Monday, February 25, 2013
Democratic Sen. Janet Howell calls compromise — expected to raise $880 million a year for roads and mass transit —"truly the best we're going to get."
Monday, February 25
By Stephen Nielsen Capital News Service A divided Virginia Senate this weekend 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 a bill that would raise about $880 million a year more for roads and mass transit by increasing sales taxes while lowering fuel tax. The debate over how to increase revenue continued right up to the vote. Among Arlington's representatives in the Senate, state Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, voted against the measure. Sens. Janet Howell, D-Reston, and Barbara Favola, D-Arlington, voted for it. “This isn’t any bill. This is the only bill,” said Senate Majority …
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Jail time no longer a maximum penalty under proposed law.
Jail time is no longer on the table as a maximum penalty as state lawmakers look to tighten Virginia's texting-while-driving law. The Old Dominion is in line to increase the fines for such offenses, though, and to give law enforcement the power to stop drivers solely for texting. House Bill 1907, which passed this week on a 92-4 vote, increases the fine upon conviction to $250 — up from $20 — for the first texting-while-driving offense and $500 for each subsequent conviction. The bill makes texting while driving an aggravating circumstance to reckless driving, and so anyone convicted such would face a mandatory minimum $500 penalty if they were texting while they were driving recklessly. Further, texting while driving would constitute a …
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Supporters 'optimistic' about bill becoming law next year.
The Virginia DREAM Act — legislation that would have allowed children of illegal immigrants to receive in-state college tuition — has died in Richmond, but supporters are optimistic the bill will pass next year. "I was encouraged," said Del. Tom Rust, R-Herndon. "The bill has never gotten this far before. In fact, it's never gotten anywhere. I was encouraged by the response. It got a lot of support. I will be introducing it again next year, and I will be working on it between now and then." For the past seven years, similar legislation has died in a House subcommittee. This year, though, the measure enjoyed bipartisan, unanimous support on the subcommittee level, and it then passed the full House Education Committee with a 17-4 vote. It …
Sunday, February 3, 2013
State Sen. Adam Ebbin co-sponsored legislation.
Sunday, February 3
By Shelby Mertens Capital News Service Starting in 2017, Virginia voters could have the opportunity to reelect the governor to a second consecutive term if the House joins the Senate in seeking to amend the state’s Constitution. The Senate has approved a proposed constitutional amendment to allow governors to serve two terms in a row. The vote last week was 25-15. The resolution now moves to the House of Delegates, where its fate is uncertain. “I’m not real optimistic about its chances, but I think it’s the right thing to do,” said Sen. John Miller, D-Newport News. "We ought to give the voters the opportunity to decide whether a governor should keep his job and be reelected." Virginia is the only state that does not allow governors to …
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Arlington delegate's legislation, modeled after federal DREAM Act, moved forward Tuesday night.
A bill that would allow certain undocumented students to receive in-state college tuition in Virginia cleared a key legislative hurdle Tuesday night and could see further consideration Wednesday morning. "This has been a very good day for this issue," state Del. Alfonso Lopez, D-Arlington, told Patch late Tuesday. "I'm overjoyed that it's gotten this far. But the fact is that we've got a lot of work to do still. And I'm going to continue working with Republicans and Democrats to hopefully bring this home." Lopez introduced legislation modeled after the federal DREAM Act. Lawmakers on Tuesday combined it with a similar bill put forth by Del. Tom Rust, a Herndon Republican and chairman of the House Higher Education Subcommittee, and …
Friday, January 25, 2013
Petersen: Republican effort to end winner-take-all system is 'anti-Democratic'
A Republican-led effort to end the Old Dominion's traditional winner-take-all approach to picking a president has drawn national attention and could weaken the influence of voters in urban areas like Northern Virginia. The bill, authored by state Sen. Charles Carrico, a Galax Republican, would divvy up electoral collage votes based on who wins each of this state's 11 congressional districts. Carrico has said that the current system casts aside the wishes of rural voters and that his bill is an attempt to even the playing field, according to the Roanoke Times. More broadly, proponents in the GOP say the new system would better reflect the popular vote. The bill heads to the full Senate Privileges and Elections Committee next week. Gov. Bob …
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
On 40th anniversary of landmark court decision, Favola calls 2012 state legislation on abortion, women's rights 'terrible' mandates.
Wednesday, January 23
By Katherine Johnson Capital News Service RICHMOND — Abortion rights supporters made their way to the state Capitol grounds Tuesday to mark the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision and to look to the future of women’s rights in Virginia. The landmark case decided that women’s right to privacy includes the right to have an abortion. A crowd of a few hundred gathered to listen to Virginia legislators in support of women’s rights, including Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington. The rally served as a reminder to women’s rights and reproductive rights advocates to continue their efforts, especially after last year’s turbulent General Assembly session, when legislators introduced and passed bills that received national …
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Several Northern Virginia districts would become more competitive for Republicans under plan, decried by opponents as unconstitutional.
A Republican-led effort to redraw Virginia's state Senate districts would essentially dilute the voting power of Arlington in the General Assembly and turn a number of Democratic-controlled areas in Northern Virginia into future political battlegrounds. The surprise move late Monday took advantage of the absence of 79-year-old Harry Marsh, a Democratic state senator and civil rights leader who was attending the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. With Marsh absent, the redrawn map passed the Senate 20-19 on a party-line vote. Democrats and progressive organizations have already decried the rushed legislation as unconstitutional. Virginia redraws its legislative boundaries every 10 years and that must win Justice Department …
Saturday, January 19, 2013
After introducing gun safety legislation, the pair hope to prove a point by purchasing a 30-round extended clip without background check.
State Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, and Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, have introduced a package of gun safety legislation that includes requiring universal background checks on prospective firearms purchases (SB 1232 / HB 2025) and tightening restrictions on the sale of weapons to the mentally ill (SB1109 / HB 2221). To drive home their point, the two Northern Virginia lawmakers purchased guns from a private seller at a gun show without a background check and made videos of the transactions. At a news conference this week in Richmond, Ebbin displayed a 30-round ammunition magazine he bought for $20. "Buying a 30-round magazine should not be as easy as buying a candy bar,” he said in a news release. He pointed out a 30-round magazine was…
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Arlington Democrat believes Republican leadership will accept partnership sooner or later.
State Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, has filed a bill in the General Assembly that, if passed, would allow the state to work in partnership with the federal government to create a health benefit exchange. Establishing an exchange — essentially, an online marketplace where people can access information and purchase insurance — has been controversial in Virginia and other states where the leadership has been opposed to implementing the Affordable Care Act. Small businesses also can choose to use the exchange. Proponents like Hope say an estimated 500,000 people in Virginia will either gain access to healthcare or a better plan than they currently have. Under the law, families making up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level — about $92…