Column: Doing the People’s Business in Richmond

Column: Doing the People’s Business in Richmond


It’s been a long week digging out from the #2 record snowstorm in our area. While many streets and roads were plowed within 24 hours, others took several days.

My staff and I have been in nearly constant contact with VDOT to call attention to streets and roads in need of plowing. Thank you to the many people who contacted my office to report unplowed streets, and for your patience this week.

The Town Hall Meeting set for Jan. 23 was postponed due to the snow, and we are working to reschedule the meeting. I’ll send out a separate message when we have a new date firmed up.

While Northern Virginia and other parts of the state have been digging out, the General Assembly has been in session this week. Even with the snow, several residents of the 67th district were able to come to Richmond to advocate for particular issues. Others have let me know their views on specific bills via email. Please feel free to contact me regarding any legislative matter before the General Assembly.

Six of my transportation bills have passed the House of Delegates unanimously. H.B. 719 and H.B. 727 provide opportunities for greater public involvement in the work of the state’s Commonwealth Transportation Board and regional Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, respectively.

H.B. 724, H.B. 725, and H.B. 731 are related to decision making and membership at the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission. H.B. 213 prevents the police from ticketing automobiles that are waiting to be inspected at an inspection station if the inspection sticker has expired. Fairfax County police were ticketing such cars at three inspection stations in Chantilly last year.

A number of bills related to limiting the tolling of roads in Northern Virginia and throughout the state have been introduced, including two bills I authored, H.B. 1 and H.B. 722. I expect a Transportation Subcommittee will act on these bills this coming Thursday.

A number of other bills I have introduced related to transportation, education, open government and other issues are advancing through committees. One such bill, H.B. 821, extends the protections of the Virginia Whistleblower Act to local government employees, including teachers and school employees. The bill would protect such an employee from losing his or her job by reporting fraud or an abuse of public funds. Another bill, H.B. 817, strengthens Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act to ensure that any government record sought by the public, including the news media, that contains information exempt from release must be redacted, meaning the rest of the document must be produced.

All of the bills I introduced may be found on the General Assembly’s website here, and I welcome your comments and questions about these bills.

The most significant piece of legislation expected to be considered by the House of Delegates this coming week is H.J. 1, which would amend the Virginia Constitution to provide a role for the state in establishing charter schools. I support this measure, mindful that implementation should be aimed at improving failing schools in certain urban areas. We need to make sure that H.J. 1 is not an invitation for the state to assume the role of the local school board in Fairfax, Loudoun, and other parts of Virginia where schools are generally operating well. I am confident this will not happen. If H.J. 1 passes the General Assembly, it would need to be approved by voters before it would take effect.

Please feel free to contact me any time regarding state public policy issues at 703-264-1432 or Phone calls will transfer to my Richmond office while the General Assembly is in session.