State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) has again proposed a bill to decriminalize marijuana for personal use in Virginia.
Ebbin, who has won the endorsement of the pro-pot group NORML, proposed a similar bill last year, but it failed in the conservative Virginia General Assembly.
The bill, SB 104, would reduce marijuana possession to a civil offense punishable only by fines, like a traffic ticket, rather than jail time. It would also reduce the criminal penalties for marijuana distribution and possession with the intent to distribute.
Would you like to see marijuana decriminalized in Virginia?
W-L Defeats Yorktown, Twice — The Washington-Lee girls’ and boys’ varsity basketball teams both defeated their Yorktown counterparts yesterday, in cross-county rivalry games. The girls won 54-45, while the boys won 65-59.
Branson-Backed Startup Coming to Rosslyn — OneWeb, a startup that’s aiming to launch a constellation of low-orbit satellites that will provide affordable Internet access across the globe, is coming to Rosslyn. The company, backed by Virgin Group tycoon Richard Branson, will occupy a 6,000-square-foot space in Monday Properties’ 1400 Key Blvd building. The building, which is also home to ARLnow.com, is slated to replaced with an apartment tower and grocery store at some point, though it’s unclear when the redevelopment will move forward. [Washington Business Journal]
Reminder: Get Rid of Dry Christmas Trees — The Arlington County Fire Department is reminding residents that dry Christmas trees are a big fire hazard. The county is currently in the midst of its annual Christmas tree collection. [Twitter]
A-SPAN Kudos for Paisano’s — Paisano’s Pizza saved the day for the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, after A-SPAN’s planned hot dinner for its homeless clients fell through at the last minute. Paisano’s delivered pasta, salad and garlic bread on a cold night and on short notice. [Facebook]
Levine Proposes LGBT Rights Bills — Yesterday we reported on three LGBT rights bills proposed by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D). Delegate-elect Mark Levine (D), who represents part of South Arlington and Alexandria, has proposed several such bills of his own. Among them are bills prohibiting employment, housing and other discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Levine was formerly legislative counsel to former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). [Washington Blade]
TransportationCamp DC Coming to GMU — George Mason University’s Arlington campus will host the 5th annual TransportationCamp DC gathering on Saturday. The “un-conference” will discuss various transportation, technology and mobility issues. More than 400 “thought leaders, young professionals, and students from around the country” are expected to attend. [TransportationCamp]
Thank You to Crystal City Rotary Club — Thank you to the Crystal City-Pentagon Rotary Club for a hearty breakfast this morning. ARLnow.com founder Scott Brodbeck spoke to the group about his experience running a small business that happens to be Arlington’s most-read local news outlet. ARLnow.com will celebrate its sixth anniversary on Jan. 29.
State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) has proposed a bill that would prevent the State Corporation Commission (SCC) from approving licenses for payday lending and motor vehicle title lending offices within 20 miles of a casino facility.
Payday lending offices give unsecured, small loans in the form of cash advances, and title lenders give secured loans for which the borrowers can use their car as collateral.
If passed, applicants looking to establish either kind of office would have to prove that their proposed location is not within 20 miles of a casino in any state. That 20 mile limit would start at a casino’s front door and be measured in a straight line.
The bill specifies that any payday or title lender that opens before July 1, 2016, will not have its license revoked even if it’s within 20 miles of a casino, and any such lender that opens after that date will not have its license revoked if a casino later opens within 20 miles.
Though reports earlier this fall suggested a recently-recognized Pamunkey Indian tribe wanted to open one outside Richmond, there are no casinos in the Commonwealth.
The bill would effectively ban new payday and title lenders in Arlington County after the planned MGM National Harbor casino opens. That opening is currently set for the second half of 2016.
Ebbin — who represents parts of Arlington County, Alexandria and Fairfax County — could not be reached for comment.
The bill is currently in committee and must pass there before being considered by the Virginia General Assembly. It faces steep odds in the Republican-controlled, business-friendly state legislature. The 2016 legislative session begins in two weeks and is scheduled to last 60 days.
State Sen. Janet Howell (D), who represents parts of Arlington, has proposed a bill to exclude the name and address of registered sex offenders’ employers from the publicly available registry system.
The proposed bill would amend a section of the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry Act that deals with sharing registry information via the internet.
Howell’s bill would remove employer information from the part of the online system that’s available to the public.
Convicted sex offenders often have difficulty getting a job after being listed on the sex offender registry. Removing employer information would eliminate at least one disincentive from hiring a sex offender who has already served their time.
This is not the first time in the last five years such a bill has been proposed to the state legislature. Two previous bills also attempted to stop publishing employer information on the public online system. In 2010, the bill passed in the state Senate but was tabled in a House committee. It had less success in 2012, tabled again in a House committee without Senate consideration.
Howell didn’t introduce either of those bills, and could not be reached for comment on this year’s proposal. However, fellow local legislator Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) was one of the House members who proposed the bill in 2012.
In addition to their employer’s name and address, an offender’s name, age, current address, photograph and a description of the offense they committed with the date they were convicted are available to the public via the online registry system, which is maintained by the State Police.
Virginia’s 2016 General Assembly legislative session is scheduled to last for 60 days, beginning on Jan. 13 and ending on March 12.
The county’s 2016 legislative priorities will be sent to and considered by Arlington’s state legislative delegation.
It includes a series of legislative proposals compiled by Board members and county staff, outlining key issues the county would like local lawmakers to address in legislation.
This year’s legislative priorities include:
- Reauthorization of the 0.25% hotel tax, with revenue to be used for tourism promotion
- Ensuring the state continues long-term funding commitments to WMATA
- Lifting a prohibition on flashing lights on Metrobuses
- Renaming Jefferson Davis Highway
- Supporting nonpartisan redistricting
- Opposing any state mandates “requiring local law enforcement officers to evaluate the immigration status of individuals encountered during lawful stops or other routine police activities.”
- Supporting the policy that allows police departments to retain data from license plate readers to assist with investigations
- Allowing a summons to be issued after a camera catches a driver illegally passing a stopped school bus
- Allowing localities to impose a small tax on single-use bags, in order to encourage use of reusable bags
- Supporting full Medicaid expansion in Virginia under the Affordable Care Act
- Avoiding any additional unfunded mandates for localities
- Retaining all local taxing authority, including the business license (or BPOL) tax
In total, there are more than 50 priorities in the package, divided into eight categories.
Virginia’s 2016 General Assembly session will last for 60 days, beginning on Jan. 13 and ending on March 12.
Photo via Virginia General Assembly
Murder Victim Feared Her Estranged Husband — Bonnie Black, who was found dead in her home in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood on April 17, feared her estranged husband, court documents show. After months of continuing to live in the neighborhood a free man during the investigation, David Black is now in jail, charged with murder. [NBC Washington]
Wakefield, W-L Fall in Football Playoffs — The playoff runs for the Wakefield and Washington-Lee high school football teams have ended early. Wakefield could’t hang on to a 6-0 lead at halftime, falling to Potomac Falls 21-6, while W-L lost 44-20 to Westfield. [InsideNova, Washington Post]
Arlington Wants I-66 Widening Delayed — This week the Arlington County Board is scheduled to decide its position on the plan for tolling on I-66. At its Saturday meeting the Board made clear that it wants to delay the widening of the highway as long as possible. Meanwhile, responding to questions from county officials, VDOT says it’s not able to fully enforce existing HOV restrictions on I-66 because the enforcement causes significant traffic delays. Nearly half of the clogged rush hour traffic on I-66 is believed to be HOV rule breakers. [WTOP, WTOP]
County May Ask for Paper, Plastic Bag Tax Authority — Despite failing efforts in previous years, Arlington County’s draft legislative agenda seeks to again ask the Virginia General Assembly for the authority to levy a small tax on single-use paper and plastic bags. The proposal may exempt bags for certain items, like newspapers, dry cleaning and prescription drugs. [InsideNova]
Historic House for Sale — A 145-year-old house known as “The Hill” is now for sale in Arlington’s Old Glebe neighborhood. Originally a summer home for a prominent D.C. family, the four-bedroom house is on the market for $1,568,000. [Preservation Arlington]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Del. Patrick Hope is calling on Virginia lawmakers and Gov. Terry McAuliffe to pass a bill requiring universal background checks for gun sales conducted in the Commonweatlth.
Spurred by the recent shooting in Roanoke, Virginia, Hope took to the Internet, creating a petition on Change.org about universal background checks. The petition received more than 20,000 signatures in the first 24 hours, Hope said. As of today, more than 28,000 people had signed.
“People are angry,” Hope said. “People are angry by the inaction.”
Hope joined seven other Virginia delegates at a press conference in front of the Arlington County courthouse Thursday, talking about the need for universal background checks.
“We’re here today committed to do something about gun violence,” he said during the press conference. “We’re here today because we’ve grown really sick and tired that every single day we hear that there’s another mass shooting, and that we do nothing.”
According to hope, universal background checks are an easy, noncontroversial measure that can be changed and most voters support them.
“No responsible gun owner is afraid of a background check,” he said.
Most Virginia residents believe that there is already a law in place requiring a background check before every gun sale, Hope said, which is not the case.
Currently, there is a loophole in Virginia that doesn’t require background checks for sales at gun shows. Hope said he went to a gun show and asked if he could get a gun without a background check. Instead of raising red flags, the vendors were more than happy to help him.
“It’s as easy as buying a pack of bubble gum,” he said.
There will be legislation introduced in 2016 calling for the universal background checks, according to Hope, but it has to also pass the state Senate, which has killed gun control reforms in the past. The only difference between this year and next is that 2016 is an election year.
“The only way we’re going to get legislators to change their minds is if the voters force them to,” he said.
Universal background checks won’t prevent every tragedy, Hope said, pointing to the Roanoke shooting, where the shooter legally bought a gun, but it can prevent some.
“If we can prevent one incident from occurring, then we should do it,” Hope said.
Photo courtesy Blue Virginia
The Arlington County Board on Tuesday adopted a resolution, by a vote of 3-0-2, calling on the Washington Redskins to change the team’s “objectionable” name.
“I read in the news this week that the Arlington County Board — having run out of actual problems — has decided to enter the world of naming professional sports teams,” Petersen wrote, introducing his list. “So what names fit for Virginia’s most ‘politically correct’ elected body?”
Petersen’s top 10 list is as follows.
- “The Dog Park Warriors”
- “The Million Dollar Bus Stops”
- “The Abandoned Street Cars”
- “The (Over) Regulators”
- “The Tax and Spenders”
- “The Vicious Vegans”
- “Poets in Turtlenecks”
- “The Exploited”
- “White Liberal Angst”
- “The Granola Bars”
Del. Rob Krupicka announced in an email to his campaign’s mailing list that he would not seek re-election this fall, leaving the 45th House of Delegates District as another open race on the November ballot.
Last year, according to the Washington Post, he opened a location of Sugar Shack Donuts in Alexandria. In his announcement, he said running the business, along with his family and legislative obligations, was too much to take on.
“Between business, family, and public service, it is clear that I’m burning more candles at more ends than I can sustain,” he said in a press release. “Having spent over half of my adult life involved in public service in some way or another, it is time for me to step back from elected life to focus on my growing business and on my family. I don’t like to do anything halfway and the demands on my time make it impossible for me to be the engaged, active public servant that I have always tried to be.”
Krupicka was elected in a special election in 2012 after his predecessor, David Englin, resigned amid his admission of marital infidelity. Krupicka was re-elected in November 2013 and is retiring after just one full term.
Krupicka served as an Alexandria City Councilman and on the state Board of Education before being elected to the House of Delegates. The 45th District covers parts of southeast Arlington, a large swath of Alexandria and a portion of Fairfax County.
Before Krupicka won the 2012 special election, he lost in a Democratic primary for the seat of state Sen. Adam Ebbin in 2011. Ebbin (D-30) released a statement following Krupicka’s announcement this afternoon.
“I was surprised to learn that Delegate Rob Krupicka has decided not to run for re-election this year,” Ebbin said. “Rob’s passion for education and expertise on the benefits of pre-K and high-stakes testing have made a difference, both from his work in the House of Delegates as well as on the State Board of Education. His well-informed, collaborative nature is just what the General Assembly needs more of and will be sorely missed. Rob has been a friend for 20 years, and I understand and admire his dedication to his family.”
Krupicka’s full announcement, after the jump. (more…)
School Board Says No to Wilson School Historic Status — Any hope preservationists had of salvaging pieces of Rosslyn’s Wilson School are likely dashed. The Arlington School Board voted last night, during an abbreviated meeting, to reject the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board’s proposal to give the Wilson School, built in 1910 at 1601 Wilson Blvd, historic protections. It has been renovated in the interim, and school officials contend the renovation diminishes its historic value. [InsideNova]
Cops Looking for Crime-Fighting Cabbie — Arlington police are trying to find a cab driver who helped them make an arrest in Pentagon City Tuesday night. An officer was trying to chase down a man suspected of stealing from a store in Pentagon City mall when the cab pulled up and the driver told the officer to hop in. The cab drove up to the suspect and the officer got out and made the arrest — but the driver left the scene before police could thank him and pay the fare. [WJLA]
Happy Hour Advertising Bill Passes — Both houses of the Virginia General Assembly have passed a bill that would allow Virginia bars to list the names of drinks they’re offering when advertising happy hour specials. Current ABC laws prohibit ads that use language like “beer and wine specials” or “discounted margaritas.” Even under the new legislation, however, bars would still be prohibited from listing the actual prices of happy hour specials in their advertising. [WTOP]
Rollover Wreck on Washington Blvd — An SUV reportedly ran into two parked cars and then rolled over on Washington Blvd last night. [Twitter]
History of Glebe Road — Why is Glebe Road so named? The road, which dates back to the mid-18th century, is not, as one might think, named after a person. [Ghosts of DC]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin
Del. Patrick Hope is chief patron of HB 2308, which allows counties with the county manager form of government — namely, Arlington — to hire an auditor with the power to “make performance reviews of operations of county agencies or county-funded programs.” The auditor would ensure money is being spent wisely and evaluate the effectiveness of those agencies and programs.
The bill passed the House of Delegates unanimously yesterday.
“I believe in the case of Arlington, where we have more than a $1 billion operating budget and over 3,000 employees, localities who don’t already have this authority will be seeking it to ensure government is working as efficiently as possible,” Hope told ARLnow.com in an email today. “If this authority is exercised, I think it will give Arlington residents an added level of confidence that their taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely.”
Currently, the County Board only has the authority to hire a county manager, county clerk and county attorney. County Board member John Vihstadt has been pushing for the county to hire an independent auditor since his election last April. If Hope’s bill passes the state Senate and is signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe — which Hope expects, but “I’ve learned over the years you never know” — the Board will begin to deliberate hiring its own independent auditor.
Board member Jay Fisette serves as the five-member panel’s legislative liaision, and is a former auditor himself. He said Hope’s bill is “another tool to consider” as the county develops its budget for the next fiscal year. Fisette said the county used to have several auditing mechanisms, but many of them were cut during the economic recession.
At one point, the county had an audit committee with a $100,000 budget that evaluated performance contracts, Fisette said. A decade ago, the county had two internal auditors ensuring that money wasn’t being spent fraudulently, but budget cuts have meant those services are now contracted out.
“The manager has been working to hire an internal auditor, and we had a great candidate who backed out,” Fisette said. He added that the Board supports Hope’s legislation. “We will set up, in the next few months, the best way to support that audit function. Who would oversee the work plan if they are going to report to us.”
Hope said the state Senate will likely consider the bill within the next two weeks.
A bill co-sponsored by Arlington legislators that would require college campuses to provide survivors of sexual assaults with options for off-campus resources — like counseling and law enforcement — has passed the state Senate.
Sens. Barbara Favola (D) and Adam Ebbin (D) are co-patrons of SB 1329, which would require colleges to establish memorandums of understanding with “a local sexual assault crisis center or other victim support service,” refer victims to the center and encourage them to preserve physical evidence for a police investigation.
“This legislation represents a positive step in protecting our young people and making college campuses safer,” Favola said in a press release. “SB 1329 strengthens support systems for sexual assault survivors and empowers these survivors to pursue charges against their assailants.”
The bill would also allow victims to submit anonymous reports and provides “for nonretaliation by the institution against victims who fear their conduct may also be questioned or who are concerned that an official report might jeopardize their academic status.”
The bill passed the Senate unanimously. It also was referred out of two committees unanimously. It will now go before the heavily Republican House of Delegates.
The Senate also unanimously passed two companion bills, SB 1193 and SB 712. SB 1193 would require colleges and universities to prominently mark a student’s permanent transcript if the student withdraws, is expelled or is placed on probation for a sexual assualt violation. SB 712 requires higher education employees to report any student sexual assault they are aware of to the campus’ Title IX coordinator within four hours.
Rosslyn: Hub of Hillary Intrigue — Rosslyn is home to an organization devoted to helping Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects, an organization that spends much of its time trying to dig up dirt on Hillary, and a news organization that is covering the 2016 presidential race. This has created some awkward moments at Rosslyn’s few after-work watering holes. Concludes a magazine article: “The epicenter of the country’s great Hillary debate remains a small, charm-deficient enclave across the river from D.C.” [National Journal]
State Legislators Pass Uber Bill — Both houses of the Virginia General Assembly have passed a bill that would allow ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft to operate legally in the Commonwealth. [Washington Business Journal]
Bachelor Contestant Is From Arlington — Jillian Anderson, a now-former contestant on this season of ABC’s “The Bachelor,” is an Arlington resident. Anderson, 25, is described as a competitive weightlifter and an “outspoken gym junkie.” [WJLA]
Crystal City: City of the Future? — Paul Singh, founder of Crystal City-based Disruption Corporation and its Crystal Tech Fund, says he wants to model a “sustainable model for an American city of the future” in Crystal City. “Our efforts in the city should be a 100-year legacy,” he said. [Technically DC]
Flickr pool photo by Jim Webster
But the estimated 400,000 state residents who do not have health insurance will have to continue to wait after Hope’s healthcare bill, HB 2212, was defeated by voice vote by a House of Delegates subcommittee.
“Disappointed my bill [to] expand access to 400k Virginians was defeated,” Hope tweeted yesterday. “The uninsured aren’t going away; neither am I.”
Hope has been the lead delegate in the House of Delegates’ Democratic Caucus on health care, with efforts again focused on expanding Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act. The issue is one of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s priorities for this legislative session.
Speaking to ARLnow.com last week, Hope said he believed bipartisan support was possible for his bill, either in its proposed form or after amendments.
“I’m optimistic we are going to pass this bill or a version of it,” he said. “Virginia is getting closer and closer to that day. We really can’t ignore the economics of this. It’s mainly because we’re really double and triple taxing our residents every single day if we don’t do anything.”
The state’s wealthier residents are already paying taxes to fund federal Medicaid expansion, Hope said, and if Virginia doesn’t expand Medicaid, the money “goes right to Washington, not us.” In addition, Hope said, hospitals that care for uninsured patients who can’t pay their bills pass on the expenses in the forms of higher premiums and costs to those paying for insurance.
Hope said expanding Medicaid would inject $2 billion into the economy by covering holes in the budget, creating Medicaid-related jobs and lowering premiums. The state budgets $200 million for prison reform, mental illness and indigent care, Hope said, all of which would be covered by Medicaid and the federal government.
“Virginia families all over the commonwealth are one accident or one illness away from financial ruin,” Hope said. “The economics are so overwhelming, and I just don’t see how much longer we can walk away from $2 billion because people will still be getting sick.”
On the phone from Richmond this morning, Hope was defiant about expanding Medicaid, saying Republicans are putting “politics before economics” in a year every member of the General Assembly is up for re-election. Thirty states have voted to expand Medicaid, he said, 10 of which have Republican governors.
“Virginia’s just not there in an election year,” he said. “I think it’s just going to reach a point where we can no longer let our politics get in the way of what’s right. I generally have a policy of when I see $2 billion on the ground, I pick it up.”
All gun control bills proposed by Democrats that went before the Virginia Senate Courts of Justice Committee yesterday were defeated. Among the legislation struck down was a bill from Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) that would have made it illegal for parents to allow a child 4 years old or younger to use a firearm.
Another bill, from Sen. Barbara Favola (D), would have prevented those convicted of stalking or sexual battery from carrying a firearm.
More than a dozen bills that would restrict everything from who can purchase guns, which convicted criminals can carry guns and how many guns one person can buy were all struck down by the committee. The bills’ defeat was not a surprise considering Republicans control the state Senate and the House of Delegates, and the GOP has long opposed any legislation viewed as restricting Second Amendment rights.
“Handing a child under the age of 4 a gun, the adult is no longer in control of the situation. Simply requiring adult supervision, even with careful instruction, cannot guarantee the safety of anyone nearby,” Del. Alfonso Lopez, who proposed similar legislation to Ebbin’s bill in the House of Delegates, said in a speech before the General Assembly. “If it’s illegal to hand a gun to a person with the mental capabilities of a 4 year-old, why would you hand a gun to an actual 4 year-old?”
Ebbin’s major legislation was an omnibus gun bill that restricted the use of and ability to carry firearms when drinking, at restaurants, and leaving loaded firearms around minors among a litany of other proposed regulations. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the large bill “took longer to present than it did to debate and vote down.”
Before the committee met, Ebbin spoke with ARLnow.com about gun control measures, and he was optimistic that some reforms could pass.
“I’m not sure how much consensus we’ll reach, but gun violence is going to be a big discussion we’re having,” Ebbin said. “I have a thick skin and a positive attitude. Too many people are dying to not press forward on it.”
Favola’s bill to prevent stalkers and those convicted of sexual battery from possessing firearms was originally reported out of committee — meaning it would go before the state senate — and the committee’s Republican chairman, Sen. Thomas Norment, was heard voting “aye” for Favola’s bill. Hours later, on the legislature’s website, the bill was reported defeated, leading to outcry from senate Democrats.
“This smacks of back-room politics,” Favola told ARLnow.com. The bill will be reconsidered by the committee tomorrow afternoon, according to Favola’s office.
In contrast to the legislation that was shot down, a bill advanced out of committee that would allow people with concealed handgun permits to carry guns on school property when there are no school activities happening. It’s unclear if that, or other pro-gun rights laws, will be vetoed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).