At a press conference this morning, Moran was joined by officials from Arlington Public Schools, along with several Arlington parents of autistic children. The bill — the “AUTISM Educators Act” — could specifically benefit Arlington schools, where more than 10 percent of the special education population has been diagnosed with ASD, according to Moran’s office.
From a press release:
Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat, today introduced legislation, the “Autism Understanding and Training In School Methodologies for Educators Act of 2012,” or the “AUTISM Educators Act,” to establish a pilot program to train teachers who work with children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Moran was joined at the bill announcement by original cosponsor Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) parents, children with ASD, and local officials from Arlington County and City of Alexandria Public Schools.
“This legislation is the product of a grassroots effort by parents, instructors, school officials and caring communities,” said Rep. Moran. “Autism Spectrum Disorders are being diagnosed at an exploding rate. We have a responsibility to do everything in our power to provide the best education for our children.”
Autism Spectrum Disorder is now the fastest growing serious developmental disorder in the United States, increasing the number of children with high-functioning autism (HFA) taken out of special education and placed in mainstream classrooms.
Moran’s legislation will create a five-year grant program to allow local school systems to partner with experienced university or non-profit programs to establish a training program for general education teachers who have large numbers of HFA students. The programs will also incorporate parental involvement and retention of skilled educators.
The AUTISM Educators Act has received endorsements from a wide range of organizations including Autism Speaks, the Arlington County School Board and Arlington Special Education Parent Teacher Association.
“Congressman Moran’s bill will provide much needed funding for local school districts as they strive to meet the needs of the growing population of students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). In Arlington, as across the nation, we have seen a significant increase in the number of students with ASD: from 100 students in 2003 to more than 350 students this year with ASD,” said Abby Raphael, Chair of the Arlington County School Board. “Providing general education classroom teachers and others with additional training is essential to ensuring that students with ASD are successful. The Arlington School Board appreciates Congressman Moran’s leadership and recognizes the work of our very active parent community in working with him, which has resulted in this important legislation.”
In March the Centers for Disease Control released a new study citing the growing rate of ASD. One in 88 children in the United States are diagnosed with ASD before their eighth birthday. Boys are five times more likely as girls, with one in 54 diagnosed with ASD.
“Congressman Jim Moran has brought renewed hope to families across Arlington who have a child on the autism spectrum,” said Alex Arriaga, Arlington resident and parent of a child on the spectrum. “The AUTISM Educators Act of 2012 can help bring essential training to classrooms across the country, improving the outcomes for students on the autism spectrum and making it more likely that they can fulfill their great potential.”
The targeted pilot program would be available only to schools with high incidences of ASD; qualifying school systems must have 10 percent or more of the special education population diagnosed with ASD.
Chopper Called in for Suspect Search — The U.S. Park Police Eagle 2 helicopter hovered over the Claremont neighborhood — near Wakefield High School — for about half an hour last night while assisting Arlington County Police in a search for several armed robbery suspects. The chopper assisted police and K-9 units on the ground in the search for the suspects in a armed robbery on the 1000 block of S. Frederick Street, in the Columbia Forest neighborhood, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Police eventually arrested three men in connection with the crime, according to police radio traffic.
Board to Consider ‘Pipestem’ Lot — The County Board is expected to decide this weekend on a controversial development proposal in the Leeway Overlee neighborhood. A developer wants to build a large new home on a parcel of land set back from the street and only connected to the street via only a thin driveway strip known as a “pipestem.” Neighbors have been fighting the plan, but to some degree state law — which emphasizes the rights of property owners — prevents the Board from completely blocking development on the lot. [Sun Gazette]
Pregnant Inmate Shackling Bill Fails Again — Del. Patrick Hope tried again this year to pass legislation restricting the use of shackles on inmates while they’re giving birth. A House of Delegates subcommittee tabled the bill on Thursday, however, prompting Hope to pledge to introduce the bill again next year. Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur presented an alternative viewpoint when she told a reporter that legislation is not the proper way to deal with the issue — state regulatory changes are. [Associated Press]
Venus Stereos Closes — Venus Stereos, a quirky electronics/soccer jersey/music store at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Walter Reed Drive, has closed. A sign in the window say the storefront, directly adjacent to the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse, is available for lease. [Pike Spotter]
In addition to providing prenatal care for the children of recent legal immigrants and studying the tax implications of the theoretical legalization of marijuana, Arlington’s delegation to the Virginia General Assembly has proposed a number of other interesting pieces of legislation.
- SB264: Sen. Adam Ebbin’s bill would include bicycles, electronic wheelchairs and mopeds in the statute that prohibits drivers from following another vehicle too closely. Currently, the law only requires drivers to maintain a safe distance from other motor vehicles on the road. This bill passed the Senate on Tuesday, and is identical to a bill proposed by Del. Alfonso Lopez.
- HB784: This bill from Del. Lopez would have required drivers to “exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian or the operator of a human-powered vehicle” (such as a bicycle). A House of Delegates subcommittee recommended killing the bill yesterday.
- HB1026: This bill, proposed by Del. David Englin, would allow restaurants to advertise their happy hour specials on the internet. Currently, advertising happy hour prices or other specifics is prohibited by law. Del. Dave Albo (R) of Springfield has proposed an identical bill.
- HJ231: Del. Bob Brink has introduced an amendment to the state Constitution that would allow Virginia governors to run for a second term, starting in 2017. A House Republican has proposed the same amendment.
Newly-elected delegate Alfonso Lopez (D) has introduced a bill that would provide prenatal care for recent legal immigrants.
Low-income women in their first five years of lawful residence in the United States are eligible for a number of pregnancy services under Virginia’s Medicaid system, including payment of labor and delivery costs and costs associated with the child once he or she is born. Prenatal costs, however, are not covered. Del. Lopez’s bill would change that.
“Prenatal care can reduce maternal deaths, miscarriages, birth defects, low birth weights, and other preventable problems,” Lopez said in a statement. “Women who receive no prenatal care are three and a half times more likely to have a low birth weight baby and nearly three times as likely to give birth prematurely as other pregnant women.”
“For every dollar we spend on prenatal care, it is estimated that we will get back 150% of the funding due to reduced neonatal costs,” Lopez noted. “Providing this coverage is both the right thing to do and the fiscally responsible thing to do. I encourage my colleagues in the House of Delegates to join me in supporting this legislation.”
Similar legislation has been introduced by Richmond-area delegate John O’Bannon (R) and Sen Adam Ebbin (D).
Ben Affleck Flick Filming in N. Arlington? — Local residents are telling us that ‘Argo,’ a new Ben Affleck-directed political thriller, is currently in production in the area near Overlee pool. [Forums]
New Restaurant Coming to Shirlington — A new Mediterranean restaurant called Medi is coming to Shirlington. The eatery will offer “uniquely blended flavors, healthy ingredients, and great value,” according to The Village at Shirlington Facebook page. [Shirlington Village Blog]
County Board Candidate Sims Launches Website — County Board candidate Terron Sims II has launched a new campaign website. Sims is one of three Democratic candidates who have formally announced for the upcoming special election to replace state Senator-elect Barbara Favola. The West Point grad and Iraq war veteran has already won support and endorsements from County Treasurer Frank O’Leary and Rep. Jim Moran. [Sims for Arlington]
County Scales Back Legislative Agenda — With Republicans firmly in control in Richmond, Arlington County may be abandoning hope of getting its quarter percent hotel taxing authority restored any time soon. [Sun Gazette]
Signs Biting the Dust in the Rosslyn Area — One local blogger has taken note of at least two recent incidents where signs have apparently been knocked down by out-of-control cars in the Rosslyn area. [Ode Street Tribune]
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