The Commonwealth was once again the butt of jokes on The Daily Show last night. But this time around, a local Virginia legislator at least got some snarky kudos from Jon Stewart.
The Comedy Central show featured a mock-segment, alternately titled “Virginia Is Not For Lovers” and “19th Century News,” about the efforts of state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) to repeal the state’s long-standing law against an unmarried couple living together. Though rarely enforced, Virginia law classifies “lewd and lascivious cohabitation” as a Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $500 fine.
Ebbin’s bill, SB 969, has passed the Virginia House of Delegates and state Senate and is now awaiting Gov. Bob McDonnell’s (R) signature.
VA Senate Panel Advances “Love Shack” Bill — A state Senate panel unanimously advanced a bill proposed by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) that would repeal the Virginia law making it illegal for unmarried couples to live together. Currently, cohabitation by unmarried couples is a misdemeanor under the law, which went into effect in 1877. [Washington Post]
Board Accepts Grant to Fight Childhood Obesity — The County Board has accepted a state grant worth $25,000 to fund a Healthy Meals for Healthy Families program at Carlin Springs Elementary School, intended to fight childhood obesity. The program will include weekly hands-on classes in healthy food preparation and healthy eating for at-risk third, fourth and fifth graders and their families. “[The grant] will fund a program at Carlin Springs Elementary that will not only educate our children and families – but ultimately change behaviors to promote life-long healthy eating and healthy living,” said Board Chairman Walter Tejada. [Arlington County]
APS Makes EPA’s Green Power Purchasers List — Arlington Public Schools has come in at number five on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of the Top 20 K-12 green power purchasers. APS meets six percent of its electricity use by purchasing more than 3,000,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power each year. “Utilizing green power helps us become more sustainable, while also sending a message to others across the U.S. that supporting clean sources of electricity is a sound business decision and an important choice in reducing climate risk,” said APS Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy. “Most importantly, this conveys to our students the important role and responsibility that all of us have in safeguarding our environment today and in the future.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Board Promises to Hear PenPlace Concerns — At its meeting on Saturday (January 26), the County Board assured concerned residents that their voices will be heard in regards to the proposed PenPlace development. Board member Chris Zimmerman refuted claims by opponents that there wouldn’t be a serious review of the Pentagon City project. The plan involves developing 10 acres of mostly vacant land into a complex of 12 to 22 story buildings. [Sun Gazette]
Flight Makes Emergency Landing at DCA — A US Airways Express flight had to make an emergency landing at Reagan National Airport this morning (Wednesday) due to a cracked windshield. The plane was minutes into its flight from DCA to Raleigh/Durham International Airport when it had to turn around. Nobody was injured. [WJLA]
Plastic Bag Tax Defeated — Sen. Adam Ebbin’s proposal to tax single-use plastic bags in grocery and convenience stores has been defeated in the state Senate. Had the bill passed, it would have imposed a five cent tax on every plastic bag distributed by retail establishments. [Sun Gazette]
Potomac CrossFit to Re-open in Courthouse — After closing last year to make way for a new development in Clarendon, Potomac Crossfit has found a new home. The new 9,000 square foot location will be located at 1320 N. Courthouse Road, Suite 100. It is expected to open in May. [Potomac CrossFit]
Two state lawmakers who represent parts of Arlington have proposed a gun safety legislation package in the Virginia General Assembly.
State Sen. Adam Ebbin and Del. Patrick Hope, both Democrats, introduced bills that would close the so-called “gun show loophole,” require universal background checks on gun purchases, require gun owners to report stolen firearms, and restrict weapon sales to the mentally ill. To drive home the point, the lawmakers recorded two videos (above and below, after the jump) showing them buying a handgun without a background check and buying a high-capacity magazine at a recent gun show in Chantilly, Va.
The legislation was introduced Wednesday, a day before President Obama proposed legislation to require universal background checks, ban high capacity magazines, and ban assault-style weapons.
The gun control bills face an uphill battle in the Republican-controled state legislature; Hope and Ebbin called on Virginia residents to contact their legislators in support of the legislation.
From a press release:
Virginia State Senator Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and Delegate Patrick A. Hope (D-Arlington) have introduced a package of gun safety legislation to require universal background checks on prospective firearms purchasers (SB 1232 / HB 2025), close the gun show loophole, and tighten restrictions on the sale of weapons to the mentally ill (SB 1109 / HB 2221).
SB 1109 and HB 2221 would make it a Class 6 felony to sell firearms to persons found mentally incapacitated or who have been involuntarily admitted.
Ebbin also introduced legislation to require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms (SB 965) and to outlaw firearms in legislative buildings (SB 1012).
“We easily purchased a handgun at a Virginia gun show, without undergoing a background check. Sadly, nearly 40% of all gun sales are conducted without a background check. In the interest of community safety, it’s not too much to ask for responsible gun purchasers to undergo a background check to screen for criminal history or history of serious mental illness,” the two wrote in a joint statement.
The lawmakers discussed their visit to a gun show in a January 15th news conference at the Virginia Capitol. Hope showed the High Standard Sentinel Revolver he bought for $175; because he purchased the gun from a private dealer, he did not have to undergo a background check to screen for a criminal record. “Today, a felon with a violent past can walk into a gun show or go on the Internet and buy any gun with no questions asked,” Hope said. “A law we could pass today, requiring universal background checks for all gun sales, would have an almost immediate impact on gun safety. No responsible gun owner is afraid of a background check.”
Displaying a 30-round ammunition magazine he purchased for $20, Ebbin said, “Buying a 30-round magazine should not be as easy as buying a candy bar.” He noted that a 30-round magazine was used in the recent Newtown, Connecticut tragedy that left 26 dead.
Citing the need to pass SB 965, Ebbin said, “When a gun is stolen, a deadly weapon is in criminal hands—a combination we all want to avoid. Reporting lost or stolen guns can help police avert a tragedy.”
Hope and Ebbin called on Virginians to contact their legislators in support of the gun safety legislation.
A law against “lewd and lascivious cohabitation” has been on the books in Virginia since the 19th century. Currently, § 18.2-345 of Virginia code specifies that “If any persons, not married to each other, lewdly and lasciviously associate and cohabit together… each of them shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor” — punishable by a fine up to $500.
A quick internet search reveals that talk of repealing the archaic law dates back to at least 1981, when the University of Virginia’s Cavalier Daily talked to a local prosecutor who attributed “the statute’s permanence… to the reluctance of members of the Legislature to stand up and ask for its repeal.” In 2005, USA Today noted that Virginia was one of seven states that still prohibited unmarried cohabitation.
The law rarely if ever results in arrests these days, although it was the subject of a 1973 Virginia Supreme Court case. According to USA Today, cohabitation laws usually only come up when they’re “cited by landlords as a reason for not renting to cohabiting couples or by government agencies refusing licenses.”
Ebbin, who represents Arlington and Alexandria, is hoping to take lewd and lascivious cohabitation off the books once and for all this year. Ebbin has introduced a bill, SB 969, that would eliminate unmarried cohabitation as a crime in Virginia.
The bill is expected to be heard by a state Senate committee Wednesday afternoon, according to the watchdog website Richmond Sunlight.
The Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has expressed support for Ebbin’s bill. Ebbin’s office has not responded to a request for comment.
(Updated at 5:05 p.m.) In the wake of a presidential election that saw 3+ hour lines at polling stations in Arlington, state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) has proposed a bill to extend polling hours in Virginia.
Ebbin, who represents parts of Arlington and Alexandria, is proposing extending the poll closing time to 8:00 p.m. from 7:00 p.m.
“My legislation to extend polling hours to 8:00 p.m. is designed to make it easier for Virginians to participate in our democracy,” Ebbin said in a statement. “Particularly in Northern Virginia, unforeseen circumstances like ice storms, earthquakes, traffic tie-ups and work emergencies have prevented people from getting to vote. Based on our recent presidential election, we know that a successful voter turnout can lead to long lines at the polls, particularly early in the morning. SB 964 would make it easier to vote — as it should be!”
Ebbin’s bill, SB 964, is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Privileges and Elections committee on Tuesday, Jan. 15, according to the legislative tracking website Richmond Sunlight.
Photo courtesy Arlington Public Library
Close Call at Reagan National — Three commuter jets nearly collided at Reagan National Airport on Tuesday afternoon due to a communications failure among air traffic control personnel. The planes were about 12 seconds away from a collision when a tower controller corrected her mistake. [Washington Post]
Ebbin Endorses Krupicka — State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) has endorsed Alexandria Councilman Rob Krupicka (D) in the Sept. 4 special election to fill Del. David Englin’s former 45th District House of Delegates Seat. “[Krupicka] has been a steadfast ally in the fight for true equality, world-class education system, a cleaner environment, smart transportation solutions, and innovative policies that keep our economy strong,” Ebbin said.
Kaine to Visit Arlington Business Today — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and former Virginia governor Tim Kaine will be visiting Clarendon-based business GridPoint this afternoon. Kaine, who will be joined by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), will highlight his “Strengthening Our Economy Through Energy Innovation” plan.
Extreme Weather on the Rise in Va.? — Extreme downpours and snowstorms are happening 33 percent more frequently in Virginia compared to 65 years ago, according to a new report by Environment Virginia. The group says the finding supports the idea that global warming is changing weather patterns. “We need to heed scientists’ warnings that this dangerous trend is linked to global warming, and do everything we can to cut carbon pollution today,” said Environment Virginia Field Organizer Laura Kate Anderson. [Environment Virginia]
Richmond prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland, a former Navy fighter pilot whose judicial nomination was supported by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), failed to receive the 51 votes necessary in the 100-member House of Delegates. Del. Bob Marshall (R), who led the charge against Thorne-Begland’s nomination, cited his public opposition to the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy 20 years ago, while still in the Navy, and his expressed support for same-sex marriage.
Thorne-Begland is “an aggressive activist for the pro-homosexual agenda,” Marshall said in a press release. “Can this candidate swear the required oath to support our state’ constitution if he has already indicated by his past actions that he does not support that section of our constitution barring same-sex legal relationships?”
State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D), the first openly gay member of the Virginia General Assembly, argued that Thorne-Begland was rejected solely on the basis of being openly gay. He also condemned the state Senate leadership for dodging a vote on the nomination.
“The debate in the House of Delegates was homophobic and embarrassing, and showed a disrespect to a chief deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney and decorated veteran who was honorably discharged,” Ebbin told the Washington Post. “It’s also offensive that the Senate Republican leadership wouldn’t even grant Lt. Thorne-Begland the courtesy of a Senate vote.”
On Twitter, Del. Alfonso Lopez (D), who along with Del. Patrick Hope (D) was among the 33 “yes” votes for Thorne-Begland, Tweeted about the vote in real time early yesterday morning.
“Shameful,” Lopez said. “Virginia and Mr. Thorne-Begland deserved better. I have a feeling the Commonwealth will be in national headlines again.”
Del. Bob Brink and Del. David Englin, Democrats who both represent portions of Arlington, were among the 26 lawmakers who did not cast a vote on Thorne-Begland.
Update at 1:55 p.m. — Del. Marshall and Sen. Barbara Favola (D) appeared on NewsChannel 8′s NewsTalk program this morning to discuss the judicial vote.
Update at 3:35 p.m. — Del. Brink has issued a statement to ARLnow.com regarding his absence from the voting.
Due to previously scheduled travel out of the country, I was absent for the May 14 session of the House — the first session I’ve missed in my 15 years as Delegate. The House minutes reflect that I was granted a leave of absence for this reason.
Tracy is my friend. For several weeks, after the right-wing threat to his nomination became known, along with other concerned members of the General Assembly including my colleague Adam Ebbin, we strategized on the steps needed to get him confirmed. I deeply regret that we were unsuccessful.
The rejection of this eminently well qualified lawyer, in addition to its unfairness to him, is a loss to Virginia’s justice system and another black mark on Virginia’s reputation.
It goes without saying that I would have vigorously supported and voted for Tracy if I had been present.
Photo via Office of Sen. Adam Ebbin
A bill that was introduced by Rep. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) and Sen. Jeffrey McWaters (R-Virginia Beach) inserts a “conscience clause” into the Virginia law concerning private adoption and foster care agencies.
“No private child-placing agency shall be required to consider or consent to any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would conflict with the religious tenets of any sponsor of the agency or other organization or institution with which the child-placing agency is affiliated or associated,” the bill reads. It also says that adoption agencies cannot be held liable for civil damages as a result of denying the placement of a child.
Ebbin says the clause is discriminatory.
“Adoption and foster care agencies that receive state funding should not be allowed to pick prospective parents based on their sexual orientation,” Ebbin said. “Adoption is a public act that goes through state courts, and no government agency should ever engage in discrimination. When placing a child in a permanent home, the only factor we should take into account is what is best for the child.”
Ebbin tried to patron a bill, SB 569, that would have banned discrimination on the basis of “race, religion, national origin, sex, age, family status, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity” among adoption and foster care agencies that receive state funds. The bill failed to make it out of a Senate committee.
The conscience clause bills, meanwhile, are advancing. On Friday Gilbert’s bill passed the House by a vote of 71-28, and McWaters’ bill has passed a Senate committee by a vote of 8-7.
In one of his first acts as a state Senator, Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) has introduced legislation that would require athletic coaches and directors at public and private schools and universities to report incidents of child abuse.
Ebbin’s bill is SB 265 — an amendment to an existing Virginia law that requires “any teacher or other person employed in a public or private school, kindergarten or nursery school” to report any suspected incident of child abuse or neglect within 72 hours, or face fines. SB 265 would amend the law to apply to “any teacher, athletic coach or director, or other person employed in a public or private school, kindergarten or nursery school, or institution of higher education.”
The bill’s introduction comes just two months after the Penn State sex abuse scandal rocked the world of college athletics.
“Senator Ebbin is very concerned about the abuses at Penn State and felt that we needed to ensure that nothing like that ever happened in Virginia,” Ebbin spokesman Donald Moss told ARLnow.com. “The bill will require that reporting of suspected child abuse be mandatory both by those in athletics and anyone employed by an institute of higher learning, which is change to current Virginia code that everyone will agree is all the more necessary in a post Penn State world.”
SB 265 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services, which is scheduled to meet on Friday morning.
Here is the unedited response from Del. Adam Ebbin (D):
On November 8, voters in the 30th Senate District will select a successor to Senator Patsy Ticer, who has served Northern Virginia well during her sixteen years in Richmond. The questions before voters will be simple: who is best prepared to get the job done, and who best shares our values?
After seven years in the House, I have the experience, knowledge and relationships needed to be successful in the Virginia Senate. I’ve been a champion for our values in Richmond, and passed legislation supporting our environment, our senior citizens, our transit system and other key regional priorities.
Since 2004, I’ve represented parts of south Arlington in the House of Delegates. During that time, I’ve secured $1.5 billion in Federal matching funds to improve Metro services and passed legislation to establish a Public Defender office in Arlington.
I passed laws to protect seniors from fraud and abuse and laws to strengthen protections against identity theft. I also helped lead the successful effort to expand life insurance benefits to include members of domestic partnerships.
This year, legislation I passed established a solar resource loan fund that will provide homeowners access to low interest loans to install solar panels on their houses. I’ve defended funds for our public schools and have been a reliable vote in support of Virginia’s workers and a woman’s right to choose.
I know what it takes to move important legislation through the General Assembly. I’ve stood up for our Northern Virginia values against the skepticism of members from other parts of the Commonwealth. I’ve worked with them to build understanding and support for our local priorities.
Before being elected to represent our community in the House of Delegates, I served in the administration of former Governor Mark Warner as his Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry. Outside of my government service, I’ve spent much of my career helping small and growing businesses reach new clients and expand their online presence.
I am committed to keeping Virginia the best-managed state in the nation, the best state in which to raise a child and the number one state in which to do business. I have fought, and will continue to fight, to protect our local schools and emergency response services from budget cuts.
During this campaign, I’ve had to great pleasure to speak with so many of you at your door, at a debate, or at a local function. We’ve discussed your concerns, your priorities and your hopes for the future. As a member of the House, I’ve worked day and night to put our shared values into action. In the Senate, I’ll be even more able to put the needs of Northern Virginia front and center in Richmond.
I’m proud to have been endorsed by my colleagues from the Democratic primary, Alexandria City Councilman Rob Krupicka and Arlington County School Board Member Libby Garvey. I am also very proud to have won the support of the Arlington Association of Professional Firefighters and Paramedics, the Virginia AFL-CIO, SEIU, the Virginia chapter of the National Organization for Women, the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, Equality Virginia and many other local organizations.
The Washington Post has endorsed my candidacy, and has said that I am “well-respected, substantive and effective” and “would make an excellent Senator.”
I would be truly honored to have your vote. If you will stand with me on November 8, I will stand up for you every day that I’m in Richmond. I have a record of proven progressive accomplishment, and will continue to be a strong voice for our values in the Senate.
Election Day is November 8. To learn more about my candidacy, or how you can volunteer in these closing days, please visit www.AdamEbbin.com or call 703-739-4330.
During his closing remarks at the group’s candidates forum in Ballston, McGhee started opining about the relationship between gays, lesbians and God.
“Each and every one of you is a uniquely valuable human being created for a purpose,” McGhee told the group, according to an audio recording and transcript on the Not Larry Sabato blog. “Some of you are beyond frustrated with God right now. Some of you refuse to believe in him altogether. You’ve asked the question or perhaps given up asking a long time ago ‘Why? Why would God make me who I am and then tell me that’s wrong?’”
Needless to say, some AGLA members took exception to the implication that being gay is “wrong” — or that a discussion of God and morality was appropriate during a local political debate.
“Sitting in that room while the above was happening was insanely awkward,” wrote one Not Larry Sabato commenter.
McGhee, however, defended his remarks when asked about them by the Del Ray Patch.
“It was a personal view… It was meant to be an added perspective on who God is and his mercy,” said McGhee, a database administrator for The Falls Church.
McGhee’s opponent in the race for the 30th District state Senate seat is Del. Adam Ebbin, a Democrat who was the first openly gay member of the Virginia General Assembly.
Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola has decisively won the acrimonious race for the 31st District state Senate seat. With all precincts reporting, Favola has captured 65 percent of the vote to Jaime Areizaga-Soto’s 35 percent. Favola will face a well-funded Republican challenger, Caren Merrick, in November.
Del. Adam Ebbin, meanwhile, has squeaked by Alexandria City Councilman Rob Krupicka in the three-way race for the 30th District state Senate seat. With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Ebbin has 39 percent of the vote to Kupricka’s 36 percent and Arlington school board member Libby Garvey’s 25 percent. Ebbin will face Republican hopeful Timothy McGhee in November.
Alfonso Lopez will be the 49th District’s next House of Delegates member, succeeding the victorious Ebbin. Lopez defeated Stephanie Clifford 66 percent to 34 percent with all precincts reporting. Lopez will be running unopposed in the fall.
Finally, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos will be getting a bigger office. Stamos handily fended off defense attorney David Deane in the race for Commonwealth’s Attorney in Arlington. Stamos captured 82 percent of the vote to Deane’s 18 percent. Stamos does not have a challenger in the general election.
Arlington elections officials say that 10.3 percent of the county’s active registered voters cast a ballot during today’s election.
“Not so bad for [a] predicted slow primary day [with an] earthquake,” officials said via Twitter.
Earlier this week, we asked the three Democratic candidates for the 30th District state Senate seat to write a sub-750 word essay on why the district’s residents should vote for them on Tuesday, Aug. 23.
Here is the unedited response from Adam Ebbin (typo corrected at 6:20 p.m. upon request of the campaign):
The question before voters in the August 23 Democratic primary for the 30th Senate District isn’t about policy or politics. With three solid Democrats running, there’s very little difference between our positions on major issues. Instead, the question voters must answer is, “who can best get the job done in the Senate?”
After seven years in the House, I have the experience, knowledge and relationships needed to be successful in the Senate. I’ve been a champion for our progressive values in Richmond, and passed legislation supporting our environment, our senior citizens, our transit system and other key progressive priorities. I’ve been the leading voice against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and will continue to stand against him in the Senate.
Since 2004, I’ve represented parts of south Arlington in the House of Delegates. During that time, I’ve secured funding to improve Metro services and provide for a Public Defender office in Arlington. I’ve established a solar resource loan fund that will provide homeowners access to low interest loans to install solar panels on their houses. I’ve defended funds for our public schools and have a 100% pro-choice voting record.
I know what it takes to move progressive legislation through an often-hostile General Assembly. I’ve stood up for our Northern Virginia values against the skepticism of members from other parts of the Commonwealth. I’ve worked with them to build understanding and support for our local priorities.
During this campaign, I’ve had the great pleasure to speak with so many of you at your door, at a debate, or at a local function.
We’ve discussed your concerns, your priorities and your hopes for the future. As a member of the House, I’ve worked day and night to put our shared values into action. In the Senate, I’ll be even more able to put the needs of Northern Virginia front and center in Richmond.
I’m proud to have been endorsed by County Board Member Jay Fisette, Treasurer Frank O’Leary, Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy and School Board Member James Lander. I am also very proud to have won the support of the Arlington Association of Professional Firefighters and Paramedics, the Virginia chapter of the National Organization for Women, the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, Equality Virginia, the Virginia Partisans Gay & Lesbian Democratic Club and many other leading progressive organizations.
I would be truly honored to have your vote. If you will stand with me on August 23, I will stand up for you every day that I’m in Richmond. I have a record of proven progressive accomplishment, and will continue to be a strong voice for our values in the Senate.
Election Day is August 23. To learn more about my candidacy, or how you can volunteer in these closing days, please visit www.AdamEbbin.com or call 703-739-4330.
The PAC has endorsed Del. Adam Ebbin, who’s running in the 30th state Senate district and Jaime Areizaga-Soto, who’s running in the 31st state Senate district. The group also endorsed both candidates who are running in the 49th House of Delegates district: Alfonso Lopez and Stephanie Clifford.
While saying that Ebbin’s two primary opponents — Rob Krupicka and Libby Garvey — would be “strong allies,” and while expressing confidence that Areizaga-Soto’s opponent — Barbara Favola — would “vote on the side of equality” — the LGBT Dems nonetheless sided with Ebbin and Areizaga-Soto.
See the group’s press release, after the jump.