As expected, the renewal of a hotel tax surcharge that is responsible for generating Arlington’s nearly $1 million per year tourism promotion budget was all-but-killed in a House subcommittee this morning. The bill, introduced by Arlington’s Del. Bob Brink (D), was passed by indefinitely — meaning the House version dead unless a member who voted against it changes his or her mind.
An identical bill introduced by Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple passed the Senate last week, however, meaning that the tax renewal will get another shot in House committee. It’s yet to be seen whether the outcome will be any different.
Other bills by Arlington lawmakers have met with mixed results.
Two bills introduced by Del. Brink have managed to pass the Republican-controlled House, however. The bills “address the irregularities discovered during the signature gathering process” for last year’s failed effort to change Arlington’s form of government.
One bill, HB 1646, calls for the name and address of a petition signature gatherer to be present on both sides of the petition form. The other bill, HB 1670, says that “a notary shall not perform any notarial act… that presents a conflict between his personal interest and his official duty.”
One bill passed unanimously, the other passed with only one ‘no’ vote. They will now be taken up by the Democratic-controlled state Senate.
Del. Bob Brink (D) has introduced two bills in the House of Delegates that attempt to “address the irregularities discovered during the signature gathering process” for last year’s failed effort to change Arlington’s form of government.
One bill, HB 1646, calls for the name and address of a petition signature gatherer to be present on both sides of the petition form. The bill is in response to “numerous reports where the description of the person who signed the forms as petition circulator didn’t match the description of the individual actually gathering the signatures.”
So far, HB 1646 is still awaiting a subcommittee vote.
Brink’s other bill, HB 1670, is broader piece of legislation. The bill addresses an alleged conflict of interest — that the campaign manager for the change-of-government effort was also the notary public that certified the now-disqualified petition sheets.
The bill, which passed a subcommittee on Monday, says that “a notary shall not perform any notarial act with respect to any document, writing, or electronic document that presents a conflict between his personal interest and his official duty.”
On Brink’s web site, at least one constituent worried that bill may be “over-inclusive” and could affect real estate transactions where an attorney is also acting as a notary.
Brink says the legislation is necessary to “improve the voter referendum petition process” and “prevent fraud.”
“Last year’s referendum effort in Arlington taught us valuable lessons about weaknesses in the petition signature gathering process,” Brink said in a statement. “Learning from that experience and passing this corrective legislation will help protect the integrity of voter referenda.”
Just when it looked like the hubbub was dying down over Arlington’s failed effort to withdraw from the Secure Communities immigration enforcement program, the Virginia state legislature now appears poised to stir up the immigration hornet’s nest once again.
According to the Washington Examiner, Del. Dave Albo (R-Fairfax) has indicated that he will be introducing bills that will deny driver’s licenses and government benefits for illegal immigrants, while permitting police to check the immigration status of anyone who is taken into custody.
That last proposal is intended to mimic the controversial Arizona immigration law that quickly turned into a hot-button national news story. It would fly in the face of Arlington’s stated policy that “it is not the role of Arlington County law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws.”
“I hope the General Assembly will examine these measures very carefully,” said Del. Bob Brink (D), who represents part of Arlington. “I’m concerned that, in addition to their potential for stigmatizing some Virginians, they could actually make the work of law enforcement more difficult.”
Brink added that he wants to talk with Arlington’s public safety officials “to get their reaction to the proposed bills.”
Albo, meanwhile, told the Examiner that he doesn’t think his immigration bills stand much of a chance of passing the Democratic-controlled state senate, although he predicted the bills would likely pass the Republican-controlled House of Delegates.
Photo via Creative Commons License
Governor Robert McDonnell has appointed two Arlington lawmakers to his government reform panel.
State Delegate Bob Brink and state Senator Mary Margaret Whipple, both Democrats, will join 29 other appointees on the Governor’s Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring.
“The Commission members will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the state’s agencies, programs, and services to find out how we can make our state government work better for its owners, the people of Virginia,” Gov. McDonnell said while announcing his selections for the panel. “I look forward to working with these reform-minded leaders to examine how Virginia can better serve the taxpayers.”
In addition to Del. Brink and Sen. Whipple, several top government reform thinkers who live or work in Arlington were appointed to the commission.
One appointee, Bill Eggers, is a government reform expert, a global director for Deloitte Research and the brother of author Dave Eggers.
Maurice P. McTigue, a distinguished visiting scholar at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, and Geoffrey Segal, director of privatization and government reform at the Reason Foundation, were also named to the governor’s commission.
Commission members will hold their first meeting next month.
Arlington’s Del. Bob Brink (D) is hailing the passage of a bill that would create a pro-choice “Trust Women / Respect Choice” license plate option for Virginia drivers. The bill passed the Virginia House and the Senate over the weekend by votes of 64-30 and 22-15 respectively.
Brink, who introduced the original House version of the bill, called the vote “a victory both for reproductive rights and First Amendment principles.”
Brink says the bill will allow the state to “give equal treatment to the pro-choice position,” given last year’s creation of a “Choose Life” license plate.
The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), who has said he doesn’t support Planned Parenthood, the organization that would receive revenue from the sale of the plates.
Almost missed this one. While we were in the midst of yesterday’s blizzard, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill that would ban the forced implantation of microchips in people.
RFID chips are already being implanted in humans voluntarily for use as portable health records. Some groups have objected to the use of implantable microchips due to privacy concerns. But some fundamentalist Christians — and at least two Virginia lawmakers – believe that the microchips may be used as the antichrist’s “mark of the beast,” from the Book of Revelations.
The House bill will ban companies from requiring their customers or employees to implant the chips. So far, there have been no reported cases of a forced microchip implantation, leading some to question the necessity of the bill.
Del. Robert H. Brink (D-Arlington) said on the House floor that he did not find many voters demanding microchip legislation when he was campaigning last fall: “I didn’t hear anything about the danger of asteroids striking the Earth, about the threat posed by giant alligators in our cities’ sewer systems or about the menace of forced implantation of microchips in human beings.”