Spending two months in Richmond with the General Assembly will be a new experience for Del.-elect David Bulova (D-37). But after spending the months since last November's election meeting with constituent groups from public safety to healthcare interests, as well as the Fairfax City Council and the Northern Virginia Training Center, Bulova feels well-prepared.
"It will be a real different experience, being able to concentrate full time on the stuff I love in terms of policy-making," he said.
Of course, the main issue for everyone at the General Assembly this year will be transportation. Bulova has already taken steps in this regard, working with Del. Jim Scott (D-53) to establish a telecommuting council.
"It’s been 20 years since the General Assembly took transportation seriously," said Bulova. The main idea when developing a transportation plan is having a variety of different options, from building new roads to strengthening mass transit and encouraging telecommuting programs, he said. He met with transportation policy experts at George Mason University and gained some new ideas on how to increase capacity on existing roads.
"One thing I’ve been hearing is that our land-use planning doesn’t match up well with our transportation planning," said Bulova. "We need to find a better way to coordinate land-use and transportation planning while recognizing the fact that land-use is mostly at the local level and transportation is the state’s responsibility."
Most importantly, Bulova said, he wants to play fair with taxpayer dollars on issues such as transportation, and make wise investments.
The Fairfax Commission on Women alerted Bulova to the problem of human trafficking in the U.S. and the need for legislation on the state level.
"The Department of Justice recognizes that there are inherent weaknesses in federal anti-human trafficking laws," he said. Many factors make human trafficking a real potential in the state of Virginia, said Bulova, such as the affluence in Northern Virginia, the port at Hampton Roads, and the amount of immigration to the state. He is working with Virginia Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis (R-34) on an anti-human trafficking bill.
Bulova is also working on bills that will give local jurisdictions more power in dealing with homeowners and construction projects.
"Every once and while somebody does outside renovations on their home and the project lasts for years and years and years," he said. After spending time with the City Council, Bulova began work on a bill that would allow jurisdictions to limit the amount of time homeowners can work on a construction project. Other legislation would allow jurisdictions, when they need to step in for blight abatement, to attach interest to the loans they give homeowners to fix the property.
Two other bills will address the environment, a subject dear to Bulova’s heart. This legislation will strive to reduce homeowner and business pollution through tax credits and cost-sharing, he said.
In his first General Assembly session, Bulova’s main goals are to make sure he understands how all the different bills will affect the 37th District, and to focus on the "nuts and bolts, bread and butter" issues that constituents experience every day.
"We have a great freshman class," he said, having spent time with many other new legislators during a delegate training session. "We each bring something to the table, and I imagine we will work very, very well together."