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Morning Notes

Heat Advisory in Effect — Arlington and D.C. are under a Heat Advisory from noon to 8 p.m. today. The heat index this afternoon is expected to reach between 100 and 105 degrees. [National Weather Service, Twitter]

Hacked Sign Causes County Concern — ARLnow’s report about an electronic road sign near Shirlington being hacked to display a vulgar video game meme prompted a serious conversation at county government headquarters. “To some this is a ‘prank’ to me it is an indication of a lack of security on a portion of our [technology] infrastructure,” Arlington’s Chief Information Officer wrote in an internal email chain. “What if the message was ‘Terrorist Attack in Washington, please leave the area'[?]” [State Scoop]

Flag at Gov’t Buildings to Be Lowered for McCain — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered the state flag lowered to half-staff until sunset on Sept. 2 in honor of the late Sen. John McCain. The order applies to all local, state and federal buildings in Virginia. [Twitter]

Late Night Ramp Closure Planned — “The ramp from the southbound George Washington Memorial Parkway to eastbound I-66 and westbound Route 50 (Arlington Boulevard) will be closed Wednesday night, Aug. 29 and Thursday night, Aug. 30 from midnight to 4 a.m. each night for work on the I-66 overpass, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.” [VDOT]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Morning Notes

Crash Closes WB Lee Highway — All lanes of westbound Lee Highway were closed at Spout Run for part of the morning after a crash. [Twitter, Twitter]

Flyover Planned Today — A flyover of Arlington National Cemetery, in support of a funeral, is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. today. [Twitter]

More Buses for Rosslyn Commuters — “After initially providing no additional backup options for riders during the Blue Line shutdown and major Orange and Silver Line work that began Aug. 11, Metro is now making some changes… Without much fanfare or notification to riders, Metro said this week it will add four additional Route 5A buses between Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride and Rosslyn and L’Enfant Plaza each morning.” [WTOP]

Rep. Jim Jordan Coming to Arlington Fundraiser — Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) will be the special guest at a fundraiser for Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) in Arlington next month. The fundraiser is being held Sept. 7 at Washington Golf and Country Club. Jordan has been in the news this summer over accusations that he turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse of wrestlers while an assistant coach at Ohio State. [TrailBlazer]

Ballston Apartment Building Sold — “The Ballston Place transaction… has closed with Akelius Residential AB buying the 382-unit apartment complex for $170 million, or $445,026 per unit.” [Globe St.]

Photo courtesy Patricia Kime

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Beyer, Democratic Members of Congress Visit Arlington’s Immigration Court

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and some of his Democratic colleagues believe most children up for a hearing at Arlington’s immigration court are being treated fairly — but they worry that could soon change.

Beyer, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and several other members of Congress sat in for some hearings at the federal immigration court in Crystal City today (Thursday), and broadly came away pleased with what they saw, despite the chaos surrounding the Trump administration’s recent practice of separating children from families at the Mexican border.

Yet Beyer and his fellow Democrats fear what might happen should leadership at the court change. They’ve heard rumors that Jack Weil, a longtime immigration judge at the Department of Justice, could soon start hearing cases in Arlington, and they’re disturbed by his history.

Weil attracted nationwide attention after testifying that he believes children as young as 3 years old can represent themselves in immigration proceedings. Though all of the kids the members of Congress saw Thursday had legal representation, the Democrats expressed disbelief that any judge would decide whether a toddler should be deported without a lawyer present.

“It’s really disturbing, especially because we understand [Weil] is training other judges,” Beyer told reporters. “Look at all the conversations we have about the poor decisions of our 20-year-olds… The thought that even a 12-year-old, 13-year-old can make good decisions in court is silly.”

Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-Calif.) noted that many of the cases the congressional delegation observed involved complex asylum applications, underscoring just how complicated an immigration hearing could be even for adults who speak English. She believes it would be “insane” to ask a child to attempt to navigate the process.

Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) felt Arlington’s courthouse generally represented “the best process possible” for kids seeking asylum. But she added that even this court only had Spanish translation services available, when people coming from somewhere like Guatemala could speak one of the country’s other 22 languages instead.

Beyer said Congress should act to provide funding for lawyers for immigrant children, given that that nonprofits stepping up to help can only provide representation for a small fraction of kids making their way through the system. With President Trump tweeting that immigrants should be deported “with no judges or court cases,” the Democrats said they realized the odds were long, but said it would be worth the effort.

“We can do this if we have the will and compassion to do this,” Hoyer said. “This is America. We believe in due process.”

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Beyer Co-Sponsors ‘Assault Weapons Ban of 2018’

Congressman Don Beyer (D-Va.) co-sponsored a bill this week that would prohibit the sale, transfer, production, and importation of assault weapons.

The Assault Weapons Ban of 2018, H.R. 5087, was introduced by Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) on Monday (February 26). The bill comes as pressure mounts nationwide following the Parkland, Fla., school shooting which sparked renewed efforts to pass gun control legislation.

“We need the Assault Weapons Ban because we have to get weapons of war out of America’s communities,” Beyer said in a press release. “It is too late to stop the shootings in Parkland, Newtown, Aurora, and so many others which were carried out with an AR-15 style rifle, but we must act to prevent future such massacres.

“Congress should listen to the young people in Florida and across the country and pass this lifesaving measure immediately,” he added.

The ban would specifically prohibit the sale, transfer, production, and importation of the following:

  • Semi-automatic rifles and handguns with a military-style feature that can accept a detachable magazine
  • Semi-automatic rifles and handguns with a fixed magazine that can hold more than 10 rounds
  • Semi-automatic shotguns with a military-style features
  • Any ammunition feeding device that can hold more than 10 rounds
  • 205 specifically-named and listed firearms

More from the press release:

When an assault weapon or a high-capacity magazine is used in a shooting, the number of victims who are killed increases by 63 percent. There have been almost 8,300 incidents of gun violence so far in 2018. More than 2,200 Americans have lost their lives. More than 500 children have been killed or injured.

File photo

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UPDATED: Federal Government to Re-Open

Update at 9:30 p.m. — The shutdown is over after legislation passed Congress and was signed by President Trump.

Federal workers will receive back pay for any time lost during the shutdown.

More via a press release from Rep. Don Beyer’s office:

Legislative language mirroring a bill offered by Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Rob Wittman (R-VA) to protect the pay of federal workers during the government shutdown was passed by Congress today as part of a larger temporary funding bill. The inclusion of text of the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act will guarantee that the entire federal workforce receives back pay for the time during which appropriations lapsed.

“It is deeply disappointing that Congress was unable to prevent a government shutdown, but the passage of the our bill’s language should at least minimize the damage to rank-and-file civil servants,” said Rep. Beyer. “I thank my colleague Rep. Wittman for standing up for the federal workforce again, and hope that this will be the last time that this bill is necessary.”

Text of the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act was included in HR 195, which passed both chambers of Congress today. The bill had nearly 100 bipartisan cosponsors.

Earlier: The federal government could re-open as early as tomorrow after the U.S. Senate voted to advance a short-term spending plan today (Monday).

Senators voted 81-18 to end debate — a procedural move — on a three-week bill that would fund the government through February 8. The bill would give Congress more time to negotiate a long-term spending package.

The U.S. House of Representatives could vote on the plan today, if it passes the Senate.

The government partially shut down at midnight on Saturday (January 20).

But the impasse appears to have ended in the Senate after Republicans committed to holding a vote on the future of those who were brought to the country illegally as children and protected from deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. President Donald Trump announced he would end the program in March.

In a joint statement, U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (D-Va.) blamed Republicans for the shutdown and said they were “deeply disappointed” that it could not stay open. But they said they are “heartened” by discussions that could help resolve many long-standing issues.

“As a result of those discussions, we now have a path forward to resolve many of the challenges that Congress has punted on for months, including a long-term solution to sequestration and full-year funding for our government and the military,” they said. “Today we are reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that tens of thousands of Virginians rely on – after months of Republican obstruction – and giving service-members and federal employees peace of mind that their paychecks will arrive on time. We also have the opportunity to finally make investments here at home to fight the opioid crisis, provide relief for communities hit by natural disasters, allow those who rely on community health centers to get care, reform pensions, and much more.”

Warner and Kaine’s joint statement is after the jump.

“We voted against the House Republican Continuing Resolution on Friday night because it left unaddressed too many priorities important to Virginians. We remain deeply disappointed that our Republican colleagues refused to keep the government open this weekend while we finalized a long-term deal on these issues. President Trump and Republican leadership have hurt Virginia and our military by governing from crisis-to-crisis and being unwilling to compromise.

“However, we are heartened by our work with more than 20 Senators from both sides of the aisle this weekend to create a bipartisan path forward to give Virginians long-term certainty and protect Dreamers.

“As a result of those discussions, we now have a path forward to resolve many of the challenges that Congress has punted on for months, including a long-term solution to sequestration and full-year funding for our government and the military. Today we are reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that tens of thousands of Virginians rely on – after months of Republican obstruction – and giving service-members and federal employees peace of mind that their paychecks will arrive on time. We also have the opportunity to finally make investments here at home to fight the opioid crisis, provide relief for communities hit by natural disasters, allow those who rely on community health centers to get care, reform pensions, and much more.

“For more than three years, the Republican majority has blocked any viable effort to fix our broken immigration system. As recently as Friday night, Leader McConnell refused to commit to taking up the DREAM Act with any urgency. Today, Republican leadership has finally agreed to bring bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers to the floor in the next three weeks, and both parties – as well as the American public – will hold them to it.”

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Arlington Democrats Join Thousands in Women’s March on Washington

About 250 people gathered at the entrance of the Arlington Memorial Bridge on Saturday to join the second Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

The Arlington County Democratic Committee organized with grassroots organizations for the second year to gather locals to march across Memorial Bridge to a rally at the Lincoln Memorial. There, speakers talked of the importance of the rights of women, people with disabilities, immigrants and people of color.

Jill Caiazzo, the new Arlington Democrats chair after succeeding Kip Malinosky, said the point of this year’s march was to not only highlight women’s position in society, but to also encourage people to vote. The march’s theme this year was “Power to the Polls.”

“I think it’s important just as a general matter all year long that we remind people of the very critical midterm election and the fact that we all need to do our part so that everyone knows about it, everybody’s registered to vote and everybody is able to vote and does vote on election day who is eligible,” Caiazzo said.

Some of the speakers at the three-hour rally included Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.),  Virginia Del. Kelly Fowler (D-21), U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

The speakers called for the need to elect more women and criticized the Republicans in Congress over the government shutdown that same weekend.

This year Arlington Democrats will be doing its part to march to the polls through its three new voter outreach coordinators, who will be setting up activities with marginalized groups in the community who do not necessarily interact with politicians on a regular basis.

“I think you will be seeing more events focused on just being in the community and voter education as opposed to just focusing on knocking on doors and get the vote out,” Caiazzo said. “That’s going to be very important but we also want to emphasize too that we are in the community as a positive force.”

Wendy Reed, a resident of the Madison Manor neighborhood, came to protest because of her concerns over immigration, environmental protection and the treatment of women.

“I feel like we’re upside down,” Reed said. “I feel like all the things I care about are being hacked away.”

Another protester, Lynn Borton of Courthouse, said she returned to the Women’s March because it felt good to be a part of something that’s unifying in a time when society has felt more divisive. Borton also said she is thinking of her great, great grandmother, who never had the right to vote.

Several parents brought their daughters to march with them as well, including Eric Sword, who brought his two daughters, Lyra and Cat. They also went to the march last year.

Lyra Sword said she came back to the march “because it was fun last year and it felt good to be surrounded by people who believe the same thing.”

Eric Sword added that President Donald Trump’s administration hits home because his family is close with someone that is transgender. It was reported recently that the Trump administration plans to protect health workers who deny treating transgender people or handling abortions on religious grounds.

Kay Bailey also brought her two daughters Elisa and Amanda Boiani to make sure they see that women don’t have to endure the treatment of Trump’s policies against them and minorities.

“I want to teach my daughters that everyone is equal and everyone is worthy of human rights and we can’t behave like this and expect the rest of the world to uphold human rights,” Bailey said.

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Arlington’s Congressional Delegation Blames GOP for Possible Government Shutdown

Arlington County’s representatives in Congress are blaming Republicans for the looming government shutdown, set to take effect at midnight tonight.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a short-term continuing resolution late last night (Thursday) to keep the federal government open for another month while negotiations continue on a long-term spending deal.

A major sticking-point for Democrats is the status of immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, who were brought to the United States illegally as minors and shielded from deportation.

President Donald Trump announced he would end the program as of March, and since then Democratic legislators have pushed for a permanent solution.

Rep. Don Beyer (D), who represents Arlington in Congress as well as Alexandria, Falls Church and a section of Fairfax County, slammed the continuing resolution as “appalling and absurd.” It is the fourth in as many months as wrangling over the federal budget continues.

Beyer’s full statement is below:

“House Republicans are now forcing us to take our fourth vote on a short-term funding resolution in as many months. This is appalling and absurd.

Like my fellow House Democrats, I spent months imploring my Republican colleagues to take action on key priorities for the American people, including passing long term funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and protecting Dreamers. But they were too busy trying to use hundreds of thousands of young people’s lives as leverage and cutting taxes for the wealthy to solve these problems.

Donald Trump claims he wants to help Dreamers, yet he keeps taking to Twitter to derail bipartisan efforts to solve a problem he created. Republicans suddenly decided this week that they cared about CHIP, but they could have passed a clean reauthorization of CHIP any time in the past few months and refused to do so.

The President keeps talking about how ‘our military needs’ this, but has he listened to them when they have said that they need long term budget certainty? The same is true of our non-defense agencies, which are having to guess again and again about when and how they will be funded as the Republicans who have complete control of government repeatedly fail to do the basic job of governing.

The federal workforce deserves better than to experience the fifth Congressional budget fight in five months in February. I do not want the government to shut down, and today introduced bipartisan legislation with my friend Congressman Rob Wittman to protect federal workers’ pay if that happens. But Congress’ refusal to live up to its basic responsibilities to the American people must end.”

Were the government to shut down, for the first time since 2013, many federal workers would be furloughed — sent home without pay. It would also represent the first time that the federal government has shut down with one political party in control of all branches of government.

And Beyer has tried to mitigate the impact on federal workers — many of whom live in his district — by introducing the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act alongside fellow Virginia Rep. Rob Wittman (R).

The bill, which the pair introduced last April when another shutdown threat threatened, would guarantee back pay for federal workers who are furloughed.

“We are working hard to avoid a government shutdown, but if it comes our bill would protect federal workers from the worst of the consequences,” Beyer said in a statement. “This legislation is designed to shield civil servants, who need to support their families, from the disastrous effects of Congress’ failure to agree on a budget measure. We hope it will not be needed, but time is running out.”

In a joint statement Thursday, U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (both D-Va.) criticized the House’s continuing resolution. The plan appears to have significant opposition from both sides of the aisle in the U.S. Senate.

The pair said it creates “uncertainty” to not have a long-term budget deal and to instead rely on short-term resolutions, and ignores many important issues.

“The current CR ignores key priorities — community health centers, permanent protection for Dreamers, emergency relief for Florida, Texas, western states ravaged by wildfires, Puerto Rico, the USVI, opioid treatment, and pension reform,” they said. “These issues are not going away and need to be addressed immediately.”

Kaine and Warner’s full joint statement is after the jump.

“We oppose the House Continuing Resolution, which punts budget discussions until mid-February. Congress should remain in session with no recess until we work out a long-term bipartisan budget deal that addresses all issues. We will support a short-term CR for a few days to keep the government open while we stay in town and conclude our negotiations.  But we do not support perpetuating the current budgetary dysfunction that is hurting our country and our Commonwealth. The Republican leadership has to get serious about finding a budget deal and quit relying on short-term patches.

“This is the fourth CR since the start of the fiscal year and would take us into the fifth month of the year with no budget deal. One-month CRs hurt all spending priorities and create deep uncertainty.  This pain is particularly acute in Virginia, which is home to hundreds of thousands of government employees, kids who rely on CHIP, military families, and national security professionals. Recently, Defense Secretary Mattis came to the Senate and appealed to us that we not pass another CR but instead do a full budget deal. As Senators who represent the state most connected to the military, we know he is right and know these continued gimmicks hurt our troops in Virginia and across the globe.

“The current CR ignores key priorities — community health centers, permanent protection for Dreamers, emergency relief for Florida, Texas, western states ravaged by wildfires, Puerto Rico, the USVI, opioid treatment, and pension reform.  These issues are not going away and need to be addressed immediately. We gave negotiators time to reach a bipartisan agreement to protect Dreamers and now they have a deal. This must be part of the negotiations, and there should be a vote on the compromise – or a clean Dream Act – without further delay.

“Finally, the President’s repeated statements urging a government shutdown are beneath the office and have heightened the budgetary dysfunction.  And his determined efforts to blow up any and all bipartisan discussions around Dreamers demonstrate that he is not interested in governing. He has to decide whether he wants to be President and engage in necessary compromise, or continue offering commentary from the sidelines.”

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Beyer Blasts Bill Renaming Gravelly Point Park for Nancy Reagan

Rep. Don Beyer (D) criticized a bill that would rename Gravelly Point Park for former First Lady Nancy Reagan as it passed a U.S. House of Representatives committee earlier today.

The bill failed once in the House Natural Resources Committee, but then was brought up again and passed 18-16 on a party-line vote.

It now heads to the House floor for debate and a final vote, with similar actions required by the U.S. Senate before it can be signed into law by President Donald Trump.

But Beyer, a committee member whose district includes Arlington County, took exception to the efforts to rename the park near Reagan National Airport’s main runway as Nancy Reagan Memorial Park. The bill, H.R. 553, is sponsored by Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) and has 51 Republican co-sponsors.

In remarks to the committee today (Wednesday), Beyer criticized the bill for not taking sufficient public input from residents of Arlington and Alexandria, the communities closest to Gravelly Point.

“[This] bill is the equivalent of someone coming in and changing the furniture in your house without asking you,” he said. “First, you would have liked them to ask you, and even if you do like the furniture, you probably would have wanted input since it’s your house…Gravelly Point is not a national tourist attraction, it’s where local families go to have a picnic, throw a ball around, put a blanket down and watch the planes coming in and out, and it’s also where almost every Northern Virginia Uber driver sits to wait for a pickup.”

Beyer also called the bill a “pet project” by conservative advocacy group Americans For Tax Reform, which looks to minimize “the government’s power to control one’s life.”

“This is what some call Washington at its worst — when we ignore the will of the local community to appease the desire of a moneyed, special interest,” Beyer said.

In response, Hice said there was “no better way” to honor Reagan by naming the park after her.

Beyer’s full remarks on the bill, including a video clip, are after the jump.

“Mr. Chairman, with true regret I rise to speak in opposition to this bill.

I have great respect for Nancy Reagan, and my opposition to this bill must not be interpreted as my having any personal animus towards our former First Lady.

But this bill is the equivalent of someone coming in and changing the furniture in your house without asking you. First, you would have liked them to ask you, and even if you do like the furniture, you probably would have wanted input since it’s your house.

First and foremost, this bill does not have local support and did not have any local input.

Gravelly Point is not a national tourist attraction, it’s where local families go to have a picnic, throw a ball around, put a blanket down and watch the planes coming in and out, and it’s also where almost every Northern Virginia Uber driver sits to wait for a pickup.

In this committee I constantly hear from my Republican friends that local communities know how to manage their land better, and that the feds should stay out of local decisions. I hope that this doesn’t only apply to Republican districts. This bill is Congress unilaterally forcing a decision on a local community — Arlington and Alexandria — without any local say or input.

And why? Because this bill is the pet project of Americans for Tax Reform, a special interest group. This is what some call Washington at its worst — when we ignore the will of the local community to appease the desire of a moneyed, special interest.

While I understand the desire to honor political figures, something like this should not be done without involving the local community. This would be the equivalent of my offering a bill in Mr. Hice’s district to rename the Oconee National Forest’s campground the Hillary Clinton campground or the Michelle Obama campground. I’m sure Mr. Hice would like his constituents to be able to weigh in on a decision like that.

The other reason this is concerning is the process with which it was handled. My understanding typically is that when offering legislation that impacts another Member’s district you either work with them or at least notify them. That respect was not extended to my office.

When we discovered it was Americans for Tax Reform and not our constituents that wanted the bill, we asked the sponsor’s office to not move forward, and my requests via staff were ignored. I was deeply surprised to find this bill before us here in markup. I asked the committee if they would remove it from markup, but that request was also denied.

This also [gets to] the process of how we consider bills. This bill had no legislative hearing. This is the first time that I have an opportunity to formally speak expressing my concerns.

And the other reason we needed a legislative hearing is because there is a potential technical impediment to the bill that needs airing.

Memorials, monuments and other commemorative works in Washington DC and its environs are governed by the Commemorative Works Act, which lays out a series of guidelines for the establishment of memorials and requires consultation with the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission. The Commission reviewed H.R. 5457 – the identical bill [introduced] in the 114th Congress – and determined that the proposal to establish Nancy Reagan Memorial Park potentially violates several guidelines established by the CWA.

First, Congressional authorization for memorials to individuals is not supposed to occur until the 25th anniversary of the death of the individual. Since space is limited and memorials should not be established without careful consideration, this provides time for reflection on the individual’s contributions. Since Mrs. Reagan passed away less than three years ago, the designation of a memorial park in her name violates the CWA.

Second, the CWA requires a comprehensive evaluation of site locations to determine suitability. The commission noted that this hasn’t happened for this proposal and that the designation of this site after the Former First Lady could prevent the establishment of other memorials in the area, since CWA states that no new memorial shall encroach upon an existing memorial.

So as one of my constituents wrote on ARLNow.com, I ask my colleagues to “just say no.” We cannot allow a pet project of a special interest group to override local consideration or input. Just as I respect my colleagues to know what’s best in their districts, I’d ask the same curtesy be extended. Let’s allow for public comment and local input and follow the Congressionally mandated process.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back.”

[After further debate]

“I would humbly suggest that if we want to rename the park from Gravelly Point, that we engage the Arlington County Board, the Alexandria City Council, the jurisdictions that are there with all the constituents that are using this on a regular basis, and rename it after a vigorous public discussion about which of our many former First Ladies or just American leaders who should be honored in that way, rather than just unilaterally deciding that former First Lady Reagan – whom I admire very much – that this park should be named after her.”

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Bill Renaming Gravelly Point for Nancy Reagan Being Debated in House Committee

A U.S. House of Representatives committee will discuss a bill to rename Gravelly Point after former First Lady Nancy Reagan.

The House Committee on Natural Resources will mark up the bill, H.R. 553, by Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) tomorrow (Wednesday) at 10 a.m. As previously reported, Hice first introduced the bill in 2016.

It would rename the park, located to the north of Reagan National Airport’s main runway, as Nancy Reagan Memorial Park. But the park’s use by cyclists, runners, recreational team sports, picnics and for those watching planes land and take off would not change.

A memo on the bill said it would honor Reagan’s “life and legacy,” and as a champion for various causes.

“Nancy Reagan Memorial Park would recognize First Lady Nancy Reagan for her dedication and support of important causes throughout her life,” the memo reads. “The re-designation would act as a tribute to the First Lady’s legacy while maintaining the current status and uses of the park.”

Hice’s bill has 51 Republican co-sponsors, but no Democrats. The memo describes the Trump administration’s position on the renaming as “currently unknown.”

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Registration Open for Beyer Helicopter Noise Forum in Fairlington

Registration is open for Rep. Don Beyer’s (D) community forum in Fairlington later this month on helicopter noise.

Beyer will host the forum on January 16 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at Abingdon Elementary School (3035 S. Abingdon Street), as part of a study he added to last year’s Defense Authorization Act that passed Congress.

Anyone wishing to attend must register online.

“The provision was proposed by Rep. Beyer in response to frequent complaints from constituents about excess noise from military helicopters,” organizers wrote. “It directs DOD to study changes to the region’s helicopter flight routes, operating procedures, and types of helicopters flown in the national capital airspace to mitigate the effect of noise on the region’s neighborhoods.”

Courtesy photo

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County Has Already Collected More Than $1 Million in Prepaid 2018 Taxes

The new GOP tax bill has prompted numerous Arlington taxpayers to prepay their 2018 taxes more than a year ahead of time.

The bill, which was just signed into law by President Trump this morning, caps State and Local Tax (SALT) deductions at $10,000. For many Arlington taxpayers with pricey homes, this means they will lose part of their deduction next year and thus potentially pay higher federal taxes.

To counter that, some Arlingtonians are planning to take a higher deduction on their 2017 taxes by prepaying their property tax for future years.

Arlington County and other Virginia localities allow residents to make tax deposits. County Treasurer Carla de la Pava tells ARLnow.com that more than $1 million in tax deposits have been prepaid by 144 residents as of Friday morning.

The Treasurer’s Office has been “inundated with people trying to pay in advance” and is expecting the prepayments to continue through the end of the year, de la Pava said. The first prepayment was made by an attorney about two weeks ago, when the bill was first passed by a narrow Republican majority in the U.S. Senate.

“It’s interesting because in Arlington [prepayments] started much earlier than anywhere else in the state,” de la Pava said, noting that it “has been a really big topic of conversation” on the Treasurers Association of Virginia email listserv.

Some prepayers are depositing more than a year of taxes in advance, while others are paying whichever potion of next year’s they can afford, we’re told.

Tax deposits have been an option for many years, but the Treasurer’s Office hasn’t seen a prepayment surge like this at any point in recent memory.

“We have never seen these volumes,” said de la Pava.

Tax deposits are invested by the Treasurer’s Office in “very safe” investments, earning a small return for the county.

De la Pava is encouraging taxpayers — particularly those paying the Alternative Minimum Tax — to consult with a CPA or tax expert before deciding whether to prepay. More from the treasurer’s website:

If you are interested in prepaying your 2018 taxes, the Treasurer’s Office can accept tax deposits on active Real Estate accounts. While our office does accept tax deposits, we are not experts in federal tax law and are not able to offer any advice, guidance, or opinion on whether or not your deposits will be deductible on your 2017 federal tax returns. If you have questions about making a tax deposit on your Arlington real estate, please email us at [email protected] or call 703-228-3090.

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Morning Notes

Beyer Blasts GOP Tax Bill — Rep. Don Beyer is, to say the least, not a fan of the Republican tax bill that is expected to pass the House and be sent to the president’s desk later today. “At its core, this bill is an immoral redistribution of wealth towards the richest among us at a cost of trillions of dollars, and I believe that those who voted for this monstrosity will be held accountable,” Beyer said in a statement. [Rep. Don Beyer, Twitter]

Single Vote Swings Va. House — Thanks to a Democratic candidate in Newport News winning her race by a single vote, as determined in a recount, the Virginia House of Delegates is now evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, ending a majority the GOP has maintained since 2000. [Washington Post]

‘Dominion Pint’ Coming to Arlington — The owner of Meridian Pint (also Brookland Pint and Smoke & Barrel) in D.C. is planning to open a new craft beer-centric outpost somewhere in North Arlington. The location has not yet been announced, but it will be called “Dominion Pint.” [PoPville]

DESIGNArlington Winners Announced — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday recognized the ten 2017 DESIGNArlington award winners for “outstanding architectural or landscape design in the County.” Among the winners are the new Marymount University building in Ballston, the Tellus apartment building in Courthouse, “The Quill” public art project in Rosslyn and two private North Arlington residences. [Arlington County, Arlington County]

Gutshall Sworn In — The newest Arlington County Board member, Erik Gutshall, was sworn in at yesterday’s Board meeting, while outgoing County Board Chair Jay Fisette received a standing ovation. [Twitter]

Changes to Historic Preservation Process — The Arlington County Board voted unanimously last night to revise and further codify the process for requesting historic preservation studies. Until now, any single individual could request a “historic preservation overlay district” study, which requires significant county staff time to complete. Before the vote, such a study could even be requested without consulting property owners in the proposed district. [Arlington County]

Arlington Man Dies in Plane Crash — Paul Schuda, a National Transportation Safety Board official and Arlington resident, was among three people killed in the crash of a small plane in Indiana. [NPR, Legacy]

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

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Visitor Center Approved for Iwo Jima Memorial

(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) The Iwo Jima memorial is set to get a new visitor center as part of the National Defense Authorization Act that was just signed by President Trump.

The act of Congress, which sets military spending levels for FY 2018, includes language introduced by Rep. Don Beyer (D) to authorize building a new center.

It instructs the Secretary of the Interior to build a “structure for visitor services to include a public restroom facility.” It does not specify where the center will be built, but the text says it will be “in the area” of the memorial, the formal name of which is the Marine Corps War Memorial. A Beyer spokesman said this was the “final hurdle” to getting the visitor center built.

Beyer, whose district includes Arlington County, introduced a bill authorizing construction of the restrooms last year, funded by a gift from local philanthropist David Rubenstein.

Work began earlier this year to revamp the memorial, including washing and waxing the memorial and re-gilding its lettering; repairing any parts of the granite plaza that have become damaged; improving lighting; repaving roads and footpaths; and installing new signs, shrubs and trees.

Rubenstein pledged more than $5 million for the entire project and new visitor center.

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Morning Notes

Beyer Blasts GOP Tax Bill — Says Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) regarding the tax bill that passed the House yesterday: “I am adamantly opposed to the House Republican tax bill, H.R.1. The bill will raise taxes on millions of middle class Americans in order to fund tax cuts for the wealthy, and yet still manages to explode the deficit.” [Rep. Don Beyer]

Crystal City Scores 320 Jobs — A Georgetown-based nonprofit is moving much of its staff to a new office in Crystal City, leasing 90,000 square feet and adding 320 jobs in Arlington County. The move was announced by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who approved a $500,000 state grant to assist Arlington with the project. [Virginia Business, Bisnow]

Dems Seek Ways to Defeat Vihstadt — “John Vihstadt, who in 2014 broke the Democratic stranglehold on the Arlington County Board, is ready to go back to the voters in 2018. And Arlington Democrats already are strategizing on how to oust him from office.” [InsideNova]

Charges Dropped Against ‘Laughing Librarian’ — Arlington librarian and Code Pink activist Desirée Fairooz, who was arrested after laughing during the confirmation hearing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has had the case against her dropped by the Justice Department. [American Libraries, NPR]

Incident at Kenmore Middle School — A tipster tells ARLnow.com that a Kenmore Middle School student was arrested yesterday afternoon for assaulting a PE teacher. An Arlington Public Schools spokesman, however, did not confirm that an arrest was made, saying: “There was an incident earlier today between a student and a teacher. Staff is following normal disciplinary procedures. But beyond that, we can’t disclose anymore because it is a student matter.”

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

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Beyer Leads Letter Criticizing Inaction on Rising Health Premiums

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) led a letter with more than 40 Democratic colleagues highlighting rising health insurance premiums and criticizing Congress’ inaction.

In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, 46 Democrats said the lack of action to fund cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments is hurting small business owners and the self-employed.

President Donald Trump announced he would end the payments, which help subsidize health insurance premiums, last month.

The Democrats said that House Republicans are blocking a “key solution” by not funding the CSRs through legislation, and it will only make things harder for individuals and business owners.

“We are hearing from entrepreneurs, small business owners and self-employed individuals who are being disproportionately impacted by the President’s decision,” they wrote. “We ask that you support our innovator economy and mitigate this financial burden by fulfilling cost sharing reduction payments.”

The full letter is after the jump.

Dear Speaker Ryan:

We are deeply concerned about the President’s decision to end the cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) and the devastating financial impact it will have on small businesses, working families, and the innovator economy. We ask that you commit to fund the CSRs and eliminate this barrier to innovation.

As you know, CSRs make health insurance more affordable by reducing cost sharing and out-of-pocket expenses like co-payments and deductibles in the non-group or individual market. In 2016, CSRs alleviated the cost of medical expenses for over 6.4 million enrollees. Now that President Trump has ended the Administration’s payment of the CSRs, absent a subsequent appropriation of funds or other action by Congress, we could see devastating impacts on our innovator economy.

We know that failure to fund CSRs will drive up premiums as insurers cover the cost and that some insurers will be forced out of the non-group market as a result. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) anticipate that most insurance commissioners would permit insurers to substantially increase premiums in the marketplaces. This will primarily hurt millions of middle-class individuals, like the small businesses and self-employed individuals in our districts, who earn too much to qualify for premium assistance and will bear the full brunt of any rate increase. According to the Brookings Institution, uncertainty about these payments is perhaps the biggest threat to stability in the individual market. CBO and the JCT also estimate that this action also increases the federal deficit, on net, by $194 billion from 2017 through 2026.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, roughly one in five non-group marketplace consumers are small business owners or self-employed individuals. The Treasury Department identified non-group marketplace coverage as an important source of health insurance coverage for small business owners and the self-employed, noting that it provides insurance for a large share of self-employed individuals, particularly for middle-income workers. The UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education highlights how the CSR eligible plans enabled small business owners and self-employed individuals to more easily obtain affordable health insurance and pursue entrepreneurial goals, also indicating that options like eliminating CSRs would disproportionately hurt self-employed and small businesses of less than 50 employees.

We are hearing from entrepreneurs, small business owners, and self-employed individuals who are being disproportionately impacted by the President’s decision. We ask that you support our innovator economy and mitigate this financial burden by fulfilling cost sharing reduction payments.

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