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The Right Note: 10 Things Arlington Asked Richmond to Do

by Mark Kelly — December 17, 2015 at 12:30 pm 0

Mark KellyThe Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

This week, the County Board approved its package of priorities for the Virginia General Assembly to address. The report came in at 53 items in total.

Item number one of the entire proposal asked for the ability to levy taxes, including the BPOL tax. This is the tax on the privilege of owning a business based in Arlington. It taxes your gross receipts, not your gross profits. It should be phased out or abolished as soon as possible by Arlington to encourage economic development in the County.

Arlington’s elected leaders also asked for Virginia to start taxing all Internet sales, not just those for which the state can prove a nexus for the seller. The Board also wants the General Assembly to give them the ability to tax the use of plastic bags like D.C. does.

The Board reaffirmed its support for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. This has been a longstanding priority for Democrats in Virginia, but it is well established that the Republicans in Richmond are not going along with this one any time soon. With the federal government running up the deficit in Washington, it is only a matter of time before the 90 percent share of Medicaid drops precipitously and puts an even greater strain on state budgets.

The controversial topic of immigration was addressed in two items. One asks for in-state tuition for undocumented students. The second opposes mandates on law enforcement officers evaluating immigration status of individuals as a part of routine police activities.

Hopefully, the Board would not oppose giving law enforcement the discretion to inquire on immigration status as part of routine police activities, while they have a person in front of them. That position would be more consistent with the Board’s support for maintaining a database of license plate readings to track all of our movements in the name of public safety and specifically mentioned terrorist watch lists as one of its specific reasons.

The Board wants more money for Metro. It is no question Metro is struggling: ridership is down; fares are up; safety concerns are growing; and infrastructure is not adequately maintained. But, this is not new. WMATA continues to fail when it comes to getting its house in order, which means more money alone is not the answer. It might be more appropriate for any funding offer from Virginia be contingent on real reforms at WMATA, possibly even a private sector takeover.

What was missing from the transportation section? HOT lanes on 395.

Renaming Jefferson Davis Highway did make the list. But, it was the Board’s lowest transportation priority. Most likely, it reflects the reality of the reception it will get in Richmond.

And finally, nonpartisan redistricting is a priority for the Board. While it will probably meet with about as much success as renaming Route 1, it would likely put Arlington all in one Virginia Senate district. It is  interesting to note that when the all-Democrat controlled Board was presented the question of whether to allow Arlingtonians to elect Board Members by district, they opposed the effort.

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