In Richmond this year, legislative news was dominated by the decennial “redistricting” of the House and the Senate. After the Federal Census was completed early in the 2011 session, the Privileges and Election Committees of the House and Senate began the critical work of re-drawing district lines so that each House reflected the shift of population from one area of the state to another.
In the House the 100 districts were redrawn to ensure that each has 80,000 people. In the 40-member Senate, each district was drawn to include approximately 200,000 people.
A few members have already announced their retirement, but most plan to run for re-election. In Northern Virginia, Senators Whipple and Ticer have decided not to run for re-election. No Northern Virginia House members have done so.
Needless to say, in the Senate committee leadership will change. Among Northern Virginia House members, none has announced retirement.
For Falls Church, there will be one change. Majority Leader Dick Saslaw from Fairfax will replace retiring Senator Mary Margaret Whipple from Arlington. In the House, I will be running for re-election in November, but my district, the 53rd, will include several new precincts, in addition to Falls Church. Most of the precincts I now represent in McLean will be represented by Bob Brink of Arlington, and the 53rd will include Ft.Buffalo, Greenway, Graham, and Pine Ridge in Providence District in Fairfax County, along with Whittier, Walnut Hill 1 and Walnut 2 in Mason District.
This year’s legislative session was not limited to re-districting. The Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011 was a major accomplishment. It’s goal was to promote economic growth in the Commonwealth by preparing Virginias for top job opportunities. It provides for reform-based investment and affordable access for Virginians while also ensuring that other talented individuals will have more limited opportunities to matriculate in our colleges and universities.
The Act also includes support for institutions’ basic operations and instruction with enrollment-based funding determined by policies developed by the Higher Education Advisory Committee and similar to the Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) program. It requires colleges and universities to submit six-year financial and academic plans that provide a road map for evaluating the funding requirements of each institution and targeting state support.
The General Assembly also adopted HB2527, the largest infusion of transportation funding in more than 20 years, plus the establishment of the Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank. The additional funds will flow through the Commonwealth’s Six Year Improvement Program to finance scores of projects throughout the Commonwealth.
HB 2537 is an important influx of funding to supplement Northern Virginia’s Capital Beltway HOT lanes , which will add 4 new Beltway lanes, two in each direction, plus rebuilding over 50 bridges and overpasses, and providing noise protection via sound walls constructed with project funding.
Delegate Scott represents the 53rd District in the Virginia House of Delegates. He may be emailed at [email protected]