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Focus on Fairfax Newsletter of Delegate David Bulova
January 2010

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Sitting at my desk here in Richmond, it is hard to believe that only a few weeks ago I was getting ready to usher in the New Year with Gretchen and the kids.  With a bang of the Speaker's gavel last Wednesday we continued a tradition of representative democracy in Virginia that started 391 years ago.  This Saturday, we also swore in our 71st Governor.  Congratulations to Governor Bob McDonnell, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

One of my favorite parts of being in the House of Delegates is getting constituents involved in the decision making process.  Please take a few minutes to complete my 2010 constituent survey online at www.davidbulova.com.  In addition, I hope you will join me and Senator Chap Petersen for our annual Town Hall meeting on Saturday, February 6th from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. at Fairfax City Hall.

The Budget and Our Schools

This will be a very tough budget year and the decisions we make in Richmond will have lasting implications for our community, especially when it comes to education.  One silver lining is that we now have an issue that has galvanized the Northern Virginia delegation unlike I have ever seen.  At issue is a proposal in the introduced budget to freeze the Local Composite Index (LCI) for FY 2011.  What is the LCI?  The LCI is a measure of local ability to pay based on adjusted gross income, taxable retail sales, and the value of real property, and is used to distribute state K-12 education funding.  Every two years the LCI is updated to reflect changes in local economies.  It is an imperfect system to be sure.  Hotel taxes are excluded from the LCI, which benefits resort areas like Virginia Beach at the expense of other communities.  Fairfax County's LCI during the 2008-2010 biennium was .765, while the City of Fairfax's LCI was .800.  This means Fairfax County received only about 24% of its base funding from the state.  The City of Fairfax received only 20% (the minimum possible).  The reverse is true for many localities. 

Despite its flaws, at least the LCI has been consistently implemented - until now.  While the change will benefit some areas of the state, it has serious consequences for Northern Virginia.  Here's why.  This year, largely because of declining home values, Fairfax County's LCI has dropped to .713 (the City of Fairfax remains maxed out at .800).  Consequently, a freeze means that Fairfax County will loose $61.2 million in state funding at the same time our relative ability to pay has gone down.  Other Northern Virginia localities are in the same position.  To make matters worse, the school systems that benefit from the freeze are predicted to actually lose students while those areas hurt by the freeze are predicted to gain over 11,000 students.

This is an issue of fundamental fairness.  Like most of my colleagues from Northern Virginia, I have signed on as a co-patron to amendments sponsored by Delegates Albo and Lingamfelter that will remove the freeze language from the budget.  This is only round one - stay tuned.

Legislative Preview

So far I have introduced 14 bills, many of which started off as ideas brought to me by you, my constituents.  Please see the full list of my 2010 legislation.  The following are a couple of highlights:

Streamlining Government (HB 208) - Regardless of the economic climate, we should be looking for ways to make our government more efficient.  This bill is a recommendation of the Department of Education and will free up funding that can be used in our classrooms by eliminating outdated or redundant reporting requirements.

Making Our Roads Safer (HB 212) - Last year, the General Assembly took an important step toward making our roads safer by making it illegal to text while driving.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 6,000 people in 2008 died because of distracted or inattentive drivers.  However, texting and driving is only a secondary offense, meaning that an officer must have another reason to pull you over even if you are texting and driving in plain sight.  This weakness was brought up by constituents at several civic association meetings.  See the article in the Examiner about my bill.

Protecting Our Water Supply (HB 697) - On the "splashier" side of things, I am carrying a bill that allows the State Water Control Board to consider the state-wide water supply plan when granting permits for withdrawals.  Now you might think it is odd that the Board would need a bill to do that.  I agree.  Virginia is spending millions of dollars on water supply plans to help better coordinate our future water supply needs.  However, current law does not allow these plans to be considered during the permit review process.  It just seems like common sense to me.

Home Owner Associations (HB 702) - This bill is in honor of everyone who volunteers on a non-professionally managed HOA board (thank you, by the way).  One astute constituent from Hickory Farms brought to my attention a problem with a recent change in the Property Owner Association Act (POAA) that could be interpreted as saying that disclosure packet fees can't be collected until settlement (which is the law for professionally managed associations).  The problem has caused confusion and has the potential to create an unnecessary financial burden on small HOAs.  Working with several groups, I have submitted legislation to clarify that the fee can be charged at the time of packet delivery so that the HOA doesn't have to wait to be reimbursed at a later, undetermined date.

More to come in future editions!  As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve as your representative in the House of Delegates.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance.

Sincerely,

David's 
Signature
David Bulova


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