With the election behind us, I've been able to focus more on what the future holds, and preparing legislation for the 2020 session of the General Assembly. As you can imagine, it will be more difficult to implement good policies in the next couple of years, but I'm hopeful that I can continue to make good progress on some of my ongoing efforts.
Late this week the Virginia State Police provided me with information that really grabbed my attention. The number of Concealed Carry permits issued in 33rd District Counties compared to the overall population of these counties is huge: Clark 1/7, Frederick 1/9, Loudoun 1/24.
As the recently-elected Democrat majorities threaten to diminish our Constitutionally-protected God given right to possess guns and be equipped for self-defense, I’m sure that there are many law-abiding citizens in the 33rd District and the Commonwealth overall who are sensible gun owners.
I've been meeting with Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and their consultant on the Dulles Greenway study that Sen. Black and I pushed through the legislature last year. The Greenway, Dulles Toll Road and I-66 tolls have escalated to unbearable levels, a trend that we intend to reverse.
Dulles Greenway Travel-time Signs
We are also working with Loudoun County and VDOT, asking to them to install travel-time signage at each end of the Greenway. This will give commuters real time information on the time difference from Leesburg to Rt. 28 via the Greenway or Rt. 7. The goal is to help commuters decide ifpaying the high toll is worth it.
Route 7, with the Battlefield Pkwy. and Cardinal Park Dr. lights going away in the next year, will be free of stop lights from Berryville to Countryside Blvd. in Sterling and south on 28 to Dulles Airport.
E-Z Pass Billing Improvement
I've worked with VDOT to implement a suggestion from a constituent whom received an erroneous high tollcharge. A new setting, which should roll out in the next 60 days, will allow the account holder to set a threshold
(minimum of $5.00), and E-ZPass will generate a daily email showing number of tolls and their amounts for any day the threshold is met.
Regional Transportation Funding- IMPORTANT ALERT
Once again, mass transit’s insatiable appetite for subsidies wants to gobble up our tax and toll dollars to go outside the network used by local commuters. In a plan that is currently unfolding, the Secretary of Transportation is asking to divert money from SMART SCALE state funds, I-66 toll revenues, and 1/4 of
NVTA regional funding. I'll continue to oppose this as there are plenty of more cost-effective projects which impact more commuters in our region. The goal of all my efforts in this area is to build roads and bus networks that get users there and back with minimal delay and avoid having my hard-working constituents treated as ATMs.
Who Will Guard the Henhouse?
I don't know if the new Speaker of the House will re-appoint me to continue my watchdog role on the committees and commissions which oversee Transportation, but someone needs to guard the henhouse. Without proper controls, mass transit becomes lawless. At the November meeting of The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, we
were told that the Washington Metro system loses about $40 million/year in fare evasion, partly because the DC Council has blocked enforcement.
Advancing Local Priorities in the Legislature:
I've recently met with officials from Leesburg, Clarke County, Loudoun County Public Schools, and the Public Defenders who serve the 33rd District, to discuss their suggested legislation. I plan to meet with Frederick and Loudoun soon, and will carry several bills to address concerns brought to me by our local elected officials.
Balanced Taxation in Frederick County
Frederick County just adopted their legislative program and their top priority seeks to expire an outdated tax exemption issued by the Commonwealth decades ago that allows Westminster Canterbury to dodge paying their fair share of property tax to Frederick County. I've been working on fixing this for several years, with the goal of reducing future property tax increases in Frederick County - we'll see if the changes in Richmond help us make progress on this matter.
Celebrating Veterans Day
I was honored to participate in the Veterans Day observances in Lovettsville this week, and meet Eric Wyant, a local 94-year-old World War II Veteran. I'm proud of the work we've done in the legislature, as well as many local non-profits and members of our community who make Virginia a wonderful Veteran-friendly place. It was very encouraging to hear from one disabled veteran that the VA hospital in Martinsburg, West Virginia, which serves this area, is doing an outstanding job. It was an honor to
speak on behalf of the community to thank our veterans and their families for the sacrifices they make to protect our freedom.
Making a Difference by Advancing Your Ideas
Have you ever thought, "There ought to be a law doing ....."? Or maybe you’ve encountered a law that is unfair or outdated? Let me know of any suggestions you have for legislation, and I'll listen and give your ideas a good look.