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Focus on Fairfax Newsletter of Delegate David Bulova
February 2008

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Tuesday, February 12th was “cross-over!” Cross-over is the half-way point of the Session where each chamber must complete work on its own legislation. I am not sure if it is a good sign or not, but voting on almost 200 bills and listening to 10 hours of Floor debate in one day just didn’t seem as tough this year.

It is very hard to pick only a few bills to highlight, but I thought that two might be of particular interest. The first is House Bill 516, which provides better State oversight of residential property management companies. One of my favorite responsibilities here in Richmond is serving on the Housing Subcommittee, which deals with a wide range of issues from affordable housing to the building code. Last year, the alleged misappropriation of millions of dollars by a local property management group highlighted the need for better regulation of not only individual managers, but the entire industry. In addition to new licensure requirements, HB516 includes measures to better protect homeowners associations in the case of embezzlement as well as an alternative dispute resolution process so that a property owner isn’t forced to go to court as a first recourse during a dispute with their association. As a side note, one of the people I had the pleasure of working with on this bill was former 37th District Delegate Jack Rust. While the bill doesn’t address every issue, it is a good start!

I have received many emails and letters expressing concern about pay day lending. Pay day lenders provide short term loans (typically $200 over a two week period), but at a high rate of interest. As background, pay day lending is often used as a way to get cash when something unexpected comes up (like a car repair) between pay periods. However, some people become reliant on pay day loans and get trapped in a cycle of debt. The trick here is to protect consumers while making sure that those in need of a short term loan aren’t forced to seek even less desirable means of securing cash (like a loan shark).

After wrestling with the issue for the past two years, it appears that House Bill 12 has finally broken the log-jam. The legislation establishes a 36% cap on the annual interest rate, with a loan fee of 10% of the amount borrowed. Most importantly, the bill limits a person to one outstanding loan at a time and a total of five loans per year. So after two years of passionate debate, HB12 sailed out of the House on a 91Y to 7N vote with nary a peep. There is a saying that politics makes strange bed-fellows. Such is the case with HB12, which is supported by AARP, The Family Foundation, NAACP, AFL-CIO, and the Virginia Interfaith Center, among many others.

On a final note, my House Bill 1437 regarding tree conservation passed the House yesterday. This bill provides our local governments with additional tools to protect mature trees during the development process. Since Northern Virginia is in a serious non-attainment zone under the Clean Air Act, tree conservation takes on particular importance. While all trees are good for air quality, a mature tree can provide up to 60 times the benefits of a newly planted tree. No one disputed that trees are good for the environment. However, there were legitimate concerns over how to fairly implement any tree conservation bill. Thanks to the efforts of a coalition of developers, urban foresters, and environmentalists, we were able to come up with a win-win bill that provides more authority to preserve trees in exchange for incentives and increased flexibility. It felt great to get on the House Floor and announce that the bill was supported by both the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association and the Virginia League of Conservation Voters. The bill now goes on to the Senate.

Alas, the euphoria was short lived as we learned that the budget situation is getting worse and that the deficit for the current fiscal year will increase from $640 million to about one billion dollars. In addition, revenue projections for the next biennium are expected to decline by over a billion dollars. The Governor has already announced additional cuts, including a 5.4% cut in funding to local governments. More on this next week as the ramifications start to sink in.

There is much more to tell, but that can wait for another day! Thanks to everyone who has participated in my 2008 Constituent Survey. We are up to over 800 responses so far. It is not too late to let your voice be heard! You can fill out the survey online at


David Bulova

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Delegate David Bulova

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Fairfax, VA 22031
(703) 310-6752
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Richmond, VA 23219
(804) 698-1037
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