Friday, October 11, 2019

Montclair Traffic Calming Feedback Needed!

Montclair Community in Dumfries, VA
Earlier this week, Prince William County Department of Transportation proposed three alternatives for changes to the Waterway-Silvan Glen intersection in Montclair. Delegate Elizabeth Guzman and I are bringing these options to the community to invite your feedback. Please review the information from PWCDOT below and complete the form HERE or at the bottom of this blog post so you can make your voice heard!

Waterway suffers from increased traffic volumes and speeding due to electronic way-finding services such as Google Maps and Waze. When traffic backs up on Minnieville and Dumfries Road, it spills into neighborhood streets like Cardinal Drive and Waterway. While I have introduced legislation to allow localities to designate certain streets to be excluded from electronic routing registries, they have not passed committee. The map below shows data gathered by VDOT regarding average traffic volumes and speeds.



Increased speed and volume have become a major concern at Waterway and Silvan Glen because of children entering and leaving Henderson Elementary School. Many parents whose children live close enough to walk are concerned for their children's safety when crossing Waterway to get to school.

PWCDOT has proposed the proposals on the left. County staff are now reviewing these proposals with school and police staff, finalizing the analysis, and will make a recommendation to VDOT after everything is completed.  The proposal will also be presented to the Montclair Homeowners Association for feedback and endorsement. 

The first proposal does away with the southern cross walk and creates an area for respite on the median in the middle of Waterway. It would also add a streetlight on the northeast corner.

The second proposal would retain the southern crosswalk but also move the northern crosswalk up on to the median and add a streetlight to improve visibility.

We need feedback from Montclair residents to forward to VDOT regarding the proposal.  Every comment completed on the form below will be forwarded to VDOT.

Ultimately, speeding poses the greatest risk to safety.  Pole mounted speed indicators have proven effective at lowering speeds on neighborhood roads. As shown on the right, Prince William County is also proposing to add one to the north of this intersection.

Please provide your feedback below.



Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Weekly Column: Assault Weapons and Farmer's Markets Don't Mix

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of September 8, 2019.
Every Saturday morning, my father and 12 year-old son go to the Alexandria Farmer’s Market.  My son gets cookies.  My dad gets ham biscuits.  Two weeks ago, they brought me some homemade salsa.  This weekend, they got something else.
Four men in a group called “The Right to Bear Arms” showed up at the Alexandria City Farmer’s Market carrying AR-15 assault rifles outfitted with scopes and bipods for sniping.  According to a video one of the group members, they staged this action to “educate people” about gun rights and “exercising our constitutional rights without fear to do so.”  The video is also filled with the usual references to freedom and the government taking away rights if you do not use them.  He also indicated they intended to do these kind of “monthly walks.”

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Hurricane Dorian

Hurricane Dorian is currently battering the Bahamas and is expected to turn north along the Atlantic Coast. The Governor declared a state of emergency for the entire Commonwealth of Virginia. Now is the time to prepare for this storm. Our region could experience high winds and heavy rain which may cause flooding and power outages. I have outlined a few resources below. You may call my office throughout the storm for assistance at 571-249-4484.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

VDOT Collecting Comments For I-95 Improvements

Legislation I supported and secured amendments to during the 2019 General Assembly directed CTB to initiate a data-driven study to develop the I-95 Corridor Plan to identify key problem areas, identify potential solutions and areas for additional review and study including investments in transit.  Here is the bill:


In just the last four years, we have:
  • Invested $80 million in Virginia Railway Express
  • Enacted a floor on the local gas tax that provides ongoing funding to Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford transit
  • Funded the widening of the I-95 southbound Occoquan bottleneck
  • Enacted $39.2 million dedicated to I-95 improvements
  • Negotiated the extension of the HOT lanes to Fredericksburg and secured $277 million of funding for additional projects in the I-95 Corridor.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Comment on New HOA/Condo Guidance!

Picture of River Towers After Collapse
The well-publicized partial collapse of River Towers Condominium in Belleview brought to my attention the lack of attention to property maintenance and inadequate capital reserve funds in homeowners associations. 

Last year, the General Assembly passed one bill requiring homeowners associations and condo associations to publish their budgets to their members and provide more transparency about the status of reserve funds.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Weekly Column: 400 Years of Democracy and Its Scars

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of July 20, 2019.
400 Years of Democracy and Its Scars
On July 30, 1619, 22 men met in Jamestown for what eventually would become the longest, continuing, democratically-elected legislative body in the western hemisphere.  They were originally called burgesses and their meeting was an experiment in representative democracy that changed the world.  This week, the nation importantly celebrates the 400th anniversary of that historic gathering. 
First House of Burgesses' Meeting - July 30, 1619 by Sidney King
While the experiment of democracy in the New World ultimately led to some incredible results, Virginia’s democracy was far from perfect.  Some of the most egregious scars were Virginia’s laws that codified, encouraged, tolerated and forced enslavement on African people, forcibly first brought to Point Comfort in today’s Hampton a few weeks after the House of Burgesses’ first meeting.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Senator Surovell's Official Comment on G.W. Parkway Safety

Stone Bridge on G.W. Parkway carrying Alexandria Avenue
The letter below was my initial public comments on improving traffic safety on the George Washington Memorial Parkway.  I will provide supplemental comments on completion of my constituent survey - 450 comments and counting!

You can complete my survey by using this link!


www.bit.ly/GWPSurvey


Monday, July 15, 2019

Provide Public Comment on The G.W. Parkway Safety Study!

Stone Bridge on G.W. Parkway at Alexandria Avenue
All who live in Mt. Vernon understand how unsafe conditions have become on the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

Violent collisions occur on a regular basis. Cyclists and pedestrians risk their lives to get on the bike trail or catch the 11-Y bus.  Many collisions are even fatal.  You can read more about my thoughts about why this is happening here:

Thanks to Congressman Don Beyer, the National Park Service is now taking official public comments on safety solutions for the George Washington Memorial Parkway from July 11 to August, 21, 2019.

I have designed a survey that also includes areas for open ended comments to collect feedback from the Mt. Vernon Community.  At the conclusion of the comment period, I will aggregate all of the comments and provide them to the National Park Service to ensure that your voice is heard.

You can find information regarding the study on the NPS official website here:


Please complete my survey and provide your comments below!

http://bit.ly/GWPkwyStudy

Weekly Column: Time to Speak Up to Fix the Parkway

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of July 15, 2019.
On July 11, over 150 people attended a National Park Service (NPS) meeting to share comments on NPS’s safety study and the future of the southern section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway.  Delegate Paul Krizek, Congressman Don Beyer and I have been asking for a safety study for four years and so far NPS has produced excellent information. 
I have lived about two blocks from the Parkway most of my life and significant changes have occurred.  The Defense Department moved 15,000 new employees to Fort Belvoir after 2005 has proven to be a real tipping point.  More specifically, many people who live in Maryland and worked at Walter Reed Medical Center now come across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and take the Parkway south to the Walker Gate.  In the evening rush hour, they race north and switch to Fort Hunt Road to access I-495 gridlocking Fort Hunt Road.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Weekly Column: Working to Stop Gun Violence

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of July 8, 2019.
Working to Stop Gun Violence 
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has called the state legislature to Richmond this week for a special session to focus on measures to reduce firearm violence in the state.  Addressing this problem is long overdue. 
Last year, guns killed more people than car accidents in Virginia.  The majority of those deaths were people committing suicide.  
Just last week, three people were shot in the Fairfax County portion of the 36th District in Gum Springs and Rose Hill.  The week before that, two people were found shot to death in the woods off Featherstone Road in Woodbridge.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Weekly Column: Decision Helps Keep Drinking Water Safe

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of June 23, 2019.

Decision Helps Keep Drinking Water Safe
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a decision that has major significance for Virginia and especially for Northern Virginia, in addition to their decision on redistricting. 
Few realize that Virginia has a series of uranium lodes that run along the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The largest lode is in Pittsylvania County on the North Carolina border, but a major series of lodes are in Madison, Culpeper and Fauquier Counties at the headwaters of the Occoquan River.  The Occoquan is a major source of drinking water for Fairfax and Prince William Counties.  
After Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island near disaster in 1979, a partial meltdown of a nuclear reactor, the Virginia General Assembly in 1982 enacted a moratorium on uranium mining.  While some federal permits are required for uranium mining, most thought that the states were allowed to adopt more stringent environmental protections as they are for any other mining or environmental requirements.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Weekly Column: More Work Needed to Stop Unrepresentative Districts

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of June 16, 2019.
More Work Needed to Stop Unrepresentative Districts
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill, a gerrymandering case.  Justice Ginsberg essentially wrote that the Virginia House of Delegates was not allowed to bring the appeal.
Here is some background.  The General Assembly is required by the Constitution of Virginia and  the U.S. Constitution’s  Fifth Amendment to redraw congressional and state legislative districts after each census.  In 2011, the General Assembly held a special session.  Republicans held the majority in the House of Delegates, Democrats controlled the state Senate and Republican Governor Bob McDonnell was in office.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Metro Shutdown Begins Saturday

Crumbling Platform Braddock RdThis summer, Metro will shut down all six stations south of DCA. This work is the result of dedicated funding I supported in the 2019 budget. Metro will be providing shuttle bus services. Please find information below from Metro, VDOT, and the Washington Area Bicycling Association about transportation alternatives including bicycle and bus services.

2019 Platform Improvement Project Activities

Metro's contractor will work concurrently at all six stations south of National Airport in summer 2019 to expedite construction and ensure the stations are ready to reopen for customers after September 8.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Thoughts On Changes to the GW Parkway

Due to last week's fatal collision, there has been renewed discussion in safety on the George Washington Parkway (GWP) in the last week.

Delegate Paul Krizek and I have been working with Congressman Don Beyer to do something about this for some time. 


Two years ago, the National Park Service stated they intended to conduct a traffic safety study.  That has not occurred yet.

In the meantime, as we move forward with a discussion about dealing with safety deficiencies on the road, we have been hearing lots of ideas about how to reconfigure the road including major changes to intersections, lanes, or stoplights.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Weekly Column: Northern Virginia’s Public Schools Are Not “Fully Funded”

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of April 29, 2019.

Northern Virginia’s Public Schools Are Not “Fully Funded”

As election year heats up, some candidates use terms like “fully funded” schools.  Here’s my perspective on the subject.   
First, Virginia’s median family income is ninth in the United States.  It is largely driven by Northern Virginia counties: Fairfax County (3rd - $106,690), Stafford County (5th - $95,927), and Prince William County (6th – $93,011).  Fairfax, Stafford and Prince William Counties rank in the top 1% of all American jurisdictions - 3rd, 19th and 20th in the entire USA.  
However, per pupil investment in elementary-secondary education ranks orders of magnitude lower.  Virginia is 22nd in the country in per pupil spending, averaging around $11,432.  Arlington County leads Virginia at $19,348 per student even with a lower median income than Fairfax County.  Fairfax County “fully funds” FCPS by spending 21% less than Arlington or $15,293 per student, Prince William spends $12,427 and Stafford spends $11,319.  

Monday, April 1, 2019

Tell VDOT to Give Cyclists and Pedestrians and Cyclists a Safer Way to Cross a Multimodal U.S. 1 in 7 years!



VDOT is finalizing plans to widen U.S. 1. One of the important decisions they still need to make is whether to install an underpass below the highway at Little Hunting Creek and another at Dogue Creek.  Over the last public hearing, they have received mixed feedback over whether meeting attendees would "use" the underpass, but the meetings were largely attended by people who do not live near the crossings.

The underpass would provide many benefits:

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Weekly Column: Major Bills From 2019 Session

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of March 26, 2019.

The 2019 General Assembly Session ended on February 28.  In the last two columns I covered my personal legislative agenda and the state budget.  In this column, I will highlight some other important bills that passed.  
We enacted two significant economic development packages.  While I am generally skeptical of using taxpayer dollars for economic development incentives such as movie production tax credits, I am supportive to projects that can generate long-term jobs.  
The Amazon project is projected to create between 25,000 and 37,500 jobs with average wages of $150,000 or more.  The Commonwealth has committed to fund $22,000 per job for the first 25,000 jobs and $15,564 per job for the second 12,500 jobs after they are created. Tax revenue will pay for each commitment within a few years of creation and will have a 6:1 lifetime return on investment for taxpayers over $1.2 billion of new tax revenue overall.  The Commonwealth has also committed to $295 million of transportation investments into Metro, National Airport, and U.S. 1 which will make the community truly multimodal.  Virginia Tech has also committed to build a $1 billion Innovation Campus next door. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Comment on Route 1 Widening in Fairfax County


Next week, VDOT will host public information sessions on the future of U.S. 1 widening in Fairfax County. This is your opportunity to learn about the project and make your voice heard before the final design is established. The event will be at Mount Vernon High School from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on March 26.

I am collecting comments and will share them with VDOT. Please complete my survey herehttp://bit.ly/Rt1CommentForm

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Weekly Column: 2019 State Budget Misses Opportunities

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of March 19, 2019.

The 2019 General Assembly session adjourned on February 24 after a few hiccups.  Two weeks ago, I discussed the legislation that I passed.  In this column, I will explain various budget actions we took. 
First, unlike the Federal Government, our budget is balanced as required by the Constitution of Virginia. Next, the General Assembly needed to address modifications to our tax code to bring it up to speed with changes made by Congress with the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2018.  This is usually labelled “conformity.”  “Straight conformity” would cause an additional $600 million of state revenue largely due to the interplay between the new increased federal standard deduction and the $10,000 cap on state and local taxes and mortgage interest (“SALT”).  

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Weekly Column: 16 Bills on the Governor's Desk!

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of February 25, 2019.

16 Bills on the Governor’s Desk!
The 2019 Session is now in the books.  Notwithstanding the controversy generated by our statewide officials, it was one of the most personally successful sessions in the 10 years I have served in the General Assembly.  This column focuses on my personal legislative agenda. 
First, Governor Northam announced a deal to widen I-95 southbound between VA-123 and the Prince William County Parkway in three years using no taxpayer funds and no penalty payment to Transurban.  I have been urging this solution for three years and it will save millions of drivers millions of hours per month when implemented. 

Monday, February 18, 2019

Weekly Column: Budget Compromise, Child Support Deadbeats & Session End Approaches

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of February 18 2019.

It is hard to believe, but the last week of the General Assembly has arrived and we hope to gavel out by this coming Saturday.  This past week was very busy as we tried to complete work on bills from opposite chamber and negotiated amendments to the budget. 
First, the Governor and the money committees announced an agreement regarding tax conformity and the revenue side of the budget.  The compromise provides a $110 refund for each tax return (individual or joint) this year.  From 2020 to 2026, it increases the standard deduction at the state level by $1,500 for individuals and $3,000 for joint filers – resulting in $86 in savings for individuals and $172 for couples.  The bill also removes the $10,000 cap on itemized deductions for state taxes.  Given the state income tax is only 5.75%, the tax relief afforded is about $57.50 for every $1,000 of additional mortgage interest, state or local property taxes paid over and above $10,000.  
I was not happy with this proposal for several reasons.  First, it takes about $450 million per year out of the state budget which could fund desperately underfunded General Fund (non-transportation) priorities such as secondary education, higher education, childcare, healthcare, safety net, environmental protection, parks, and public safety.  Second, most of the people receiving the bulk of these cuts are already receiving big federal tax cuts while we run the biggest deficits in United States history instead of following the Governor’s proposal to target modest tax relief targeted to low wage working Virginia families.  This week, negotiators will attempt to finalize the expenditure side of the budget. 
Next, my legislation to modernize child support collection continued to move through the process.  There is over $2.4 billion of delinquent child support in Virginia.   When child support goes unpaid with low income families, it is often paid by taxpayers through the state’s Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) and it is recovered through the Commonwealth’s Department of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE).  In the last five years, child support deadbeats have begun to seek employment with “gig economy” companies as independent contractors such as Uber and Lyft who are exempt from child support withholding.  My legislation would change that and passed the Courts Civil Subcommittee by one vote.   
My legislation to change the Town of Dumfries Town Charter to move elections from May to November passed the full House and Senate.  There is no need for taxpayers to fund separate elections, especially when they result in much lower turnouts.   
The legislation I introduced to create a pilot project to provide Fairfax County with an additional tool to fund underground utilities on U.S. 1 passed the House Commerce and Labor Committee and should be up for a final vote this Tuesday.   
Next, my bill to give Fairfax County authority to fine retailers for rogue shopping carts after refusing to pick them up for 10 days failed in a House subcommittee on a tie vote.  Several Mount Vernon and Springfield residents testified about the disruption loose carts cause in neighborhoods, sidewalks, and the environment – I have now removed over 250 shopping carts from Little Hunting Creek alone.  We will try again next year. 
Also, my bill to enhance prohibit cars from illegally passed other cars by using bike lanes and creating a new serious traffic offense for seriously injuring a cyclist or pedestrian while distracted passed the House Transportation Committee, but was killed by the House Courts of Justice Committee.  Many rural members do not understand the need for better cycling safety rules. 
My legislation to creates consequences for destroying public records to avoid a Freedom of Information Act passed, but only after fines for violating the state’s public meetings law were removed.  I am moving the bill into a conference committee to negotiate a compromise because the closed meeting rule is routinely abused.   
Finally, on Wednesday, I held my annual Facebook Townhall.  Over 56 constituents posted questions and about 1,500 have viewed the 90-minute town hall.  You can watch the recorded version on my official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/surovell.   
Please contact me at scott@scottsurovell.org if you have any questions.  It is an honor to represent you in the Senate of Virginia.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Weekly Column: Passing Bills, Serving the Public

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of February 11, 2019.

Passing Bills, Serving the Public

Last week in the General Assembly was a week of accomplishments, revelations and stress. 
The Senate approved and sent to the House of Delegates 20 of my 25 bills  and added several of my budget amendments to the Senate budget. 
The Senate  agreed to $2 million to study extending Metro’s Blue Line to Lorton, Woodbridge and Potomac Mills, along with enhanced transit on U.S. 1 in Prince William County.  I have been fighting for this for three years and with Senator George Barker’s help, we got it included in the Senate budget.  Additionally, my proposal to fund additional treatment services and a study for incarcerated, sexually-violent predators was included so that they can  receive treatment before they are committed to a post-incarceration civil treatment facility, an approach that costs taxpayers significantly more per day than a standard jail.  There is no reason to delay therapy until they have completed their sentence.  This will save taxpayers millions of dollars if it works. 
The Senate, on a 37-2-1 vote, passed my bill to create a framework to clean up Virginia’s coal ash repositories.  The bill requires at least 6.8 million cubic yards of the 27 million cubic yards to be recycled into “encapsulated” products like bricks, cinderblocks or cement.  The bill also requires Dominion to work with localities to minimize transportation impacts; to give priority to local workers; and to continually seek proposals to recycle ash as technology evolves so that we can minimize coal ash landfill storage.  While the bill is not everything I want, it achieves my primary objectives to prohibit “cap in place” or using old leaky ash ponds to store ash forever and to promote recycling. 
On a vote of 29-11, the Senate passed my legislation to give Fairfax County an additional tool to pay for underground utilities on U.S. 1.  The bill allows the County to pay for underground utilities and then recover the cost by levying a utility fee that will cost about $0.80-0.90 per month.  I have heard loud and clear from my constituents that they want underground utilities on U.S. 1.  Prince William County’s government funded it for all 10 miles of U.S. 1.  If Prince William can afford it, so can Fairfax County, and I am hoping to provide County officials with a method to do it. 
On a vote of 34-6, the Senate passed my bill to create penalties for government officials who intentionally try to avoid our sunshine laws.  The bill creates penalties for destroying public records to avoid the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and penalties for officials who incorrectly vote to certify that they only discussed specifically exempted and previously-announced matters in closed public meetings.  
I also passed legislation clarifying that cars cannot use bike lanes to pass other vehicles and making it easier to convict drivers for seriously injuring cyclists and pedestrians.  U.S. 1 is the deadliest road in Virginia for pedestrians and pedestrian deaths are up by 50 percent in the last five years in Virginia.  Most injured cyclists and pedestrians cannot remember what happened or are killed when struck.  This will help balance the playing field on the criminal side of justice. 
Finally, this was another rough week as the Governor’s situation continued to percolate, the Attorney General admitted to using blackface at age 19 in college and two different women accused our Lieutenant Governor of sexual assault.  We were initially willing to wait for time and information after one accusation was made, but when a second woman 4,000 miles away made a very serious allegation, it was clear to some of us that this was becoming an issue that could distract from his duties. The Senate Democratic, House Democratic and Legislative Black Caucuses and called for his resignation.  I am continuing to assess my position on the situations and welcome your input. 
Please weigh in on my constituent survey at http://bit.ly/sd362019survey and email me at scott@scottsurovell.org with your feedback.  I will host a town hall meeting on Facebook on February 13, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.  I hope you will watch and participate online at www.facebook.com/surovell.  It is an honor to serve as your state senator.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Session Interviews with Cable Reports

Every year, I interview with Cable Reports to preview the General Assembly Session.  This year, I did two interviews - one focusing on Fairfax County and the other on Prince William and Stafford Counties. During these interview we were able to cover a wide array topics from the Governor's agenda to items that specifically affect the constituents within my district. I was glad to discuss the coal ash removal bill that was supported by the Governor. We went on to discuss my legislation on predatory lending, the urgency of passing tax conformity, underground utility lines, the tolling situation on I-81 and bi-partisan redistricting.

Fairfax County


Prince William County


Sunday, February 3, 2019

Weeky #4: A Week of Highs and Lows in the State Legislature

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of February 3, 2019.


A Week of Highs and Lows in the State Legislature

The fourth week of this session of the General Assembly brought some of greatest highs and greatest lows I have ever experienced in my 10 years serving in the General Assembly. 
In a Monday, January 29 press conference with Governor Northam, we announced a new agreement with Transurban to start the immediate construction of a new lane southbound on I-95 between VA-123 and the Prince William County Parkway. Transurban agreed to waive any compensation event or penalty payment on their existing contract.  With this agreement, we much closer to removing the worst bottleneck in all of Northern Virginia, the most frequent transportation complaint I receive - a traffic nightmare that costs millions of Virginians millions of hours of lost productivity. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Week #3 - ERA & Predatory Lending Dies, HOA Reform Moves Forward

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of January 29, 2019.

The third week of the General Assembly brought action on many of my bills

First, the Equal Rights Amendment was killed in House Committee at the beginning of the week.  It was the first time the House of Delegates has ever held a hearing on the amendment.  The official statements from members who opposed indicated that they felt women had equal rights and the amendment was no longer necessary.  However, the conservative activist community has attempted to make the amendment all about abortion which is inaccurate - the right to contraception and reproductive freedom is already recognized in the U.S. Constitution.

Women do not have equal rights.  There are numerous pieces of legislation that are regularly passed across the country that have a disparate impact on women.  Unfortunately, these are very difficult to challenge in court because government actions that differentiate on sex are not given the same scrutiny as government actions that differentiate based on race.   I have carried this bill for seven years and we will continue to fight to enshrine equality in the U.S. Constitution. 

Friday, January 25, 2019

Weekly Column: Week #2 - ERA, Ban the Box, and LGBT Nondiscrimination Moves Forward

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of January 22, 2019.

The second week of the General Assembly are now in the books.

First, the Senate of Virginia passed a resolution ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) for the sixth time by a vote of 26-14 which is the largest margin ever.  Seven Republican Senator joined all nineteen Democratic Senators to pass the resolution.  The fight moves on to the House this week which historically has refused to even hold a hearing.

This year is different.  In 2018, the states of Nevada and Illinois ratified the ERA which leaves the amendment one state short from ratification.  While the Supreme Court has not expressly upheld Congress’ power to set a ratification deadline, lower courts have held that Congress can set the terms of ratification which also means that Congress can extend the deadline or accept ratifications after the deadline has run.  Legislation is pending in Congress to do that and this is an opportunity to put Virginia on the right side of history for the first time in probably 200 years.  Stay tuned.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Weekly Column: ERA On the Move, Redistricting Reform, and I-81 on the Docket

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of January 15, 2019.

        The first three days of the General Assembly ended on Friday and it is proving to me a busy session. 
        On the first day of session, my legislation to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was debated in the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee.  ERA would prohibit the government from discriminating against all persons on the basis of sex.  It does not apply to discrimination by private individuals (which is covered by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other laws).   
        The Commonwealth and the country have a long history of discrimination against women and although most forms of explicit discrimination have ended, there are still government actions taken that have disparate impacts on women and as we have seen from recent events, even the most basic political norms can be easily overturned.  I believe this value needs to be reflected in our Constitution.  

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Equity for Who? Comment on Fairfax County Proposal to Delete Six Miles of Planned Bike Trails


High Voltage Power Lines Along Huntley Meadows
Park Boundary
(Click to Enlarge)
Huntley Meadows Park is a wonderful community asset.  I volunteered in the park for about five years checking blue bird nesting boxes for eggs near Hayfield as part of an attempt to bring them back.  I've enjoyed the park with my kids, sent them to summer camps there, jogged in the woods, and spent time there pondering nature.

The community bravely and correct beat back and effort to run highway through the park when I was in high school.  I have been a life member of the Friends of Huntley Meadows for nearly a decade and also secured them corporate financial support in the past.

Map Showing Current Comp Plan and Possible Trail
Realignments to Minimize Wetland Impacts
(Click to Enlarge)
However, this month, the Fairfax County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors will be voting on a proposal to remove two potential bike and walking trails along the boundaries of Huntley Meadows Park on utility easements from the County's Comprehensive Plan.  I support the existing proposed trails, oppose both removal amendments and would like to hear from constituents about the issue to communicate their concerns to County leaders.  You can provide your comments below.

Weekly Column: My Agenda This Session - Coal Ash, I-95, and Equal Rights

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of January 2, 2019.

The General Assembly Session gavels in on January 9, 2019 and we have a full agenda awaiting us for our 45-day or “short” session.

First, the budget will probably take center state this year even though we adopted a two-year budget last year.  As I mentioned in my previous column, between federal tax reform, rising revenues, and the Supreme Court’s Wayfair decision that allows states to tax internet sales, the Commonwealth has over $1 billion of excess revenue to appropriate.  Governor Northam has proposed a targeted tax cut to working Virginians, investments in K-12, and investments in higher education.