Local Commentary

Delegate Hull’s Richmond Report

A Most Gracious Lady

It was with a great deal of sadness that I learned of the passing of Lady Bird Johnson. It was my great honor to have met and talked with her.

She may be the most gracious person I have ever met. She was sweet, charming, and intelligent. Of the ideas and people she cared about, she was most passionate.

She had an understated elegance about her at all times. Last week, Helen Thomas described her as a great First Lady and that was truly the case.

Her husband, Lyndon Johnson, is my favorite President and the two of them were a great complement to each other. They worked together to bring out the best in the American people.

She fought the good fight, she ran the race, she kept the faith, and she will be missed by so many.

Buy Next Week

If you are thinking about buying back-to-school items or new school clothes, you can save money by waiting a week.

From next Friday, August 3, to Sunday, August 5, there will be a tax-free holiday for those items throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.

For the second year in a row, no sales tax will be collected on any back-to-school item costing up to $20 or article of clothing or shoes costing up to $100.

That gives you an automatic 5-percent discount and most stores will offer sales on top of that.

I was a co-sponsor last year of the bill authorizing these tax savings.

It allows retailers to offer a tax holiday for any other item, too.

They will still have to pay the sales tax on all of those other items themselves. But, the retail industry supported this provision.

While most stores will not offer a complete tax holiday, retailers wanted the option of being able to do so.

Their view was that, no matter what, any tax holiday will produce more sales overall as people are drawn into stores.

Whether it helps improve overall sales or not, the Tax Department estimates that $3.8 million will be saved by consumers during this three-day period.

Red Light Details

At the beginning of my News-Press article several weeks ago about new laws going into effect on July 1, there was an extended unmarked editor’s note.

In adding it, the editor took out some of the details I wrote about the new authority for localities to install cameras to catch red light runners.

The old photo-red law was a five-year experiment that only applied to cities and counties in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

The new law allows all local governments to operate these red light cameras, but there is a limit on how many can be set up.

Each locality is limited to installing and operating no more than one red light camera in an intersection per 10,000 residents.

Because of their differing populations, that would mean just one in Falls Church and as many as 100 in Fairfax County.

No Can Do, Gov

Last week, Governor Tim Kaine held a press conference with the Speaker of the House to defend the new jacked-up traffic fines and fees.

Sorry, Governor, even though we are both Democrats, I strongly disagree with you and hope that this miserable law is repealed.

He said that these new fees — which would require a person to pay as much as $1,000 for three straight years — are needed to prevent aggressive driving.

I am sorry, but that is a fiction. These fees were established not to punish improper driving, but to raise revenue.

I have opposed this concept since House Republicans first came up with the idea of "enhancing" penalties for "bad drivers" about five years ago.

It was a way, the Republicans claimed, to increase transportation funding without raising taxes.

Apparently, there are still some who do not understand that there is no free lunch, and this lunch is being force fed to a lot of people.

Not only does this new law cover some routine speeding and traffic violations, but it applies only to Virginia drivers.

This was bad legislation when it was first proposed, it is bad legislation now that it has become law, and we need to get rid of it.