senior at Mount Vernon High School, presented a project that would implement a container deposit law that would encourage recycling by refunding those who return recyclable bottles. This bill would require a refundable deposit on containers that are turned into mandated locations. This practice would encourage responsibility and reduce waste. 
  • Ms. Margaret O'Meara, a senior at West Potomac High School, presented the need for crosswalks along US 1 to ensure pedestrian safety. With the increase in traffic on US 1, there is an increase in the need for protective travel measures. Ms. O'Meara proposed installing more cross walks and traffic lights to help ensure pedestrian welfare.

From environmental issues to disability service accessibility, the Amundson Institute students provided well-researched and thought out projects. It was my pleasure to show such a distinguished group of young leaders an inside look of their state government. 


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