Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Happy New Year! On January 11th, instead of turning north on Ox Road to go to work, I headed south to Richmond for the 2012 session of the Virginia General Assembly. Even going into my fourth term, there is still nothing quite like the first day of session as we honor democratic traditions that began 393 years ago.
One of my goals is to make it as easy as possible for you to participate in the decision-making process here in Richmond, where we will literally consider thousands of bills during the next two months. Each year I try to anticipate some of the issues that are likely to come before the General Assembly. You can make sure that your voice is heard on these issues by completing my 2012 Constituent Survey.
In addition, please save the date for my Town Hall meetings coming up on February 4th. These are a great opportunity to hear about what is going on in Richmond and to ask questions about issues that are important to you. This year I will have two meetings. The first will be at Fairfax City Hall with Senator Chap Petersen from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. and the second will be at the Fairfax County Government Center with Senator Dave Marsden from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. I hope you will be able to join me.
My 2012 Legislation
I look forward to sending you updates on issues affecting our community throughout the session. In addition to adopting Virginia's biennial budget, we will consider proposals dealing with transportation funding, education reform, economic development, protecting our environment, and health care - just to name a few.
I am also very pleased to present my 2012 legislative agenda. Thanks to everyone who provided me with ideas and suggestions. Below is a summary of just a few of my bills. A full list can be found by clicking here.
HB 423 - Best Practices for HOA Declarations. When I was growing up in Fairfax, HOAs were the exception. Today, almost all new development is governed by an HOA. Because HOAs serve in a quasi-governmental capacity, it is very important that the documents establishing the HOA (usually put together by the developer) are fair and consistent. However, there is no standard to ensure that this is the case. This bill directs the state board responsible for HOAs to identify best practices and to develop a model declaration.
HB 429 - Protection from Fraudulent Billing. Have you ever been "crammed?" Even if you didn't notice, that doesn't mean you haven't been a victim. Cramming is the practice of placing misleading or deceptive charges on your telephone bill without authorization. Often, these are small charges with generic names in the hope that they won't be noticed. This legislation gives customers the right to permanently block these charges and requires that customers be given notice of this option.
HB 426 - Strengthening Regional Cooperation. There are very few issues in Northern Virginia that respect local government boundaries. Although we have a regional planning organization, Northern Virginia is the only region in the state that is not required to put together a regional strategic plan. This bill removes that exemption. While the bill doesn't mandate what must be in the plan, it does set up a process for our local governments to think about how to better work together on common interests and concerns.
HB 427 - Transportation Maintenance Funding. This is a bill I've been working on for a number of years that makes the distribution of transportation maintenance funds more fair and transparent. The bill requires the Commonwealth Transportation Board to consider asset management standards and sound engineering practices when deciding how to distribute funding. As Virginians, we should all enjoy the same standard of maintenance for our roads. The bill passed subcommittee this Thursday evening on a 4Y-1N vote. On to the full committee!
HB 1158 - Water Supply Planning. After the last state-wide drought, Virginia required each locality or region to develop a water supply plan to ensure that there would be adequate water to meet anticipated long-term demand. However, State Code doesn't require these plans to be considered when permitting a major water withdrawal. This bill simply requires the State Water Control Board to consider these plans, which represent an investment of millions of dollars, when making decisions.
HB 424 and HB 1164 -Education and Transportation Efficiency. These bills are based on recommendations from the Virginia Task Force for Local Government Mandate Review. HB 424 allows our schools to self authenticate records using an affidavit when the records have been requested by a local court. Currently, a school official must take time away from work to present the records in person. No other state or local government agency is required to do this. The goal of HB 1164 is to reduce the bureaucracy associated with VDOT's review of strictly local roads. Even minor projects must now go through review at the district level and the Richmond level - even though the criteria are identical. HB 1164 directs the Secretary of Transportation to review the process and empower regional managers to make decisions when possible.
HB 1201 - Jury Duty for Overseas Military and Foreign Service Officers. Jury duty is a matter of civic pride. However, Virginia recognizes unique circumstances that make serving difficult. For example, firefighters and police are exempt given the nature of their professions. It came to my attention that Virginia does not provide an exemption for active duty military or the diplomatic corps when they are overseas. While almost any court would provide a deferral of jury duty, it is often very difficult for these individuals to respond in a timely manner - potentially placing them at risk of being in contempt of court. This bill gives these individuals the ability to self-exempt for the time that they are out of the country.
It is my honor to represent you in the House of Delegates! Please do not hesitate to contact me at (804) 698-1037 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me at facebook.com/DelegateDavidBulova.