Thursday, December 15, 2016

Closing Time

So gather up your jackets, and move it to the exits
I hope you have found a friend.
Closing time
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.

~Semisonic, “Closing Time”

Goodbye 2016. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

We invited you in with high hopes that you’d bring us some really nice gifts. You were going to deliver us Democratic control of the Senate, big gains in the House, our first woman president, all so we could appoint the next three Supreme Court Justices.

That was the plan.

Your loud, boorish friend, the one with bad hair and the orange hue, he was only going to be here for a little while. He was going to leave early. You promised us. And your cranky uncle, the one that talks like the guy from that HBO show, he goes to bed early. That’s what you told us.

He’d stick around long enough to have a substantive conversation about the big issues and challenges facing our country. We were going to take on Wall Street and the issues of income inequality, and crony capitalism, and write brilliant position papers on how to solve them. We’d have plenty of time to tinker around in the garage with the Affordable Care Act until we got the knocks and pings out, making it run as smoothly as it ought to be.

Then he’d go to bed satisfied that his work here was done.

Somehow, though, things went a little off the rails. Turns out the folks who’d come to the party didn’t want to just talk about how to fix the economy so it worked for everyone. They wanted to do something about it and they wanted to do it now.

So you had to get firm with your cranky uncle and send him to bed, but the way you did it made everyone a little uncomfortable, and a lot of folks left early.

And the loud orange guy just stuck around. As guest after guest left, he didn’t go anywhere. He just kept getting louder, and angrier, and more belligerent. And there was something intoxicating about it – for a lot of people. Not a majority, but enough. And those that got caught up in what he had to say, they really got into it.

And they took it all over. And kicked us out. And here we are in the dead of winter out in the cold, on the outside looking in. And it’s scary, because it looks like they just might burn the whole place down.

And we feel helpless to stop them.

Well, the good news is 2017 is coming. And 2017 is going to have our back.

We’ve got a chance to start to set things right this year. In Virginia, we can start by electing Ralph Northam Governor. An actual brain surgeon with the bedside manner of an old country doctor. A real leader who couldn’t be more different than the loud man with the bad hair burning the place down.

And here in Virginia we have a chance to turn the Virginia House of Delegate from red to blue, or at least make it closer to purple, by electing more good progressive people who share our values. Because people see what’s going on up the road in Washington and they’re ready to take action.

Working together in 2017 we can build an economy in Virginia that sets an example for everyone and shows them what’s possible. We can have a living wage, so no one who works full time still lives in poverty. We can have paid sick leave, so single parents won’t lose their job for taking their kids to the doctor when they get sick.

We can fix things so that you can go to college without having to mortgage your future under a mountain of college debt you have no hope from getting out from under. And if you’re already buried, we can give you tools to dig your way out so you can join the economy again.

I’ll be working with 2017 to make sure our children are healthy, well educated, safe from gun violence, and can look forward to being more successful than their parents were. We’ll do it by removing barriers to upward mobility- barriers that have funneled all the wealth from our economic recovery into the hands of the few, leaving too many Virginians and American’s behind.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

I am not throwing away my shot

I am not throwing away my shot
Hey yo, I’m just like my country
I’m young, scrappy and hungry
And I’m not throwing away my shot
It’s time to take a shot!

~Hamilton The Musical Soundtrack, "My Shot"

With Thanksgiving only a few days away, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued support. As we near the end of the year, I'm also thinking about the upcoming 2017 General Assembly Session and how I can best represent you.

With Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all the other shopping events around the corner, it got me thinking about money, mores specifically about how to protect it. So, I've got a few ideas on how to help with that.

Since this will be an odd-year Session, it will also be a short one with a mere 45 days to do the Commonwealth's business. This also means that I'm limited to 15 bills and I have to be even more mindful of what I introduce.

To that end, I've created an online survey where you can pick legislation you think I should introduce. My goal is to represent the 53rd District to the best of my ability and that starts with a legislative agenda and including you in the process.

So, if you've got 3 minutes or so, please click on the survey link and check up to 5 bills you think I should introduce this year. For your convenience, I've included some background below for the legislative options.

Look forward to hearing from you!
Summary of Legislative Options

Fair Repair Act - Requires hardware manufacturers, like Apple or Microsoft, to make repair instructions and parts available to the public. This means you wouldn't have to ditch your cell phone for a new one just because the plugin jack stops working.

Personal Use of Campaign Funds - Provides that contributions received by a candidate that are in excess of the amount necessary to cover campaign expenditures may be disposed of only by transferring for use in a succeeding election, returning to the donor, donating to a charity, contributing to another candidates, political committee, or political party committee, or defraying ordinary, non-reimbursed expenses related to the elective office.

National Popular Vote - Requires that all electors in Virginia cast their vote for the presidential candidate that won the national popular vote regardless of the outcome of the Electoral College.

Recurring Contract Payments - In the past several years, subscription-based product and service providers have emerged in almost every sector. Although subscription-based services can benefit consumers by offering simplicity and lower prices, legal issues emerge when customers claim that they did not knowingly agree to continue paying for future products or services. This bill prohibits the auto-renewal of services without first obtaining explicit consent.

Grocery Store Donations to Hunger-Relief Charities - Requests the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) to study the feasibility of and develop recommendations for a program incentivizing grocery stores to donate unsold, unspoiled food that would otherwise be discarded or wasted to hunger-relief charitable organizations for redistribution to needy families. DACS would also identify other policies that could be implemented to reduce food waste and its impacts on the environment and food security in the Commonwealth.

Payroll By Debit Card - Eliminates an employer's ability to pay wages and salaries by a prepaid credit or debit card account without the employee's consent. Daily Fantasy Sports & Child Support - Requires fantasy contest operators licensed in the Commonwealth to check for tax liens and child support obligations of greater than $1,000 prior to paying a cash prize to a fantasy contest participant of any amount.

DNR Reciprocity - Provides that a Durable Do Not Resuscitate order or other order regarding life-sustaining treatment executed in accordance with the laws of another state in which such order was executed shall be deemed to be valid and shall be given full effect in the Commonwealth.

Banning Open Carry Long Guns in Urban Areas - Prohibits the carrying of a loaded shotgun or rifle in places open to the public in certain cities and counties.

Student Loan Ombudsman - Establishes the Office of the Student Loan Ombudsman within the State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV), providing assistance to loan borrowers of any student education loan in the Commonwealth. The Office of the Student Loan Ombudsman is further required to establish and maintain a student loan borrower education course, which shall cover key loan terms, documentation requirements, monthly payment obligations, income-based repayment options, loan forgiveness, and disclosure requirements.

Repeal the Death Penalty - Repeals the death penalty in Virginia.

Voter Registration Regulations - Requires 3rd party groups that register voters to include identifying information, allowing the VA Department of Elections to easily determine where the registration was generated as well as the individual employee responsible.

One Handgun per Month - Reinstates the one handgun per month purchasing limit in Virginia.

SCHEV to Approve School Naming - Requires SCHEV to review and approve or disapprove any change in the name of any public institution of higher education or any academic center, department, school, college, branch, division, or extension of any public institution of higher education.

Domestic Violence First Offense
- Provides that the deferral and dismissal of a first offense of assault and battery against a family or household member will be treated as a prior conviction for the purpose of determining whether a person is eligible for the enhanced Class 6 felony penalties for stalking or assault and battery against a family or household member that apply based on a person's prior convictions.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Keep On Rockin' In The Free World

There's colors on the street
Red, white and blue…
Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world.

~Neil Young, “Keep on Rockin’ in The Free World”

Ready for some good news from the 2016 Elections?

President Elect Donald Trump received a mere 1,324 votes in the City of Falls Church, representing around seventeen percent of the total votes cast. While we may have political differences, and some of us are more conservative or more progressive than others, it’s apparent that the vast majority of us in the City and Greater Falls Church considered Mr. Trump’s words, actions, and positions unacceptable in a presidential candidate.

In other news, a substantial majority of Falls Churchers rejected the so-called “right to work” amendment to the Virginia Constitution. Overall, in what was a surprising result to many of us in the political establishment, 54% of Virginians voted against the proposal, causing the amendment to fail. You can rest assured I will remind my colleagues in the General Assembly - who passed the language on a party line vote two years in a row - that they are out of touch with their electorate on this issue.

And Virginia went bigger for Hillary than it did for President Obama in either 2008 or 2012, causing one conservative talk show host do declare Virginia to not be a swing state, but a blue state. Whether that’s true or not, it’s certainly getting bluer with each election.

Of course, in spite of all this good news, like many of you I was extremely disappointed in the outcome of the national election. For several days the outcome seemed surreal. In many ways I felt as though I was living in a dream like state - a nightmare really.

Before long, I decided to stop moping and look for ways to move forward and use this most unfortunate turn of events to my advantage. I reached out to a group of friends and neighbors on Facebook, some old political pros, and others newly engaged

About fifty of us sat around my home and talked about the future. We tried not to spend too much time thinking about specific things we wished the Clinton campaign had done differently, although we did spend time talking about what we need to get right the next time around.

Since Virginia has an election every year, next time around is already here.

While Virginia’s odd year elections can sometimes be exhausting, this year I view them as a silver lining. We’ve got something positive to work toward right away. In 2017, Virginians will elect a new Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General.

In addition, all 100 House Delegates will be up for re-election in 2017. If we can work to motivate voters who’ve cast votes for Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Tim Kaine in even year elections to show up in an odd year election, we could even see the bright red Virginia House of Delegates turn blue again.

If you’ve had enough political campaigning for the time being, or you’re worried about the immediate threats to our civil liberties a Trump presidency poses (and I know many of you are), there are other ways to take action that are even more cathartic than ranting on your Facebook page.

Contact my office and we can put you in touch with organizations that stand up for the priorities you believe in, like the ACLU, Campaign Zero, Planned Parenthood of Virginia, RAINN, NextGen Climate Action, Equality Virginia, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. There are so many options.

And if none of that cheers you up, come to my house on December 18th for Latkepalooza III, my annual holiday fundraiser. Rachel’s making latkes, we’ll have jelly donuts and other holiday fare, and a great time will be had by all. Check out for details.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Case Against Voter Fraud

A few weeks ago, Virginia House Republicans held a press call in which they succeeded in getting newspapers to report on a two-week old incident where a single individual in Harrisonburg Virginia is alleged to have submitted voter registrations on behalf of people who are in fact dead. The State Police and FBI are investigating and, if the alleged activity is proven, the individual responsible should be prosecuted and punished under existing laws.

There is no evidence or allegation that this single student’s alleged activity was part of any larger effort or scheme to cast votes illegally on behalf of any candidate or any particular political party. According to the JMU student paper the Breeze, the student has spoken with the County registrar and investigators. Rather than speculate about the student’s motives, we could wait for the complete investigation, which would provide actual evidence and facts.

Instead, Republican leaders organized the call to highlight the most sensational aspects and then conclude that Virginians should believe that this isolated incident is indicative of a widespread problem with voter fraud. Taking cues from their presidential nominee, perhaps, they were undeterred by the absence of actual evidence of any widespread fraud or evidence that their recent legislative proposals, which have made voting more difficult, have done anything to prevent fraud.

In fact, the evidence we do have would indicate that the individual under scrutiny wasn’t terribly sophisticated. He used the last known address of one of the deceased, which caused a congratulatory letter to be sent to his family. He turned in a total of nineteen alleged fraudulent applications over nine months. Were he intending to influence the outcome of an election, he was either working an extremely long con or severely underestimated the number of votes that would be required to alter the outcome. He hadn't applied for any absentee ballots and, even if he had, newly registered voters who register by mail are required to provide ID with their initial absentee ballot.

On social media, I asked for anyone to explain to me how the alleged activity could result in fraudulent votes. A few folks sent me fewer than five examples with the stories of fraud from other states. And these were several years old.

So, voter fraud does sometimes happen. It's just that it's incredibly difficult to execute, even more difficult to get away with, and extremely rare.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't try and prevent all voter fraud. We should. It undermines confidence in an already suspect system in which the outcome is often predetermined by political gerrymandering and the absence of any campaign finance restrictions, which works to the tremendous advantage of incumbents.

So why don't we do more? We have to be careful that the remedy isn't worse than the ailment. If we restricted the right to vote to only white male landholders who could produce a deed to their property and a family bible dating back to the 18th century, we wouldn't have any voter fraud. We wouldn't have a representative democracy either, at least not the way we define it today.

The so-called remedies proposed would make it too difficult for many poor, elderly, and foreign born citizens to cast ballots, effectively disenfranchising them. As long as those are the only folks affected, Virginia house Republicans seem comfortable seeking greater and greater restrictions.

Some of the folks I have heard from are upset that I called the accusations of fraud disingenuous. If we were really genuinely concerned with ascertaining the true identity of voters rather than making voting more difficult, why not accept an expired driver’s license from an elderly voter who doesn't use it for driving any longer? Or give the elections officer the option to do so?

We have evidence given under oath that current Virginia House Republicans have deliberately drawn legislative districts to pack minority democrats into as few districts as mathematically possible. Why wouldn't we be suspicious of their real motives in crying Widespread Voter Fraud as well?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Are You Election Ready?

Get ready 'cause here I come
Get ready 'cause here I come
Get ready

~The Temptations, "Get Ready"

With about six weeks until the next election and in-person absentee voting beginning today, I wanted to share some information that may be useful this election cycle, including information about registering to vote and voting absentee.

Please be aware that the deadline to register to vote in this year's election is Tuesday, October 17th.

On Tuesday, November 8th, the polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
At the Virginia State Board of Elections website, you can check your registration status and confirm your polling place. In addition, voter ID laws are in effect. The list of accepted forms of ID and other related information can be found here.

City of Falls Church Guide to the 2016 Election

  • In-Person Absentee voting begins Friday, September 23rd at City Hall, weekdays 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Closed Monday, October 10th for the holiday
  • Open Saturdays, October 29th and November 5th, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Last Day to vote In-Person Absentee is Saturday, November 5th, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Last Day to request an absentee ballot by mail is Tuesday, November 1st at 5:00 p.m

Fairfax County Guide to the 2016 Election

In-Person Absentee Voting - Fairfax County Government Center

  • Weekdays - September 23rd to October 14th
    • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
    • Monday, October 10th, Columbus Day - OFFICE CLOSED
  • Weekdays - October 17th to November 4th
    • Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

  • Saturdays - October 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th and November 5th
    • 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • For information on Satellite Voting Locations, click here.     

Referenda & Constitutional Amendments

For Falls Church, there is a referendum on library bonds.

For Fairfax County, there are referenda involving bonds for our parks, human services, and transportation. In addition, you will also be able to vote on a Meals Tax, which would allow Fairfax County to enact a tax rate of up to 4%. If passed, the additional estimated revenue is $99 million per year. 70% of this would be earmarked for FCPS and the remaining 30% would go to other County programs and services. I support the meals tax.

Two constitutional amendments will be on ballots all over the state. One amendment attempts to codify the Right to Work provision, which I am against. The second one gives localities the option to exempt the surviving spouse of any law-enforcement officer, firefighter, search and rescue personnel, or emergency medical services personnel who is killed in the line of duty from real property taxes. I support this amendment.

Election Day Tips

  • Polls officially close at 7:00 p.m., but everyone waiting in line at that time must be given the opportunity to cast their ballots.
  • If the voting equipment malfunctions at your polling place, inform the election officials immediately. If the equipment cannot be repaired in a timely manner, you may then request an emergency paper ballot.
  • If you are elderly or disabled, or otherwise unable to enter the polling location without physical assistance, curbside voting will be made available to you at your assigned polling place.
  • If you previously requested and received an absentee ballot, but prefer to cast your vote in person on Election Day, be sure to return the unopened ballot to either the local Electoral Board or to the General Registrar before Election Day, or to the election official at your polling place.  This will enable you to cast a regular ballot on Election Day.


Questions: call 1--866-OUR-VOTE (687-8683)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

An End to the Hybrid Exemption

For over two years, the I-66 project has been a major topic of conversation in our community. Perhaps even longer than that if you consider previous concerns over traffic and commuting. After many community meetings and plan revisions, the Governor and senior VDOT officials unveiled the first phase of the project, the installation of tolling infrastructure on I-66 inside the beltway. While this is not how I might of chosen to kick-off the improvement project (I’d have preferred we break ground on the new lane from the Dulles Connector Road to Ballston first), the project is moving forward.

To many, the unveiling of the tolling infrastructure is an ominous signal that the end is near for the clean fuel plates exemption which has allowed single occupancy vehicles to use the HOV lanes inside the Beltway during rush hour.

This hybrid exception encouraged residents to purchase these innovative and exceptionally fuel efficient vehicles early on when the technology was new and relatively expensive. Given our high traffic area, I know many hybrid vehicle owners have enjoyed taking advantage of the HOV exception. I know this because many of them have asked me to help delay the sunset of the clean fuel plate exemption.

Some Background

The state entered into an agreement in 1994 with the FHWA that allows Clean Fuel Vehicles (Hybrids) to use the HOV lanes along I-66, inside and outside the Capital Beltway, as long as the state could demonstrate that allowing those cars on the HOV lanes wouldn’t cause the minimum average speed to decrease below 45mph at least ninety percent of the time.

Unfortunately, increased traffic and congestion has resulted in data to showing that the average speed cannot be maintained for ninety percent of the time. As an interim step, the state stopped issuing new clean fuel plates in 2011 but grandfathered in holders of the plates who got them before 2011. Traffic has continued to degrade, however, triggering a sunset clause to the hybrid car exemption.

In addition to traffic management, some have argued the program is a necessary incentive to encourage ownership of more fuel efficient cars, reducing carbon emissions and generally helping the environment.

I'm not convinced of the environmental benefits of continuing this particular program. Why should we allow someone driving a Camry hybrid, for instance, which gets 26 mpg, to take up capacity on the HOV/HOT lanes (more cars equal higher tolls for everyone else) while someone driving a less expense conventional drive vehicle like the Ford Focus, getting up to 35 mpg, can't use the lanes or has to pay the higher tolls? Why are we creating an incentive for this one particular technology? Simply giving hybrids a special exemption, while it may have been a good idea at the time, no longer makes sense to me.

Of course, if it didn't do anyone any harm, why not let the hybrids keep using the road like they always have? The problem is that It costs everyone else who uses the road higher tolls because toll pricing is based on the volume of traffic.

I am sure that it's disappointing to see this program, which has saved so much time and money over the years, go away. The truth is, I'm not a big fan of toll lanes and privatizing our roads at all. I'd love to see these roads remain free for everyone. We just haven't seen the political will to raise gas taxes to pay for infrastructure improvements we desperately need.

Unfortunately, the current hybrid exemption vehicle program is not compatible with the HOT lane concept which VDOT has adopted and is moving forward with. Given the new reality, I don't think it's fair to everyone else who uses these roads to have to pay higher tolls to benefit a savvy class of early adopters.

I haven't come to this position lightly. I've listened carefully to the arguments on both sides and done my best to keep an open mind. I understand that this is an issue on which intelligent and thoughtful people can disagree, and that some of my colleagues whom I almost always agree with are on the other side of this argument.

That said, if you’d like to share your concerns about this, please contact me either by phone (571) 327-0053 or email

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Combatting the Student Loan Debt Crisis

As we near the end of August, many Falls Church and Virginia families will engage in one of those rites of passage that some of us look forward to and others may dread: packing up their cars and making the road trip to drop off a child a college for the first time.

The trip is full of anxieties for children and parents alike. Will these very young adults make smart decisions about studying, alcohol, drugs, and relationships, with relatively little real adult supervision? Some of us may wonder why we didn’t set more aside for the spiraling increases in the cost of attending college.

Others will, after checking out the dorm, make a trip to the student aid office to beginning taking draws on their student loans, which is how they will pay for it all.

As of 2015, student loan debt topped $1.3 trillion nationally. This includes 1 million Virginians with over $30 billion of student loan debt. To put that in perspective, that's larger than credit card and auto loan debt. Only mortgage debt is greater, but with Student Loan debt, there are no assets securing repayment.

There is growing evidence that the burden of repaying all this debt is weighing down the economy and preventing younger Americans from more fully participating in the economy. This is why I hosted a series of roundtables last fall around the state, wrote an Op-Ed for the Washington Post, and worked with advocacy groups to craft student loan debt legislation for this past General Assembly Session.

One thing that became clear during our roundtable discussions was that many student loan borrowers are not adequately counseled on the terms of the loans they are taking out or what their loan payments will be, and what it will take to make those payments, once they graduate. And for those that perhaps don’t finish their degree and, therefore don’t get the expected higher paying job, the numbers are even worse.

In response to these concerns, I co-sponsored legislation with State Senator Janet Howell last Session to create a Student Loan Borrower’s Bill of Rights. Among other things, the legislation would have required some basic consumer protections and required Virginia to license student loan servicers and originators just like similar financial providers.

Finally, we would create an office of the Student Loan Debt Ombudsman with the mission to:
  • Receive, review, and attempt to resolve any complaints from student loan borrowers, including attempts to resolve such complaints in collaboration with institutions of higher education, student loan servicers;  
  • Compile and analyze data on student loan borrower complaints;
  • Assist student loan borrowers to understand their rights and responsibilities as a borrower;
  • Provide information to the public, state agencies, legislators, and other persons regarding the problems and concerns of student loan borrowers and make recommendations for resolving those problems and concerns;
  • Analyze and monitor the development and implementation of federal and state laws and policies relating to student loan borrowers and recommend any changes the Office of the Student Loan Ombudsman deems necessary;
  • Establish and maintain a student loan borrower education course that shall include educational presentations and materials regarding student education loans. Topics covered by the program shall include key loan terms, documentation requirements, monthly payment obligations, income-based repayment options, loan forgiveness, and disclosure requirements.
Both my legislation to permit graduates to refinance student loan debt and the Student Loan Bill of Rights legislation received a lot of attention during the committee meetings and were subsequently referred to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), Virginia 529, and the Virginia Department of the Treasury for further study. I have since met with SCHEV staff, who are taking the lead on this project, and plan to reintroduce the fine-tuned legislation during the 2017 Session.

We can’t break our word to the upcoming generation. We told them if they worked hard, went to school, and got a degree, they were punching their ticket to financial security. Offering lower interest rate refinancing and expanded consumer protections may not solve all the problems of social mobility and income inequality, but it's something we can do, here in Virginia, to make life better for everyone.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Making Our Community Safer

Earlier this week, prefiling of bills resumed for the 2017 House of Delegates Session. The House Majority Caucus decided to highlight the introduction of HB 1392, a duplicate version of a measure Governor McAuliffe vetoed in 2016, which would put guns in the hands of civilians inside our schools.

It's amazing to me that Virginia's GOP still hasn't gotten the message that the myth of the good-guy with a gun has been completely debunked. As so many across the country grieve and mourn those lost to gun violence, as police unions ask for action to restrict civilians from carrying firearms openly, for the Virginia House GOP to reintroduce a bill that will put more guns in close proximity to our school children shows just how out of touch they've become.

No one is more concerned about the safety of Virginia's children than I am. The fact is, this bill does nothing to improve the safety of children.

A study of mass shootings from 2009 to 2015 revealed that 96% of these tragedies occurred somewhere other than a school. In fact, accidental deaths involving firearms are the third leading cause of death for children.

I challenge my Republican colleagues in the House to show that they really are serious about protecting children by supporting legislation to require smart gun technology, to promote the use of trigger locks, and to fund a comprehensive study of gun violence as the public health scourge that it is.

At the same time, recent news stories involving lethal interactions between the police and men of color have been heartbreaking. Here in Northern Virginia and Fairfax we also have work to do with regard to the way police are trained and when and on whom they use physical force and how much is appropriate.

On Tuesday, the Fairfax County Police Chief released a report including data that showed 40% of use of force incidents involved African American suspects, even though African Americans are approximately eight percent of the overall county population.

These statistics were reported at the recommendation of the Fairfax County Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission on which I served. This week I wanted to highlight some of the recommendations of the Police Oversight and Use of Force Subcommittees.

Like the Mental Health and CIT Subcommittee I chaired, these subcommittees presented recommendations to the Board of Supervisors after months of stakeholder meetings. Each subcommittee comprised a group of individuals representing diverse backgrounds and experiences. The recommendations were only agreed upon after long discussions, presentations from several sources, and a comprehensive review of data.

For the past few months, the Board of Supervisors has been reviewing and implementing these recommendations. A regularly updated Progress Report can be found online -

One of the most important recommendations establishes a civilian oversight committee, which would go a long way in creating a transparent relationship between the police and the community. It is important to note that an oversight committee is not intended to be a punitive measure; it’s actually a pro-police position. Accountability and oversight builds trust and confidence which in turn makes policing our communities safer and easier for officers and residents alike. Further, making it a civilian oversight committee is integral to its success.

Specifically, the recommendations included:
  • Appointing an Independent Police Auditor who will report to the Board of Supervisors to participate in and monitor Internal Affairs Bureau investigations of use of force and other serious cases;
  • Establishing a Civilian Review Panel to respond to community concerns or complaints about alleged abuse of authority incidents by the Fairfax County Police Department;
  • In addition, the Commission recommends strengthening the independent investigative ability of the Commonwealth’s Attorney (CWA) in use of force and other serious cases. The various reporting and disclosure obligations contained in the recommendations will provide for the disclosure of the information necessary for the public to judge the thoroughness, completeness, accuracy, objectivity and impartiality of the FCPD investigations of use of force incidents and complaints concerning FCPD activities.
I am a huge fan and supporter of our state and local police officers. I believe that holding them to high standards, requiring transparency, and accountability are pro-police positions that will build a rapport with the community. This will make their jobs easier, make them more effective, and improve morale among officers and the communities they police.

So, while a strong commitment exists to further improve the relationship between the police and our community, we still have much to do to fully implement the subcommittees’ recommendations. And if HB 1392 is any indication, we also have much to do to ensure that some of my General Assembly colleagues have a better understanding of how we can effectively protect our children from gun violence.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

New Laws Taking Effect July 1st

As hard as it may be to believe, 2016 is nearly half over already.  July 1, 2016 is not only the mid-point of the year (and it’s not only my birthday) it’s also the day that all the new laws Virginia General Assembly passed and the Governor signed become law in Virginia.  I wanted to this opportunity to highlight some new laws that will take effect on July 1st that will have an impact on every day residents of the 53rd District.

Some of you may find yourselves thinking that nothing those politicians in Richmond do has anything to do with you, and you might be right.  On the other hand, you might not be.

For instance, if you are a sports fan and have seen ads for daily fantasy sports websites like FanDuel and DraftKings, you may have wondered whether it was safe and legal to logon and play.  You may be comforted to know that on July 1, 2016 Virginia will be the first state in the country to regulate these websites and put them under the supervision of Virginia’s consumer protection agency.

I was pleased to be a chief co-patron of this new law, which prohibits insiders and employees from playing for money and the sharing of confidential information that could affect fantasy contest play with third parties.  Operators must verify that any fantasy contest player is 18 years of age or older, allow individuals to restrict themselves from entering a fantasy contest upon request, segregate player funds from operational funds in separate accounts, and maintain a reserve in an amount sufficient to pay all prizes and awards offered to winning participants.

If your children ride a school bus to school, and you were concerned that Falls Church was forced to stop issuing tickets by mail to drivers who blew past the stop sign, you may feel a little safer knowing we corrected that legislation, to allow photo enforcement and ticketing by mail to deter dangerous driving behaviors like passing school buses when the stop arm is out.

If you have had to take out a permanent protective order against someone who has been abusive in a domestic relationship, you will now know that the subject of the protective order will have to surrender any firearms in his possession within 24 hours or be guilty of a Class 6 felony.

If you attend a gun show, you can expect to see State Police Officers there, and under a new law effective July 1, the State Police will finally be allowed to perform background checks for any transaction if requested to do so by the buyer and seller.

If you are a child under 8 years old, your parents won’t be allowed to smoke in a car while you are in it, strapped into your car seat.

If your spouse was made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country and was killed in action as determined by the US Department of Defense, you will qualify for an expanded property tax exemption to make it easier for you and your family to stay in your home.

And if you drive eastbound on I-66 toward DC during the evening rush, you will soon be getting a new lane to help ease the bottleneck that forms were the Dulles Connector road meets I-66.  The lane will continue all the way to Ballston where traffic generally begins to ease on your way to Nationals and Capitals games, so you can go watch your daily fantasy sports players, live and in person.

These are just a few of the laws that will come into effect on July 1st. For more highlights, the Division of Legislative Services produces In Due Course, which can found online at

Likewise, the full list of new laws can be assessed by visiting, selecting “Bills and Resolutions,” and then selecting “Approved or Enacted.”

Friday, May 27, 2016

What's in a name?

What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. 
 ~Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

The Board of Visitors at George Mason University’s recently sold the naming rights to the University’s law school to Charles Koch and an anonymous friend in exchange for a series of annual donations totaling $30 million over 5 years. The donors chose the name the Antonin Scalia School of Law, then quickly changed that to the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University.

When the announcement was first revealed around April 1 of this year, I organized a petition drive and have been an outspoken critic of the University’s decision, along with a number of other local area legislators. I’ve written an Op-Ed for the Washington Post, co-authored a letter to State Council on Higher Education in Virginia, and made the trip to Lexington, Virginia for the Council’s May meetings to testify at the Academic Affairs Committee and the full Council about my concerns.

I did all this under the belief that SCHEV had the final say in the re-naming of the law school.

Although supporters of the name change have questioned my motives and called me a knee-jerk liberal, my motivation for championing this fight was and remains a genuine concern for the reputation of the law school, the university, and the Commonwealth.

I continue to be concerned that, in exchange for this $30 million purchase price, the school has done irreparable harm to its reputation that will result in declining enrollment, forcing them to become less selective, which will lead to declining school rankings which will only reinforce this downward spiral.

The grant agreement leaked online shows that, in addition to renaming the law school, GMU must hire twelve additional faculty members and create two new centers expanding its law and economic focus. They must reapply for the grant every year, and the Koch Foundation must be notified immediately if Dr. Henry Butler steps down or is removed as dean of the law school.
To SCHEV or Not to SCHEV?

In spite of all of this, SCHEV staff, based on advice they received from the Attorney General’s office, decided this week that the name change was honorific and therefore would not require their approval.

According to the SCHEV staff’s initial recommendation, they did have a role ensure that new instructional units are implemented appropriately relative to the inherent soundness of academic and fiscal commitments involved.

The law school industry, such as it is, is in a crisis. Applications to law school have decreased some 50% since their peak about a decade ago. The nation’s elite law schools are reducing class size, and not growing, in response to the shortage of applicants. In order to grow, the law school to the size it would need to be to sustain the new programs it is required to create under this contract to rename the school, particularly given the number of high quality students who are likely to be dissuaded from applying because of the name, GMU will have to accept students with lower LSATs and grades. This once again begs the questions of fiscal soundness of the University’s plan going forward.
Money & Influence

Virginia taxpayers contribute ten times more in each biennial budget than this gift would account for. These grant agreements would give the donors, or purchasers of the naming rights, outsized and inappropriate influence over the direction and decision making at the law school.

Dr. Cabrera has said at various times that the academic freedom of the law school and of the University is not at risk, as the purchaser price amounts to mere 0.6% of the Schools budget. At the same time, University and Law School officials would ask how such a large and significant investment in the law school could be refused.

Whether the gift is too big to come without strings that affect the Law School’s academic freedom, or so small that it really doesn’t make a difference, we should feel comfortable that it is in our best interest to say no to the offer to purchase the law school at George Mason University.
Moving Forward

At this point there don't seem to be many options under existing law to prevent the name change from going forward. However, there may be legislative options to clarify SCHEV's role in this process and make certain there is a process to prevent large donors from using our public colleges and universities as a platform for their personal agendas. So, while it may be too late to for this law school, there is an opportunity to take preventive action to protect the integrity, fiscal soundness, and overall perception of the rest of Virginia's higher education system.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Free money - sort of

It's easy as, 1 2 3
As simple as, do re mi
A B C, 1 2 3

~Jackson 5, "ABC"

I want to take a moment to let you know about a Virginia state tax credit that its available to you and benefits a local organization right here in the 53Rd House of Delegates District.

I'm happy to report that the Virginia Department of Education recently awarded the Falls Church-McLean Children's Center (FCMCC) over $100,000 in tax credits to make available to their donors. Now, businesses and individuals that donate to the Children's Center can take advantage of this credit while contributing to an organization located in our community!

Virginia residents or businesses that make a charitable gift of a minimum of $1,000 to the Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center this spring will be rewarded with a remarkable VA Tax Credit worth at least 65% of their donation and a reduction in federal taxable income for their 2016 tax returns.

The combined VA Tax Credits and decreased taxable income cut the ultimate cost of the minimum $1,000 gift to just $191, depending on your individual tax circumstances.

I know we hear a lot about tax credits that seem to benefit the people that need the help the least, or function as a form of corporate welfare.  SO I wanted to make sure you knew about this credit that can be used my many of us here in the 53Rd district to help a worthy organization located in our district.

Falls Church-McLean Children's Center

Established in 1968, the Center's mission is to provide affordable, high quality early childhood education to low-income working families. Current enrollment includes 70 kids housed in a dedicated wing of Lemon Road Elementary School, built especially for the Center.

Over the years, the Center has been honored by the Virginia General Assembly, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and the Fairfax County Public School System for outstanding service.

Earlier this year, the Virginia Department of Education awarded the Children's Center tax credits to pass on to businesses and individuals that make a minimum $1,000 sponsorship donation. This is a great way to help more children at a lower cost through this tax credit.

The Center is having their 4th Annual Teddy Bear 5K & 1K in September of this year, which is the perfect sponsorship opportunity. To put the tax credit in perspective, here is a chart showing the effects of the tax credit and your donation.

Sponsorships must be paid before June 30, 2016 to receive the tax credit.

For more information about FCMCC, please check out their website and Annual Report.

To learn more about the Teddy Bear 5k, sponsorships and, the available tax credit, contact Renee Boyle, FCMCC Development Director, at (703) 534-4907 or

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Update on GMU's donor agreement and SCHEV Meeting

After sending my email update last week, I sent a formal letter to the SCHEV Board asking them to seriously consider the impact of renaming the GMU law school and its long term effects on the school. I also shared the list of over 1,200 petition signatures. Thank YOU for helping make that possible.

Strings Attached

You may have seen the recent news report releasing the demands and stipulations attached to the Koch brothers donation to GMU. The National Law Journal has picked up the story, including information about the letter I sent and our petition.

The donation agreement leaked online shows that, in addition to renaming the law school, GMU must hire 12 additional faculty members and create 2 new centers expanding its law and economic focus. The provisions also require that the Koch Foundation be notified immediately if Dr. Henry Butler steps down or is removed as dean of the law school. The New York Times was the first to publish the leaked agreement.

It is clear that stipulations like this erode the school's academic independence and will most assuredly have an impact on the university's reputation.

Please forward this email to your friends and neighbors and ask them to add their names to the petition as well!

GMU Faculty Opposition

A Washington Post article from earlier this week highlights the controversy among GMU faculty and the school's administration. Several faculty have been outspoken in their opposition, posting an open letter expressing their concerns. The letter now has over 160 faculty signatures. At a faculty meeting yesterday, they adopted two resolutions relating to the potential renaming citing grave concerns about conflicts of interest relating to the donation agreement's stipulations.

SCHEV Board Meeting

As I mentioned in my last email, SCHEV's next Board meeting will be on May 16th and 17th at Washington & Lee University. I intend to be at the meeting, speaking with individual members if possible and to offer comments during the public comment period.

The public comment period will be on May 17th at the beginning of their agenda at 9:00am. The formal agenda will be posted on SCHEV's website one week before the meeting.

  • Those interested in making public comment should contact LeeAnn Rung at (804) 225-2602 or no later than 5:00pm on May 12th.
  • The speaker's name, address and topic must be provided.
  • Each speaker has up to 3 minutes and are asked to submit a written copy of their remarks at that time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

2016 Reconvene Session & The State Budget

Yesterday, the General Assembly completed the 2016 Reconvene Session wherein we voted on the Governor’s 32 vetoes and recommendations. This being the first year of the 2016-2018 Biennial Budget, we also reviewed the Governor’s additional recommendations for the budget.

As a member of the House of Delegates I work hard to do what’s right for all Virginians, regardless of where they live. As your representative in Richmond, I also have a responsibility to and take great pride in looking out for the priorities of my constituents and the localities I represent.

With the state budget, I am particularly concerned with making sure that we get some sort of return on the significant amount of state income taxes we send to Richmond.

I attended a forum earlier this year hosted by the Falls Church City Republican Committee where a number of residents raised their concerns about the way the state’s funding formula for distributing education funds, known as the Local Composite Index (LCI), disadvantages the City.

This year, we did makes some progress to increase funding for K-12 education in our state budget, and I was pleased to see that we did our best to do that through increasing funds that are distributed on a per-pupil basis, rather than those that are subject to the LCI.

While I voted against the over $105 billion budget because it once again failed to expand Medicaid, it did do a number of good things for Northern Virginia and Falls Church and Fairfax County in particular.

Here in greater Falls Church, we are justifiably proud of our outstanding public schools. That said, we’ve struggled with funding shortages for many years now, as the great recession has taken a severe toll on our revenue and therefore state support for K-12 and higher education.

In the new biennial budget, however, the City of Falls Church will receive $6.7 million in direct aid from the state, up from $5.86 million last year. An increase of about $460 per student. In much larger Fairfax County funding increased by $34 million.

The budget also restores $34.4 million for cost of competing adjustment for Northern Virginia schools.

On a statewide basis the budget included language to increase the state’s share of teacher pay by a $134.4 million for a two-percent salary increase.

In addition to increased funding for elementary education, Falls Church won another budget battle. Language was included in the budget to keep 100 percent of fines and fees collected by the local police department here in Falls Church, rather than having to send it down to Richmond and pray for its safe return.

As I said, despite the good news on education funding, I couldn’t bring myself to vote yes on a budget that continues to shun over $6 million per day in federal taxes we’ve already paid. Virginians are set to lose $3 billion over the biennium because we are not getting our tax dollars back from the federal government and we are having to pay for programs that would have been covered under the expansion.

Let’s try to finish this month’s column on a high note, though.

In October, Attorney General Mark Herring issued an opinion that said that the General Assembly never explicitly gave police departments the authority to mail tickets for illegally passing a school bus based on evidence obtained from cameras mounted on the stop signs.

Legislation to allow those tickets to be mailed, just as they are for red light cameras that catch people at intersections, passed the General Assembly this year and has been signed by the Governor. So, at $250 a ticket, there may be more revenue available in the upcoming fiscal year.

More importantly, drivers will be deterred from the very dangerous practice of passing a school bus while children are getting on or coming off.

Monday, April 11, 2016


You hear my voice, your hear that sound
Like thunder, gonna shake your ground...

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter

Dancing through the fire
'Cause I am the champion, and you're gonna hear me roar
~Katy Perry, "Roar"

On Wednesday, April 20th, the General Assembly will reconvene to discuss and vote on the Governor's vetoes and recommendations. Per the rules of the Reconvened Session, we will only consider these bills and not take up any other business.

I'm proud to say that I voted against every bill that the Governor vetoed and also spoke against several of them on the House floor. Next week, I hope to have the opportunity to once again speak up in defense of the Governor's vetoes.

To watch the floor debate and hear my previous remarks, please click through the links below:

HB 259
- This legislation required the State Board of Education to have General Assembly approval before adopting Common Core standards. This bills is unnecessary as the Governor and the State Board of Education have already reiterated their intentions not to do so. Video for HB 259

HB 1096
- This legislation attempted to overturn the Governor's Executive Order 50, which prohibits firearms in executive branch buildings. Video for HB 1096

HB 1234
- This legislation provided for school resource officers to be able to carry a firearm while on duty. Allowing this would create a slippery slope to future legislation allowing staff, teachers, and even students to carry on school grounds. Video for HB 1234

SB 41 - This legislation is a so-called religious freedom bill. In reality, the legislation legalizes discrimination based on one specific religious belief, effectively establishing a state religion that is preferred above all others. I spoke against SB 41 and it's House companion bill, HB 773. Video for SB 41 and Video for HB 773

When we go into Session at 12pm on April 20th, you can watch live by clicking here.

Governor's Vetoes & Recommendations

During the 2016 Session, 3,286 bills and resolutions were introduced and, of these, 1,803 passed both the House and the Senate. To further put this in perspective, here are some bill statistics:
  • 811 - bills passed the General Assembly
  • 732 - bills that passed and were signed by the Governor
  • 24 - bills were vetoed
  • 47 - bills have Governor's recommendations
You can view the full list of vetoed bills here and the full list of recommendations can be seen here.

Pimmit Run Creek Clean Up

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Pimmit Run Creek Clean Up on April 2nd. We cleaned up over 300 lbs. of trash and recyclables!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

2016 Session Wrap Up

I wrapped up my third legislative session in Richmond last week. Virginia’s General Assembly meets for 60 days every even numbered year, and 45 days every odd year. This being 2016, we adjourned at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, March 11, 2016 after adopting a biennial budget, 59 days after we started. So technically, a day early.

And not a moment too soon.

It’s never been easy to be a progressive Democrat in Richmond. Even when the Democratic Party controlled the state legislature as recently as the 1990s, they weren’t what most of us in Falls Church think of as forward thinkers.

In 2016, with both the House and State Senate controlled by Republican majorities, including a near super-majority in the House, things got downright ugly.

Legislation to repeal Virginia’s unconstitutional ban on same sex marriage, and prevent discrimination in employment and housing based on sexual orientation were tabled by a voice vote in committee. The same thing happened to bills to prevent gun stores from locating next door to schools and to improve wages and benefits for working families.

Instead, we got a so-called religious freedom bill which grants a license to discriminate against same-sex couples. We got bills to reverse the Governor’s ban on firearms in state buildings. And we got a state budget that stripped out $3 billion worth of health care for the working poor that is available from the Federal government for Medicaid expansion.

During the waning days of the legislative session we spend a lot of time on the floor of the House of Delegates “at ease” while we wait for conference committees to iron out differences between House and Senate versions of bills. I passed only one bill this session, and it made it through both houses exactly as I introduced it, no need to conference on it.

So I had some time.

While I waited, I chatted with one of the more senior members on the other side of the aisle. He told me something I already knew, but was important to hear again, and I think he meant it as a compliment. As a Democrat in a Republican dominated legislature, he told me, you have to decide who you want to be. Do you want to be one of the ones that speaks up a lot, fights us on the floor, in committees, and in the press? Or do you want to keep quiet, keep your head down, and be allowed to be slightly effective, to get some of your bills passed, and get yourself better committee assignments?
For those of you reading this column for the first time, who don’t receive my e-mail newsletters or follow me on Facebook, I fall into the first category.

If I were you, he said, I’d do it exactly the way you are doing it. I’d be throwing the bombs, I’d be giving ‘em hell, and I’d be asking all the hard questions.

That’s why I voted No on the biennial budget, that doesn’t include Medicaid Expansion for the third straight year, at the staggering cost of over $6 million per day. That’s why I stood up and spoke out against efforts to undermine our strong public school system in Virginia, against making it easier for more people to carry more guns more places, and against efforts to derail a great bill (introduced by a Republican) to make it illegal to smoke in cars where small children are strapped into car seats.
It’s why I spoke up for funding mental health programs in our state’s prisons and jails. It’s why I spoke up for student borrowers who are stuck with bad loans on bad terms they can’t afford and can’t refinance. It’s why I spoke up for victims of domestic violence and their families – and for keeping dangerous weapons out of heated domestic disputes.

I am going to keep fighting because we’ve seen what the other side will do if they think they can get away with it. They’ll nominate someone like Ken Cuccinelli to the Supreme Court.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

I-66 Transportation Project Deal

The 2016 General Assembly Session has officially reached the halfway point known as Crossover, the deadline for each house to complete work on their own bills before sending them down the hall to the other chamber. Last week, committees and subcommittees worked diligently to hear all the legislation in time to get it to the floor for a vote before the deadline. As that deadline approached, we voted on and debated more than 200 bills and resolutions this past Monday. 

Next month, I'll provide a wrap up of all the bills that passed both houses and are likely to be signed by the Governor.  This month, though, the biggest news affecting my constituents is the deal between legislative leaders and the Governor to unclog Interstate 66. The deal is a combination of widening within the existing right of way to add capacity and allowing non-HOV vehicles to use the road during restricted hours by paying a toll.

The deal proposes to convert I-66 inside the beltway to Express Lanes during rush hours in the peak directions, widen I-66 eastbound from the Dulles Connector Road, and improve transit service throughout the corridor.

During the morning and evening rush hours, carpoolers with two or more people will continue to ride for free when the dynamic tolling is scheduled to begin in 2017. Solo drivers can also use the lanes provided that they pay the toll based on the distance traveled.

Starting in 2020, the lanes will be free to carpoolers with three or more people during rush hours while everyone else will pay a variable toll. However, the lanes will remain free during off-peak periods and there will be no tolling for reverse commuters.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) will use all the revenue raised from the tolls for improvements involving new transit services and carpooling incentives. Current revenue estimates for 2018 is $18 million.

Eliminating the current bottleneck inside the beltway, the increased revenues from the FAST Act and the revised state revenue forecast will provide funding for environmental work and construction to widen I-66 eastbound from the Dulles Connector Road to Ballston. 

Construction costs are estimated to be $140 million, which will be funded with increased revenues from the FAST Act and the projected improved state revenues. 

This I-66 Project is projected to reduce more than 26,000 person hours of delay per day, move more than 40,000 additional people through the I-66 corridor per day, provide reliable travel speeds of at least 45 mph during rush hours in the peak direction, and allow increased travel choices for single-occupant drivers plus overall better transit service.

VDOT Design Public Hearing

On Wednesday, March 9th, VDOT will host a Design Public Hearing at their NOVA District Office (4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax) from 6:00pm to 8:00pm with a presentation at 6:30pm. The presentations will be live-streamed on the website.
The Design Public Hearing will provide opportunities for the public to:

  • Learn how the dynamically-priced toll lanes will operate on I-66 Inside the Beltway
  • Review proposed locations and design of toll gantries and pricing signs
  • View displays and discuss your questions with VDOT staff
  • Attend the formal presentation, followed by a public comment period
  • Submit oral and/or written comments

Given the impact this transportation deal will have on Northern Virginia and the 53rd District, I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Please email me at with your questions and comments.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

2016 Session & State of the Commonwealth

The 2016 General Assembly session is underway.  This year is a long session, lasting 60 days, during which the General Assembly will pass a biennial state budget based largely on the budget proposed by Governor Terry McAuliffe. We will also hold committee meetings and subcommittee meetings to consider more than 1200 bills and have floor votes and debates on several hundred of those.  

State of the Commonwealth 

Governor McAuliffe delivered his third State of the Commonwealth address last Wednesday evening, outlining his plan to expand economic opportunities and move beyond partisan issues to focus on legislative priorities on which we can all agree. 

As I said in the Washington Post article covering the State of the Commonwealth, I absolutely agree with the Governor that we need to concentrate on the things that both parties can find common ground on. The campaigns are over and it is time to get to work on the 2016 Session.
Session Issues & Priorities 

In addition to the budget, which will take up a large part of the Assembly’s time, several other themes have emerged that may present us with opportunities to have a healthy and vigorous debate over what direction the Commonwealth should go.  Many of us want to adopt laws and policies that will bring Virginia into the 21st century, transforming our economy and way of life, and ensuring the Commonwealth is a place that all sorts of Americans can be proud to call home.  

One area of potential friction and fireworks will be how the General Assembly reacts to the recent Supreme Court Decision that made same sex marriage legal in all fifty states, including Virginia.  Some members of the legislature have introduced legislation that presumes that those who would discriminate against Virginians on the basis of their gender identity or their choice to marry someone of the same sex are in fact the real victims, rather than those against whom they seek to discriminate. 

Fortunately, I have been working to reach across party lines to find like-minded members from all over the state to advance the issues and values that we share.  I’m pleased to be able to report that I will have GOP members Chief Co-Patron two of my signature initiatives in 2016. 

Delegate Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach) and I will work together on the creation of a Student Loan Debt refinancing authority. 

Another Republican Delegate from Virginia Beach, Scott Taylor, will work with me on my annual effort to add sexual orientation and gender identity to Virginia’s list of protected classes under our state’s fair housing law. 
You can by visiting and finding my name under the General Assembly Members heading. 

Budget amendments 

I submitted a few budget amendments this Session, mostly in response to fiscal impact statements linked to my legislation. However, I also submitted a couple of amendments for important causes like paid sick days for providers of Medicaid home and community-based waiver services and for funding for the Tinner Hill Historic Site to continue its historic preservation work. 
All budget amendments submitted this Session will be available online by noon on Thursday, January 21st.  

Falls Church & McLean Town Hall Meetings 

This past Saturday, I held my Falls Church and McLean Town Hall meetings to discuss the Session and answer questions from the community. Several issues were raised, including raising the minimum wage, bipartisan redistricting, restrictions on TANF, gun violence prevention initiatives, and accountability for VDOT projects. It was great to have so many in attendance and learning of your priorities helps me better represent you!