A bill introduced by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) in the House of Representatives this week would clear the way for states and localities to take full legislative authority over regulating the towing industry.
Tow trucks were classified federally as “interstate carriers,” in 1994, putting its regulation under federal oversight, preempting state and local towing laws.
A year later, according to Moran’s office, Congress legislated away the regulatory body that oversaw the industry, leaving it vulnerable to predatory towing without consequences.
Moran’s bill, if passed, would remove the federal preemption and bring towing regulation fully under state and local control.
“Our state and local governments are the most logical places to regulate towing and many already have an established body of law in place to do so,” Moran said in a statement. “This bill would bring those laws back into effect by removing federal preemption and allow state and local governments the ability to establish common-sense, pro-consumer towing protections for their residents.”
Moran’s announcement of the bill — called H.R. 4131, the “State and Local Predatory Enforcement Act” — comes less than two weeks after Arlington passed a new set of towing regulations aimed at protecting car owners, while raising the trespass towing fee car owners must pay to $135.
Moran co-sponsored an amendment in 2005 that gave states and localities some towing oversight, but some governments were still open to liability with their towing laws. If Moran’s bill passes, that would no longer be the case.
“Representative Moran has long been a champion on this and many other issues important to state and local governments,” Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette said in the press release. “Dating back to 1994, he has worked to make certain we have the ability to enact common-sense, pro-consumer trespass towing protections for our residents and visitors. Arlington County’s towing ordinance is in place and successful today because of his efforts, and we thank him for the introduction of this legislation to remove the last vestiges of federal preemption.”
The full text of Moran’s press release is after the jump. (more…)
Liberal talk show host Mark Levine will join this year’s crowded Democratic primary race for retiring Rep. Jim Moran’s 8th Congressional District seat.
Levine, 47, hosts “The Inside Scoop,” a syndicated talk-radio program, and has previously worked as a legislative counsel to former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). He also has worked as a corporate trial attorney, teacher and “Nazi hunter” for the U.S. Department of Justice.
Levine’s entrance into the race makes the field for the June Democratic primary an 11-horse race, along with Dels. Alfonso Lopez, Patrick Hope, Charniele Herring and Mark Sickles, state Sen. Adam Ebbin, Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille, former Lt. Gov. Don Beyer and Lavern Chatman, Bruce Shuttleworth and Derek Hyra. Republican Micah Edmond is also vying for the seat.
“All the people I’m running against are good Democrats, but they’re going to walk in there, cast a vote along party lines, we’ll lose [234-201] and it’ll be business as usual, back to dysfunction,” Levine told ARLnow.com. “Politics could use a lot more forceful advocacy. What I’ve done on the radio is I’ve shown how we can use discussion, rhetoric and talk to change the entire debate and not just lock our heads and vote.”
Levine filed for the race today, he said, hoping to use the seat to promote his platform of universal healthcare, expanding Social Security and Medicare, and protecting women’s rights and voting rights, among others.
“I don’t believe there’s a single federal issue of any importance that I haven’t dealt with,” he said. He’s gone on TV hundreds of times — including frequently on Fox News shows like “The O’Reilly Factor” — to defend his positions, carrying a copy of the U.S. Constitution in his pocket.
Levine said his time as a “Nazi hunter” came during the summer of 1990 when he was in law school, working for the Office of Special Investigations tracking down Nazi war criminals who had lied on official documents to gain entry into the country and earn citizenship. He said he personally built cases that allowed the DOJ to deport two Nazis.
Levine lives in Alexandria, where he moved in 2001 after he was hired by the Congressional Black Caucus to build the congressional challenge to the 2000 presidential election.
“I’m a true believer,” he said. “I believe in America, I believe in the constitution. I really firmly believe in this stuff. If that’s what people want, they can elect me.”
Photo courtesy Mark Levine
Lavern Chatman Running for Congress — Lavern Chatman, former president and CEO of the Northern Virginia Urban League, has announced that she’s running for the 8th District seat of the retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). “We need leaders who understand the struggles and joys of raising and educating children and the benefits of providing them opportunities for economic empowerment,” Chatman, a Democrat, said in a statement. [Blue Virginia]
TandemNSI Launches — TandemNSI, Arlington’s initiative to bring national security technology companies together with government agencies and universities, officially launched Tuesday night. The $525,000 public-private partnership is being launched at a time when Arlington is still smarting from the impending loss of the National Science Foundation. [Bisnow, DoD Buzz]
McKinley Elementary Expansion – A plan to add 225 seats to McKinley Elementary School by the fall of 2016 is moving forward. Arlington Public Schools hopes to complete the design of the addition by the end of 2014 and begin construction by mid-2015. [Sun Gazette]
Restaurant Challenge Begins — The Ballston Business Improvement District is now accepting applications for its Restaurant Challenge. The BID is seeking the area’s “next signature restaurant.” The winner of the challenge will receive an interest-free loan and an 11-year lease on the former Red Parrot Asian Bistro space at 1110 N. Glebe Blvd. ”This new program is designed to activate commercial space and showcase the community of Ballston as a magnet for discovery and innovation,” the BID said. [Ballston BID, Washington Business Journal]
Marymount Creates Redskins Gear for Women — Fashion design students at Marymount University in Arlington have created new fashion-forward Washington Redskins apparel for women. The student project was initiated in response to what a professor saw as a lack of stylish options for female Redskins fans. [Marymount University]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
In a statement, Fisette said a major decision point for him was “the contrast between the dysfunctional climate on Capitol Hill and the can-do atmosphere in Arlington.”
Congressman Jim Moran recently announced that he will not seek re-election. He deserves our heartfelt thanks for twenty-four years of strong, principled service to all of us in Northern Virginia. His voice and experience in Congress will be missed.
Many friends and colleagues have asked of my interest in running for this seat and have encouraged me to run. While appreciative of those comments, I have decided that I will not seek this position.
One reason for my decision is the contrast between the dysfunctional climate on Capitol Hill and the can-do atmosphere in Arlington. The state of politics at the national level is disheartening, with the outsized influence of shrill, well-financed forces and the disintegration of sincere efforts to forge compromise, respect one’s colleagues and realize the potential of government to make people’s lives better. The distorted effects of re-districting and the demands of a relatively small band of conservative extremists have hijacked the House in particular for the moment.
Arlington is different. This community continues to take policy deliberations seriously, engage widely and with civility, and put our progressive values into action. As a result, we have achieved amazing things together and are in a strong position to continue moving forward. Here, diverse people with good will and good ideas can and do make a difference. Having just been re-elected by the voters and tapped by my colleagues to lead the County Board this year, I will be staying to continue my work in our wonderful community.
There are many qualified Democrats who could represent the Eighth District very capably. I will work with our party’s nominee to secure a victory in the November election and keep the Eighth District in the progressive ranks.
Introduced by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act, if passed by the Senate and signed by President Obama, would ensure that approximately 800,000 furloughed federal workers receive pay for the duration of the government shutdown, regardless of furlough status.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has introduced the legislation to the Senate, which is likely to pass the bill, Moran said last week.
“[Saturday's] legislation guarantees that retroactive pay for our Federal employees will not become a political bargaining chip,” Moran said in a statement. “This is an issue of fairness. 800,000 federal employees are already weathering the effects of pay freezes, benefit cuts, and furloughs; and now, because of a dysfunctional Congress, they’ve had to worry about even receiving a paycheck.”
In a rare display of bipartisanship, the bill passed 407-0. Moran, however, used the occasion for another jab at congressional Republicans.
“I’m glad my friends across the aisle were able to put aside their ideological crusade to dismantle Obamacare and get behind this legislation,” he said, via press release. “Their approach has already wrought too much hardship and today’s vote ensures it won’t hit the family budgets of our civil servants.”
Also on Saturday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that 300,000 Pentagon civilian employees who had been furloughed would return to work.
With some 800,000 federal workers being furloughed as a result of the government shutdown, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and other local members of Congress are calling for retroactive pay for civil servants.
Moran and nearly a dozen cosponsors have introduced the “Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act,” which would provide retroactive pay for furloughed employees after Congress gets its act together and passes a government funding bill. Following the last government shutdown, in 1995 and 1996, the Republican-controlled Congress passed similar legislation.
While 85 percent of federal workers live outside the D.C. region, an extended shutdown could have wide-ranging impacts locally, from financial difficulties for families to possible pain for the regional economy.
Moran and his cosponsors released the following press release about the Retroactive Pay Fairness Act early this morning.
Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat, introduced the “Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act” to ensure all federal employees receive retroactive pay for the duration of a federal government shutdown, regardless of individual furlough status. Congressman Frank Wolf will be the lead Republican cosponsor. They are joined by Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-[MD]), Rob Wittman (R-VA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Scott Rigell (R-VA), and John Delaney (D-MD).
“Nearly a million federal workers could lose their pay because Congress failed to do its job and keep the government up and running,” said Rep. Moran. “Leaving the question of retroactive pay for furloughed employees, already shouldering much of the burden of sequestration, up to this highly divisive Congress is deeply concerning. Today’s bipartisan proposal shields family pocketbooks from partisan politics and reaffirms our commitment to our federal employees.”
Federal employee pay is suspended in the event of a funding lapse or government shutdown. Retroactive payment for “non-essential” and “essential” employees must be approved through the legislative process by Congress.
“Employees at the FBI, DEA and U.S. Marshals Service shouldn’t be punished because the Congress couldn’t get its job done,” Rep. Wolf said. “They should be properly compensated for the hard work they do to make our nation a safer and better place. Let’s also not forget that several federal workers paid the ultimate price just last week in the Navy Yard tragedy.”
“It is unacceptable that Congress’s failure to reach a responsible agreement to fund the government will force federal workers to stay home without pay rather than serve the American people ,” said Rep. Hoyer. “Our hardworking federal workforce – middle-class Americans who support our war fighters, defend our borders, keep our air clean and food safe, care for our veterans, and fulfill many other critical services – should not have to face furloughs. Like so many other Americans, they have mortgages to meet, college tuitions to pay, and families to support. That’s why I have joined my colleagues in sponsoring this bipartisan proposal to meet our basic moral obligation to our public servants and ensure all federal employees receive retroactive pay.”
“After months of furloughs and multiple pay freezes, the worst thing we could do to federal employees is to impose a needless government shutdown furlough on them,” said Rep. Holmes Norton. “In the past, Congress has not permanently placed its own failure to keep the government running on innocent federal employees. We should follow past precedent and retroactively pay our beleaguered federal employees who face furlough if the federal government shuts down on October 1.”
[ ... ]
“In the mid-1990’s, the Republican-led Congress provided furloughed Federal employees with retroactive pay in recognition that our civil servants do not deserve to be victims of congressional dysfunction,” said Rep. Connolly. “Our bipartisan bill will ensure that this Congress, just like the Republican-led Congresses before, honors its commitment to the dedicated men and women of our civil service who serve our constituents.”
Photo courtesy Andrew Clegg
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) was frustrated with House Republicans Monday afternoon, just hours before a midnight deadline to reach a deal to keep the federal government from shutting down.
“It’s terribly unfair, it’s wrong and it’s irresponsible on the part of the majority of Congress,” Moran told ARLnow.com. “The idea that you would deprive 35 million of affordable health insurance for a minimum of a year in exchange for keeping the government open for another 45 days; that’s not a real negotiation. We can’t accept that.”
Moran said the chances of a shutdown were “pretty high,” and expressed dismay that his constituents would be among the hardest hit of any district in the country.
“I think [my constituents] know that I’m doing everything I can to keep the government funded,” he said. “I feel terrible that this kind of anxiety has been put on their shoulders through no fault of their own.”
Monday afternoon, President Obama said in a press conference that he was “not resigned” to the government shutdown, even after the U.S. Senate voted 54-46 to reject the House’s measure to delay a shutdown 45 days in exchange for delaying the implementation of the Affordable Care Act for a year.
Moran said he has prepared a bill with bipartisan sponsors that, if the government were to shut down, “would drop at 12:01 a.m.” to ensure federal employees furloughed by the shutdown would receive retroactive pay. While Moran expects the bill to pass the Senate, he said he’s less sure about its chances in the GOP-controlled House.
“There are a lot of Republicans who want federal employees to be punished just because they work for the government,” he said. “These are the ones who are more often than not elected on the platform that government doesn’t work. They get elected, then they go about trying to prove it.”
The last time the government shut down was for 21 days in 1995 and 1996, during which time Moran was also in Congress. He said legislators who were there “swore they were never going to let it happen again.”
“I think the American people are going to appreciate the federal government more when they find they don’t have it,” Moran said.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) says the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday was “only the latest in a long line” of horrific events.
The shooting spree claimed the lives of 12 people and gunman Aaron Alexis, a former Navy reservist. Moran, an outspoken supporter of gun control legislation, spoke on the House floor today and said that Congress must act to pass stronger laws to minimize gun violence.
“While it’s too early to know what might have prevented this week’s mass shooting, we do know what will ensure it happens again: doing nothing,” he said. Moran’s office supplied the following transcript of the speech.
On Monday, just over one mile from where I stand, once again our nation experienced a horrific incidence of mass gun violence. Our deepest sympathies go out to the friends and families who lost loved ones at Washington Navy Yard.
As this chart shows, this mass shooting is only the latest in a line that includes Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown. But even these horrendous mass killings do not fully reflect our nation’s problem with gun violence.
Each year, approximately 100,000 people in America are shot by a gun, 30,000 die from a gun-related injury, and 10,000 are murdered by a firearm. By 2015, gun-related deaths will surpass auto-related deaths for the first time in decades. And while it’s too early to know what might have prevented this week’s mass shooting, we do know what will ensure it happens again: doing nothing.”
Our nation’s gun violence epidemic will continue so long as we resign ourselves to the belief that indiscriminant violence is the price of freedom. The Chief Medical Officer at MedStar Hospital expressed the sentiments of many when she pleaded, “There’s something evil in our society that we as Americans have to work to try and eradicate.” If we don’t do all we can to minimize gun violence through stronger laws and improved services, all we’ll ever have to offer our constituents are more condolences.
Claim: County Erroneously Booted Car — A D.C. resident named Rebecca Jones says she parked her car at her fiance’s private residence in Arlington and was surprised to come back from a trip and find it booted. The county claimed she owed nearly $4,000 in unpaid taxes but, Jones says, later admitted that the enforcement computer system targeted her car only based on name association with a different Rebecca Jones. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Native Makes ‘Most Beautiful’ List — Arlington native Carolyn Walser, 28, has made The Hill newspaper’s annual 50 Most Beautiful People list. Walser, a Democrat, is a scheduler for Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) was a staffer for the former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.). [The Hill]
Military Appreciation Night at Chick-fil-A — On Saturday, from 3:30 to 7:00 p.m., the Chick-fil-A restaurant at 2200 Crystal Drive in Crystal City will hold a Military Appreciation Night. Active and former military personnel and their immediate family members are eligible for free food and drink with valid identification. [Facebook]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Third graders from Glebe Elementary School in Arlington welcomed a special guest today: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).
Students at the school had written letters to the Vermont senator “about conservation and what the students are doing here at Glebe to help in conservation efforts,” according to school principal Jamie Borg. Leahy, the grandfather of a Glebe student, “decided to respond to their letters in person.”
Leahy personally delivered letters to each third grade student, then engaged them in a conversation about the branches of government — a topic they had been studying.
“Senator Leahy was able to talk to the students about it in depth and explain his role in government,” Borg said.
“The children were very impressed!” said Borg.
Leahy’s wife, Marcelle, joined him for the classroom visit this morning. Leahy, 73, was re-elected in 2010 to a seventh term in the U.S. Senate.
Today the House of Representatives passed a bill (261-154) that would freeze the pay of federal workers for a third straight year.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) spoke out against the bill, comparing it to Irish satirist Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.”
“Today, the House majority, unfortunately without Mr. Swift’s humor or irony, offers its own Modest Proposal,” Moran said. “To ensure our elderly are cared for, let’s cut the pay of those responsible for their health. To make sure our food and drugs are safe, let’s diminish the benefits of those whose job it is to screen for safety and unintended effects. To find a cure for cancer, let’s punish the researcher who toils daily to save millions of Americans from the disease. To care for our veterans, who were sent by this body to fight in foreign lands, let’s make their caretakers find a second job.”
The proposal, H.R. 273, is not expected to be taken up by the Senate, and thus not expected to become law. Federal workers are currently slated to receive a 0.5 percent pay raise after March 27, thanks to an executive order issued by President Obama in December.
Two H-B Woodlawn students have created a petition calling on Congress to pass stronger gun control laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut.
The online petition has gathered 133 signatures already and resulted in 336 letters and emails being sent to Congress. Seventh graders Nicole and Daniel created the children-driven petition with the hopes that it will garner student support beyond Arlington.
“We are representing the children of the United States who do not want to wake up every morning with a thought that someone close to us, or even ourselves, might die that day,” they said in the petition. “We do not want to see our friends or loved ones die in schools or movie theaters or malls any more.”
“Please help us stop the killings and the murders and the massacres by enacting legislation that will ban assault weapons and require a special license, a strict application process with a background investigation and a mental check for every person wanting to acquire a gun,” the petition said.
This morning, the National Rifle Association held a press conference in which the organization blamed the media, the entertainment industry and video games for a culture of violence, and called for armed security guards in every American school.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre. ”If we truly cherish our kids more than our money… we must give them the greatest protection possible. And that protection is only available with properly-armed good guys.”
Nicole and Daniel’s father, Arlington resident Michael Getter, said that arming more citizens is not the answer.
“The time has come to take meaningful steps in preventing mass executions that have become practically a commonplace in our county,” Getter said. “There seems to be very little evidence that ease of access and proliferation of dangerous weaponry among US population is making this county any safer for its citizens.”
Photo via Arlington Public Schools
Vice President Joe Biden hosted a lunch at Arlington’s Metro 29 Diner (4711 Lee Hwy) this afternoon, to discuss the country’s trek toward the fiscal cliff.
Biden arrived at the restaurant around 1:15 p.m. to meet with seven people who say their finances would take a hit if the country goes over the fiscal cliff.
One of the attendees, Anne Marie Munos, lives in Falls Church. She was chosen based on her online response to the White House request for citizens to discuss why Congress should extend middle class tax cuts.
“I can’t see how we can afford to pay more taxes,” wrote Munos. “We certainly won’t be able to boost the economy because our buying power will suffer even more than it already has.”
Biden said it would take “15 minutes” for a bill to get finished if Congress agreed to let taxes on the wealthy increase.
“This is no time to add any additional burden for middle class people,” said Biden. “The downside of going down this cliff… is real.”
The lunch visit was not announced in advance, and other customers were not prevented from using the restaurant during the visit. Biden and his guests were taken to a separate section of the restaurant and guarded by security. Patrons were allowed to enter the restaurant after going through a security check, and a few dozen gathered around to listen to the Vice President speak.
After finishing lunch with his guests and spending some time taking photos with other customers, Biden left Metro 29 Diner around 3:00 p.m.
Rep. Jim Moran (D) says lines to vote in last month’s election were “prohibitively long,” and is proposing legislation designed to reduce wait times at the polls.
Moran introduced a bill called the Voting Line Reduction and Online Registration Act yesterday (Tuesday). The bill comes a month after Arlington set a new voter turnout record, while residents reported waiting in 3+ hour lines to vote.
“Voters in many states, including Virginia, faced waits of up to four hours to vote, due in large part to insufficient or faulty voting equipment,” the congressman’s office said in a press release. “Moran’s bill addresses these problems by directing the Election Assistance Commission to set a minimum number of voting systems, poll workers, and other election resources at each voting site for all Federal elections.”
The 51-page bill also “establishes a system where individuals can both register and update their voting information” online, and mandates at least a week of early voting. Virginia currently allows in-person absentee voting, but voters must have a valid reason to be voting early.
Federal government employees have made a substantial contribution to federal debt reduction efforts already, say local lawmakers who are trying to ensure that federal workers don’t take a big hit in any upcoming debt reduction package.
The lawmakers are cautioning President Barack Obama and leaders in the House of Representatives to “carefully consider the implications that any proposed agreement would have on these Americans so that it reflects the substantial budget savings that the Federal workforce has contributed thus far.”
The lawmakers — Democratic Reps. Jim Moran (Va.), Steny Hoyer (Md.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Gerry Connolly (Va.), Donna Edwards (Md.) and John Sarbanes (Md.), plus Republican Reps. Frank Wolf (Va.) and Robert Wittman (Va.) — sent a letter to Obama this week highlighting $103 billion in cuts taken by federal employees in the form of pay freezes, delayed raises and increased benefit contributions.
“The letter comes as Congress and the White House work toward a solution to avoid sequestration cuts mandated to go into effect on January 2, 2013,” Moran’s office noted in a press release.
The text of the letter, which was also sent to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, after the jump.
Photo courtesy Andrew Clegg