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Restonians Sound off to Legislators

Metro funding, gun control high priorities for residents for General Assembly session.

Resident Jane Anthony tells Sen. Janet Howell (D-31) and Del. Ken Plum (D-36) what legislation she would like to see in the upcoming General Assembly session.

Resident Jane Anthony tells Sen. Janet Howell (D-31) and Del. Ken Plum (D-36) what legislation she would like to see in the upcoming General Assembly session. Photo by Alex McVeigh.

State Sen. Janet Howell (D-31) and Del. Ken Plum (D-36) spoke to Reston residents about their priorities and goals for the upcoming General Assembly session Thursday, Jan. 3. The session, which starts Jan. 9, is scheduled for 30 days, with the possibility of an additional 30 days if needed. This is standard procedure for odd-numbered years; during even numbered years the session is scheduled for 60 days.

Chief among residents’ concerns were plans for stricter gun control legislation in the state. Howard Bender said he would like to see “sanity” prevail when it comes to reforming gun control laws.

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Sen. Janet Howell (D-31) and Del. Ken Plum (D-36) speak to residents at the Reston Community Center Thursday, Jan. 3 about their priorities for the upcoming General Assembly session.

“It’s hard to believe that the NRA has a saner policy than the governor on gun control. The NRA says let’s put police officers in schools, the governor says, ‘Let’s arm the teachers’ so we can have a shootout at the OK Corral,” he said. “What we need our legislators to do, and I understand they’re the minority party which makes it tough, but we need to introduce bills that present a sane gun control policy. Whether its banning assault rifles, better checks on people, those are things we need to do.”

Sally Brodsky says she would like to see legislation that compels gun owners to make sure their weapons are secure.

“I believe in Fairfax County, if you walk on my sidewalk and slip and fall in the snow, I am liable. If your daughter drowns in my swimming pool because I had no fence around it, I’m liable,” she said. “So what about this, you can have your gun, but you have to sign a form that says whatever this gun is used for, by whomever, you are criminally liable. That means you are basically agreeing to get a safe and lock it up.”

Howell said she plans to introduce a bill that would close the “gun show loophole,” which allows guns to be purchased at shows without background check.

Plum said he hoped future legislation would restore Virginia’s once-strict gun control laws.

“We’ve had reasonable gun control sanctions in the past, but we’ve slowly been chipping away at those. We have to reverse that trend,” Plum said. “We have to close the gun show loophole.”

In addition to a bill proposing to close the gun show loophole, Howell said she plans to introduce a bill for in-person, no-excuse absentee voting.

“Last election, people had to give a reason if they did in-person absentee voting, but my bill would not require you to give a reason,” Howell said. “You just go in and cast your vote.”

Colin Mills, president of the Reston Citizens Association, said he hopes Howell and Plum, among others, pursue funding from the state and from federal grants like Transportation Infrastructure and Financing Act (TIFIA) funds.

“A lot of people are going to have to give a little bit, there’s not going to be one funding source, not just state or feds,” he said. “Some of the downstate legislators think that this is a regional transportation issue and we should be funding it on our own, but the economic development that will come with the Silver Line will benefit the whole commonwealth. This is a statewide economic development project, not just a regional transit line.”