Governor McDonnell signed two of my bills into law on Feb. 29. One clarifies that when a person files an action for child custody, child support or spousal support, any powers of attorney between the parties would automatically terminate. My second bill clarifies deadlines for calculating compounded interest in appeals to the Supreme Court of Virginia.
A companion of another of my bills is moving through the Senate. It clarifies that the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts have jurisdiction over protective orders in situations that do not involve family members. Because of changes in the law last year in response to the Yeardley Love case, confusion had arisen and several children’s petitions were rejected in Fairfax County because the courts lacked jurisdiction. I expect that bill to pass this week.
I have been working with three Republican delegates on bills to give Northern Virginia better representation on the Commonwealth Transportation Board. Our bill passed the House of Delegates, but hit a roadblock in a Senate committee. It was continued to the 2013 session. We will be back.
I had two other bills continued to 2013. One directs the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to explore leasing right-of-way for solar power production to help fund road construction. Virginia’s solar industry will be a fountain of future jobs. I also helped pass Senator Chap Peterson’s legislation prohibiting homeowners associations from banning solar panels on homes. My third bill continued to 2013 would create a cause of action against companies who sell information relating to criminal records that have been expunged.
Another of my bills was incorporated into a Republican Delegate’s bill and passed the Senate. It would allow the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to electronically transmit voter registration applications submitted at DMV branches and save taxpayer resources.
BUDGET CHALLENGES CONTINUE
The state budget is still stuck. The House passed a second budget this week. It has as many flaws as the first budget.
There are more problems beyond the ones I noted last week. In February, the Attorneys General across the country negotiated a $25 billion settlement with the banks for “robosigning” and other illegal foreclosure practices. Virginia will receive a $69 million cash payment intended to help provide affordable housing, first-time homebuyer assistance, foreclosure counseling, and rental vouchers. The House budget puts the $69 million in the General Fund instead of directing it to the people who need it. I introduced an amendment to direct the money to the Virginia Housing Development Authority where it was intended. My amendment was rejected on a largely party-line vote.
The proposed budget has massive cuts in Medicaid, the state’s health insurance program for the disabled and low-income people (mainly children and elderly). Fifteen percent of my constituents receive Medicaid services — the highest percentage in Fairfax County and the second highest in all of Northern Virginia. There is one general practitioner who accepts Medicaid on Route 1. There are no specialists in all of Northern Virginia who accept Medicaid. Eligiblity changes proposed by the House of Delegates could kick 4,700 elderly — enough to fill 112 city buses — out of nursing homes. Medicaid cuts disproportionately hit our community.
The Senate has refused to pass a budget due to the 20-20 deadlock. Last week, I argued in the House that Governor McDonnell needs to be a more active broker to reach a solution. So far he has mainly lobbed criticism at the Senate. The impasse will only be broken when people start talking to each other. As Governor, now- U.S. Sen. Mark Warner showed us all how to do this. Governor McDonnell should follow his lead.
To inform my constituents about my work, I have written many articles on my blog, The Dixie Pig, about my work. Don’t be hesitant about blogs. A blog is just a website for posting articles with pictures, graphs, and no editors’ word limits! You can read over 300 of my articles at scottsurovell.blogspot.com.
Thank you for the honor to serve you in Richmond.
By Scott Surovell
State Delegate (D-44)