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Arlington Well-Represented in New State Progressive Caucus

by ARLnow.com | February 25, 2011 at 10:02 am | 971 views | 55 Comments

The newly-minted Progressive Caucus of the Virginia General Assembly includes the entire Arlington delegation to the House of Delegates.

Dels. Bob Brink, Adam Ebbin, David Englin and Patrick Hope are all listed as members of the group.

“Progressive values are Virginia values,” Hope said in a press release announcing the caucus’ formation. “The Progressive Caucus serves to fight for the interests of the average citizen and to educate the public on Progressive issues.”

“While Virginia can be slow to change, we have to keep pace with the times when it comes to issues like stem cell research, global warming and society’s attitudes towards gays and lesbians,” said Ebbin. “As progressives, it is important that we stand together as we work to move Virginia forward.”

“It’s time for progressive legislators to organize and work together to advance the progressive values that we share, so we can keep our Commonwealth moving toward that day when every person – including the poor, the elderly, the week, the dispossessed – has a fair shake and an equal shot at the American dream,” Englin said.

Conspicuously absent from the group is Arlington’s state senator, Mary Margaret Whipple.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | February 24, 2011 at 6:00 am | 1,527 views | 51 Comments

Lee Highway McDonald’s Remains Closed – The McDonald’s at 4834 Lee Highway was still closed yesterday. An electrical fire broke out in the restaurant’s basement Saturday morning.

Arlington’s Most Accident-Prone Intersections — Following up on our Arlington’s Most Dangerous On-Ramps article, TBD has come out with a list of Arlington’s Most Dangerous Intersections, courtesy of data from the police department. The most dangerous intersection? Route 50 and Southbound Washington Boulevard, with 113 accidents. [TBD]

Brink Wins Passage of Inspector General Bill — An anti-fraud bill co-sponsored by Arlington Del. Bob Brink has won final approval in the Virginia legislature. The bill, HB 2076, will establish a statewide Office of Inspector General “to combat fraud, waste, abuse or corruption in state-funded agencies.” It must now be signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell. [Richmond Sunlight]

Cuccinelli Examines Fraud Case Against Donor — A man who gave $55,000 to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s 2009 campaign may be prosecuted by Cuccinelli for fraud. An investigation by Virginia’s consumer services department determined that the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, which has been accused of diverting money intended for veterans charities, solicited $2 million from Virginians under false pretenses. The head of the group, who donated to Cuccinelli’s campaign, is currently at large. Retiring state Sen. Patsy Ticer sponsored legislation intended to help the group last year, then urged Gov. Bob McDonnell to veto it after she read about the fraud allegations.  [Washington Post]

Courtesy photo

Arlington Tax Bill, Capitol Gun Ban on Life Support in Richmond

by ARLnow.com | January 31, 2011 at 2:07 pm | 826 views | 30 Comments

Arlington’s top legislative priority is on life support in Virginia’s House of Delegates.

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.

A bill from Del. Patrick Hope (D) that would have banned guns in Virginia’s Capitol building and the General Assembly Building has been passed by indefinitely.

Another bill from Hope, which would have dramatically raised the state tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products, has also failed.

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.

Brink Introduces Bills to Prevent Another Referendum Debacle

by ARLnow.com | January 19, 2011 at 8:46 am | 574 views | 22 Comments

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.”

Va. Legislature May Consider Tough Immigration Measures

by ARLnow.com | November 15, 2010 at 3:57 pm | 1,093 views | 31 Comments

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

Local Lawmakers and Thinkers Named to Va. Reform Panel

by ARLnow.com | May 11, 2010 at 8:00 am | 542 views | 2 Comments

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.

Del. Brink Hails Passage of Pro-Choice License Plate Bill

by ARLnow.com | March 15, 2010 at 12:21 pm | 429 views | No Comments

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.

Arlington Delegate Makes a Funny About Antichrist Bill

by ARLnow.com | February 11, 2010 at 5:55 pm | No Comments

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.

Arlington’s own Del. Bob Brink had the line of the day during the debate over the bill. From the Washington Post:

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.”

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