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 www.marcussimon.com for details.