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Democrats, GOP Select 48th District Candidates

by Ethan Rothstein | July 7, 2014 at 10:20 am | 1,185 views | No Comments

Rip Sullivan (photo via Facebook)Richard “Rip” Sullivan was selected as the Democratic nominee to replace Del. Bob Brink (D-48) during an instant runoff primary election on Sunday.

Seven candidates were on the ballot for the hastily-scheduled ”firehouse” primary. Sullivan was listed as voters’ first choice for the 48th District seat on 905 of the 2,126 ballots cast on Sunday at two locations: Yorktown and McLean High Schools. Voters were asked to rank their preference of candidate and, during the instant runoff process, the candidates with the lowest number of votes were eliminated one-by-one — and their votes reassigned — until one candidate received a majority of votes.

In the fifth round of ballot counts, Sullivan secured the nomination with 1,111 votes, ahead of Paul Holland’s 523 and Andrew Schneider’s 444 votes. In the first ballots cast, David Boling received 209 votes, Atima Omara-Alwala received 159, Yasmine Taeb received 77 and Jackie Wilson received 58.

Brink officially retired from the House of Delegates on June 30 to become Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services. Brink had served as delegate for 17 years, and most recently was re-elected last fall after running unopposed. House of Delegates Speaker William Howell announced the special election would be held Aug. 19, making the election filing deadline today at 5:00 p.m.

“Speaker Howell threw all he had at us, but Arlington and Fairfax Democrats demonstrated their firm commitment to the democratic process, which is why turnout far exceeded expectations,” Sullivan said in a press release. “Republicans in the House of Delegates continue to refuse to expand health care to hundreds of thousands of Virginias, refuse to accept the reality behind climate science, and continue impose limits on women’s reproductive health. These are not my values, and these are not the values of the 48th district.”

Dave Foster (photo via Foster for Delegate)Sullivan, a Fairfax County resident, will be joined on the ballot by former Arlington School Board Chairman Dave Foster, who was announced as the 48th District Republicans’ nominee hours before the Democratic caucus’ votes were counted. Before Sunday afternoon, no Republican had publicly expressed interest in running for the open seat in the Democrat-heavy district.

Foster, an Arlington native who has also served as the President of the Virginia Board of Education, said if elected he plans to introduce legislation to bring a referendum on the Columbia Pike streetcar to the General Assembly, calling the streetcar “impractical and unaffordable.”

“Roads and Metro, schools, and tax relief are far more important to Northern Virginians than a half-billion dollar trolley,” Foster said in a press release. He added he would fight for more local control over school decisions. “I know from leading both the Arlington School Board and the state board how critical adequate funding and local decision making are to our schools.”

Sullivan and Foster are both attorneys: Sullivan is a partner at Reed Smith and Foster is a partner at the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski.

Photo (top) via Facebook. Photo (bottom) via Foster for Delegate

Del. Bob Brink Retiring to Join McAuliffe Administration

by ARLnow.com | June 27, 2014 at 2:35 pm | 1,183 views | No Comments

Del. Bob Brink (D-48)(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) Del. Bob Brink (D-48), who for the past 17 years has represented Arlington in the Virginia House of Delegates, announced his retirement today.

Brink will retire as of June 30. His 48th District includes Crystal City and parts of north Arlington and McLean.

Brink said in a statement that being able to serve in the Virginia legislature, which counts founding fathers Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Patrick Henry among its former members, made him feel like “the luckiest guy on earth.”

It is “very likely” that Brink will be replaced in a special election in August, according to Arlington County General Registrar Linda Lindberg. The final order will come from the speaker of the House of Delegates.

Brink was reelected to a new two-year term this past November. He ran unopposed. He is leaving the legislature after accepting a position as Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services, Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office announced this afternoon.

Brink’s office issued the following press release this afternoon.

Delegate Bob Brink (D-Arlington/McLean), who has represented the 48th District in the Virginia House of Delegates for the past 17 years, announced Friday that he will retire from the House effective June 30.

“I’ve been honored beyond words to serve my fellow citizens as a member of the House,” Delegate Brink said. “But, ‘To every thing there is a season.’ It’s time for a new person to have this privilege, and it’s time for me to move on to new challenges.”

First elected in 1997, Delegate Brink is 13th in seniority in the 100-member House. He is the Dean of Arlington’s General Assembly delegation.

The 48th District includes north Arlington, Crystal City, and part of McLean in Fairfax County.

A member of the House Appropriations Committee and its Health Subcommittee, Delegate Brink cited as some of his proudest achievements in office his work on the FAMIS program which provides health coverage to children of the working poor, as well as efforts to maintain the health care safety net of services to vulnerable Virginians. The ranking Democrat on the House Privileges and Elections Committee, he has advocated for reform of the redistricting process and expansion of access to the vote for all eligible citizens. He also serves on the Education and Transportation Committees as well as on numerous legislative study commissions.

Delegate Brink has received recognition from a variety of groups for his service in the General Assembly. In 2013 the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia presented its Commonwealth Award to him for his efforts on behalf of blind and vision-impaired students. The Virginia League of Conservation Voters has consistently commended him for his legislative record on environmental issues. He headed the Virginia YMCA’s Model General Assembly Program board for a number of years and received the YMCA’s Service to Youth Award in 2001. He is a board member and former chair of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and also serves on the board of the Federation of State Humanities Councils.

Delegate Brink concluded, “On a personal note: A few weeks before I was sworn into office in 1998, I was in Richmond for freshman orientation. One night I took a walk around the Capitol and I stopped outside the House chamber. The curtains were open and the lights were on, and for the first time I saw the vote board with my name on it.

“I’ve looked up at that board thousands of times since that night. Some days it seemed like the only vote where I was in the majority was the quorum call. But every day, the knowledge that I’m one of a handful of Virginians whose numbers include Jefferson, Madison, and Patrick Henry made me think that I must be the luckiest guy on earth.”

Fellow Arlington delegate Alfonso Lopez issued the following statement about Brink’s retirement.

Delegate Brink has lead an extraordinary career in public service. Having served our community for over sixteen years in the House of Delegates, he has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience that has helped him fight for Arlington’s values and priorities in Richmond. As a friend, mentor, and leader in the Arlington delegation, Delegate Brink’s presence in the General Assembly will be sorely missed.

State Sen. Adam Ebbin also released a statement about Brink’s retirement.

For 17 years Delegate Bob Brink has brought Arlington’s values to Richmond in an outspoken, yet gentlemanly, way.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Bob has played a key role in the financial stewardship of the Commonwealth. He was an early and effective advocate of Virginia’s Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP). He is responsible for easing enrollment, expanding outreach and the increased enrollment of underprivileged Virginia children in insurance, improving health outcomes. Thousands of blind and visually impaired children have benefited from Delegate Brink’s work securing funds for specialized teaching assistance.

On a personal level, Bob has been a great friend and taught me a lot about being a legislator.

Though the people of Virginia will benefit from his services as he assumes the position of Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services in the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services, he will certainly be missed in the General Assembly.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | June 13, 2014 at 9:00 am | 904 views | No Comments

Plane above the runway at DCA, Reagan National Airport (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Another Flash Flood Watch — It’s Friday the 13th and Arlington is under another Flash Flood Watch today. The watch is in effect from noon through 10:00 p.m. Forecasters say an approaching cold front will spawn scattered showers and thunderstorms, some of which will be strong and result in very heavy rain. [National Weather Service]

Library to Launch Tool Lending – Arlington residents will soon be able to use their library cards to borrow garden tools from Arlington Central Library. The library is currently looking for volunteers to run and maintain its new “tool library,” which was established after being set as a priority by the county’s Urban Agriculture Task Force last year. [Arlington Public Library]

Va. Lawmakers Pass Budget After Impasse — Republicans in the Virginia Senate passed a budget Thursday night that thwarts an expansion of Medicaid, which had been sought by Democrats. Republicans were able to pass the budget after a Democratic lawmaker resigned and shifted the balance of power in the Senate to the GOP. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

‘KidicalMass’ Bike Ride Sunday — For Father’s Day, a group of parents and their kids will be taking part in a “KidicalMass” bike ride from Hayes Park to Larry’s Homemade Ice Cream in Clarendon Sunday evening. [Blogspot]

Blues Fest Road Closures — The annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival will be held Saturday and several road closures, including the closure of Walter Reed Drive north of Columbia Pike, are planned as a result. The road closures will be in effect from about 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | March 12, 2014 at 9:05 am | 1,650 views | No Comments

"Walking Mann" (Flickr pool photo by Christaki)

County Relies on Tips for Snow Violations — All recent snow-removal ordinance violation notices sent out by Arlington County were sent as the result of tips from residents, not a proactive enforcement effort. [Sun Gazette]

Sewage Spill in Spout Run — Arlington residents and their pets are advised to avoid Spout Run south of Lee Highway for the next day or so due to a “minor sewage spill.” [Arlington Alert]

Yorktown Senior Is Top B-Ball Prospect — Yorktown High School senior Mikayla Venson is one of the top-ranked girls’ basketball players in Virginia. However, due to injuries she hasn’t played for the Patriots since 2011. She will be attending the University of Virginia in the fall. [Yahoo! Sports]

Historic Fraber House’s New Owners — Last year, a large oak tree fell on the Fraber House in Cherrydale, just days before the county-owned home was set to receive a local historic designation. Nonetheless, the county was able to fix up the 1913 home and sell it to a local couple. The pair, Charu and Colin McDermott, work in the building trades and are thus well-suited to help maintain the historic home. [Preservation Arlington]

Lawmakers Honor Arlington Notables – The Virginia General Assembly has passed resolutions honoring a number of notable Arlington residents and institutions. [Sun Gazette]

Flickr pool photo by Christaki

Mental Health Law Passes State Senate

by Ethan Rothstein | February 11, 2014 at 11:45 am | 810 views | No Comments

Virginia Capitol (photo courtesy Del. Bob Brink)(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) In a bipartisan effort, the Virginia Senate passed sweeping mental health reform yesterday.

The bill, SB 260, establishes a psychiatric bed registry, extends the maximum duration of temporary custody from four to 24 hours and establishes and “clarifies procedures for placement of those subject to an involuntary temporary detention order,” according to a Senate Democrats press release.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath County), who police say was stabbed by his son, Austin, in the face and chest before Austin Deeds shot himself in November. Austin Deeds had undergone a psychiatric evaluation but was not admitted to a hospital because no bed was available.

Sen. Barbara Favola (D) was a co-patron of the bill, and announced its 38-0 passage Monday with a press release, below:

Senate Bill 260, of which Senator Favola is a co-patron, has passed the Senate today, providing a safety net for individuals suffering from mental illnesses. When an individual is evaluated under an emergency protection order and a determination is made that a temporary detention order (TDO) is needed, the bill ensures that a psychiatric bed will be available.

The bill will protect Virginia residents from the potential threats associated with mental health patients by providing sufficient time to determine the degree to which they are a threat to themselves and to others. The psychiatric bed registry will benefit these patients by guaranteeing them secure facilities in which they can be detained and will facilitate efficiency in law enforcement and crisis response services.

Furthermore, the liberty given to local community services boards to determine alternative facilities for such patients will also ensure their personalized, and therefore improved, treatment. This is filling an important hole in the mental health safety net.

Senator Favola said “Ensuring the availability of a psychiatric bed is crucial to providing much needed care.”

Under the current system, if a bed is not available a judge will not issue a TDO even if the individual needs a more comprehensive evaluation and a treatment plan.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | February 4, 2014 at 8:30 am | 764 views | No Comments

Workers affix signage to the door of the soon-to-open Heavy Seas Alehouse in Rosslyn

Resolution Honors Arlington’s First Female Judge — The Virginia House of Delegates has passed a resolution honoring Eleanor Spence Dobson, Arlington’s first female judge. Dobson served in the General District Court from 1982 to 1997. She passed away on September 18, 2013. The resolution honoring Dobson was sponsored by Del. Patrick Hope (D). Another Hope-sponsored resolution, honoring the late Arlington civic activist Robert Atkins, is scheduled to come to the House floor on Friday. [Sun Gazette]

Chick-fil-A ‘Date Knight’ Returns — Missed your chance to go on a medieval-themed fast food date with your mom last year? Good news: Chick-fil-A is once again holding its Mother-Son Date Knight at Ballston Common Mall (4238 Wilson Blvd). The food court eatery is one of the participating Chick-fil-A locations nationwide that are hosting the whimsical event. As of last night there were still a dozen reservations available for the event, which is being held the evening of Monday, Feb. 10. The Crystal City Chick-fil-A location has already sold out of its Date Knight reservations. [Chick-fil-A]

Starr Hill Brewing Tasting Tonight — Virginia brewery Starr Hill will be holding a complimentary tasting tonight. The event is scheduled from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Copperwood Tavern (4021 Campbell Ave). Reservations are required. [Shirlington Village Blog Spot]

Ebbin’s Paper Check Tax Refund Bill Advancing Through GA

by Ethan Rothstein | January 28, 2014 at 11:30 am | 582 views | No Comments

State Sen. Adam EbbinA bill restoring Virginians’ ability to receive their tax refunds in paper check form could be on its way to pass the General Assembly this session.

The legislation, introduced by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30), passed the state Senate Jan. 20 by a unanimous 38-0 vote — the Senate is missing two votes until new Lt. Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General’s Mark Herring’s seats are filled via special election — and is waiting to be considered by the House of Delegates Finance Committee.

As of January 2013, the state started only doling out tax rebates via direct deposit or a debit card, which comes with associated costs, like ATM and transaction fees. The Senate Finance Committee voted to abolish the debit card option altogether if the bill is signed into law.

“Taxpayers deserve the convenience of receiving their refunds in the form they prefer,” Ebbin said in a press release after the bill passed the Senate. “By contrast, the debit card system was fraught with fees and was not consumer-friendly. Taxpayers were even charged for withdrawing funds from an in-network ATM. I’m glad the Senate recognizes the need for reform.”

The bill states that, if the taxpayer doesn’t indicate which payment method he prefers between direct deposit and a mailed check, a check will be mailed to the provided address. If the bill passes, it would go into effect for taxes collected this year, meaning taxes filed by April 15, 2015.

File photo

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | January 24, 2014 at 9:30 am | 616 views | No Comments

Large snow pile in the parking lot for Virginia Highlands Park

Williamsburg Zumba Studio Featured on ‘GMA’ — FITLoose Health and Fitness in the Williamsburg neighborhood was featured on ABC’s Good Morning America. The segment highlighted the studio’s Zumbini classes — a variation of Zumba for children 0-3 years old and their parents. [Yahoo! News]

Hybrid Tax Repeal Passes — Legislation to repeal Virginia’s $64 annual tax on hybrid vehicles has passed both houses of the General Assembly. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) says he will sign the bill, which was introduced in the state Senate by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D). [Virginian-Pilot]

Herring Announces Run for Moran’s Seat — Virginia Democratic Party Chair Charneile Herring is stepping down to run for the Congressional seat of the retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D). Herring, who has represented Alexandria in the House of Delegates, is considered a party  ”rising star,” and was Virginia’s first African-American Democratic party chair. [NBC Washington]

Arlington’s Shopping Scene Profiled — “Shopping in Arlington is always a bit of an adventure,” writes the Washington Post’s Jura Koncius. “As you dodge auto body shops, towering corporate headquarters, tanning parlors and trendy eateries, you’ll discover stores that stock just about everything you need for your home. But you might find yourself lost in the process. Hop over a bridge from the city and you’ll roll through slick shopping centers punctuated by shops nestled in funky farmhouses that represent the disappearing Arlington of old.” [Washington Post]

Eads Street Was a Former Canal — Crystal City residents might not realize it, but most of S. Eads Street, a main thoroughfare, used to be a canal. The street was built above the old Alexandria Canal, which connected Alexandria to Georgetown by way of an aqueduct bridge.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | January 22, 2014 at 9:00 am | 1,382 views | No Comments

Snowy Iwo Jima Memorial (Photo courtesy @carmstrong07)

‘Trolley Pub’ Bill Fails in Richmond — A bill that would have allowed patrons of Arlington’s Trolley Pub to drink alcohol while on board has been passed over indefinitely in the House of Delegates. Del. Patrick Hope (D-47), who introduced the bill, said there were “too many significant issues” around the bill. [Patch]

Middle School PTA Peeved at Bus Inequality – The Thomas Jefferson Middle School PTA is upset that North Arlington schools appear to be getting preferential treatment when it comes to bus service for students inside the standard 1.5 mile perimeter for secondary schools. The PTA president says S. Glebe Road is dangerous for middle school students to cross and the school system should provide bus service for students who have to cross it. [Sun Gazette]

Settlement to Fund Surveillance Cameras — Arlington will use $55,000 from a federal settlement to fund the purchase of portable digital video surveillance cameras. The cameras will be used “to enhance security at large scale events.” The funds from from the $1.5 billion federal settlement with Abbott Laboratories Inc. in 2012 over unlawful promotion of a prescription drug. [Arlington County]

Freedom Rider Shares Memories — “Freedom Rider” and Arlington resident Joan Trumpauer Mulholland spoke earlier this month about her experience in trying to promote civil rights and racial integration in the deep South in the early 1960s. Mulholland was also the keynote speaker at Arlington’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration on Sunday. [Falls Church News-Press]

Man Survives Key Bridge Plunge in 1929 — A quirky bit of local history: In September 1929 a drunk 26-year-old man fell off the side of the Key Bridge, landing on his side in the water 120 feet below. Miraculously, he was rescued by a police officer and a boat club employee and “appeared none the worse for his experience.” But alas, it wasn’t a completely happy ending: five weeks later the stock market crashed, leading to the Great Depression. [Ghosts of DC]

Photo courtesy @carmstrong07

Proposed Bill Would Allow Drinking on Trolley Pub

by Ethan Rothstein | January 14, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 2,217 views | No Comments

Trolley Pub (photo via Trolley Pub Facebook page)

Proposed legislation in the Virginia General Assembly would allow patrons of Arlington’s Trolley Pub to drink alcohol while on board.

Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) has introduced House Bill 423, which would allow passengers on vehicles with a common carrier — which would include limousines and motor coaches, in addition to the Trolley Pub — to consume alcohol.

The Trolley Pub in Arlington launched last year but has been unable to serve passengers alcoholic beverages, as it does in its original market of Raleigh, N.C. Instead, it stops at bars and restaurants in Clarendon and lets passengers debark to drink.

The Sun Gazette, which first reported on the bill, suggested that Hope’s legislation might not sit well with Arlington County Board members.

“Board members last year blasted the entire concept of the trolley pub, and only calmed down (slightly) when they learned that those using it could not consume alcohol,” the newspaper reported. “But they have remained upset about the human-powered trolley’s impact on traffic in one of Arlington’s most congested areas.”

The Trolley Pub debuted in Arlington in March, and at the time owner Kai Kaapro said he believed the business was “perfectly legal.” That was backed up by a preliminary police review. A ruling in April by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, however, later determined no alcohol could be served on board.

Drinking in a vehicle in Virginia is currently only legal on chartered boats. The bill was assigned to the General Laws committee and is now in subcommittee, according to the General Assembly’s website.

Photo via Facebook

Delegate Wants to Nix Dog Death Penalty for Chicken Attacks

by Ethan Rothstein | January 9, 2014 at 11:45 am | 624 views | No Comments

Chicken (file photo)The Virginia law that allows dogs to be shot for attacking chickens could be changed thanks to legislation proposed in the General Assembly.

Del. Jennifer McClellan, a Democrat representing Richmond, says she will introduce a bill that would change the law, intended for chicken farms, for urban chickens, according to Style Weekly. Richmond legalized keeping up to four backyard hens in residential areas last April.

“I think we can agree if we’re in a densely populated urban area that it’s not a good idea to have people killing each other’s pets,” McClellan told the Richmond population. She also said that in areas where “chickens are a luxury, not a livelihood, it isn’t clear that a hen’s right to life trumps that of a hungry dog’s.”

Virginia law section § 3.2-6552 allows for citizens to kill any dog caught in the act of killing or injuring poultry. After the fact, Virginia courts have the power to order animal control officers to kill any dog found to be a “confirmed poultry killer.” McClellan’s bill would allow localities to enact ordinances overruling that provision.

There’s a competing law that may also be introduced strengthening chicken protections, which would remove the cap on the amount of money a chicken owner can recoup if its chicken is killed by a dog. The cap is currently set at $10.

The Arlington County Board has been mulling whether to allow backyard hens in denser urban areas for the better part of a year. In November, County Manager Barbara Donnellan recommended against taking action to allow more hens in the county. A plurality of Arlington’s Urban Agriculture Task Force recommended hens be allowed in larger backyards, one of 27 recommendations the task force made in a presentation in June.

File photo

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | January 9, 2014 at 9:20 am | 1,202 views | No Comments

Ice on the Potomac (Flickr photo by J. Sonder)

Streetcar Support Remains High in Fairfax County — The McLean edition of the Sun Gazette newspaper reports that Fairfax County officials are not nearly as divided over the Columbia Pike streetcar project as their Arlington counterparts. “While some Republicans on [the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors] have expressed concerns, support among Fairfax officials remains high,” the paper reported. “And with good reason: Fairfax will be responsible for only about 20 percent of the local cost of the project, but plans to use the streetcar’s arrival to spur the redevelopment of Baileys Crossroads.” [Sun Gazette]

Dominion Reports Record Power Demand — Dominion Virginia Power met record demand for electricity during Tuesday’s frigid temperatures. Use of heaters during this week’s “polar vortex” helped push energy demand to 19,730 megawatts during the day on Tuesday. That’s well above the previous peak winter demand record of 18,079 megawatts, set in February 2007, but below the company’s summertime record of 20,061 megawatts, set in July 2011. [Dominion]

Malinosky Elected ACDC Chair — Kip Malinosky, a middle school civics teacher and well-respected Democratic organizer, was elected chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee last night. Malinosky, who succeeds outgoing chair Mike Lieberman, told the Democratic faithful that the local party will remain united despite contested primaries for County Board and School Board. “We’re all in this together,” he said. “When the caucus is over, we will rally behind our candidates.”

Bill Would Outlaw Sex Acts Among Minors — A new bill proposed in the Virginia General Assembly would make oral sex and other “consensual sodomy” legal for adults but illegal for minors. The bills was proposed several months after courts struck down Virginia’s “crimes against nature” law. [Think Progress]

Delegate Wants More I-66 Lanes Inside the Beltway — Del. Jim LeMunyon, a Republican representing part of Fairfax County, has introduced legislation requiring the state to plan a project that would “increase the lane capacity on Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway to include at least two-non-high-occupancy vehicle lanes in each direction.” That idea, suggests reporter Michael Neibauer, will likely not sit well here in Arlington. “Arlington officials would probably chain themselves to highway signs before letting it happen,” he wrote. [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by J. Sonder

Peter’s Take: Support Medicaid Expansion in Virginia

by Peter Rousselot | January 2, 2014 at 2:15 pm | 389 views | No Comments

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter RousselotOne of the most important issues to come before the Virginia Legislature in its 2014 session is whether to expand Medicaid. There will be an enormous financial impact regardless of whether Virginia expands Medicaid or not.

Fairfax County has prepared a helpful three-page white paper summarizing the issues at stake. You can access that white paper here.

I support Medicaid expansion, as does our Arlington legislative delegation. I am particularly hopeful that a bipartisan coalition of Republicans and Democrats in the Virginia House of Delegates can form to work with Governor-elect McAuliffe to expand Medicaid.

As a practical matter, it’s very hard to see a bill that can pass both branches of the legislature and be signed by the Governor if the only test every politician applies is: “I will automatically oppose Medicaid expansion if I opposed the Affordable Care Act,” or “I will automatically support expansion if I supported the ACA.” Instead, the most constructive way for our legislators and our governor to approach Medicaid expansion is: “regardless of what I think of the ACA, what is the right way now to analyze the benefits and costs of expanding or declining to expand Medicaid?”

The Virginian-Pilot editorial board got it right when it concluded that the cost of resisting Medicaid expansion in Virginia would be “ruinous.” Citing Bill Hazel, the highly-respected Health Secretary originally appointed by Bob McDonnell, and recently re-appointed by Terry McAuliffe, that editorial board summarized our choices this way:

Virginia lawmakers can preserve the financial health of hospitals across the commonwealth, save state tax dollars, strengthen local and state economies, extend managed health-care to nearly 400,000 people, many of them working poor, and recoup nearly $10 billion in federal taxes paid by Virginians over the next five years.

Or they can continue the reckless political theater destined to grow more costly with every passing year, a play that will cause a financial crisis at hospitals all across Virginia.

The right choice for Virginia is to expand Medicaid.

Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | December 27, 2013 at 9:35 am | 904 views | No Comments

A man watches a child ride a bike on the first day of winter (Flickr pool photo by Ddimick)

Va. Bill Would Stiffen Chicken Protections — A bill currently proposed in the Virginia General Assembly would remove a cap on the penalty for dog owners whose pets kill chickens and other fowl. If passed, the legislation could give new ammunition for opponents of urban hen raising in Arlington. Virginia law already allows for dogs found to be attacking chickens to be shot on sight. [Sun Gazette]

Party Tonight to Include ‘Drunk Santa’ — Fresh off a grueling evening of world-wide present delivering, Santa Claus is apparently ready to party. Wilson Tavern (2403 Wilson Blvd) in Courthouse is hosting a “Misfits Christmas Party” tonight. According to a poster for the event, it includes the opportunity to “get you picture taken with drunk Santa.” [Clarendon Nights]

Vihstadt Has a ‘Very Real Chance’ — Local political prognosticator Ben Tribbett, who runs the Not Larry Sabato blog, says independent Arlington County Board candidate John Vihstadt has a “very real chance” of ending Democrats’ total sweep of Arlington elected offices. “Arlington Democrats always have massive underperformance issues in special elections,” Tribbett writes. “There is a very real chance that in March, Arlington’s time as being controlled by all Democratic elected officials will come to an end.” Tribbett also notes that Vihstadt, despite running as an independent and attracting some Democratic endorsements, is “a large GOP donor.” [Not Larry Sabato]

Flickr pool photo by Ddimick

County Board Seeks Bag Fee Authority

by Ethan Rothstein | December 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm | 1,961 views | No Comments

The Arlington County Board(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) The Arlington County Board is asking the Virginia General Assembly for the ability to charge paper and plastic bag fees at retailers as part of its 2014 legislative package.

The Board also is asking the General Assembly to approve a WMATA inspector position — which would enforce fares on the future Crystal City Transitway bus and streetcar line to make sure riders purchase tickets before boarding — and to repeal the hybrid vehicle tax.

Arlington needs state approval to enact a bag fee, which the Sun Gazette says ”seems unlikely to get much traction.” (It has thrice failed to win support in Richmond.)

The Board doesn’t specify how much a bag fee would be — in Washington, D.C., and Maryland it’s 5 cents — but says it would be exempt if the bags were used for ice cream, meat, fish, poultry, leftover restaurant food, newspapers, dry cleaning, alcoholic beverages, and prescription drugs. The funds from the fees would go into the Water Quality Improvement Fund.

The fare inspector, if approved, would be able to give violators citations or tickets and would also be responsible for monitoring the connecting Alexandria Bus Rapid Transit line. The inspector wouldn’t have any police powers, the Board proposed.

In addition to repealing the alternative fuel vehicle surcharge, the county board asks the General Assembly to leave last year’s landmark transportation funding bill unchanged.

In general terms, the county encourages the legislature to avoid shifting costs to localities, achieve financial sustainability and to navigate the transitional period from the Bob McDonnell administration to Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe.

In all, there are 43 requests in the county’s 2014 legislative package. Other requests include studying the efficacy of separate courts for minor drug offenses, improving accessibility at polling places and enacting no-excuse absentee voting.

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