Today (Friday) marks the last day lawmakers can file legislation to be considered in the 2022 session.
Several of the bills Arlington County legislators introduced align with County Board priorities — from making permanent electronic participation in public meetings to increasing state funding for affordable housing and including race and ethnicity on driver’s licenses.
They’ve also introduced legislation to address issues that came up in the community last year.
After residents exposed poor living conditions at the Serrano Apartments to ARLnow, Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49) pre-filed a handful of bills aimed at strengthening tenant protections. Lopez also appears to have taken inspiration from the Advanced Towing saga with a bill that would make tow truck driver violations subject to the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
Here’s a roundup of some other bills Arlington’s lawmakers put forward.
- Independent policing auditor: This bill, House Bill 670, would allow Arlington County to appoint an independent policing auditor who will support the law enforcement Community Oversight Board that was created out of the Police Practices Group recommendations. Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) is chief patron of the bill.
- Law-enforcement officers; conduct of investigation: HB 870, which Lopez introduced, would require an officer who was involved in a shooting to be interviewed within 24 hours of the incident.
- Beverage container deposit and redemption program: HB 826, introduced by Hope, would establish a beverage container deposit, refund and redemption program involving distributors, retailers and consumers. There would be an advisory committee, required reporting and civil and criminal penalties for violations.
- Packaging Stewardship Program and Fund: The bill, HB 918, would allow the state Department of Environmental Quality to charge sellers in the commonwealth a fee for the amount of packaging their products use and if they’re easily recyclable. Those fees would be paid into a fund and used to reimburse participating localities for expenses related to recycling, invest in recycling infrastructure and education and pay the program’s administrative costs. Lopez introduced the bill.
- Parking of vehicles; electric vehicle charging spots; civil penalties: Senate Bill 278 prohibits a person from parking non-electric vehicles in electric vehicle charging spots. It sets a civil penalty between $100 and $250 with the possibility the vehicle is towed or impounded. Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) introduced the bill.
- Driving Decarbonization Program and Fund. This legislation, HB 351, would establish a program and a fund that would assist developers with non-utility costs associated with installation of electric vehicle charging stations. It was introduced by Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48).
- Insurance; paid family leave: SB 15, introduced by Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31), would establish paid family leave as a class of insurance that would pay for the income an employee loses after the birth of a child or because the employee is caring for a child or family member.
- Hospitals; financial assistance for uninsured patient, payment plans: This bill, SB 201, requires hospitals to screen every uninsured patient, determine if they’re eligible for financial assistance under the hospital’s plan and create a payment plan. The bill also prohibits certain collection actions. Favola introduced the bill.
- Constitutional amendment; marriage; fundamental right to marry, same-sex marriage prohibition: This constitutional amendment, SJ 5, would repeal the constitutional provision defining marriage as only a union between one man and one woman as well as the related provisions that are no longer valid as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2015. Ebbin introduced the amendment.
- Absentee voting; verification by social security or driver’s license number: SB 273, introduced by Ebbin, would make optional the current absentee ballot witness signature requirement. It would give the voter the option to provide either the last four digits of their social security number or the voter’s valid Virginia driver’s license number instead.
Thousands Expected at Today’s Amazon Event — “Thousands of job-seekers are expected to swarm the site of Amazon’s future headquarters at a ‘career day‘ in Crystal City on Tuesday, as the online retail giant begins to accelerate its hiring and presence in Northern Virginia.” The opening time has been pushed up to 8 a.m. [Washington Post, Twitter]
Suspect Chomps on Cop Along Lee Highway — “The officer initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle and made contact with Suspect One, when he observed Suspect Two attempt to flee on foot. With the assistance of additional officers arriving on scene, Suspect Two was stopped. While officers attempted to remove Suspect One from the vehicle and detain him, he actively resisted and bit an officer.” [Arlington County]
Race No Longer Required on Marriage Licenses — Updated at 8:45 a.m. — “Virginia will no longer require couples to identify by race on their marriage licenses, the state’s attorney general announced this week. Under a new policy — which Attorney General Mark Herring detailed in emails to court clerks and members of the media late Friday — people getting married will be able to select ‘Declined to Answer’ in a box asking about race.” [Washington Post]
One local attorney and a handful of couples are hoping a lawsuit will force the state of Virginia to remove the vestiges of a Jim Crow law from marriage licenses.
Attorney Victor Glasberg filed a lawsuit in federal court Friday to remove a requirement that all couples seeking to get married in the state list their race on the license. The long-time civil rights attorney argued in the filing that the mandatory question subjects people to the relics of slavery forbidden by the Thirteenth Amendment, and the right to due process enshrined by the Fourteenth Amendment.
“Our conventional racial classification were born in and carried forward in white supremacy. You simply can’t get away from that. It’s a fact of life,” said Glasberg, who has spent the past five years digging into the history behind the requirement he calls a “relic.”
He found that the state is required to collect the racial makeup of couples per the Virginia Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which also makes it a felony for couples to lie about their race on their marriage license application. The architect behind the law was Walter A. Plecker, a eugenicist who led a white supremacist organization and whose death by being run over with a car in 1947 was widely celebrated.
One couple acting as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, Samuel Sarfo and Ashley Ramkishun, said they chose not to go forward with applying for their marriage license after a friend told them about the requirement and they recently saw it for themselves.
“We ended up speaking with two clerks at the office and they both confirmed that that it was a statutory requirement,” Ramkishun, 26, told ARLnow. “They told us if we didn’t want to put down a race we would have to put down ‘Other.'”
Arlington requires applicants to choose from identifying as black, American Indian, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, or Other on their application.
Sarfo is from Ghana and Ramkishun’s family is from Guyana, though because her ancestors are from western India she identifies as Asian Indian. There are no boxes that fix their ancestry, and Ramiksun said even if there were she wouldn’t want to fill them out.
“Why does the government need to know that information in order for me to marry Sam?” she said.
The two got engaged two years ago after they both worked at the Abercrombie and Fitch in the Pentagon City mall in 2013. Since then, the couple moved to Florida but hoped to get married in Arlington to commemorate where they met, and make travel easier for friends and family still located in the D.C. area.
“If we are the first couple to have changed made for us it’s going to mean everything,” said Sarfo, 34. “It’s something that could go a long way.”
Glasberg said when he married his wife in 1980, the requirement struck him as odd. He said he tried to write down “human”on their marriage license application in Alexandria, but the clerk said, “Yeah you can put it down and you won’t get a license.”
After thinking about it over the years, the attorney said he decided to try to remove the requirement after archives indicate Plecker required people to list race on birth certificates and marriage license to prevent interracial marriage.
In case exhibits, Glasberg included copies of letters that Plecker’s office sent families after the 1922 act passed, warning them that “it is an awful thing” to pass their mixed race children off as white as they were not supposed to be in white schools or allowed to marry white partners.
In one letter, the official said hundreds of black Virginians were registering as Native American on their birth certificates “with the ultimate purpose of passing over and marrying into the white race” but his office was able to catch them by tracing ancestry information with the U.S. Census. In another letter, the eugenicist writes to a Circuit Court judge that it is a “a favorite trick of these mixed breeds” to cross county lines to register as white on birth certificates and marriage licenses.
Plecker ended a 1943 letter with a boast about the racial database his office amassed on Virginia citizens, writing that “Hitler’s genealogical study of the Jews is not more complete.”
— John Meehan (@MeehanEDU) March 28, 2018
A social studies teacher popped the question to a fellow educator at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington yesterday, and the proposal was captured on video.
The couple, John Whittaker and Lisa Moynihan, met when they were both teaching at the private school, which is also known by the acronym DJO. That culminated in a moment Wednesday afternoon that gave “new meaning to ‘student engagement,'” in the words of one of their colleagues.
Moynihan recounted what happened.
“It was a total surprise to me — John, who taught at DJO last year but is currently teaching at Visitation, had coordinated with some of our friends and colleagues to help him pull it off,” she wrote. “Many of our former students were there to witness it all. It was such a special moment, because as he said in his proposal, O’Connell is where we met and fell in love.”
Students cheered as Moynihan tearfully said “yes.”
There was also something special about the ring, which is not seen clearly in the video. Whittaker had arranged to propose with the ring Moynihan’s grandfather gave to her grandmother just before he went off to enlist during World War II.
The newly-engaged couple plans to get married at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame in the summer of 2019.
Readers of Washington City Paper recently voted the neighborhood joint ‘Best Pizza’ in the paper’s annual Best of DC series, and the Wilson Blvd restaurant used that as an opportunity to highlight its apparent propensity for being a spot for successful first dates.
Together with Faccia Luna locations in Alexandria and State College, Pa., co-owner Joe Corey says he has talked to at minimum 300 couples who had their first date at Faccia Luna and eventually got married. At least five couples whose relationship started at Faccia Luna returned to the restaurant to propose, and two more have held their wedding receptions there.
“We always knew about it — we would talk to our customers, and every week we would find one or two new couples who had had their first date here,” Corey said. “This is something to be proud of.”
About a year and a half ago, after years of hearing stories of first dates leading to marriages, Faccia Luna began officially documenting the trend, via a continuously updated Word document.
Faccia Luna Trattoria’s Arlington location is 23 years old; the restaurant’s first location opened its doors in State College, PA in 1989. Corey describes Faccia Luna as a homegrown restaurant and attributes its longevity and success as a neighborhood institution to its “commitment to quality, coupled with an upscale, urban design.”
Washington City Paper readers praised Faccia Luna for what they called “real Italian pizza.”
“Pizzerias have come and gone, presidents have come and gone, even those critically acclaimed pizzerias have come and gone and still Faccia Luna has met the ‘Taste of Thyme,'” the restaurant said in a press release.
Iwo Jima Anniversary — Today marks the 70th anniversary of the famous photo of Marines raising the flag during on Iwo Jima during World War II. Veterans of the battle gathered at the Marine Corps War Memorial near Rosslyn, which depicts the flag raising, to mark its anniversary last week. [Stars and Stripes]
Impromptu Marriage at Fire Station — A Marine and his fiance got married at Arlington’s Fire Station 5 Saturday night. Firefighters got the call at 6:00 p.m. that the Marine, who was deploying the next day, was in desperate need of a hall after their venue was closed due to broken pipes. Firefighters were able to hastily mop the floor and set up chairs in one of the station’s bays before the bride and groom arrived for the short ceremony. [Facebook]
Man Falls on Tracks at Ballston Metro — Around 8:15 this morning, a man somehow fell onto the outbound tracks at the Ballston Metro station. Bystanders were able to hoist the man back onto the platform. According to scanner traffic, he suffered a head injury.
SUV Rollover Near Columbia Pike — An SUV crashed and rolled onto its side at Walter Reed Drive and 13 Street S., near Columbia Pike, on Friday night. The vehicle’s occupants were unhurt and were able to get out on their own, according to a fire department spokesman. Also Friday night, a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle on N. Glebe Road near Pershing Drive. The victim was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. [Twitter]
Benjamin Banneker Park to Expand — At its Saturday meeting, the Arlington County Board approved the purchase of a 8,375 square foot lot and home adjacent to Benjamin Banneker Park in East Fall Church. The $688,710 purchase will allow the park to expand, following the deconstruction of the house. [Arlington County]
James Hunter Park Cost Infographic — What caused the James Hunter dog park in Clarendon to cost so much? Washingtonian has created an interactive graphic that details some of the park’s features and their price tag. [Washingtonian]
Condo Parking Space Kerfuffle — At Saturday’s County Board meeting, the last item of the day, before the Board adjourned early due to the snowstorm, was a site plan amendment for the Virginia Square Condominiums building. The site plan amendment was proposed by the condo association to try to ameliorate a dispute over the size of two parking spaces. ARLnow.com live tweeted the absurdist theater that followed. [Storify]
Flickr pool photo by J. Peterson
County Board Nixes TJ Elementary Plan — The Arlington County Board voted last night to refuse to allow Arlington Public Schools to build a new elementary school next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, at least for now. Libby Garvey, a former school board member, was the lone dissenting voice on the 4-1 vote. She agreed with the school system that new elementary school seats are urgently needed in South Arlington. The board majority said the school system needs to go back and study alternatives again, since the elementary school could have negative impacts on the surrounding community. “You have to be a little more crowded for awhile,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes told school officials. [Washington Post, Arlington County]
Board Approves Overnight Gas Sales at 7-Eleven — Just down the street from Thomas Jefferson Middle School, on S. Glebe Road, exists a 7-Eleven convenience store and gas station that heretofore has not been allowed to sell gas from midnight to 6:00 a.m. The condition was put in place by the County Board in 1992, due to concern about traffic, noise and other neighborhood impacts. On Saturday the Board approved, with neighborhood support, a use permit change that will allow gas to be pumped 24/7. [InsideNova]
Board Approves Pentagon City Apartment Building — Also on Saturday, the County Board approved a new 20 story, 453 unit apartment building at 400 Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City. The developer of the project agreed to a nearly $10 million community benefits package and to building to LEED Gold sustainability certification standards. [InsideNova]
Jury Duty Phone Scam Returns — Once again, someone is calling Arlington residents, claiming to be a law enforcement officer and demanding payment over the phone because the call recipient supposedly failed to appear for jury duty. As it did last March, the police department is reminding residents that this is a scam. [Arlington County Police]
Octogenarian Still in the Marriage Business — Our Man in Arlington columnist Charlie Clark has a profile of Gerald Williams, who at age 82 is still performing 25-30 civil marriage ceremonies per week from a basement office in Courthouse. Williams was also profiled in a short documentary called “Arlington is for Lovers?” that was produced in 2010. [Falls Church News-Press]
It looks like someone proposed on the Custis Trail yesterday.
A reader sent these photos, taken on the stretch of the trail off Quincy Street, near the pond. A series of signs starts with: “From the day we first met I knew I loved you the best.” It ends with the message: “Which is why I want to ask you this one special question.”
“I didn’t get to see the proposal in action,” says reader Abby Hughey. “But thought you might want to post [it]… cheers to happy stories like this one!”
If you know the backstory, share it with us: [email protected]
This isn’t the first time someone has used homemade signs to express affection in public in Arlington. Last March someone posted love letters to utility poles along Lorcom Lane.
(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) The crowd at Friday night’s outdoor showing of Grease in Rosslyn got to witness an extra bit of summer lovin’ — a choreographed, real-life marriage proposal.
At first, the stunt looked like a simple “flash mob” — a group of dancers filming a viral video. But as the song wrapped up, the movie was paused and 30-year-old Tyler Pepin, of Arlington, got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend, Sara.
“Sara, you’re my best friend and you’re the one I want to spend the rest of my life with,” Pepin said, as Sara looked surprised. “Will you marry me?”
The crowd cheered as Sara said yes. The film resumed shortly thereafter.
“Sorry about that guys, but it was a good cause,” the projector operator said amid another round of applause for the newly-engaged couple. Grease was the final flick of the season for Rosslyn’s outdoor film fest.
Editor’s Note: This new sponsored Q&A column is written by Mathew B. Tully of Tully Rinckey PLLC.
Question: My soon-to-be-ex-husband makes less than I do. Does that mean I have to pay spousal support after we divorce?
The short answer here is probably; however, it can sometimes be impossible to predict what a court is going to do when it comes to spousal support.
In assessing whether you would owe spousal support, the court would look at a number of factors such as your respective incomes, the duration of your marriage, standard of living during the marriage, how property was distributed, and the decisions made during the marriage as they affect your earning potential. So if the difference between incomes is slight and it was a short marriage, it is unlikely that you will pay support. In contrast, if there was a sizable difference in income and you were married a long time, you will most likely pay support.
Even after you owe spousal support, the next step is to figure out how much and for how long you will pay it. Unlike child support which has a set duration and guidelines, there are no statewide guidelines for determining either the amount or duration of spousal support. For duration, the general rule of thumb is half the length of the marriage, but exceptions often occur for exceptionally short or long marriages. If you have been married for a long time, you may owe permanent spousal support. In terms of the amount, some courts have adopted their own guidelines for determining support, even on a temporary basis, as is the case in Fairfax. But most courts, including Arlington, base the amount on each spouse’s financial needs and the totality of the circumstances.
On other side of the coin, if you are the one filing for spousal support before filing for divorce (during the separation period), you can seek temporary support from the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.
As you can see, there are many different factors to consider when it comes to spousal support – it is a complicated area of law that you should not take on without seeking the advice of an attorney.
This week, gay marriage has come to the forefront of American politics as the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments regarding California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In light of the proceedings, Rep. Jim Moran (D) is reiterating his stance as an advocate of LGBT rights, including gay marriage and full marriage benefits.
DOMA overwhelmingly passed in Congress in 1996, but Moran notes he was one of the few who voted against the law. He released the following statement on Wednesday, following oral arguments in the case of United States v. Windsor, which challenges the constitutionality of DOMA:
“DOMA is unjust and un-American, contradicting long-standing legal principles and blatantly discriminating against specific legal marriages just because they involve gay and lesbian couples. DOMA flies in the face of our nation’s commitment to civil rights. I am proud to have been one of the 67 representatives who voted against this law’s passage in 1996.
“It’s also disturbing that House Republicans have wasted over $3 million defending DOMA in court over the past three years. I find it unconscionable that while budgets are being slashed by sequestration and many federal workers face furloughs, Republicans in the House voted to pay private lawyers $525 per hour to defend this discriminatory law.
“I strongly support the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry and have full access to the benefits and obligations of marriage. While churches should continue to be able to sanction marriages consistent with their faith, discrimination has no place in the laws that govern our country.
“In addition to being the truly ‘pro-family’ position, marriage equality is an issue that tests our nation’s fidelity to our fundamental values. The Declaration of Independence affirms that ‘all men are created equal’ and that every American has a right to ‘the pursuit of happiness.’ Surely these principles cannot be fulfilled without the ability to marry the person you love.”