Crossover Session Update

District 42 Families Pay a Visit to Richmond

This week I had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful families down at the Capitol. The Nguyen and Jung families came to see their children’s artwork that is hanging in my office, and the entire Bell family came to learn more about Virginia’s government. I appreciate them making the long drive to see what the Virginia legislature is all about!

Dave and Jung Fam

The Jung Family

Missy Bell

Missy Bell and I

Nguyen Fam

The Nguyen Family

 

Speaker Howell Announces House Budget Conferees

On Thursday, Speaker Howell announced the names of the Delegates that will be representing the House in the final budget conference committees with the Senate. The Delegates that he chose were House Appropriations Committee Chairman Chris Jones, Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Steven Landes, Majority Leader Kirk Cox, Delegate John O’Bannon, Delegate Tag Greason, and Delegate Luke Torian. Delegate Torian may be the first African American to be selected for this most prestigious of all conference committees to negotiate the final budget. Our goal in the House is to negotiate a final budget conference report that prioritizes savings, eliminates state liabilities, reduces borrowing, and makes key investments. While the Senate’s budget bill is similar to the House’s HB 29 and HB 30, there are still differences that need to be worked out.

Crossover Summary

ENCOURAGING JOB GROWTH

Virginia is still a leading job creator in the United States, and ranks in the top 10 in the country for:

  • “Best State for Business” by Forbes Magazine
  • “Best States to Make a Living” by Business Insider and Money-Rates.com
  • “The Top States for Higher Education” by SmartAsset.com
  • “The K-12 Achievement Index” by Educational Week and Quality Counts
  • “NAEP Combined Proficiency Rate: 4th and 8th Grade Reading and Math” by Educational Week and Quality Counts

More importantly, we have lowered our unemployment rate by 1.7% between 2012 (6.9%) and 2016 (5.2%) and have the 8th lowest combined state and local tax burden in the country!

However, things are not all roses and puppy dogs. For decades, the economy in Northern Virginia has benefited from Federal Government spending, but with the recent cuts and the sequestration, our once invincible economy is starting to stammer.  Currently, Fairfax County has a 0% growth rate.  This is a big problem.  In order to create more jobs and increase economic growth, we need to reduce our dependency on the Federal Government and diversify our NOVA economy.  For this reason, I have invested a great deal of time in helping Fairfax INOVA start their Translational Medicine Institute right here in Fairfax County.  The institute combines gene mapping, massive computing power, and clinical trials to develop medications based on a person’s individual DNA code.  These procedures can result in medications that are tailored to each person.  For example, by knowing a person’s DNA code, a doctor could recommend medication that has worked for cancer patients with similar genetics and avoid drugs that might not work for that DNA type.  This could save billions of dollars in medical costs and correctly treat diseases to save millions of lives.  Personalized medicine could be an economic game changer.  I even took an online class to further my knowledge on genetics and DNA! By making our County a national leader in the field of genetics, I hope to make Fairfax County the world’s center for personalized medicine, and therefore create an economic engine in NOVA for years to come.

DELEGATE ALBO’S BILLS

Protecting Animals:

HB 118 – Fairfax County; animal protection police officer. (Albo Chief-Patron) I do a great deal of work in the legislature to protect animals. My new bill closes a legal loophole that recently removed Fairfax Animal Control Officers’ ability to make an arrest, despite receiving the same training as standard police officers.  Because of this loophole, if an Animal Control Officer sees a person beating a dog, the officer can remove the dog but not arrest the abuser.  This legislation restores Fairfax Animal Control Officers’ ability to make that arrest.

Albo voted “YES.” This bill passed the House.

Warrants for Electronic Records – Convicting Child Pornographers:

HB 326 – Electronic communication service or remote computing service records; obtaining records. (Albo Chief-Patron) During criminal investigations, subpoenas and warrants are often issued to a suspect’s internet service provider. While this protocol works well for most investigations, it can be problematic during child pornography cases.  When a computer has “pinged” a known picture of child porn, the police will subpoena the suspect’s internet service provider to find out the identity of the computer owner and other internet usage information.  As of right now, many internet service providers believe they are required to inform their customer of the investigation.  This gives the criminal an opportunity to destroy evidence and flee.  My bill stipulates that a Court may order an internet service provider to not disclose the existence of a subpoena or warrant for at least 90 days.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Keeping Families Safe from Predators:

HB 177 – Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry Act. (Albo Chief-Patron) My bill adds certain crimes against children (Aggravated Malicious Wounding, Shooting/Stabbing with the Intent to Maim and certain human trafficking laws) to the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry. The registry allows you to know which dangerous criminals live in your neighborhood so that you can keep your family safe.  (Note: In Virginia violent child sex offenders never get out of prison.  However, after a few decades in prison for the more serious offenders and a few years for the lower level offenders, these criminals can eventually return to the community). To view the registry, visit http://sexoffender.vsp.virginia.gov/sor/ and click the “search” tab located on the top-right portion of the website.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Bringing Wire Taps into the Cell Phone Age:

HB 176 – Court allowed to issue an order for installation of a wiretap. (Albo Chief-Patron) When the wiretap laws were written phones used to be on a wall or desk. Now, most phones are mobile.  The existing law states that the police can only get a search warrant to tap a criminal’s phone where the criminal lives.  My bill changes the law by letting courts order a wiretap either where the criminal lives or where the crime may have occurred.        

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

OTHER BILLS OF INTEREST

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

As Chairman of the House Courts of Justice Committee, it is my responsibility to speak up for victims of domestic violence across Virginia. This year, we made significant strides in our efforts against domestic violence.

Protecting Stalking Victims:

HB 886 – Stalking; penalty. (Albo Chief-Patron) Without the possibility of a felony conviction, many stalkers do not stop pursuing their victim. My bill helps protect victims and their families by making a second offense for stalking within five years of the first offense a Class 6 felony.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Protection from Violent Criminals:

HB 1087 – Violation of protective order; firearm or other deadly weapon; penalty. (Gilbert Chief-Patron)  This bill makes the violation of a protective order with a deadly weapon a Class 6 felony. By classifying the offense as a felony, the law automatically bars the felon from possessing a firearm (Note: In addition to losing the right to vote, one of the consequences of being convicted of a felony is that such a person is forever barred from possessing a firearm).

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

VA COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

The plan to expand in-state enrollment has been working! Virginia Tech added 480 in-state slots in 2015, and is looking to add 200 additional in-state slots for the upcoming year. The University of Virginia added 865 in-state slots in the last five years alone, and hopes to add an additional 243 spots in the next two years.  James Madison University increased the percentage of in-state students in its freshman classes from 68% in 2012 to 73% this year. Some schools have been lacking though, as William and Mary only had a 1.42% increase (42 new in-state slots) over the last five years. I am glad to see that most of our universities are supporting our Virginia students, but there is more work to be done!

K-12 EDUCATION

Funding for our Schools:

The new budget for July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017 delivers $15,040,607 MORE to Fairfax County Public Schools. That is an increase of $141 per student. Over the past five years we have delivered $618/student/year more to our Fairfax County Public Schools! My blog post “State Per Pupil Funding” outlines the state funding history from 2012-2017. The article link is below.

https://delegatedavealbo.wordpress.com/2016/02/24/state-per-pupil-spending-2/

Helping Students with Developmental Disabilities:

HB 1213 – Disorderly conduct at schools; minors; evidence. (Albo Chief-Patron) Many children that are prone to outbursts at school suffer from certain mental disorders that render them incapable of fully controlling their behavior. In certain cases, students do not receive help from the schools and instead are charged with crimes such as Disorderly Conduct.  This bill enables a child or the legal guardian to present documents from a healthcare provider, individual educational plan, or a behavioral assessment test to help prove in Court that the child cannot willfully control their behavior.  With this evidence, a child could avoid prosecution for something that is simply outside their control.  The bill only applies to misdemeanors and crimes on school grounds.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Helping Our Students Grow in the Field of Computer Science:

HB 228 – Board of Education; graduation requirements. (Albo Chief-Patron) While computer proficiency has become a necessary life skill, computer programming is still just an elective at our high schools. Since it is merely an elective, computer programming classes are extraordinarily difficult to take in our local high schools. For example, in order to have a space in his schedule for classes on computer programming, a local high school student had to quit the band.  On top of that, even after quitting the band, he ran out of computer programming classes to take!  To put matters into perspective, in 2015 China graduated two million computer programmers, while the U.S. only graduated 35,000.  Our children need advanced computer skills to compete in a tech-driven global economy.  My bill gives students the option of taking computer programming courses to fulfill their foreign language requirement.  This legislation was incorporated into Delegate Greason’s bill, HB 831.

Albo voted “YES.” HB 831 passed the House.

TRANSPORTATION

After 30 years, funding to widen Rolling Road/Old Keene Mill Road to the Fairfax County Parkway has finally been approved! The project will add two more lanes, for a total of four lanes. Some may oppose the new project because they saw the design proposal from eight years ago which would have wiped out many front and back yards.  The old proposal was designed to meet the Federal funding rules that required extra wide lanes and two bike paths.  This is no longer the case. The funding for this project now only uses State and Northern Virginia Transportation Authority money, so Federal requirements, such as bike paths and decorative medians, do not have to be constructed.  Consequently, a design with much less impact on surrounding homes is possible.  However, as this is a new design, VDOT has to start from scratch.  The new review and redesign process has created a delay, therefore the public hearings originally planned for January 2016 will now be held in 2017.  I am always a fan of “measuring twice and cutting once”, so while this delay is inconvenient, I am happy that VDOT is paying attention to detail and to the concerns of Rolling Road residents.  Further information on the Rolling Road Widening Project can be found on the VDOT website.  You can also find the information by visiting the “Links” section of my website, www.DaveAlbo.org.

Here are the directions to view the content from my homepage:

Click “Links”, then “Transportation”, then “VDOT Transportation Projects”, then “Northern Virginia”, then “Rolling Rd Widening”

Plans for Route 1 Widening and Improvements:

The following links contain VDOT and Fairfax County’s time line and plans for the Route 1.

Banning Tolls on I-395 between Edsall Rd and DC:

HB 225 – Tolls for use of Interstate System components. (Albo Chief-Patron)

Unlike the HOT lanes on the Beltway, where the State built new lanes for drivers, the Governor’s HOT Lanes agenda plans to extend the 95 HOT lanes to the HOV lanes on 395.  His plan actually tolls the existing lanes that are currently free.  To explain a bit more thoroughly, let me give you an example.  On the Beltway HOT lanes, you only have to pay if you want to use the new lanes and are a non-HOV driver.  If you do not wish to pay, you can use the existing lanes that have always been available to you.  On the other hand, the Governor’s 395 HOT Lane Plan requires non-HOV drivers to pay if they want to use the HOV lanes prior to, or after rush hours.  There is no free option to use the existing HOV lanes you have always used.  So now my constituents will be charged for something that used to be free.  In response, I filed this bill, which would have barred tolls on the existing HOV lanes.  Unfortunately, everyone except me was against the idea.  VDOT, Chambers of Commerce, NOVA Transportation Alliance, and others all opposed my bill.

The bill was killed in sub-committee 5-2.

E-mail and Text Notification of HOT Lane / EZ Pass Low Balance and Violations:

HB 169 – HOT lanes enforcement and notification by a HOT lanes operator and the Department of Transportation. (Albo Chief-Patron) My bill creates a notification system to let you know when you have violated the HOT lanes or toll road rules by going through a gantry and not paying. The system will also warn you when a low balance on your EZ Pass account has occurred.  This was actually an idea given to me by my former Legislative Assistant, Cori Inman.  The bill was incorporated into the omnibus tolling bill, HB 1069 (See below).

Setting up Rules on What Roads Can Be Tolled:

HB 1069 – Tolling civil penalties; period of nonpayment; limitations on tolling; notification of toll violations. (Albo Co-Patron) In addition to the text and e-mail notifications from my HB 169, this bill guarantees that in NOVA, only interstates and roads that connect to a bridge over water can be tolled. It protects roads like Braddock, Old Keene Mill Road, Route 7, Route 28, and the Fairfax County Parkway from ever being tolled.  It also sets up rules for the tolling of I-66, which will require that new lanes must be added if tolls are put in place.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

I know this was a lot of information, but we have accomplished a lot so far in Richmond. Please contact me by email at DelDAlbo@house.virginia.gov, or by phone at (703) 451-3555 with any questions or concerns. You can also view updates on my blog, www.delegatedavealbo.wordpress.com. After all, my job is not to do what I want to do, but rather, to do what you want!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s