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Focus on Fairfax Newsletter of Delegate David Bulova
March 2006

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 class at 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
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.

The major 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 families.

Both the House and Senate versions of the budget have been rejected by the opposite body, and negotiations are now in process to work through differences.

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 Actions
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 www.leg1.state.va.us.

Sincerely,

David's 
Signature

David Reads to Daniel's Run Students

Delegate David Bulova
David Bulova

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Legislative Assistant: Andrea Loewenwarter
9900 Main Street,
Plaza 102
Fairfax, Virginia 22031
(703) 310-6752
[email protected] .com

Richmond Office (During General Assembly Session)
Legislative Assistant: Rama Van Pelt
Capitol Square, General Assembly Building
Room 405
Richmond, Virginia 23219
(804) 698-1037
deldbulo [email protected]

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