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Votes

Transportation Heads Legislative Agenda

Del. Brian Moran, D-46

General Assembly Building

P.O. Box 406

Richmond, Virginia 23218

Phone: 804-698-1046

Fax: 804-786-6310

DelBMoran@house.state.va.us

District Address:

4154 Duke St.

Alexandria, VA 22304

Phone: 703-370-2890

Fax: 703-370-4011

As chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Del. Brian Moran (D-46) will be leading the fight this election year for transportation funding. Aside from the budget fight for funding, Moran also plans to introduce a measure to create a new state office to encourage uses of public transportation.

“Dulles Airport is a great example of poor planning,” said Moran. “The only way to get to Dulles is by vehicle.”

Moran said that a new Office of Inter-Modal Transportation could encourage a “seamless web” of transportation alternatives for new development. The office would coordinate an integration of various forms of getting from one place to the next.

“The office would take a bird’s eye view,” said Moran. “What we want is for people to be able to use light rail to get on a bus and be on their way.”

INCREASING THE minimum wage is at the top of Moran’s agenda, and it was the first bill he filed with the clerk’s office in Richmond this year. The measure increases the minimum wage from its current federally mandated level of $5.15 per hour in a series of raises: $6.15 per hour by July 1; $7.15 per hour by July 1, 2008; and $8.15 per hour by July 1, 2009.

“It’s been 10 years since the minimum wage was raised in Virginia,” said Moran. “I don’t believe that hard-working individuals should live below poverty.”

For subsequent years, according to the language of Moran’s proposed legislation, Virginia’s minimum wage would be adjusted annually on July 1 to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index for the preceding calendar year, as determined by the Commissioner of Labor and Industry.

THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL bill Moran plans to introduce this year is an effort to authorize stem-cell research in Virginia. His legislation was conceived as a reaction to a House measure last year that would have eliminated state funding for any institution that allowed such research — even if it was paid for by a private foundation.

“For example, if George Mason University were conducing stem-cell research, it would have lost all of its state funding,” said Moran. “Fortunately, that was defeated last year in the Senate. But this is what we’re up against.”

Moran said he expects opposition from social conservatives like Del. Bob Marshall (R-13), who has been a vocal opponent of stem-cell research in the past.

“This will probably spark a great deal of debate,” he said.

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Sen. Patricia Ticer, D-30

General Assembly Building

P.O. Box 396

Richmond, Virginia 23218

Phone: 804-698-7530

Fax: 804-698-7651

district30@sov.state.va.us

District Address:

City Hall - 301 King Street, Room 2007

Alexandria, VA 22314-3211

703-549-5770

Sen. Patricia Ticer (D-30) has a full slate of issues on her agenda this year, everything from preserving trees to maintaining air quality. One bill that might receive some pushback in Richmond is her effort to require developers to maintain a tree canopy in areas where construction efforts reduce the canopy.

“We’re being deforested at a rapid rate,” said Ticer. “So every tree is of value.”

She introduced a similar piece of legislation last year, but it failed after the development community opposed it. Yet with developers increasingly feeling the heat from Virginia’s growing transportation crisis, Ticer said that the bill might find more favor this year.

PROTECTING VICTIMS of domestic violence will be the focus of another bill the senator plans to fight for this session. One of her bills would allow victims to not use their address and phone numbers in official documents — many of which are available to the general public. Ticer said that by using post-office box numbers managed by the attorney general’s office.

“This is something that’s so easy,” she said. “And it will really make a difference in the lives of people who are afraid of being stalked.”

CRACKING DOWN on violations of air-quality violations will be another of Ticer’s major priorities this session by placing new restrictions on “opacity,” one of the factors used to measure the quality of an air emission from permitted facilities such the Mirant Power Plant. Ticer plans to introduce legislation that would make monitored exceedences of permitted opacity limits violations under Virginia law. Currently, only exceedences that are observed during inspections were illegal. The effort to crack down on opacity violations is the latest in a series of efforts to go after Alexandria’s Mirant Potomac River Generating Station.

“Mirant has not been a good corporate citizen,” said Ticer. “And their cavalier attitude toward the citizens is insupportable.”

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Del. David Englin, D-45

General Assembly Building

P.O. Box 406

Richmond, Virginia 23218

Phone: 804-698-1045

Fax: 804-786-6310

DelDEnglin@house.state.va.us

District Address:

City Hall, 301 King Street, Box 65

Alexandria, VA 22314

703-549-3203

Del. David Englin, D-45, will be returning to Richmond for his second General Assembly session after being elected in 2005. He plans to re-introduce some legislation that was stalled last year while striking new ground in other areas. His most controversial bill of the session may be his effort to allow local jurisdictions to set different tax rates for commercial property and residential property — a goal that many local officials say could allow jurisdictions to reduce the burden on residential property owners.

“I’m a local control kind of guy,” said Englin. “I think these kinds of local issues should be decided locally.”

Several business organizations, such as the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, have already come out against the measure. But Englin said that he thinks having separate tax rates for residential property and commercial property is the right thing to do.

“This would give local governments more options,” he said.

ELECTION FILINGS will be the subject of another piece of legislation that Englin plans to file this session. The proposed language of the bill will require any Political Action Committee that makes indirect contributions to a local candidate shortly before an election to report the contribution and details of the committee’s organization to the electoral board within 24 hours.

“If a PAC makes an indirect contribution to a candidate in the last 10 days before the election, it is possible that the election will be over before the public knows who was actually responsible for the contribution,” wrote Alexandria City Manager Jim Hartmann in support of the measure.

PROTECTING RENTERS who find themselves in the midst of a condo conversion is the aim of another measure Englin plans to patron this year. His bill would be restricted to residents, who are elderly or disabled, who could pass their purchasing rights to a certified nonprofit housing agency. Englin offered a similar measure last year, but it died when the Housing Subcommittee sent HB 393 to the Virginia Housing Commission.

Now, as a result of the commission's findings, Englin has modified the bill with a narrower definition of what kind of third-party can receive the purchasing rights. In the new version of the bill, which has been cleared by the Virginia Division of Legislative Services, housing nonprofit organizations must receive special certification before receiving purchasing rights from participating tenets.

"It's a measure of protection that would prevent some fly-by-night agency from sweeping in the buying the property," said Englin. "It's certainly a better bill than it was last year."

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Del. Adam Ebbin, D-49

General Assembly Building

Room Number: 708

P.O. Box 406

Richmond, Virginia 23218

Phone: 804-698-1049

Fax: 804-786-6310

www.adamebbin.com

delaebbin@house.state.va.us

District Address:

PO Box 41870

Arlington, 22204

703-549-8253

Several of Del. Adam Ebbin’s top bills this legislative session deal with protecting the environment. He is proposing the creation of a state commission to study how best to alter state practices and procurement to help mitigate the effects of global warming.

“Climate change is a global issue but it will effect people in their everyday lives if we don’t start taking responsibility for not destroying environment,” he said.

Making changes in state policies will have a significant impact because the government is a major employer in Virginia and can serve as a model for the private sector, Ebbin added.

Ebbin believes a bi-partisan commission would be able to build legislative consensus among General Assembly members to promote energy efficiency and lower emissions.

ADDITIONALLY, EBBIN has submitted a bill requiring all new state buildings to meet stringent “green” and energy efficient standards. If approved, the law would be phased in over a period of three years.

Besides using less energy, Ebbin said, “green” buildings provide better ventilation and help prevent people from getting sick.

Over the long-term having energy efficient buildings will save the state a significant amount of money.

“It is smart financially for state buildings to be as energy efficient as possible, and there’s the added benefits that people who work there are more productive,” Ebbin added.

ANOTHER BILL OF EBBIN’S would create a new crime category for the offense of human trafficking. Thirteen other states have adopted similar laws for those who coerce people into labor or sexual servitude.

Many of the victims of human trafficking are immigrants who are unwilling and forced into jobs such as domestic servants, Ebbin said. “It’s hard to believe modern-day slavery exists, but it does.”

The bill also calls for greater training for law enforcement officials so they can detect and end such practices.

EBBIN IS ALSO SEEKING to codify the state’s policy prohibiting discrimination in state hiring. Right now the governor has the legal right to change in what categories the state can prevents discrimination in its hiring.

“It is so important and fundamental that we don’t discriminate in hiring of state employees that it needs to be in the code of Virginia,” Ebbin said.