Del. David Bulova (D-37) took off for Richmond this week with legislation he hopes can shape Northern Virginia’s future.
Northern Virginia is the only region in the state that Bulova said is exempt from the Regional Cooperation Act, which requires every other region in the state to engage in strategic planning. Bulova hopes a piece of legislation he has drafted will pass to get that exemption eliminated.
“This [bill] is the one I’m most excited about,” said Bulova.
With regional planning comes the hottest topic of this legislative session: transportation. Bulova said the ideas for relieving Northern Virginia’s traffic woes are abundant, but the ideas need to survive past committee. A statewide solution for transportation is not going to help the region, said Bulova.
“Northern Virginia should be given an opportunity to help itself in terms of funding solutions,” said Bulova. “Land use issues need to be addressed; we can’t continue to develop the same way.”
The escalating gridlock in the region, combined with current election year and a lack of priority in the past, has many of the region’s General Assembly members pushing for results this session. Bulova, Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis (R-34) and her 2007 challenger, Chap Petersen, agree that revenues in the region need to increase and specifically allocated for transportation funding.
“I think everybody is aware that you don’t get something for nothing,” said Bulova.
ANOTHER BILL BULOVA hopes to get passed stems from a recent debate between Fairfax community members and George Mason University officials. A large, bright sign showed up about 11 feet from the intersection of Braddock and Sideburn Roads last fall. Its animated messages and flashing lights angered nearby residents. Bulova tried to get the sign moved, but a response from the state attorney general’s office stated that state agencies do not have to follow the Virginia Code unless that part of the code specifically refers to them. State agencies are also not required to follow county zoning laws.
“The county has these zoning ordinances in place to protect local residents,” said Bulova.
The legislation Bulova plans to introduce would not be able to solve the problem of the current sign, but it would hopefully prevent signs like it from going up in the future, he said. If it’s not part of the core mission of the university, then Bulova said the university should communicate these types of projects to the surrounding communities.
“It’s a matter of being a good neighbor,” he said.
DATA BREACHES AND identity theft have become a major concern nationwide, said Bulova, which is why he wants to introduce a bill that would require the state to notify identity theft victims. Bulova said the state is only currently required to fix a data breach within a state agency once it occurs, but it does not have share information about the breach with the individuals themselves.
"The bill would require Virginia to provide notice for people whose information is compromised," said Bulova. "It was inspired by what was happening at the federal level."
Bulova said he is also working with the county water authority on a bill to protect the Potomac River drinking supply. A court case that determined Virginia, not Maryland, had water withdrawal rights on the Potomac left a legal gap, he said. His bill would seek to close the gap.