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Focus on Fairfax
February 2010
Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope that you will join me and Senator Chap Petersen this Saturday, February 20th for our re-scheduled Town Hall meeting at the Fairfax City Hall Council Chambers from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.  The address is 10455 Armstrong Street in the City of Fairfax.  This is an opportunity to learn about what is happening in Richmond and to ask questions about issues affecting our community.

Thank you to everyone who contacted me during the last winter storm to identify areas in need of plowing, express concerns, and make suggestions.  You made a huge difference.  I want to assure everyone that your comments and suggestions have been heard.  Within the next few days, I will be sending a formal request to our Secretary of Transportation, who oversees VDOT, asking for a top-to-bottom review of our snow removal processes.  While there were many heroes, including citizens, VDOT employees, contractors, fire and rescue personnel, and the Virginia National Guard, there were also many issues that need to be addressed so that Virginia can better serve our citizens in the future.  If you have observations or recommendations, please let me know.


This week is "cross-over," which means that the House and Senate had to act by Tuesday at midnight on all of their own bills (except the budget) and send them over to the other body.  On Monday, we voted on more than 240 bills and resolutions.  These included everything from an attempt to repeal Virginia's ban on radar detectors to the regulation of waste restaurant kitchen grease.  The former involved a vigorous debate about the impact of radar detectors on speed and traffic flow.  The bill was dealt a final blow when it was discovered that it would also eliminate Virginia's ban on radar jamming devices.  I joined the majority in voting no.


Strengthening Our Ethics Laws


The very last bill debated on Tuesday was an ethics reform bill (HB655) that was sparked by an unfortunate conflict of interest situation involving a now former delegate from Hampton Roads.  That incident also raised questions about our ethics review process in the General Assembly.  HB655 makes key changes that will help make sure that our process is open and accountable.  While it is a very important issue, it is also very important to get it right.  After about 30 minutes of debate and amendments, the measure finally passed 88Y-10N, with me voting in the affirmative.


Education Reform


Governor McDonnell, in his inaugural address to the General Assembly, made it clear that education reform would be a major thrust of his administration.  Last week, the Governor sent the General Assembly three bills aimed at making changes to K-12 education, including the establishment of a Virtual Schools Program (HB1388), College Partnership Laboratory Schools (HB1389), and a push for more charter schools (HB1390).  Since I sit on the House Committee on Education, I will be on the front line of having to make decisions about these proposals.  Please consider this an open invitation to let me know what you think!  Click here and type in the bill number for more details.


Transportation Funding


For the past several years I have written about my attempts to bring fairness to the way transportation maintenance funds are distributed in Virginia.  In 2007, the General Assembly did a very wise thing by requiring VDOT to assess maintenance needs and to then set performance standards and goals based on sound engineering principles.  The only thing missing is that the actual decisions by the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) aren't tied to this powerful tool.  This year, Delegate Dave Albo took the lead, with me as a co-patron.  He used my language, but rather than making the link mandatory, HB276 says that the CTB must at least consider the information.  Most importantly, however, the CTB must also show the difference between how the funding should be distributed based on objective measures versus how it is actually distributed.  The bill passed on a 59Y to 37N vote with both Delegate Albo and me speaking on its behalf.  Score one for fairness!


Protecting Yoga from Overregulation


Finally, for those of you who enjoy yoga, and I know many of you do from the emails I received, you will be happy to know that my HB703 has passed the House.  Here is the back story.  This past summer, the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) informed yoga teacher training programs that they would now be regulated as higher education in the same way that they regulate institutions such as DeVry, Stratford, or ITT Technical Institute - all of which are clearly vocational in nature.


Consumer protection is very important to me.  However, this kind of overregulation is not only unnecessary given Virginia's existing consumer protection laws, but it also costs jobs.  For many of these small businesses, the increased cost of regulation (in the thousands of dollars) would be overwhelming and result in having to close up shop.


In the end, both SCHEV and the House Education Committee agreed.  Thanks to the great work of several local yoga studio owners, we changed the definition of "vocational" to exclude these types of programs.  Even better, since this was a definition change, we also ensured that next year we don't have to deal with the regulation of Pilates, karate, etc.  A similar measure also passed the Senate.


Thanks for reading!  Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have a question or concern about legislation affecting our community.  I hope to see you this Saturday at my Town Hall meeting.

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David Bulova
Delegate, 37th Virginia House District
© 2010 David Bulova
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