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.