If all goes according to schedule, we are now in the
last week of the 2006 Session of the General
Assembly. Conferees from the House and the Senate
are working hard to come up with a consensus
budget and their success (or lack thereof) will
determine whether we go into extra innings.
It was great to see many of you at my second Town
Hall meeting at Bonnie Brae on February 25th. If you
are interested in the presentation that I gave at the
meeting, you can find it on my website at
www.davidbulova.com. Also on the website are
the results of
the 2006 survey. Thank you for your feedback ? we
had nearly 700 responses!
I would like to give a special thanks to Mrs. Royle?s
fantastic first grade
Daniels Run Elementary for inviting me to be
a guest reader last Thursday. I was delighted to
participate in ?Read Across America? to celebrate Dr.
Seuss?s birthday. We read ?President Adams?
Alligator and Other White House Pets.? What great
kids! The future of Fairfax is indeed bright!
Below is an overview of just a few of the issues we
are dealing with as the Session comes to a close ?
starting with the budget first, and also including
an ?un-sung? bill that I thought deserves mention.
The budget, first put together by Governor Warner,
is 535 pages long and an excellent cure for insomnia.
The Committee on Appropriations recommended
about 775 different amendments, and of those,
about 40 ?objections? were raised that required
separate votes. This was not an easy budget to
vote on ? there was a lot in it to both love and
hate. For instance, funding originally included to
increase our capacity to fight gangs was taken out
of the final budget, as was additional money for fire
prevention and training programs. At the same time,
I was pleased that $200 million was included for
clean up of the Chesapeake Bay ? an unprecedented
investment. There is more funding for K-12
education, but with strings attached that will require
additional local expenditures.
focus of the budget debate, however, has centered
on transportation. To its credit, the House budget
takes the very important step of acknowledging the
enormity of the transportation crisis in Northern
Virginia and Hampton Roads by focusing resources to
these two regions.
In voting on the budget,
I focused on two considerations: (1) whether to
support the transportation amendment, which
favored Northern Virginia in the allocation of
revenues; and (2) whether to support the budget as
a whole. I voted for the transportation amendment
to help send a message that we must focus our
efforts where there is the most critical need.
Turning to the budget as a whole, the question then
became ?does this budget address our transportation
problems.? That is ? does it get the job done?
Unfortunately, it does not. The Northern Virginia
Transportation Authority has estimated a need for
$692 million per year for Northern Virginia alone to
simply make sure that traffic is not worse (and
hopefully gets a little better) by 2030. The House
plan would invest nearly $400 million the first year for
Northern Virginia, but then would fall to less than
$200 million in off years. With no dedicated funding
source it will be hard to adequately plan for
projects. My sincere hope is that we can do better
and not pass the burden on to our children ? both in
terms of funding and the time that they too will
spend in their cars rather than at home with their
Both the House and Senate versions
of the budget have been rejected by the opposite
body, and negotiations are now in process to work
Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act
I received many calls and letters about Senate Bill
648, the ?Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act,? which would
have prohibited smoking in restaurants and other
public places. The measure was a surprise in that it
wasn?t supposed to get through the Senate. I
appreciate the feedback on both sides of this issue.
My own perspective is that while potential customers
can walk away from a smoky restaurant, those who
work in the restaurant industry don?t always have
that ability. The bill was by no means perfect, but it
certainly warranted further discussion and possible
amendments. However, the measure died in a House
subcommittee on a 6N-0Y vote. Because of the
interest in this issue, I recorded the subcommittee
meeting and have posted the audio file on the
website. Please let me know if this is useful, and I
will continue to post debates as they come up.
Exemptions for Emissions Inspections
This is a significant bill that actually didn?t get much
notice until it came over to the House. In short, SB
312 exempts vehicles four years old or less from
Virginia?s emissions inspection program. The thinking
behind the bill is that the vast majority of newer
automobiles (about 95% of them) pass the emissions
test. Overall, I thought SB 312 was a good idea and
could save time and money. However, it had one
potential fatal flaw ? even though the increase in air
pollution was small, it was very real and could have
thrown Northern Virginia out of compliance with the
federal Clean Air Act. As with any budget, whether
you are dealing with air or money, any increase
needs to be offset with a decrease. Based on
testimony before the House Committee on Natural
Resources, the Department of Environmental Quality
stated that there was likely enough flexibility in
current plans to absorb the increase. However, I
was able to get a clause added onto the bill so that
it wouldn?t be implemented until the EPA certified
that this could be done. Why my concern?
Alternatives include reducing emissions from backyard
barbeques and lawn mowers.
Third Party Notification of Landlord
This is probably one of my favorite bills, and
unfortunately, is one of those good things we do
here in Richmond that never makes it to the press.
SB 427 allows a tenant to designate a third party to
receive a duplicate copy of written notices from a
landlord. The bill was introduced to make it possible
for a third party to intervene when it becomes
apparent that an elderly parent or even a son or
daughter at college has not paid bills or is otherwise
in threat of eviction. It is a win-win situation for
both tenants and landlords.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me to
express your views on a particular bill, or if you need
help with a State agency. Also, you can track my
votes on particular issues by visiting