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While the bipartisan transportation bill will always be the most remembered legislation about 2013, below are a few other news items of interest and important bills that have not been as widely reported. You can read a complete review at http://dls.virginia.gov.

Human Trafficking Notices:  Truck stops must post human trafficking hotline information. (1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree [233733]. Hotline available 24/7/365, anywhere in the country.)

If you have read The Washington Post recently, you have likely heard of the “Chef Scandal” cooking in Richmond.  Last year, the Governor’s Mansion Chef was fired for allegedly siphoning off food for his private catering business.  It turns out he may not have been the only one stealing and that members of the Governor’s immediate family were taking food and cookware back to college and to private parties.  It was also discovered that a Richmond-area businessman and large campaign donor had paid the Chef’s firm $15,000 to cater Governor McDonnell’s daughter’s wedding.  The Governor

I write on Friday after the 2013 Sessions ended at 12:48 am on Thursday April 4th.  The annual one day “reconvened” session considers vetoes and recommendations by the Governor.  A second special session was immediately called thereafter solely for the purpose of electing judges, a process that is almost always controversial somewhere, but not in Fairfax.  In the 19th Circuit, we are proud of our bipartisan and, so far, non-controversial method of selecting judges.  Of note, we elected John Tran to Circuit Court, the first Asian American to serve as a judge in Virginia.

When I was elected in 2003, seventeen years had elapsed since our per gallon gas tax—by far Virginia’s largest contribution to VDOT’s budget—was raised from 15 cents per gallon to 17.5 cents.  That’s what it remains today.  As a per gallon tax, inflation took its toll, and that same 17.5 cents is worth about 7-8 cents in 1986 dollars.  Meanwhile, the population grew by more than 2 million and the number of cars on the road exploded.  Now, after 27 years, and ten years into my service in the House of Delegates a comprehensive transportation bill sits on the Governor’s desk waiting his signat

The 2013 session is halfway over and it is hard to guess what might happen to the two most important policy issues before the General Assembly: funding a robust transportation program, and accepting Medicaid expansion as called for by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The 2013 legislative session will be a fast-paced and busy six weeks. While there will be the annual attempt to find reliable long-term funding sources for transportation, other interesting bills will keep us on our toes. Implementing the Affordable Care Act to meet unique Virginia conditions, and considering bills to restructure incentives for electrical utilities to build and utilize more renewable sources of energy are two time-consuming issues. The following are a couple of items I am working on:

Charter schools are public schools that perform missions that cannot be, or are not being, provided by your neighborhood school. The charter school movement has grown over the years, especially in urban school systems. These schools have obviously not taken hold in Fairfax County for a couple of reasons I will describe. I am not an expert by any means, and will welcome your views on this subject.

A great deal of attention has been paid around the country to alleged voter fraud. Last winter, the Virginia General Assembly considered several different bills to make it harder to vote. Most of these bills failed. A voter ID-related bill passed, however, that changes the way a vote is tallied, or counted, if the voter appears at the polls without an ID. The bill is intended to eliminate "in- person" impersonation of a registered voter. The new law allows the voter to cast a "provisional" ballot if he/she does not have an ID.

Virginia last raised the gas tax from 15 cents to 17.5 cents per gallon in 1986. Today, the per-gallon tax has an equivalent purchasing power of less than 8 cents.

Against the wishes of the General Assembly, Governor McDonnell has completed an “end run,” as one colleague put it, around the legislature and cobbled together a $6 million-plus grant for our own Washington Redskins, one of the most profitable sports franchises in the world.  Both D.C.

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