The lawmakers — Moran, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) — said the debt ceiling is “an unnecessary law increasingly used as an impediment to Congress’s ability to further economic recovery.” They will be discussing their bill, the Full Faith and Credit Act of 2011, at a press conference on Capitol Hill tomorrow morning.
In August, Moran voted against a compromise budget bill and decried the use of the debt ceiling as a lever that Republicans used to force it through Congress.
“The debt ceiling has been raised cleanly 39 times over the last 30 years, 18 times by President Reagan alone. But for the first time ever, a deal has had to be negotiated to raise the debt ceiling and prevent a default,” Moran said at the time. “Unfortunately, the proposal we are being asked to vote on would be bad for our country. It should be rejected, and President Obama should take matters into his own hands by invoking the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling.”
Political handicappers say it’s highly unlikely that Moran’s debt ceiling bill will pass the Republican-controlled House.
The bill will create a “Voluntary Solar Resource Development Fund,” which will distribute affordable loans to help power customers install solar panels and solar water heaters at their homes or businesses. The fund will receive funding from voluntary contributions and grants. Utilities will be required to promote the funds and let customers opt-in for monthly contributions.
“Virginia has some of the highest solar energy potential in the region, but we’re being outpaced by our neighbors like Maryland, which has only two-thirds our population but thirteen times the number of homes powered by solar energy,” Ebbin said. “We all recognize the need to increase the use of renewable energy resources and my legislation will make the environmental choice a more affordable choice for Virginians.”
The bill received support from both utility companies and environmental groups.
Rep. Jim Moran has inserted an amendment into an agricultural funding bill that will continue to ban federal inspections of horse meat. The ban effectively prevents the slaughter of horse meat for interstate or foreign export.
Moran’s office has issued the following press release about the amendment.
Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat, successfully included an amendment to the Fiscal Year ’12 Agricultural Appropriations Act to eliminate funding for USDA inspection of horsemeat. By defunding federal inspections, the amendment will prevent the cruel practice of horse slaughter in the United States.
“Industrial slaughter of horses should not be condoned by the United States Government,” said Rep. Moran. “We have to put an end once and for all to this practice. These animals are a proud symbol of the American West, treasured by all for their beauty and majesty. They deserve to be cared for, not killed for foreign consumption.”
Identical language was overwhelmingly approved in 2006 and has been included in the Agricultural Appropriations bill every year when introduced in subcommittee. This year the language had been stripped out and the Moran amendment sought to reinstate it.
A ban on USDA inspections halts the issuance of certifications for horsemeat exports, which has stopped operations at horse slaughter facilities and prevented new facilities from opening. In addition to improving U.S. animal welfare, the Moran amendment will reduce federal spending by $5 million each year. The FY’12 Appropriations Act now heads to the floor for a full vote by the House of Representatives.
The amendment has received the support of the Animal Welfare Institute and the Humane Society of the United States.
“Adding millions of dollars to the federal budget to inspect foreign-owned horse slaughter plants would have been a step backwards for America’s iconic horses and a waste of tax dollars,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “We are grateful to Congressman Jim Moran for leading the charge to restore this critical horse protection provision, and to the House Appropriations Committee for reining in this multi-million-dollar subsidy that would paved the way for the needless killing of American horses for foreign gourmands.”
Pike Realignment in County Legislative Priorities — The county’s wish-list of federal legislative priorities includes a land exchange with the federal government to allow Columbia Pike to be shifted closer to Pentagon City as it approaches South Joyce Street, which would in turn allow the county to build an Arlington “heritage center.” Also on the list: the Potomac River boathouse and a plastic bag tax, plus provisions against helicopter noise and additional flights at Reagan National Airport. [Sun Gazette]
Moran Truth in Fur Labeling Law Takes Effect — A bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Moran (D) and signed into law in December goes into effect today. The law, the Truth in Fur Labeling Act, closes a loophole that allowed products with less than $150 worth of fur to avoid being labeled as a fur product. “This loophole has been exploited to pawn off dog, cat, and other animal fur as an artificial fiber,” Moran said in a statement yesterday. [Federal Trade Commission]
Green Living Expo Takes Place Saturday — The group Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment is hosting its second-annual Green Living Expo on Saturday at Washington Lee High School. The expo will feature eco-friendly products on display, seminars, a raffle, and activities for kids. DISCLOSURE: The Green Living Expo is an ARLnow.com advertiser. [Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment]
Illegal Immigrant Bills Killed in State Senate — Most of the bills that immigrant advocates spoke out against at a rally last week have suffered a quiet death in a state Senate subcommittee. The bills would have prevented illegal immigrants from attending public universities in Virginia and would have required citizenship checks for anyone arrested by police. [Washington Examiner]
Cyclist Gets Doored on Clarendon Boulevard — It’s a non-uncommon tale of woe from the cycling world. A bicyclist was riding in the bike lane on Clarendon Blvd when a parked motorist suddenly opened his door. A collision ensues. Police and medics are called. The next day, however, the injured bicyclist wasn’t able to get the driver’s insurance information from police. While this raises police procedure questions, there is also the larger question: Is there a way for drivers and bicyclists to share the road without injuring or cursing at each other? [TBD, Patch]
More: Native Foods Cafe Coming to Shirlington — This Craigslist ad seems to make it official. California-based vegan restaurant chain Native Foods Cafe will be opening their first East Coast location in Shirlington. Earlier, we reported that a restaurant that at least shared the same name was planning to open in the old Bear Rock Cafe space. [Shirlington Village Blog, Shirlington Village Blogspot]
Charlie Davies Signs with D.C. United — Soccer phenom Charlie Davies will be playing for D.C. United this season, on loan from the French club FC Sochaux. Davies is still trying to get up to full-speed after suffering serious injuries in crash on the GW Parkway in October 2009. The crash, which killed one female passenger, happened on the Arlington section of the GW Parkway, just past Memorial Bridge. [Washington Post, FanHouse]
Flickr pool photo by Philliefan99
Happy Valentine’s Day — To celebrate, Caribou Coffee is offering a buy one, get one free coupon. [Shirlington Village Blogspot]
Fairfax Supervisor Slams Arlington on HOT Lanes — The animus for Arlington continues over at the Washington Post. In an opinion piece published online, Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity says the Arlington County Board has “thumbed their noses at every motorist sitting in traffic on our region’s congested highways” by using “gutter-style tactics” to block HOT lanes and other projects. A pro-Arlington Letter to the Editor, however, says that “The Post needs to stop blaming Arlington County for congestion on I-395.”
Library Changes This Week — Arlington Public Libraries are transitioning to a new catalog system this week. As a result, a number of library programs and resources won’t be available for the next several days. [Library Blog]
House Bill Could Cost Arlington Schools $700K — The budget bill passed by the House of Delegates calls for steep cuts to education. Arlington would lose $681,534 under the bill. Fairfax County would fare worse, losing some $5.9 million. The state Senate’s budget bill, however, does not contain such cuts. [Washington Examiner]
Arlington Approves Pike Affordable Housing Project — The Arlington County Board approved a plan to build a 121-unit affordable housing complex near the western end of Columbia Pike. The apartments will be located next to the currently under-construction Arlington Mill Community Center. [Pike Wire]
Flickr pool photo by Michael T. Ruhl
The bill in the House of Delegates, HB 2191, was sponsored by Arlington’s Del. Adam Ebbin (D). It passed on Monday.
The bill in the state Senate, SB 975, was sponsored by Arlington’s Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D). It passed on Friday.
The bills would create the Voluntary Solar Resource Development Fund, which will distribute loans to help power customers install solar panels and solar water heaters at their homes or businesses. The fund will receive funding from voluntary contributions and grants. Utilities will be required to promote the funds and let customers opt-in for monthly contributions.
“Virginia has some of the highest solar energy potential in the region, but we’re being outpaced by our neighbors like Maryland, which has only two-thirds our population but thirteen times the number of homes powered by solar energy,” Ebbin said in a statement. “This fund will ensure that more Virginians have the opportunity to power their homes with cheap, clean, renewable energy and help our companies stay competitive in the growing market for solar energy.”
Ebbin said Dominion and Appalachian Power, along with the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations, helped to support the bill.
Del. Adam Ebbin (D), who represents part of Arlington in the House of Delegates, introduced legislation this afternoon that would curtail the state attorney general’s ability to file civil actions “without the request or authorization of the Governor or General Assembly.”
Ebbin created the bill in the wake of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s lawsuit challenging the Constitutionality of last year’s sweeping federal health care reform act.
“Instead of focusing on enforcing consumer protection laws and making sure Virginia is the safest state in the country to raise a family, the Attorney General is devoting taxpayer dollars and scarce government resources to pursue symbolic lawsuits and other civil actions that serve only to promote his own agenda and political career,” Ebbin said in support of his bill, which is largely symbolic and stands little chance of passing in this year’s General Assembly session.
“Ken Cuccinelli has abandoned the tradition of good and responsible government set by his predecessors, and instead used his position as a platform to unilaterally pursue political-motivated ends,” Ebbin said in a statement. “This bill sends a clear message from the people of Virginia: not in our name, and not with our money.”
The bill would also prevents the Attorney General from representing the state in matters before the federal government or filing Amicus briefs without the authorization of the governor or the General Assembly.
See the press release issued by Ebbin’s office today, after the jump.
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.”
Bill Would Increase Handicap Parking Fine — Del. David Englin (D) — a prolific proposer of legislation — has introduced a bill that would increase the maximum fine for illegally parking in a handicapped parking space from $500 to $750. The minimum fine would remain $100. [Sun Gazette]
Blog Conducts Cupcake Taste Test — Which has the better cupcake, the new Crumbs Bake Shop (2839 Clarendon Blvd) or Bakeshop (1025 N Fillmore St)? A local blog conducted a taste test and produced an exhaustive a 1,100+ word comparison. [Clarendon Culture]
Public Library to Hold “Cello-bration” — Cellist David Rabin will perform at the Columbia Pike Branch Library (816 S Walter Reed Drive) at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. The event, which is billed as fun for all ages, will feature the music of January birthday boys Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Jan. 27) and Franz Schubert (Jan. 31). [Arlington Public Library Blog]
Flickr pool photo by Jason OX4
Students are reporting more incidents of bullying at Arlington’s public schools, according to the 2010 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which is expected to be officially released later this month.
According to the survey, which was summarized at a school board meeting last week, 22 percent of students surveyed said they have been a victim of bullying, compared to 19 percent in 2007 and 22 percent in 2004.
Twenty-seven percent of 6th graders say they’ve been bullied, compared to 22 percent in 2007 and 33 percent in 2004. Twelve percent of 6th graders said they were the victim of cyberbullying in the past year.
Bullying is most prevalent in 8th grade, with 28 percent of students saying they’ve been bullied.
Bullying becomes less common past middle school, the survey found. Twenty-one percent of 10th graders and 14 percent of 12th graders reported being bullied.
Among 6th graders, 27 percent reported having possessions stolen or damaged at school, 7 percent reported missing school because it “felt unsafe,” and 35 percent reported being involved in a fight. The results were all above 2007 levels, but below 2004 levels.
The Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families, which conducts the survey, concluded that more intervention is necessary to fight bullying, especially in 6th and 8th grade.
Among all grade levels surveyed, more students than ever said they believed that adults would help with their bullying problem. Seventy-six percent of 6th graders, 67 percent of 8th graders, 65 percent of 10th graders and 72 percent of 12th graders agreed with the statement “if I tell an adult about bullying, they will try to help.”
Last week two state legislators who represent parts of Arlington introduced bills to make bullying a crime in Virginia and to better equip public schools to protect bullying victims.
The Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families declined a request from ARLnow.com to release the full results of the survey before the group briefs the Arlington County Board on Jan. 26.
Flickr pool photo (top) by Chris Rief
(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) Del. Patrick Hope (D), who represents part of Arlington in the Virginia House of Delegates, announced that he will introduce legislation today that would ban firearms in Virginia’s Capitol building and the General Assembly Building.
“The tragedy this weekend in Tucson should cause all public officials to re-examine the safety and security of themselves, their staff, and visitors,” Hope said in a statement. “Every day we put our personal lives, the lives of our staff, and the lives of the general public at risk by allowing firearms in the GAB and the Capitol.”
Hope said criticism of his bill is misguided.
“There’s nothing offensive or unconstitutional about asking individuals not to bring firearms into the GAB or the Capitol,” he said. “You can’t walk through an airport with a gun, you can’t enter the US Capitol or Federal Courthouses with a gun. Why should the Virginia Capitol and the GAB be any different?”
In 2006, a lawmaker accidentally fired his gun in the General Assembly Building. The bullet struck a bulletproof vest that was hanging in a closet and no one was hurt, save a small cut on the lawmaker’s hand.
Anyone with a concealed weapon permit is allowed to carry a gun in the Capitol and General Assembly Buildings.
Ebbin introduced the bill to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2009 and 2010, each time unsuccessful. He’s hoping for a different result in the upcoming 2011 legislative session.
If enacted into law, the bag fee would protect the environment, Ebbin said. Locally, he added, it would help make waterways like Four Mile Run cleaner.
When polled earlier this week, 52 percent of ARLnow.com readers supported a bag fee or ban.
Here’s the legislative summary of Ebbin’s 2010 bill, the Virginia Waterways Clean Up and Consumer Choice Act.
Paper and plastic bag fee. Imposes a fee of $0.05 on paper and plastic bags used by purchasers to carry tangible personal property from the place of purchase. Durable, reusable plastic bags and bags used for ice cream, meat, fish, poultry, leftover restaurant food, newspapers, dry cleaning and prescription drugs are exempt from the fee. Retailers are allowed to retain $0.01 of the $0.05 fee or $0.02 if the retailer has a customer bag credit program. The revenues raised by the fee will be deposited in the Virginia Water Quality Improvement Fund. Failure to collect and remit the fee will result in fines of $250, $500, and $1,000 for the first, second, third and thereafter offenses.
Update: The bill has narrowly passed the House Transportation Committee. The Virginia Bicycling Federation is calling on supporters to call their local delegate in advance of an upcoming vote before the full House.
A bill that would increase the minimum distance drivers must maintain when passing bicyclists is being considered in Richmond Richmond. The bill, HB 1048, would increase the minimum passing distance in Virginia from two feet to three feet. The bill would also prohibit drivers from following bicyclists too closely.
According to the Virginia Bicycling Federation, the bill will be considered by a state House Transportation subcommittee Wednesday morning. If it passes, it will likely be considered by the full Transportation Committee on Thursday.
The state Senate unanimously passed an identical bill, SB 566, last week.