The 2011 General Assembly session is right around the corner. While I have started to work on my bills, I continue to seek constituent input on what we can do better in Richmond. In past years, I have received some of my best ideas from citizens in the community.
Next year, Virginia will be the first state to use the 2010 Census to redraw legislative districts to ensure that each constituency has the same number of people. When you vote in November 2011, elections will be held in different state house, state senate, supervisor, and school board districts. When you vote in 2012, you may live in a different U.S. House of Representatives seat.
In the last quarter of Virginia's fiscal year, ending on June 30, tax revenues decreased as compared to the previous year, but decreased less than forecast when the budget was enacted. As a result, Virginia ended the fiscal year with about $220 million of unexpected revenue. After several years of budget cuts, and the recent un-Virginia-like borrowing of $135 million from the Virginia Retirement System (VRS), calling the revenue a "surplus" is a stretch. The Washington Post editorial page called it a surplus that "comes with a large asterisk."
On July 1 many new laws went into effect. Listed below are a few changes that may impact your daily life:
Virginia voters elect just three non-federal statewide officeholders every four years—governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. Unique to the Commonwealth is the fact that our governor cannot run for reelection after one single term. Because lieutenant governor is largely a part-time ceremonial role, the attorney general—who is allowed to stand for reele tion—has a potentially large stage from which to gain media coverage and advance an agenda.
While the budget dominated the news during the regular and reconvened sessions this year, more progress was made on the biotechnology front. If you have read this column in the past you know this is an area of great interest to me. In 2008, I chaired the Joint Subcommittee Studying Biosciences and Biotechnology, which laid the groundwork for advances made in 2009 and now 2010.
The recently ended legislative session may be remembered most for its difficult, no-win budget decisions. As you probably know, Virginia is facing its worst budget crisis in a generation. In the face of an additional $4.2 billion shortfall over the next two years, the budget passed by the General Assembly contained serious cuts to core services of government, including education, healthcare, assistance for the disabled, and public safety. Everything state government does has been downsized.
After much thought and discussion over the last couple of years, I introduced HBll00 on behalf of the Kingstowne Residential Owners Corporation and all homeowner associations across the state. The bill provides qualified immunity for HOAs when a contract has been entered into with a local government to transfer the operation and maintenance of a stormwater retention facility.
It is February 5, the busiest time of the year. Every bill must be considered in the body of its origin by February 16. If a bill passes the House, it will have a month to move through the Senate and land on the Governor's desk. When not working on my bills, I am voting in committee or on the floor. Bigger than any single bill, however, is the current budget crisis coming after Governor Kaine cut almost $8 billion from the current two-year budget.
With "Blizzard 2009" having come and gone the weekend before Christmas, the Washington area was left with nearly two feet of snow on top of cars, sidewalks, driveways, and rooftops. The warmer days that followed allowed most of the snowfall and ice to melt, some of which will eventually make its way to the Chesapeake Bay. But before it gets there, some will have sat and seeped in the drainage ponds that dot the housing developments and wooded areas in Fairfax County. These ponds are intended to trap sediment and the chemicals that adhere to the sediment.