Sunday, May 1 is May Day, where we recognize the accomplishments of organized labor. On this day the precursor to the AFL-CIO proclaimed, “Eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s labor from and after May 1, 1886.”
Rejoice! The season of Governor’s vetoes are upon us. With the Democrats picking up enough seats to sustain Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s vetoes, we are finally able to prevent some poorly-considered legislation from becoming law.
Last week, the Governor rejected legislation that would prohibit localities from making their own decisions to improve wage and benefit conditions. A number of localities have wage policies that allow the employees of contractors performing services for those localities to generate enough income to allow them to live and raise a family in the area.
Recently, I recognized the sixth annual Amundson Institute scholars on the floor of the Capitol in Richmond. The Amundson Institute provides an educational opportunity for high school juniors and seniors who live in or attend a school located in the 44th district on the role of the Virginia state government and top government relations professionals. We had two students from Mount Vernon High School and two students from West Potomac participated in this year’s program.
The General Assembly has adjourned sine die, from the Latin “without day,” meaning without assigning a next day for this session. However, we will meet again on April 20 for the reconvene session where we will spend a day voting on whether or not to sustain the Governor’s vetoes. We can expect at least 20 vetoes, which is a good thing since some of the bills we passed deserve no less.
I had the opportunity to support two bills both in committee and on the floor that will make traveling around Mount Vernon a little safer for bicyclists. Senate Bill 117 imposes a penalty for “dooring” bikers, including creating a cause of action for lawsuits and the ability to file an insurance claim.
Over the last several weeks, our area has been subjected to an oil spill fouling the Roaches Run waterfowl sanctuary and the Potomac River. Dominion Power claimed responsibility for a 13,500-gallon spill of mineral oil from the Crystal City substation, of which about 500 gallons contaminated the Potomac River. It is working with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and US Coast Guard to clean up the remaining oil.
Having grown up in the Fairfax County Public School system and with a daughter at West Potomac High School, ensuring Fairfax County students receive the highest quality education is a top priority of mine. Education is an investment that we make in our children to ensure that they are given the tools and opportunities to live up to their potential. We are fortunate to live in an area with a school system that is recognized for its excellence.
Virginia’s 11 state-recognized American Indian tribes played an important role in Virginia’s history, specifically in the founding of European settlements at Jamestown. Without the early contributions of resources and knowledge that these tribes shared, settlements such as Jamestown would have failed.
One of the areas of my legislation this year includes continuing state Sen. Scott Surovell’s efforts to enact solar net metering policies in the Commonwealth. Currently there are several problems with solar panel construction in residential areas, which affect much of the heavily-wooded Mount Vernon community.
Solar panels are expensive; they have a high initial investment and save money over a long period of time. They also do not work in neighborhoods with dense tree canopies, like Hollin Hills and Stratford Landing.
Fraud and identity theft is an increasing criminal sector and will likely continue to grow. On Nov. 13, an off-duty police officer noticed a fraud device known as a “skimmer” on an ATM at a Huntington 7-11.
While the risk of fraud is growing in prevalence for all Virginians, seniors are hit particularly hard. A recent New York Times article estimates elder abuse costs about $3 billion annually and that incidents of elder-client abuse identified by financial advisors have tripled in the last three years.