Local Commentary

Delegate Scott’s Richmond Report

Degrading our Constitution

Virginia law bans gay marriages and civil unions. It has never been challenged. Conservative Virginia jurist J. Harvie Wilkinson of the U.S. Court of Appeals has written that using a far-reaching and vague Constitutional Amendment to do the same thing is misguided and unnecessary.

The Falls Church City Council and the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce make Falls Church the only jurisdiction in Northern Virginia where the governing body and the Chamber of Commerce have adopted separate resolutions against the Marshall-Newman Amendment.  Buttressed by a detailed legal opinion from the prestigious law firm of Arnold and Porter, business leaders and elected officials have joined many religious and community leaders in opposing the Amendment because of its likely negative impacts on business and economic development.  In short, it is unnecessary and potentially very damaging to Virginia’s prosperity. Please join me in voting “NO.”

Child care and Capitol Square

On Monday, I attended a meeting of the House Appropriations Committee. The Committee meets monthly when the General Assembly is not in session. The Committee reviewed estimates for next year’s budget and received an update on the Federal child care assistance funding.

The change in Federal requirements caused a cut in childcare assistance for 1900 Fairfax area families. Unfortunately, localities did not know about the reduction in funding until very late in the fiscal year.  The Governor proposed a budget amendment to offset shortage in the current fiscal year. Divided by party affiliation—Democrats united in favor of the Governor’s proposal and Republicans unanimously opposed— the House of Delegates killed the amendment. Localities provided some funds at the last minute, but not enough to fill the gap.  

Capitol Square Improvement.

The Appropriations Committee also received an update on the restoration and improvement of Virginia’s Capitol Square.  The Capitol restoration is now on schedule for an April 2007 completion. The General Assembly will next meet in the restored building in regular session in 2008.

In addition to the Capitol, several other buildings will be restored or replaced because of age and deterioration. The Supreme Court building will be renovated, as will the office building across 9th St. from the Capitol. The office building on 8th Street will be replaced.

The final phase of the renovation will include the existing General Assembly Building. Obsolete mechanical, plumbing and fire alarm systems will be replaced. Fireproofing systems and failing roofs will be addressed, and improve handicapped accessibility will be provided and water damage repaired.

Tolls, tolls and more tolls  

Two new toll facilities in Northern Virginia were the focus of the Transportation Subcommittee of House Appropriations.  The Southern portion of the I-95/I-395 expansion financed by tolls is now scheduled for construction in early 2008, with the northern segment start planned for early 2009. It will include high occupancy toll (HOT0 lanes and cover 56 miles from Massaponax to D.C. 

In addition, the decision on the I-495 HOT lanes proposal will be made early next year. It too will be financed by tolls.

The other topic for discussion was the proposal to increase tolls on privately owned and constructed Dulles Greenway. The proposal now being reviewed by the State Corporation Commission would raise fares by 33.4% by 2012.

In the absence of additional revenues for transportation, more and tolls will be levied on existing and planned transportation facilities.