Thank you so much for the opportunity to continue to represent the citizens of the 43rd District in the General Assembly. It is not just boilerplate to say that it is an honor to serve in this famous body. The House of Delegates has been both an incubator of presidents, and of mass resistance to equal treatment of the races. My hope is to leave the House having helped build on our strengths, reduce our weaknesses, and to rid the last vestiges of bigotry from our public life.
One of the less discussed effects of the Great Recession is the reduction in state spending for higher education across the nation. In Virginia, we are spending about one-half the amount on public college students per capita than we spent before the economy crashed. When very difficult spending decisions must be made, cutting higher education receives more than its "fair share" due to the fact that you can raise tuition as an alternative.
Over the last few months, Virginia has been treated to almost daily revelations about gifts given to the Governor, to his family, and to the Attorney General that were not reported, reported late, or reported in a way that obscured the nature of the gift.
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 . 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.