Over the next couple months, the General Assembly will be dissecting the biennial state budget proposed by the outgoing governor. Individual members may propose amendments, and state Sen. Chap Petersen did so on Jan. 10.
“They are all relatively small amounts, but could have a critical role,” Peterson said.
His amendments are as follows:
Hiring of Legislative Ethics Commission Director: For $200,000, you can hire a director with benefits, as well as staff in Richmond. There’s no point in having “ethics reform” unless you have an independent body to enforce it.
Providing archival video of Assembly sessions: For $35,000, you can provide video services with archives which are available online, showing daily sessions in the House or Senate.
Creating a “veteran’s court” pilot project in Fairfax County: For $75,000, the Virginia Supreme Court is willing to train existing court staff to set up a separate track for criminal offenders who have combat backgrounds and may be suffering from PTSD symptoms. The point is to refer them to counseling and support services. This is a pilot project and there are existing judges in Fairfax County who are willing to lead on this.
Creating the Virginia-Korea Advisory Board: For $200,000, we can hire an executive director and staff to start this board, which will consist of Virginia citizens with business contacts in Korea. The board position will be voluntary. The Republic of Korea is not just one of America’s largest trading partners with a Free Trade Agreement; it also has a direct connection with the Commonwealth due to the large Korean-American population in northern Virginia which has close ties to the ROK.
That’s a sampling. The sum total of these annual costs will be approximately $500,000 — about the cost of a single-family residence in Fairfax City.
Petersen also submitted the following bills, this session:
SB 212: Opening up the General Assembly to Virginia's Freedom of Information Act. It requires Assembly members, like other Virginia public servants, to disclose their records to the public upon request
SB 218: Limitations on Contributions and Gifts: To restore trust to state politics.
SB 219: Establishing a State Ethics Commission: No ethics regime can be complete without an enforcement body to hold members accountable.
SB 220: Prohibiting the Use of Private Law Firms for State Business. It requires the office of the Attorney General to contract local city or county attorneys, rather than private counsel, when it experiences a conflict of interest. This bill will remove the incentive for private law firms to exploit the current law and over-bill the state on a public matter.
SB 221: Eliminating the Hybrid Penalty: It avoids ill-conceived obstacles to innovation and could result in a savings of $64/year to hybrid owners.
SB 222: Repealing HOA Restrictions on Solar Panels: It would be effective against community restrictions on private property rights.
SB 225 Regarding protection of bicyclists. This is a holdover from last year.
SB 226: Conforming Employment Contracts to Virginia Law: It would ensure that Virginia citizens are not held hostage to out-of-state employment restrictions.
SB 228: Protecting Companion Animals sold through Pet Stores. It offers a number of protections for consumers who purchase companion animals that are not healthy or properly cared for.
Currently serving his second term in the Virginia Senate, Petersen has previously served as delegate and city councilman for the City of Fairfax. For the 2014 session, he sits on the Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources, General Laws and Technology, and Privileges and Elections Committees.