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 February 16, 2016.
Week #5: Regional Gas Tax, Digital Divide, and Identity ProtectionThe fifth week of the General Assembly Session brought some long days and nights as we rushed to complete work on bills before our mid-session deadline called “Crossover.”First the Senate passed legislation to plug a hole in the Northern Virginia 2.1% regional gas tax that is used to fund transit. This legislation was the top priority for Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford Counties. It now goes on to an uncertain future in the House of Delegates, but without the legislation, localities will be under even more pressure to raise real estate taxes if we expect to maintain the same level of transit service.Eleven of my bills have passed the full Senate with two more still waiting for final passage. One bill involved improving the fairness of protective order proceedings and another ensured that Virginians can enforce subpoenae in civil and criminal cases in Virginia due to a recent Supreme Court of Virginia opinion.
My legislation to help close the Digital Divide moved through committee this week. Today’s children learn digitally and digital literacy is a key job skill in a modern workforce. However, low income families often cannot afford devices or broadband connections.After I learned Fairfax County was using electronic textbooks and failing to provide computers for low income families to use them at home, I introduced legislation to require any school using electronic textbooks to provide a digital device to every student. The legislation was vetted and approved by the Joint Commission on Technology and Science but was tabled in the House. Last week, the Senate Education, Health and Welfare Committee passed the bill on a 14-1 vote.The proliferation of companies providing background checks for people has led to an increase in dissemination of inaccurate information. This severely limits Virginians’ opportunities, especially in employment and housing. My legislation to create a Virginia-based cause of action to remedy these situations and hold companies accountable for putting out inaccurate information passed the Senate.Several of my law firm clients and lawyers in Northern Virginia have told me that some orthopedic practices are refusing to see individuals who have suffered injuries in vehicle collisions – even if they have insurance. My bill to require insurance companies to contractually prohibit doctors from refusing patients based on how they were injured was continued to 2017 so we can convene meetings between insurance companies, doctors, and other stakeholders to mediate a resolution.
If you have any feedback, please send me a note at email@example.com. It is an honor to serve as your state senator.