Monday, April 16, 2012
Gov. McDonnell says $300 million more for Silver Line might mean scrapping 40 other projects.
Gov. Bob McDonnell’s administration said last week 40 transportation projects across the state would be gutted if the state legislature includes another $300 million in bonding for Metro's Silver Line Phase 2. The projects include three in Northern Virginia: Route 1 widening in Prince William County and the interchange at Route 659 and the Battlefield Parkway extension in Loudoun County, the Washington Post reports. Most House and Senate budget negotiators agreed last week to a two-year, $85 billion spending plan. But negotiators stripped $300 million for the Silver Line from that plan after Gov. Bob McDonnell announced he would not support the extra Metro funding. That position was a departure from his previous offers to direct more of …
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Virginia’s proposed budget to hit the Senate floor Monday morning.
Mark Keam shined some light on a dreary Saturday morning for constituents at the Vienna Town Hall Chambers. The 35th District delegate brought news of a likely budget after the General Assembly ended its regular session without one. Keam said Virginia runs on a biannual budget, which will begin July 1 and end June 30, 2014. “One unusual thing is we were unable to pass a budget,” Keam said during the town hall meeting stating he would not have definitive numbers until Tuesday at the earliest. “We’re in a special session now and we’re back on track to pass a budget.” The town hall meeting served as a debriefing from the General Assembly, which ran from January through March. Keam spoke with constituents about the backdrop for many of the …
Monday, March 5, 2012
Tell us: Were riot police, SWAT teams necessary for safety around Richmond or was it an overreaction?
At Monday's Virginia Senate session, Sens. Janet Howell (D-32nd) and Chap Petersen (D-34th) denounced the use of riot police, SWAT teams carrying automatic weapons, police dogs and helicopters in response to what they called peaceful protests in Capitol Square. Protest groups have gathered several times at the square this session in the wake of legislation aimed at limiting abortion rights. On Saturday, 31 protesters were arrested — mostly for trespassing or unlawful assembly — on the state capitol steps following a women's rights rally. Prior to some of the arrests, protesters were monitored by a fully armored police SWAT team carrying automatic weapons, riot police, and police dogs, the senators said. "They were chanting, 'Tell me what …
Friday, March 2, 2012
Opponents worry legislation would increase "school shopping"
A bill that would allow relatives other than parents or guardians to enroll children in local school systems is worrying some educators who fear the legislation would encourage "school shopping" across the state. Sen. George Barker (D-Alexandria) introduced SB 217 to help children from troubled homes stay in school, Leesburg Today reported. For instance: a child whose parents disappear or go through a divorce could seek refuge at a relative's house and continue their education in that jurisdiction. But the bill, expected to come up for a House vote in the next few days, also comes with unintended consequences, opponents say, the largest of which is families who could exploit the bill to place their children in better schools or programs. …
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Opponents of repealing the requirement say it is necessary preventive care for girls, but tell us: Is the General Assembly infringing on parental rights?
State senators postponed a bill Monday that would have repealed the law requiring sixth-grade girls to be immunized from the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). The Senate voted 22-17, with two Republicans joining 20 Democrats, to send the bill back to the Education and Health Committee for consideration in 2013. House Bill 1112, sponsored by Del. Kathy Byron (R-22nd District), passed the Republican-heavy House of Delegates 62-34 on Jan. 27. Byron also submitted a similar bill in the 2011 session, which the Democrat-controlled Senate rejected. "I am extraordinarily glad that the Commonwealth will continue to immunize young people against this deadly disease," Del. Barbara Favola said in a statement. "The best way to eradicate cervical cancer is …
Friday, February 24, 2012
Lawmakers say it's a way to gain more balanced membership on committees, but tell us: Was it a smart strategy or a harmful tactic?
Democrats blocked the state Senate's version of Virginia's two-year, $85 billion budget proposal Thursday in an effort to pressure Republicans into giving them more power in the chamber's committees. After a motion from Senate Democrats to reconfigure the makeup of committees was rejected, the party's legislators threatened to hold up the budget if Republicans continue to refuse. The spending plan failed 20-17 on Thursday. The Democrats first asked Republicans to consider sharing chairmanships after the November election left the chamber split evenly, with Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) as the tie-breaking vote. The Republicans rejected the idea and instead stacked the Senate committees with legislators of their own party, giving them not just …
Thursday, February 23, 2012
FACETS director says diversion of sales taxes in Governor's budget could hurt core services, low-income residents
Thursday, February 23, 2012
To The Editor of Vienna Patch: The recession may be over, but the reality for too many families we serve is they have to make tough choices: do I buy groceries or pay rent? Do I care for a sick child or go to work? Or, do I buy gas or school supplies? These are questions that the General Assembly must take into consideration as they reconcile the budget. Now is not the time to cut funds from programs that are helping neighbors in need who are struggling become self-sufficient. That was the message that I along with a group of 50 other leaders from Nonprofit Virginia delivered to the General Assembly in Richmond recently. Unfortunately, if the Virginia Legislature cuts funds that support our core services and diverts sales taxes to fund …
Gov. Bob McDonnell retreats from past statements, says mandating invasive procedure "is not a proper role for the state." Tell us: Is the amended bill better?
Republican lawmakers and the governor backed down from supporting a bill Wednesday that may have required women seeking an abortion to undergo an invasive ultrasound. After previously indicating his support for legislation that called for ultrasounds to determine the gestational age, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said he would not sign a bill that would require women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound if it could not be obtained through an external one. "Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state," McDonnell said in a statement. "No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure." With the …
Monday, February 20, 2012
Del. Mark Keam says bills in Virginia House of Delegates have been divisive, stray from more important state issues
Monday, February 20, 2012
To the Editor: As I spent this weekend at home in the 35th District, I ran into quite a number of constituents who asked me the same questions: "What is going on in Richmond with all this talk about abortion and contraception?" "With the economy still slow, why are you wasting so much time with bills on guns and gays?" "Don't you have anything better to do than debate the definition of 'personhood'?" Well, I wished I had good answers to these and many other questions I received from constituents, but unfortunately, I don't. You see, even though the Virginia General Assembly has voted on hundreds of bills this session, the only headlines you'll read about are these controversial social wedge issues. And no wonder. …
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Fairfax teachers union wears black Friday to protest General Assembly's actions this session
Across Fairfax County on Friday, teachers who belong to the Fairfax Education Association (FEA) dressed in all black as a symbol of unity against what they call the Virginia General Assembly's "attack on education." "We are in mourning," read a flyer about the local teachers union protest, part of a larger, statewide Virginia Education Association initiative "to lament the lack of commitment to public education and the loss of respect accorded teachers by our elected officials." "There's no question that we are under attack," FEA President Michael Hairston said in a phone interview Friday. Gov. Bob McDonnell has touted education reform as one of the cornerstones of his budget plan, but the teachers say more than a dozen bills have been …