Sunday, March 17, 2013
Does the commonwealth need another name on the ballot?
Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling took himself out of Virginia's race for governor last week, leaving, at least for now, what's shaping up to be a two-person race. The choice for the Old Dominion's next governor, seven months before Election Day, seems to have boiled down to presumptive Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli, the state's socially conservative attorney general, against likely Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a McLean businessman. The Republican Party of Virginia will hold its convention on May 17 and 18 in Richmond to formally select its nominee. Democrats go to the polls on June 11 to cast their ballots in several races, including governor and lieutenant governor. …
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Alexandria-area Sen. Adam Ebbin says bill represents "bad economics and bad transportation policy."
Sunday, February 24
By Stephen Nielsen, Capital News Service A divided Virginia Senate on Saturday passed Gov. Bob McDonnell’s signature issue of the 2013 legislative session – a bill to overhaul the state’s system for funding transportation. Just hours before the session’s end, the Senate voted 25-15 for House Bill 2313, which will raise about $880 million a year more for roads and mass transit by increasing sales taxes while lowering the fuels tax. The debate over how to increase revenue continued right up to the vote. Alexandria-area Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) voted against the bill. “To me, the final bill represents bad economics and bad transportation policy,” said Ebbin, who believes the state should raise its gasoline tax to address the problems. “This isn’t …
Friday, February 22, 2013
Bill aiming to build consensus around Bob McDonnell's plan to bring $3 billion to transportation projects met with mixed reviews.
Friday, February 22
By Whitney Spicer, Capital News Service Critics of the transportation funding compromise reached by legislative negotiators say the plan would place a huge burden on Virginia taxpayers. The Virginia House of Delegates Friday passed House Bill 2313, which would raise about $900 million a year for transportation and transit projects. The 98-page compromise must win approval the Senate before it can be signed into law by the governor. The legislative session ends Saturday. The new plan, which was hammered out by a 10-member conference committee over the past week, would potentially raise close to $900 million a year in transportation revenue. It could be the first transportation funding overhaul in Virginia since 1986 if it passes this week…
Thursday, February 21, 2013
The Alexandria PTA Council states its opposition to “Opportunity Education Institution” legislation.
Thursday, February 21
Dear Editor, The Alexandria PTA Council, on behalf of its 3,000 members (parents, teachers and students) throughout the city, is writing to express our strong opposition to the “Opportunity Education Institution” legislation recently adopted by the state Senate (SB1324) and House of Delegates (HB 2096) and awaiting Governor Bob McDonnell’s signature. While we support the goal of improving the quality of education for all, this legislation would transfer local authority and local taxpayer funding for certain schools to a vaguely defined state entity that would not be accountable to the parents in the communities in which the schools reside. The most alarming aspect of this legislation to us as parents and PTA leaders is that it ignores and …
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Bill would impose harsher penalties, make texting while driving a primary offense.
A bill that would impose tougher penalties on those convicted of texting while driving cleared the state Senate on Tuesday and now heads to the desk of Gov. Bob McDonnell. The bill increases the fine to $250—up from $20—for the first texting-while-driving offense and $500 for each subsequent conviction. It also makes texting while driving an aggravating circumstance to reckless driving, and so anyone convicted of such would face a mandatory minimum $500 penalty if they were texting while they were driving recklessly. Texting while driving would also become a primary offense, which means police can stop someone on the suspicion that a driver is texting; current law allows police to charge someone with texting while driving only if they've …
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Governor sends letter to president, congressional delegation.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on Monday sent a letter to President Barack Obama and the Old Dominion's congressional delegation calling for immediate action to prevent automatic spending cuts under sequestration. The $1.2 trillion in cuts — meant to force Congress to compromise, which hasn't happened — are slated to go into effect March 1. That deadline has been pushed back several times as lawmakers have brokered Band-Aid solutions. "The automatic sequestration reductions mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 are already having a significant adverse effect on the Commonwealth," McDonnell stated. "When fully implemented, they could force Virginia and other states into a recession. Sequestration-mandated reductions will be implemented …
Friday, February 15, 2013
A bill pending in Virginia's General Assembly could give control of several Alexandria schools to a state body.
10:35 a.m. Saturday update — Alexandria School Board Chairman Karen Graf said the affected schools include Francis Hammond Middle School 2 and 3, not Francis Hammond 1. — — — — 4:41 p.m. Friday update — Senate Bill 1324 passed the House appropriations committee Friday on on a 17-5 vote. It will now be heard in the full House of Delegates. — — — — Changes to a Virginia education bill could increase the number of schools that a proposed state government body could control. The bill, which would amend the state constitution to allow the General Assembly to create a statewide schools division to take over schools at risk of failure, was amended in a Senate committee to include schools that have been accredited with a warning for three …
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
The governor visited Northern Virginia on Monday to rally support for his transportation bill, promising some money to reduce fees on the Dulles Toll Road.
Gov. Bob McDonnell made a stop in Northern Virginia on Monday afternoon to urge locals to push their representatives to support his divisive transportation-funding package, which the state Senate is scheduled to vote on again Tuesday. The governor said his proposal, which failed to pass the Senate in a partisan, 20-20 vote last week, would raise about $3 billion for road and transit improvements over the next five years. The bill would eliminate the state’s 17.5-cents-per-gallon gas tax and raise the state sales tax from 5 percent to 5.8 percent. The House last week amended their version of the bill, eliminating a $100 alternative vehicle fee for owners of hybrid cars and prohibiting tolls on I-95 south of Fredericksburg. Senate …
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Governor lays out proposals, challenges in speech to state lawmakers.
Transportation funding, teacher raises and restoring rights to non-violent offenders were a few of the topics explored Wednesday night by Gov. Bob McDonnell in his State of the Commonwealth speech at the Capitol in Richmond. "The Virginia General Assembly has met in this building for 220 years — the Speaker was just a young boy during that first session," the governor said, grinning at Speaker Bill Howell (R-28th) seated behind him. "I ask that you not conclude this session without approving a long-term transportation funding plan for Virginia," said McDonnell to members of the General Assembly in the House Chamber. "Do not send me a budget that does not include new transportation funding. We are all out of excuses. We must act now." "We …
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Northern Virginia lawmakers will likely introduce or reintroduce gun bills at 2013 legislative session. Is this the year some of them will pass?
In the wake of Friday's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Virginia Sen. Janet Howell, D-Reston, says she will reintroduce a bill that would close the commonwealth's gun show loophole, which allows people to buy firearms at gun shows without a background check. "It's tragic," Howell says about the shooting that killed 20 schoolchildren and six adults. "I don't know whether I'm more angry or sad over it. I have introduced this bill in the past, and so have other people, but I'm hopeful there will be a better chance of passage this year." Closing the gun show loophole is among several gun bills in Virginia that repeatedly have been introduced and died in committee or are otherwise defeated. There are already …