Preparing for his 14th trip to Richmond, Del. Dave Albo (R-42) knows the road to the House of Delegates is paved with transportation problems.
“Transportation is the only topic anyone in this area would care about,” said Albo. Not even a special session last fall was enough to achieve a solution to the traffic and infrastructure problems in Fairfax County, but Albo said he’s more optimistic for this session.
One bill he’s working on, which he hopes to introduce with signatures from the entire Northern Virginia delegation, would agree to raise taxes in the area for transportation projects, but only if the money remains in Fairfax County. Del. Tom Rust (R-86) and Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis (R-34) have helped Albo author the bill, and Devolites-Davis is planning to introduce a similar plan in the Senate.
Funding for transportation projects would come from four sources, he said, which could raise between $360 and $400 million for Northern Virginia roads.
In the bill, which does not have a number yet, commercial real estate agents would be charged a fee of 30 cents for every $100 of assessed value. Tourists and visitors to Fairfax County would contribute through a two-percent tax on hotels and another two-percent tax on car rentals. Anyone moving into Virginia would pay a $100 fee for a new license in this proposal, and developers and current residents would pay a fee of 40 cents per $100 of assessed value from the sale of any home.
"We would raise $158 million from home sales alone," Albo said, adding that a Realtor's fee for selling a home is 12 times higher than the proposed sale fee.
“What I’m afraid of is that people will overreach,” he said. “We’ve agreed what we think should happen, which is that the rest of Virginia should build us roads. They won’t do it.”
Albo said the bill may not be approved, but something’s got to be done.
“We begrudgingly came up with our own plan,” he said. “But if they want us to raise our taxes and then send some of that money back to the rest of the state, the deal’s off.”
TO FILL TIME between transportation plan debates, Albo, who is the current chair of the Courts and Justice Committee, said he has a few other bill in the works, including one that would make it a crime to live in Virginia without being a legal United States citizen.
Currently, it is a federal offense to live in the country illegally, Albo said, but not on a state-wide level. His bill would link police computers up to a national database of people known to be living in the U.S. illegally, and if someone on that list were pulled over for a traffic stop, the police officer could detain him or her.
“I spent over a year trying to figure out how to do this,” Albo said. “This obviously won’t solve the problem [of illegal immigration], but it gets us closer.”
Another bill would re-examine the formula used to distribute money to schools. Fairfax County is responsible for 76 percent of the cost of education in its public schools, while Prince William County pays only 42 percent, Albo said. His bill would put a 50 percent cap on the amount any county paid into its schools.
“There’s not many of us that get clobbered, just us in Northern Virginia,” he said, adding that Arlington, Alexandria and Loudoun counties would all benefit from a modified funding plan.
A third bill would limit the amount that real estate taxes are allowed to be increased to 5 percent per year, which would help provide some relief for families whose homes have doubled and tripled in value in recent years.
As a part-time musician when not working as a delegate or a lawyer, Albo is also introducing HB 1969, the Truth in Music Advertising Act, which would make it illegal for any musicians to claim to be a well-known band unless a member of the original group were included.
“Bowser from the group Sha-Na-Na brought this to my attention, and I think he has a legitimate gripe,” Albo said. “A couple of states have already passed legislation like this. It protects people who want to go see a concert from getting duped. I mean, imagine going to see a group called the Supremes at Jaxx [in Springfield] and there’s not a woman in the group.”
With an election pending in November, Albo said he’s planning to run again for another two-year term.
“I’ve always said I’d keep running as long as I have the energy to do the job,” he said. “It’s a little harder now with the baby, but the longer you stay, the more you can get done.”
No potential opponents have officially announced at this point, but Albo said he’s on the look-out for any would-be challengers.
“I’m still enjoying the job,” he said.