Legislating with Help of Friends

Legislating with Help of Friends

It was surreal watching the opening of the 2005 Session in Richmond over closed circuit television transmitted by computer to my Alexandria home.

A gracious speech on the floor by Mount Vernon Del. Kris Amundsen explaining my absence from my seat for the first time in 22 years, was appreciated.

With the help of modern technology I will continue to follow floor and committee action and friends have agreed to present my bills. Del. Brian Moran, for instance, will speak for my bill, supported by the City, to require that the Mirant coal-fired electric plant on the north waterfront greatly reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen and very small particulate matter. Sen. Patsy Ticer will handle it in the Senate.

Because he serves on the Health/Welfare Committee, Brian also will carry my bill to require that administrators of assisted living facilities have training in meeting the needs of persons with mental disabilities. They make up a significant proportion of persons in assisted living.

As a member of the Courts of Justice Committee, he will present my legislation that fiduciaries administering estates notify the Clerk of the Court when they move out of state. In our transient neighborhood, the tracking of fiduciaries has become a problem, according to Alexandria’s Gordon Peyton.

DEL. ADAM EBBIN, a member of the Education Committee, will carry my bill to require that the state pay the cost of testing which is mandated by the Federal No Child Left Behind legislation. While the feds have left the state holding the bag, there is no reason the state should pass this on to the localities. When the bill is sent by Education to my Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Education, I will be listening on the speaker phone and calling in my comments.

Legislation to take the funding of matching grants to repair historic properties out of the non-state-agency “Pork Barrel” category and create a process more like the Virginia Commission on the Arts, will be carried by Del. Ken Plum of Reston. A native Virginian, Ken is very interested in the state’s heritage and long ago I found that the representative of the “new town” voted almost exactly like the delegate from the “old town.”

Also, Ken will be carrying my bills to strengthen the Virginia Antiquities Act, some property owners in Virginia are advertising over the Web for relic hunters to come scour their land for artifacts …. making it impossible for future archeologists to establish context if they try to excavate a site. One of the bills also establishes a position of state archaeologist.

Finally, Del. Michelle McQuigg of Prince William County, who serves with me on the Disability Commission, will carry my bill requiring that localities include accessible housing for the handicapped in their comprehensive plans.

In my office at the Capitol, my long-time legislative aide, Harlene Clayton, is working to keep things running smoothly and answer constituent requests. Her phone number is 804-698-1045.


Those who read the obituary last week of State Sen. Hunter B. Andrews of Hampton, chair of Senate Finance and Majority Leader until 1995, may remember his role in the great Potomac Yard/Redskin Stadium fight of the early 1990s.

Gov. Doug Wilder and Redskin owner Jack Kent Cooke wanted to build a stadium with miles of parking lots in Potomac Yard, then owned by RF&P Railroad, itself owned by the state’s employees retirement fund (VRS). They literally told City Council that it would be built … and touted the project as great for economic development.

Almost immediately after hearing about this scheme, I was attending a Democratic Caucus fund raising event at the Homestead in Bath County and talked to Sen. Andrews. We served together on the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Board and I considered him a friend.

He listened intently and said he would look into the issue. And indeed he did. He put the Senate Finance Committee staff to analyzing the deal, which turned out to be vitally important, because the chair of House Appropriations caved to the administration. Chairman Bob Ball represented a Richmond district that he knew the Governor could influence.

While the City of Alexandria and its activist citizens rose in open revolt opposing the project, Senate Finance examined the history of similar stadium projects around the country and showed that this was not a good deal for the VRS or the city.

Finally, Jack Kent Cook decided to look elsewhere for a stadium site and the Governor went on to other matters. Hunter Andrews, who outlasted nine governors, had helped stop the play.