Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Much to my dismay, the Town Hall
meeting scheduled for this Saturday is cancelled due
to the impending winter weather. The event
will be rescheduled, so please watch for details. In the
meanwhile, the work of the General Assembly grinds
on! Please give me your feedback by taking a
few minutes to complete my 2010 constituent survey
online at www.davidbulova.
As we finish the third full week of the General
Assembly, the committee work is starting to slow
down and the full House sessions are beginning to
heat up. On Monday and Tuesday, we debated at
least a dozen controversial bills.
Debating the 5th
Early in the week, we debated a bill (HB14) that
gets at the heart of our form of government and the
Bill of Rights so passionately espoused by great
Virginians like James Madison, Thomas Jefferson,
and George Mason. Often times, the 5th Amendment
is invoked when questions of infidelity are raised
during a case involving spousal support, custody, or
visitation. While invoking the right is proper, what
HB14 proposes to do is allow a judge to draw an
adverse inference against the individual that is,
assign guilt based on a refusal to answer a question.
Regardless of the reason for invoking the 5th
Amendment, allowing a judge to assign guilt struck
me as undercutting the purpose of the right.
Notwithstanding my no vote, the bill advanced on a very
close 49Y to 48N.
The Kings Dominion Law
For many years, Virginia has had a law prohibiting
local schools from opening before Labor Day. The
prohibition has been vigorously defended by the
tourism industry (including Kings Dominion, hence the
name), since Labor Day weekend is when many
families go away on vacation. On the other side,
schools and educators have argued that this is a
decision best left to our locally elected school boards.
Ironically, because of exceptions to the prohibition, a
majority of school systems in Virginia now actually
start before Labor Day. Therefore, Fairfax County and
the City of Fairfax are part of a minority of school
systems that are still required to open after Labor
Day. The bill in question (HB565) would not overturn
the law, but would allow a new exception during years
when Labor Day starts later than the 5th of
September. When school starts this late, it creates
problems both with testing and by pushing graduation
dates past when most universities begin orientation.
For instance, International Baccalaureate testing is
done at a specific time of year regardless of when
school starts. As a result, when schools in Fairfax
start late, our students have fewer weeks to prepare.
One of the reasons we have elected school boards is
to make these kinds of informed decisions, which is
why I voted for passage. While the bill reported out of
committee on a 13Y to 8N vote, a procedural move
was used to re-refer the bill to the Appropriations
Committee, where it will likely die for the year.
Consumer Protection and Water Quality
This week, two of my bills passed out of the House
and are now awaiting action in the Senate. The first
bill (HB699) addresses a situation where a business
installed defective cabinets and then charged the
consumer for the cost of re-installation. The business
claimed that the cost of re-installation was a
consequential damage, and that consequential
damages can be excluded under the Code of Virginia.
Consequential damages are typically defined as
damages not directly related to a defective product or
breach of contract. Examples include time off from
work or lost productivity. Most reasonable people
would agree that the cost to re-install a defective
product is a direct cost. However, because the Code
is not specific on this issue, and these types of cases
are not enforced by any state agency, one would need
to take the business to court. HB699 clears up that
ambiguity and will hopefully prevent this kind of abuse
from occurring in the future.
The second bill (HB1221) provides localities with
access to the Virginia Water Facilities
Revolving Loan Fund for stormwater
management projects designed to reduce pollution to
local streams and the Chesapeake Bay. While there
has been some controversy over new regulations
designed to reduce pollution from new development,
both the development and conservation communities
agree that the real challenge to restoring the
Chesapeake Bay will be to control pollution from
already developed areas. In fact, almost 75% of
Northern Virginia was built prior to stormwater quality
management requirements enacted in the early
1990s. In the same way that the Revolving Loan fund
has helped localities to deal with the challenge of
upgrading wastewater treatment facilities and drinking
water facilities in the past, this bill will give our local
governments a new tool to meet our stormwater
management challenges in the future.
Enjoy the weekend and please stay safe!
As always, dont hesitate to contact me if I
can be of assistance or if you have a question or
concern about an issue affecting our community.
© 2009 David
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