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Opinion General Assembly Session Offers Some Challenges

By Toddy Puller State Senator (D-36)

T he 2010 Virginia Gen eral Assembly Session has begun. It will be a challenging Session as we try to find ways to make cuts to balance the budget.

Around 2,200 bills have been introduced. Of course, many of those will not be passed into law. On Satur- da , Jan. 23, Delegate Scott Surovell (D- 44) and I held a Town Meeting at the Mount Vernon Government Center that was well attended. Those in attendance asked thoughtful questions and expressed the needs of many of the people in our districts.

I have introduced a number of bills sought by constituents. As I discussed at the Town Meeting, the following are bills that may be of interest to many of you.

SB 31 and SJ 13 – Constitutional Amend- ment, property tax exemptions for certain veterans – SB 31 provides for a referendum at the Nov. 2, 2010 election to approve or reject an amendment requiring the General Assembly to provide a real property tax ex- emption for the principal residence of a veteran, or his or her surviving spouse, if the veteran has a 100 percent service-con- nected, permanent, and total disability. SJ

13 is the Constitutional Amend- ment that needs to be passed again this year to allow it to be placed as a referendum in the Nov. 2010 election. This Amendment was passed last year but Virginia law requires that it be passed two years in a row to be placed on the ballot for a vote. SB 222 – Land use proposals; exempts localities and citizens groups from payment of certain Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) fees

  • This would allow VDOT and local gov-

ernments to come together to work out agreements on the traffic impact that cer- tain land use proposals may have. This would exempt fees from being imposed on citizens’ groups, neighborhood associations or other non-profit groups when they pro- pose comprehensive planning amendments. SB 25 - Using transportation district trains without a valid ticket - Rewrites the Virginia code section that punishes unlawfully riding on a transportation district train without a valid ticket. It would make failure or refusal to pay the posted fare, or failure to prop- erly validate a train ticket, as a Class 4 mis- demeanor. Use of a fraudulent or counter- feit ticket would be a Class 2 misdemeanor. The bill limits the amount of recoverable costs to the amount of the maximum fine.

(VRE has lost over $100,000 because of fraudulent tickets.)

SB 28 – Allows for criminal background checks including fingerprinting of appli- cants and employees of public transit ser- vices – This bill was requested by the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission (PRTC). Three people were involved in a shooting in Prince William County resulting in one death. It was dis- covered one of the transit employees in- volved had a criminal record. Criminal back- ground checks including fingerprinting would be required.

SB 221 – No community association shall prohibit natural drying devices (i.e. clothes- lines) – Prevents community associations from prohibiting the installation or usage of a natural drying device on an owner’s property after July 1, 2010. The bill pro- vides that a community association may establish reasonable restrictions concerning the size, placement, duration and manner of placement of such natural drying devices.

SB 593 – Direct recording electronic ma- chines (DRE’s) for voting in localities - Pres- entl , cities and counties are prohibited from acquiring new direct recording electronic machines (DRE’s) for use in elections. The proposed bill would permit localities to obtain DRE’s already owned by other locali- ties for the purpose of providing accessible

voting equipment used most often by dis- abled voters as required by Virginia and Federal law. (In the recent special State Senate election in Northern Virginia, 80 percent of voters chose DRE’s rather than using scantron ballots.)

Budget Amendment to allow the Local Composite Index (LCI) for schools to be based on 2010 formula – I, along with other Northern Virginia legislators, have intro- duced a budget amendment to base the LCI on the current real estate market estimates rather then the higher older estimates. The LCI is used to measure a locality’s “ability to pay” for K-12 education. In the outgoing Governor’s plan to balance the budget, it was proposed to freeze the LCI composite. That would mean that Fairfax and Prince William counties would receive less educa- tion funding. If the freeze remains, Fairfax stands to lose about $61 million and Prince William about $24 million.

This session is challenging as we work to balance the budget while trying to protect the needs of the people of Vir- ginia. Please let me hear from you with questions and issues of concern. My contact information during the Session is: Sen. Toddy Puller, General Assem- bly Building, Room 328, Capitol Square, Richmond, VA 23219; 804-698-7536; email: district36@senate.virginia.gov.

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F a i r f a x C o u n t y P a r k A u t h o r i t y ( F C P A ) i s a c c e p t i n g b i d s f o r t h e r e h a b i l i t a - t i o n o f t h e m a i n b u i l d i n g a n d r e s t o r a t i o n o f t h e h i s t o r i c o u t b u i l d i n g s a n d r e l a t e d w o r k a t t h e H u n t l e y H i s t o r i c S i t e l o c a t e d a t 6 9 1 8 H a r r i s o n L a n e , A l e x a n d r i a , V i r g i n i a 2 2 3 0 6 . B i d s a r e d u e T h u r s d a y , F e b r u a r y 2 5 , 2 0 1 0 , b y 2 : 0 0 p . m . T h e p r o j e c t e s t i m a t e i s $ 1 9 0 0 , 0 0 0 . P r e - b i d C o n f e r e n c e : T u e s d a y , F e b r u a r y 9 , 2 0 1 0 a t 1 1 : 0 0 a . m . , a t t h e H u n t l e y M e a d o w s V i s i t o r C e n t e r l o c a t e d a t 3 7 0 1 L o c k h e e d B l v d . , A l e x a n d r i a , V i r g i n i a 2 2 3 0 6 . B i d D o c u m e n t s m a y b e o b t a i n e d c o m m e n c i n g M o n d a y F e b r u a r y 1 , 2 0 1 0 a t 9 : 0 0 a . m . f r o m t h e P l a n n i n g a n d D e v e l o p m e n t D i v i s i o n , F a i r f a x C o u n t y P a r k A u t h o r i t y , 1 2 0 5 5 G o v e r n m e n t C e n t e r P a r k w a y , F o u r t h F l o o r , S u i t e 4 0 6 , F a i r f a x , V i r g i n i a 2 2 0 3 5 . T h e B i d D o c u m e n t s m a y b e p u r c h a s e d b y c h e c k o r m o n e y o r d e r m a d e p a y a b l e t o t h e F a i r f a x C o u n t y P a r k A u t h o r i t y i n t h e n o n - r e f u n d a b l e a m o u n t o f $ 3 5 . 0 0 p e r s e t . S P E C I A L C O N S I D E R A T I O N S : F e d e r a l f u n d s a r e i n v o l v e d w i t h t h i s p r o j e c t a n d c o m p l i a n c e w i t h a l l F e d e r a l , S t a t e , a n d l o c a l l a w s , r u l e s a n d r e g u l a t i o n s a r e r e q u i r e d . F u n d i n g i s b e i n g p r o v i d e d f o r t h i s p r o j e c t b y a N a t i o n a l P a r k S e r v i c e , F e d e r a l S a v e A m e r i c a s T r e a s u r e s G r a n t .

FCPA IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER.

14 Mount Vernon Gazette January 28 - February 3, 2010

www.ConnectionNewspapers.com

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