House Bill 1635 – Internet Defamation

Andaleeb Geloo, aka “Andi”, is an extremely friendly and hard-working attorney at the Fairfax County Courthouse. However, in 2013 Andi was going about her regular business when a former client alerted her to some malicious comments made about her on FairfaxUnderground. To Andi’s discovery, some anonymous writers posted terribly untrue sexist, racist, and rude comments about her.

As most in her position would, Andi set out to find the real identities of the anonymous people unjustly attacking her over the internet. Unfortunately, certain IP addresses can be masked; making Andi’s task much more difficult than she had anticipated. After finally gathering enough information to conduct a lawsuit, Andi ran into a wall; an outdated statute of limitations that prohibited her from following through with the case because her online defamation had occurred more than one year from the time of the suit.

Andi didn’t let this dissuade her. She decided to try and change the law. Andi then came to me and together we wrote HB 1635, which states that if a person files a suit within a year, but is unable to identify the attackers by name, the suit will not be dismissed while he/she awaits the information on the identity of the internet attackers.

Check out this article in the New York Times highlighting Andi and her story!

Albo and Andi Geloo looking at billHere is a picture of me and Andi in front of the General Assembly building this year after our bill was passed into law.

Judge Jane Roush is named Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia

Governor McAuliffe has officially named veteran Fairfax County circuit judge Jane Roush to the Virginia Supreme Court. Justice LeRoy F. Millette Jr. will be stepping down on July 31st. I attended the press conference in Richmond today with other legislators to voice our support for her appointment.

Judge Jane Roush has served on the Circuit Court for Fairfax County since 1993. Her 22 years on the bench have earned her a statewide reputation for fairness, thoughtfulness, and her ability to handle complex and high-profile cases. Her support from bar associations, public safety professionals, and many others made her the best candidate for the position. Judge Roush has overseen many major cases, including a multimillion-dollar kyanite mining case and the 2002 Beltway sniper tragedy.

This is great for Fairfax County to have someone on the Supreme Court. She has done such a great job in our circuit court and I look forward to seeing her as the third female member on the seven person panel. I really respect Judge Roush and can’t wait to see her do great things on the Virginia Supreme Court!

roush

ObamaCare’s Medicaid Expansion Is Blowing Up

I wanted to share the following article published yesterday by Investors.com. I have pasted the article below, but you can view it online here.

Welfare: During the debates on ObamaCare, Medicaid got little attention. That was a mistake, since enrollment and the cost of treating all those jumping onto the program is surging beyond expectations.

At first, ObamaCare tried to force states to expand eligibility for Medicaid by including childless adults and people with incomes 38% above the poverty line. In 2012, the Supreme Court blocked this attempt, making expansion optional for states.

Two dozen states immediately took the bait, lured by the promise the federal government would pay 100% of costs in the first three years and 90% for the newly eligible on into the future. Several more have joined since.

An analysis by the Associated Press finds that this was short-sighted folly. At least 14 of these states have seen enrollment surge unexpectedly, forcing at least half to increase their cost estimates. And we’re not talking about a few percentage points.

• In Kentucky, more than twice as many signed up for Medicaid than the state had projected. That’s forced Kentucky to more than double its projected Medicaid costs for 2017.

• In California, almost 2.3 million enrolled — nearly triple what the state planned on. Today, 1 in 3 Californians are on Medicaid.

• In Ohio, Medicaid costs more than doubled after Republican Gov. John Kasich decided to expand the program, and Michigan’s shot up 50%, the AP reports.

Overall, Medicaid rolls climbed a stunning 28% in these expansion states.

At the same time, these new enrollees are costing far more to treat than expected.

Instead of costing slightly less than those currently on the program, new enrollees’ health costs were 19% higher, a government report found.

For the left, none of this really matters, since the goal all along has been to get as many people dependent on government for health care as possible. Which is why the Obama administration is busy putting increasing pressure on the holdout states to get in line.

For those who thought expanding Medicaid would save states money, these developments should be deeply troubling.

Medicaid is already the single biggest program on state budgets, and its explosive growth has started to crowd out basic needs like education. This will only get worse as the full effects of ObamaCare’s Medicaid plan emerge.

Incredibly, despite these warning signs, even some Republicans who until now had resisted Medicaid’s expansion are going wobbly.

In April, Montana’s Republican-controlled legislature approved Medicaid expansion. They’re waiting on the feds to approve some waivers to the program before it can take effect.

Utah is looking for a way to do the same.

To some degree, you can excuse those Republicans who decided to boost their Medicaid rolls for not knowing exactly what they were getting themselves into. But any governor who does so now, in the face of this hard evidence, is being irresponsible.

They’re also taking the nation a big step closer to the left’s ultimate goal of a single-payer system.

Virginia’s $553 Million Budget Surplus

Our fiscal year is over, and I have great news: the budget passed by Virginia Republicans have been successful, and have led to a $553 million budget surplus!

Last year the General Assembly was faced with a projected $2.4 billion shortfall, but conservative amendments to our two-year budget have made our government more responsible with your tax dollars, leading to a phenomenal surplus. With our extra cash, we will grow our rainy day fund, allowing our state to have over $600 million in case of emergency. We can raise pay for teachers, college faculty, state police officers, deputies and state employees. The rest will be put into important government functions such as water quality improvement and transportation. All of this without even raising taxes!

Congrats to my former intern, Emma!

image2

Here is Emma with a Three Star General in the Army. He helped present Emma with her scholarship at the George Washington Chapter of the US Army’s scholarship luncheon. Emma will be heading to the University of Virginia in the fall!

Update on FBI Headquarters Relocation

Springfield is moving up on the list of locations for the new FBI Headquarters!

A recent analysis shows that the Springfield location is the quickest commute compared to two other locations in Maryland, even for those who live in Maryland. The analysis took into account travel times to each of the three locations from 20 different locations in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Final results showed that the Springfield location would cut 3-4 hours from the commuters’ monthly drive. In addition, the Franconia-Springfield metro station would make it increasingly easy for anyone to get to the headquarters using transit systems. The Springfield location is also closer to the FBI training center in Quantico than either Maryland locations.

Overall, the choice is easy; Springfield is the best option for the FBI Headquarters. The newly renovated Springfield Town Center and metro station provide an ideal atmosphere for the facility, and it would bring jobs and profit to our community. The plan has been backed by Gov. McAuliffe, Senators Warner and Kaine, and by our local Congressmen and woman Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly, and Barbara Comstock. They all agree that Springfield offers the best location for the FBI, and so do I!

You can read the full article here: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/chairman/news/all-roads-lead-to-springfield.htm

Transurban’s “First-Time Forgiveness” Program

Friends and neighbors,

I wanted to share some news from Transurban, the operator of the 495 and 95 Express Lanes. They have recently announced that their “First-Time Forgiveness” program. This program forgives penalties that customers owe if the penalty exceeds $2,200. In addition, it will now apply to those affected before the program was put into place on October 27, 2014.

In other words, this means that drivers who mistakenly used the lanes without an EZ-Pass or who did not know the balance of their pass when traveling on the lanes, will not be penalized for their first mistake. Also, those who made the mistake in the past will either have their penalties dropped or refunded. Transurban urges anyone who receives their first unpaid toll invoice to contact the company and inquire if they apply for the program. For more information, you can visit ExpressLanes.com or call (855) 495-9777.   I have also placed a copy of their press release below:

Transurban Extends First-Time Forgiveness Program’s Cap Retroactively for Unpaid Toll Cases

Jun 8, 2015

Alexandria, Va. – Transurban, the operator of the 495 and 95 Express Lanes, announced today that its First-Time Forgiveness program’s self-imposed cap on fees and penalties will be applied retroactively to individuals impacted before the program was put into place on October 27, 2014.

Although Virginia law prescribes violations with much higher penalties, Transurban is forgiving any penalties that individual customers currently owe that are in excess of $2,200, not including the cost of their missed tolls and court fees.  Further, Transurban will provide individual customers with a refund for any penalties paid over this same amount.

“We are seeing tremendous results since the program was implemented last fall,” stated Nic Barr, Vice President of Operations at Transurban.  “We have listened to our customers and are using their feedback to make improvements.  Making the First-Time Forgiveness program’s cap on fees and penalties retroactive was the logical next step.”

More than 2,700 customers have benefited from the program in helping them avoid potential fees and civil penalties from the program’s inception to April 30, 2015.  The vast majority of customers continue to avoid unpaid tolls by traveling with a properly mounted and funded E-ZPass.  Approximately 96 percent of Express Lanes trips are paid or exempt at the time of travel with less than 0.1 percent of trips ending up in court.

“We will continue to look at how we can adjust our operations to meet the needs of travelers and expect to implement additional refinements over the coming months,” said Barr.  “As a reminder, we ask any traveler who receives their first unpaid toll invoice to contact us immediately to see if they qualify for the program.”

Transurban will send letters to all impacted customers over the next week.  In the meantime, customers should visit ExpressLanes.com for more information or call (855) 495-9777.

About the Express Lanes

The 495 and 95 Express Lanes operate on I-495/Capital Beltway and I-95 to provide drivers with faster and more predictable travel options in Northern Virginia.  Together the 495 and 95 Express Lanes create a region-wide network of free-flowing lanes for nearly 40 miles from the Dulles Toll Road to Stafford County.  Delivered through a public-private partnership between the Virginia Department of Transportation and Transurban, the Express Lanes give drivers reliable travel choices on two of northern Virginia’s most congested roadways.  For more information, please visit ExpressLanes.com.

State Per Pupil Spending

The Great Recession forced the General Assembly to make tough budgetary decisions in order to pass a balanced budget. One area in particular that has been impacted is funding for K-12 education. Roughly 95% of Virginia schools have had their funding decreased… but not Fairfax County!

My fellow Northern Virginian legislators and I have increased funding for education in Fairfax County. Over the past five years we have delivered $816/student/yr. more to our Fairfax County Public Schools! We worked tirelessly to have the tax dollars generated in Fairfax County kept here for our schools despite numerous attempts to divert the funds to other parts of the state.  I thought you may be interested in seeing the data yourself:

Financial Year Funding per student
2006-2007 $2,854
2007-2008 $2,876
2008-2009 $2,928
2009-2010 $2,555
2010-2011 $2,837
2011-2012 $2,896
2012-2013 $3,271
2013-2014 $3,263
2014-2015 $3,371

Update on Education in Virginia

As Session has come to an end and the Governor has signed most bills into law, I wanted to share a number of bills and budget amendments that were passed relating to K-12 and higher education.

Among the budget amendments are pay increase for teachers and funding for more in-state slots for in-state students to attend Virginia’s colleges and universities. . Here are some of the bills that I voted for and were signed into law. You can find more information and the full text of the bill at lis.virginia.gov. Just type the bill number into the search box.

HB 1307 – Requires that students’ social security number be kept confidential.

HB 1320 – Permits teachers seeking licensure renewal to satisfy renewal requirements in ways other than taking a university course.

HB 1334 – Protects student privacy by ensuring that personally identifiable information about students collected by public schools, in addition to social security numbers, is kept confidential.

HB 1351 – Requires the Board of Education to establish (starting with high school seniors graduating in 2016) criteria for awarding a diploma seal of biliteracy to any student who demonstrates proficiency in English and at least one other language.

HB 1490 – Provides for expedited retakes of certain SOL tests in all grade levels.

HB 1615 – Permits the state Board of Education to design SOL tests to include multiple subject areas.

HB 1616 – Requires localities to align the curriculum in career and technical education classes with the appropriate national certification requirements. The aim is to ensure that high school graduates who graduate with a technical education are certified so that they have a better opportunity to secure employment.

HB 1672 – Revises the planned School Report Card so that it expresses school performance for each school using several factors rather than a single letter grade.

HB 1674 – Allows some schools to be reviewed for accreditation every three years rather than annually.

HB 1675 – Permits the state Board of Education to waive requirements for a specific number of hours in class for a student to earn graduation credits, provided the student has demonstrated he or she has learned the course material.

HB 1698 – Requires that parents must be given advance notice anytime a school plans to use a student survey that includes questions pertaining to mental health, medical information, controlled substance use, or questions of a sexual nature.

SB 1286 – Requires local school budgets to be published online in detailed, line item form.

HB 1336 – Requires all public colleges and universities in Virginia to provide the same credit toward graduation when credit is given for certain classes and test taken in high school.

HB 1715 – Requires public colleges and universities to notify parents, according to certain procedures, when a student has been evaluated for suicidal tendencies.

HB 1785 – Provides for better coordination between campus law enforcement personnel and local law enforcement agencies related to investigating sexual assault crimes.

HB 1930 – Clarifies the process for reporting sexual assault at public and private colleges and universities and includes provisions for victim support services.

On another note, you may have heard in the news about the challenges that face local school budgets. I’d like you to know that the state is providing record levels of funding for local school divisions again this year and next year. In Fairfax, state funding for K-12 public education has increased 24% in four years, meaning an addition $534 per student of state funding.

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at DelDAlbo@house.virginia.gov or (703) 451-3555.

Dave Albo

NVTA Adds the Widening of Rolling Road to List of Recommended Projects

Following a review of the public comments, three candidate projects were added to the list of recommended highway projects, for a total of 21 recommended highway projects:

  • Project 5C (Fairfax County) Rolling Road Widening from Old Keene Mill Road to Franconia Springfield Parkway
  • Project 8R (Fairfax County) Frontier Drive Extension and Braided Ramps
  • Project 8S (Fairfax County) Richmond Highway (from Mt. Vernon Memorial Highway to Napper Road)

You can view these additions here – http://www.thenovaauthority.org/PDFs/Meetings/2015/4.23.15/VII%20%20Adoption%20of%20the%20FY2015-16%20Two%20Year%20Program.pdf.

I know that the Rolling Road project will be of interest to many Springfield residents. Once I receive specific information about the project, I will be sure to share it with all.