How Much Have We Lost?

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. 


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Weekly Column: Major Paving Operations Set to Start this Summer in 44th District

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of May 9, 2015.
Major Paving Operations Set to Start this Summer in 44th District
As the weather warms and we approach the summer, it also means that we are approaching the road mowing and paving season in Northern Virginia, and good news is coming for the 44th District.
From 1987 to 2013, the General Assembly refused to raise Virginia’s $0.17/gallon gas tax to even keep up with inflation.  As salaries, the cost of materials, and infrastructure needs all increased, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) had to prioritize funds for other critical maintenance needs.  As a result, grass mowing was massively limited, primary and interstate maintenance was prioritized and secondary road paving was limited.  Over 70% of secondary roads in Northern Virginia were rated to have substandard pavement quality (secondary roads are roads numbered over 600).
Over the last six years I have been in office, I have consistently received complaints about pavement quality – especially on major secondary arteries like Fort Hunt Road and Sherwood Hall Lane.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Surovell Receives Consumer Protection Award


**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**
May 6, 2015
 
More Information: Megan Howard, 703.850.8618


SUROVELL RECEIVES CONSUMER PROTECTION AWARD

Mt. Vernon, VA- Delegate Scott Surovell (D-44) was presented with the "Champions of Consumer Rights" Award by the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) over the weekend. The award recognizes his years of advocacy to protect consumers, push back against predatory lending and House Bill 2015 which seeks to provide exemptions related to child care support.
 
NACBA President Edward Boltz stated, “We are pleased to recognize Delegate Scott Surovell with the award in recognition of his tireless advocacy for consumers, including his work in combatting abuses by payday lenders and car title lenders, and particularly his successful effort, working with NACBA members in Virginia, to enact legislation to protect Virginians in bankruptcy from having their child support, spousal support, and earned income tax credits taken by bankruptcy trustees.”
 
The legislation, House Bill 2015, provides modifications to bankruptcy exemptions related to child care support and allows an individual filing bankruptcy or subject to judgment collections to exempt child and spousal support arrearages from actions to collect debts by creditors.  It also allowed debtors to spread existing exemptions for individual vehicles or firearms among multiple assets instead of having to claim only one car of firearm as exempt.  
 
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