Sunday, March 17, 2013
Does the commonwealth need another name on the ballot?
Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling took himself out of Virginia's race for governor last week, leaving, at least for now, what's shaping up to be a two-person race. The choice for the Old Dominion's next governor, seven months before Election Day, seems to have boiled down to presumptive Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli, the state's socially conservative attorney general, against likely Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a McLean businessman. The Republican Party of Virginia will hold its convention on May 17 and 18 in Richmond to formally select its nominee. Democrats go to the polls on June 11 to cast their ballots in several races, including governor and lieutenant governor. …
Thursday, February 28, 2013
$100 fee part of Gov. Bob McDonnell's transportation plan, but several legislators would like to see that point repealed.
The Reston-Herndon area has a large number of hybrid vehicles — and likely a large number of hybrid owners who are likely not pleased with Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's $100 hybrid tax. Del. Ken Plum (D-Reston) is one of them. Plum, who owns two Priuses, says he is writing to the governor to try and get him to back away from the hybrid tax. The hybrid tax was part of the large transportation plan that passed in the Virginia General Assembly last week. The reasoning: Since hybrid cars don't pay as much in gas tax, they need to pay up somewhere. Hybrid vehicles currently make up only 1.3 percent of Virginia's vehicle fleet. With Virginia gas taxes being reduced to approximately $0.10-0.12/gallon, the typical hybrid owner will avoid less than…
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Vienna-area Sen. Janet Howell calls compromise — expected to raise $880 million a year for roads and mass transit —"truly the best we're going to get."
Sunday, February 24
By Stephen Nielsen • Capital News Service A divided Virginia Senate on Saturday passed Gov. Bob McDonnell’s signature issue of the 2013 legislative session – a bill to overhaul the state’s system for funding transportation. Just hours before the session’s end, the Senate voted 25-15 for House Bill 2313, which will raise about $880 million a year more for roads and mass transit by increasing sales taxes while lowering the fuels tax. The debate over how to increase revenue continued right up to the vote. Herndon-area Sen. Mark Herring (D-Herndon, Loudoun) and Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston) supported the legislation. “This isn’t any bill. This is the only bill,” said Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment, R-Williamsburg. He said it’s the only …
Friday, February 22, 2013
Bill aiming to build consensus around Gov. Bob McDonnell's plan to bring $3 billion to transportation projects met with mixed reviews.
Friday, February 22
By Whitney Spicer • Capital News Service Critics of the transportation funding compromise reached by legislative negotiators say the plan would place a huge burden on Virginia taxpayers. The Virginia House of Delegates on Friday passed House Bill 2313, which would raise about $900 million a year for transportation and transit projects. The 98-page compromise must win approval the Senate before it can be signed into law by the governor. The legislative session ends Saturday. The new plan, which was hammered out by a 10-member conference committee over the past week, would potentially raise close to $900 million a year in transportation revenue. It could be the first transportation funding overhaul in Virginia since 1986 if it passes this …
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Bill would impose harsher penalties, make texting while driving a primary offense.
A bill that would impose tougher penalties on those convicted of texting while driving cleared the state Senate on Tuesday and now heads to the desk of Gov. Bob McDonnell. Del. Tom Rust's (R-86) House Bill 1357, which also addressed texting while driving and made it a primary offense, was incorporated into the bill last week. Rust said texting while driving is reckless behavior, and "committing another reckless, dangerous act shouldn't be required to stop the first." The bill increases the fine to $250 — up from $20 — for the first texting-while-driving offense and $500 for each subsequent conviction. It also makes texting while driving an aggravating circumstance to reckless driving, and so anyone convicted of such would face a mandatory…
Monday, February 18, 2013
Governor Bob McDonnell sends letter to president, congressional delegation.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell sent a letter to President Barack Obama and the Old Dominion's congressional delegation on Monday calling for immediate action to prevent automatic spending cuts under sequestration. The $1.2 trillion in cuts — meant to force Congress to compromise, which hasn't happened — are slated to go into effect March 1. That deadline has been pushed back several times as lawmakers have brokered Band-Aid solutions. "The automatic sequestration reductions mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 are already having a significant adverse effect on the Commonwealth," McDonnell stated. "When fully implemented, they could force Virginia and other states into a recession. Sequestration-mandated reductions will be implemented …
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Access to guns, mental health covered in Virginia rep's report by the National Science Foundation — topics he says need to stay part of the conversation.
Days after President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address to call on Congress and the country to act on gun control, U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th) has released a report that examines driving forces behind mass shootings, including violent media and mental health issues — topics absent from the president's address, Wolf said. The 41-page report, “Youth Violence: What We Need to Know,” includes several studies compiled by an advisory committee to the National Science Foundation (NSF). It will come before a U.S. House subcommittee later this spring. Among the study's findings: exposure to violent media is a significant risk factor in shootings, but also "one of the easiest risk factors to change,” the report says. Its suggestions…
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Gov. Bob McDonnell's task force releases recommendations to the General Assembly.
Tuesday, February 5
By Blake Belden, Capital News Service Gov. Bob McDonnell is urging state legislators to approve recommendations from his School and Campus Safety Task Force that would increase sentences for illegally buying guns, require mandatory lockdown drills at schools and establish more comprehensive suicide prevention programs, among other suggestions. McDonnell sent the General Assembly a letter outlining initial recommendations from the panel, which the governor established in the wake of December’s school shootings in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children. In the letter, McDonnell highlighted those recommendations he wants legislators to give the "most priority": 10 of them involve public safety (including …
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Virginia Democratic Caucus says there is no magic bullet for tolls, traffic solutions.
Del. Ken Plum (D-Reston) was among a group of house delegates who spoke out in Richmond about Virginia traffic on Monday. Plum called "some of the worst transportation gridlock in the country" and offered bipartisan support to solutions to the problem. "From the north end of the urban crescent in Northern Virginia - with the third- worst commute in the nation - to the southern end at Virginia Beach with the 18th-worst commute, Virginians pay dearly with the lost time, money, and quality of life because of traffic congestion," Plum said at a news conference held by the House Democratic Caucus. Among the goals for the House Democrats: To see a 5-percent wholesale gas tax; urban areas having the ability to raise their own transportation money…
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell tours state Thursday asking for support, says plan could jumpstart several projects in Northern Virginia.
Gov. Bob McDonnell spent Thursday traveling across the state to urge area business leaders and residents to support his “Virginia’s Road to the Future” transportation plan, saying his proposal could help jumpstart a number of projects in Northern Virginia that have seemed to stall. The plan has gotten mixed reviews from some state legislators so far this session, but a new poll from Christopher Newport University showed 63 percent of Virginia voters support McDonnell's plan, which hinges on doing away with the state’s 17.5 cents per gallon gas tax and increasing the state sales tax from 5 percent to 5.8 percent. The poll, released Thursday, surveyed 1,015 people across the state on a number of issues, including the governor's plan. …