- Projects & Events
All Politics Is Local!
Attorney General Mark Herring And the Albemarle County Democratic Party
invite you to a reception with our local candidates for 2015
Friday, May 29th
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
1550 Pantops Mt. Place
This is a fundraiser to support the Albemarle County Democratic Party and its candidates.
Host $2,500 * Patron $1,000 * Friend $500 * Supporter $250
(Sponsors are invited to meet our candidates and Attorney General Herring at 5:30PM)
Individual Tickets $65
RSVP Chair@AlbemarleDems.org and pay online
Directions: From downtown Charlottesville take Rt. 250 East to Pantops. Left at light onto Pantops Mt.
Place. First right into Commonwealth Senior Living.
Authorized by the Albemarle County Democratic Committee
2014 James and Nellie Butler Albemarle County High School Scholarships
This Scholarship program was established in 1998 by the Albemarle County Democratic Party to honor James and Nellie Butler, life-long members of the Democratic Party. The scholarship honors their commitment to Albemarle County and their support for public education. All graduating Albemarle County High School students who plan to attend college, university or an accredited technical/ vocational program are eligible to apply.
Since the creation of the scholarship by the Albemarle County Democratic Party, over $20,000 in scholarship money has been awarded to students to help defray part of their college costs. The Butler Scholarship Committee, after a review of the applications which include an essay, will select the recipients of the 2014 scholarships. Financial need is a consideration.
One $500 scholarship toward post-secondary education tuition is awarded to a senior at each of the four Albemarle High Schools: Albemarle Senior high, Western Albemarle Senior High, Monticello Senior High and Murray Senior High.
Jim Butler served Albemarle County for over 35 years as an agricultural extension agent. He was the first African-American to be named Unit Chairman for an agricultural extension office in Virginia. Jim was also the first African-American elected to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, winning the seat from the Rivanna Magisterial District in 1981.
Nellie Butler was a Girl Scout leader and a 4-H advisor in Albemarle County. She taught at Piedmont Technical Education Center in Culpeper for over 25 years.
Jim Butler was recognized for his many contributions to Albemarle County in 2000, when the Baker-Butler Elementary School was named for him and John Baker, the first African-American Chair of the Albemarle County School Board.
Find additional Information and download the 2014 application. Applications are due by May 10th.
Randolph running for Scottsville Seat on Albemarle Board of Supervisors
May 1, 2015: for immediate release
Rick Randolph, Scottsville District Planning Commissioner, will seek the open Supervisor seat in the Scottsville District of Albemarle County. He will announce his candidacy at 5:00 PM on Monday, May 4 outside the 2nd floor entrance to Lane Auditorium at the County Office Building on McIntyre Road.
“My past 3.5 years as the Scottsville District Planning Commissioner has made me appreciate Albemarle County even more as well as allowed me to better understand how the county operates,” says Randolph. “As Supervisor, I will seek to serve my district and bring about sensible change.”
Rick is committed to maintaining the high level of personal constituent service he has shown as Planning Commissioner, exercising creativity and fiscal caution to build a sustainable budget, increasing educational success for all Albemarle students, and recognizing the benefit of a Master Plan for the Southern Neighborhoods. He will actively seek to identify cost-effective solutions to pressing water and air quality and solid waste issues facing the county.
A resident of the Scottsville District for the past decade, Rick is married to Susan Randolph and between them they have four children, three of whom attended college locally.
After working as Vice President for development at the Alzheimer’s Association for Central and Western Virginia, Rick founded Randolph Coaching & Consulting, a whole health coaching and consulting business consulting firm both for-profit and non-profit businesses. Rick launched Keswick Home Services, a home repair and maintenance company that he operates while serving as a planning commissioner.
Rick is also an active volunteer in the community and currently serves as member of the county’s Capital Improvement Program Oversight Committee, Long-Range Solid Waste Solutions Advisory Committee, Rivanna River Basin Commission and the Village of Rivanna Citizen’s Advisory Council. With Grace Church in Esmont, Rick coordinates the volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, serves as the Vice-President of the Region XV Council of the Episcopal Diocese and is an active lay reader and member of the outreach committee. Previously, Rick served on three of the Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce’s committees and was a member of the coordinating committee for the MS Society’s Tour de Vine.
Prior to moving to Albemarle County, Rick worked as a fundraiser for multiple organizations including a United Way. He also taught and administrated at the K-12 level for 16 years and at the collegiate level for six years with a focus on both politics and the environment. He earned his Bachelors in American government from the University of Virginia, a Masters in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania, and completed his Ph.D, course work in political science at the University of Connecticut.
Randolph looks forward to meeting his neighbors in the Scottsville district and discussing their concerns and ideas during his campaign. Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2015.
JOINT TOWN HALL
Tuesday, May 5
5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 5
5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Senator Creigh Deeds and Delegate David Toscano will hold the second of two town halls this spring on Tuesday, May 5 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Northside Library in the main meeting room. The Library is located at 705 West Rio Road, Charlottesville, VA 22901
Call to Democratic Party Caucus
Virginia 17th State Senate District
Call. Pursuant to the Democratic Party Plan of Virginia (“the Party Plan”), the 17th State Senate District Democratic Nominating Committee (“the Committee”) hereby calls an Unassembled Caucus for the sole purpose of choosing a Democratic nominee for the 17th State Senate District (“the 17th District”).
Caucus Rules, Forms, and Information. Caucus Rules will be posted, along with other pertinent forms and information about the nominating process, on the websites of the Spotsylvania, Orange, Albermarle, Louisa, Fredericksburg and Culpeper Democratic Committees. Any changes to the Caucus Rules will be updated at that site.
General Participation Requirements. Each participant in the Caucus must be a qualified voter in the 17th District at the time of their participation. No participant in the Caucus may intend to support any candidate who is opposed to the Democratic nominee in that General Election.
Voting Opportunities. Participants in the Caucus may vote only in person and at the designated time and location. The Caucus will be held from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on May 16, 2015 at the Culpeper Democratic Committee, 102 North Main Street, Suite 200, Culpeper, VA 22701.
Candidate Requirements. Each candidate for nomination must meet all applicable requirements of state law, the Party Plan, and the Caucus Rules. Each candidate for nomination must submit a completed Declaration of Candidacy form and petitions to the Chair of the Committee no later than May 9, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. Each form must bear the original signature of the candidate. If only one qualified candidate files by the deadline, that person will be the nominee of the Democratic Party and the Caucus will be canceled.
For questions about the Caucus, to request any accommodation necessary to ensure full participation, or to file a Declaration of Candidacy, please contact Doug Ferguson, Chair of the Committee, any time at firstname.lastname@example.org (540) 898-3749. Candidates wishing to file must mail their Declaration of Candidacy to the Spotsylvania Democratic Committee, P.O. Box 1231, Spotsylvania, VA 22553-1231 in sufficient time to meet the deadline of 5:00 p.m. on May 9, 2015. (“Postmark does not apply.)
Rules for an Unassembled Caucus
All times shall be read from the official clock, to be determined by the 17th State Senate District Democratic Nominating Committee Chair.
The doors of the caucus room will open and the certification process will begin at 1:00 pm on Saturday, May 16, 2015.
The doors to the caucus meeting room will be closed promptly at 3:00 p.m. Persons standing in line to complete a Caucus Participation Form at the time the doors close will be allowed to complete their forms and participate in the caucus.
Every person who participates in the caucus must complete a Caucus Participation Form and sign a statement that says they are a registered voter of the District, believes in the principles of the Democratic Party, and that he or she does not intend to support a candidate opposed to the Democratic nominee in the next ensuing election.
The chair of the Committee shall act as the temporary chair of the caucus.
The secretary of the Committee shall act as the temporary secretary of the caucus.
The caucus shall be conducted in accordance with the Virginia Democratic Party Plan and the Call to Caucus.
The first order of business shall be the election of a permanent chair.
The permanent chair shall appoint a tellers committee.
Only those candidates properly filed as a candidate for the House of Delegates on or before the deadline will be recognized as such and included on the ballot.
Ballots will be prepared listing the first name, middle initial, and last name of each candidate properly filed in alphabetical order. It is prohibited to give any preferential treatment to any candidate and none will be listed as the “official candidate.”
Caucus participants may vote for individual candidates by placing an “X” beside the appropriate name.
The tellers committee shall count the ballots.
There shall be no campaigning inside the caucus room or check in area.
There will be no Press or Observers permitted in the room in which balloting takes place.
Tie votes will be decided by the flip of a coin.
Adopted:__April 30, 2015___________(date)
Signed:__Douglass R. Ferguson______(Chair)
Authorized and paid for by the 17th Senate District Democratic Nominating Committee
Senator Creigh Deeds sends his latest newsletter with news from the the Veto Session at the General Assembly.
April 15 was more than Tax Day this year. Indeed, the legislature came back into session on Tax Day to consider the Governor’s amendments and vetoes to legislation passed during the 2015 General Assembly Session. Typically Senators and Delegates return to Richmond to consider handfuls of amendments and a few vetoes. This year was atypical for a number of reasons.
For the first time since 1998, the budget was signed without amendment. The Governor’s signing the budget as passed by the legislature certainly does not mean the Governor viewed the document as a perfect funding plan. Politics is about compromise, and I think the Governor felt the budget was the best we could do given the political realities in Richmond. The lack of amendment signifies that the Governor wants to develop a good working relationship with the legislature. Hopefully this olive branch will bear fruit for both parties.
The General Assembly considered amendments, most of which were uncontroversial, to almost 70 bills. The most discussed and debated amendments related to privacy issues. The Governor amended significantly the bills seeking to limit the use of drones by police. Those amendments were rejected by the General Assembly in favor of people’s privacy. There was also a bill that limited the ability of law enforcement to arbitrarily collect data obtained by license plate readers. The bill basically would have codified an Attorney General’s opinion. The Governor’s amendment to expand the length of time such data can be kept was rejected as well.
The Governor also vetoed 17 bills. The vetoes were generally controversial but none of them were overturned. In fact, in some cases there was not even an attempt to overturn the veto.
So the General Assembly session for 2015 is now history. However, the work goes on. I work as a lawyer, but my work as a legislator will continue for the remainder of this year as well. I sit on a couple of important committees that will be meeting throughout the year.
The first is the Joint Commission on Transportation Accountability. While the name sounds dull, the work interests me for a couple of important reasons. First, there has been a lot of distrust about the use of transportation dollars in many situations over the years. In fact, there is a growing body of evidence that the previous Administration essentially threw away $300 million of taxpayer money on a public private partnership to improve U.S. Route 460 between Petersburg and Portsmouth. This commission will oversee the remaking of the way these public private partnerships work.
Second, and importantly, since 2013 we have made significant investments in transportation, and the work of this commission will provide an important level of oversight over the process that has developed since then. In 2013, we passed House Bill 2313 which provided for the first time since 1986 significant new investments for transportation. I have discussed in this space many times House Bill 2313, its attributes and its limitations. Significantly, it provides money for the maintenance of highways thereby freeing up other money for construction, but its contribution to the construction budget is limited.
In 2014, House Bill 2 passed which aims at taking the politics out of deciding how the money is spent. This year, House Bill 1887 reforms the funding formula in a way that I think improves the process. A healthy transportation system is a key component of promoting economic growth in all parts of Virginia, and I want to continue to be an active participant in these vital discussions.
The second major policy area that I will continue to work on through the interim is mental health. I have stated many times in the past that my goal is to create in Virginia a model public system for the provision of mental health. I want a system that very simply is there for Virginians who need it in every part of the Commonwealth. We have an overwhelming task to get that accomplished by the end of 2017.
This work flows out of Senate Joint Resolution 47, which I sponsored during the 2014 Session to create a four year joint subcommittee. I chair the subcommittee, which is now in its second year. This year we will meet in June, September and November. During each two-day meeting, we will meet, solicit public comment, and hear from experts as well as tour various mental health facilities and programs across Virginia. Our task for this year is to produce an interim report in December that focuses on the basic question of what services, at a minimum, should our public system of mental healthcare provide.
That is a big question. We are divided into three workgroups to try to come up with answers to that question. Del. Robert Bell of Albemarle County chairs the civil commitment workgroup. Sen. Emmett Hanger of Augusta County chairs the workgroup on the continuum of care. Del. Joseph Yost of Giles County chairs the workgroup on special populations. Each one of those workgroups has important and daunting work ahead.
While we have tweaked our mental health laws over the past decade, the most important question is whether the General Assembly will have the political will to right the ship and create a model system of care – a public mental health system we can all be proud of, that other states and the federal government can emulate.
I hope that each of you stay engaged with both of these important issues and keep in touch with my office and with your other legislators. It is my honor to serve you in the Senate of Virginia. If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact me. I can be reached at my legislative office in Charlottesville at 434-296-5491 or PO Box 5462; Charlottesville, VA 22905 or in Hot Springs at 540-839-2473. Or you can reach me by email email@example.com
You can signup for Senator Deeds email updates at his web site.
CALL TO CAUCUS
2015 ALBEMARLE COUNTY CAUCUS
Pursuant to the authority provided by the Virginia Democratic Party Plan, the Albemarle County Democratic Committee hereby calls a Caucus to be held at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, May 18, 2015, with doors to open at 6:30, pm in the Lane Auditorium of the Albemarle County Office Building, McIntire Road, Charlottesville, Virginia.
- Incorporated Documents. All appropriate provisions of the Virginia Democratic Party Plan (“State Party Plan”), as amended, and the Bylaws of the Albemarle County Democratic Committee are incorporated into this Call by reference and made a part hereof.
- Purposes. The purpose of the Caucus shall be to nominate Democratic candidates for the upcoming Albemarle County General Election to be held on November 3, 2015.
- Participation. Participation is open to all registered voters of Albemarle County who wish to participate as Democrats regardless of race, sex, age, color, creed, national origin, religion, ethnic identity, sexual orientation, economic status, or disability.
- Filing. Any Democrat wishing to be considered for Democratic nomination to a County office (Commonwealth’s Attorney, Clerk of Court, Sheriff, Board of Supervisors) must file a certificate of candidacy with the Chair of the Albemarle County Democratic Committee, or designated representative, by the filing deadline: 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 8, 2015.
- Only those candidates who have filed by the deadline will appear on the ballots distributed at the caucuses. If no more than 1 person has filed for any office by the deadline, the Albemarle County Democratic Committee may deem that candidate to have been nominated.
- Declaration. All candidates and all persons participating in the caucuses, shall sign a Declaration form which includes an affirmation that the person is a resident of, and registered to vote in, the jurisdiction holding the caucus; does not intend to support any candidate who is opposed to the Democratic nominee in the next ensuing general election; is a Democrat; is not a member of any other political party; and has not participated and will not participate in the nominating process of any other political party for the 2015 general election.
- Filing fee. The Albemarle County Democratic Committee has requested a fee for each candidate in the amount of $250.
- Rules. The County Caucus shall be governed by the rules developed by the Temporary Rules Committee and rules developed by the permanent Rules Committee and adopted by the Convention. The Chair shall appoint the members of the Temporary Committees on Credentials and Rules, and shall appoint a convener of each committee. The District Convention shall elect Permanent Committees on Credentials and Rules. Each committee shall be composed of at least 3 members.
- Certification of Candidates. Within three days after the caucus, the Albemarle County Democratic Chair shall provide the State Party and the Virginia Department of Elections the name of each nominated candidate.
Chair, Albemarle County Democratic Party
Candidates wishing to file to run for Democratic nomination for an office in Albemarle must do so by filing a DECLARATION OF CANDIDACY FOR 2015 NOMINATION to firstname.lastname@example.org and pay the $250 filing fee by May 8, 2015 at 5pm.,
Job Title: Campaign Director, Albemarle County Democratic Party
Office Location: Charlottesville, VA
Full/Part Time: Subject to negotiation and to the applicant’s experience, this position can potentially range from half time to full time.
Regular/Temporary: Contract position running through November 14, 2015
Reports to: Chair of the Albemarle County Democratic Committee
The Albemarle County Democratic Committee is local committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and is organized to promote and support the nominees of the Democratic Party in all national, state, and local elections. We seek to educate the public on the ideals of the Party and the qualifications of our nominees for office and encourage interested individuals to register to vote and join the Party.
The Executive Director will implement that Albemarle County Coordinated Campaign plan to elect Democrats up and down the November, 2015, ballot. They will assist all Democratic nominees in executing their campaigns at the direction of the Chair and Executive Committee of the Albemarle Democratic Committtee. General duties include:
Volunteer Recruitment, Retention, and Management
- Tap in to existing volunteer networks as well as bring new volunteers to the local political process.
- Organize events to keep current volunteers engaged and establish relationships with potential new volunteers.
- Manage volunteer resources efficiently and effectively to accomplish voter contact goals.
Voter Registration and Contact
- Perform direct voter contact for 10-15 hours per week
- Coordinate voter registration drives, with a concentration on moderate-to-high turnover neighborhoods as well as students.
- Organize persuasion/ID canvasses and phonebanks in conjunction with local campaigns.
- Oversee mail campaigns on behalf of Coordinated efforts.
- Report on progress of efforts to local campaigns and Democratic Committee.
- Utilize VAN database to maintain accurate and up-to-date voter file records.
Fundraising and Finance
- Responsible for coordinating fundraising all funds for 2015 Albemarle Coordinated Campaign, including salary and other operating expenses.
- Oversee all fundraising planning and implementation.
- Act as primary fundraiser for Coordinated operation; raise funds from a variety of sources including individual donors, PACs, and partner campaigns.
- Keep donors informed of organization’s projects and progress, and maintain amicable professional relationships with donors.
- Work with Treasurer of Committee and campaign treasurers to ensure compliance with state campaign finance regulations.
- Recommend Coordinated budget for Steering Committee approval and manage organization’s resources within the budget guidelines.
Party Building and Public Relations
- Work with partner campaigns to find an office.
- Ensure a Party presence at regional events.
- Assure that the organization and its mission, programs, products and services are presented in a strong, positive image.
- Act as liaison to media, respond to inquiries from the public.
- Effectiveness and experience in grassroots organizing and fund development.
- Strong management skills and experience.
- Leadership in strategy and partnership building.
- Excellent understanding of issues relating to the local politics.
- Strong verbal and written communication skills, including public speaking.
- Bachelor’s Degree preferred.
Salary: Negotiable and commensurate with experience. Please submit salary expectations in cover letter.
Applicants should submit the following materials:
- Cover letter with salary expectations
Application deadline: 5/1/2015
Please send materials electronically to: email@example.com
Please no phone calls.
The Albemarle County Democratic Committee is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
THE 25TH LEGISLATIVE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATING COMMITTEE’S
CALL FOR PERSONS SEEKING TO BE THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE TO REPRESENT THE 25TH HOUSE OF DELEGATES DISTRICT IN THE 2015 GENERAL ELECTION.
Pursuant to the authority provided by the Democratic Party of Virginia Democratic Party Plan, THE 25TH LEGISLATIVE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATING COMMITTEE hereby calls for the notification of interested persons.
All appropriate provisions of the Virginia Democratic Party Plan (“State Party Plan”), as amended, and the Bylaws (“Bylaws”) of the Virginia Democratic Party Plan (“State Party Plan”), are incorporated into this Call by reference and made a part hereof.
The sole purpose of this Call is to solicit Democratic candidates for the 25th House of Delegates seat.
- Filing Deadline and Requirements:
All interested persons must meet the requirements specified by the State Party Plan and the Bylaws and must notify FRANK NOLEN, CHAIR of THE 25TH LEGISLATIVE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATING COMMITTEE at BOX 13, NEW HOPE, VA 24469, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 540 294 0310, or by hand at 680 Patterson Mill Rd,. Grottoes, Virginia no later than 12 noon EDT, April 10th, 2015.
- Notice Requirements:
It shall be the duty of the 25TH LEGISLATIVE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATING COMMITTEE to insure that this Call receives the widest possible dissemination and distribution.
- Candidate Qualifications:
Any Democrat who resides in and is registered to vote in THE 25TH LEGISLATIVE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATING COMMITTEE is qualified to be considered provided he or she signs a declaration that he or she is a Democrat, is a registered voter in the 25th HOUSE DISTRICT, believes in the principles of the Democratic Party, and does not intend to support any candidate who is opposed to a Democratic nominee in the next ensuing election.
Adopted by the 25TH LEGISLATIVE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATING COMMITTEE on March 28, 2015.
Frank W. Nolen, Chair
Samuel Miller District Supervisor Liz Palmer sends this update:
You can signup for Supervisor Palmer’s email updates at her web site.
Senator Creigh Deeds sends his final update from this year’s General Assembly Session
The 2015 Session of the General Assembly is history. While we passed over 1500 bills and resolutions, the Session will be remembered for a handful of things including reforming the transportation funding formula, adopting a new ethics bill that changes very little, and adjourning a day early. The Session will also be remembered for what it did not do. We failed, once again, to expand Medicaid and provide health insurance that we are already paying for through federal taxes to as many as 400,000 Virginians.
The budget was balanced and adopted on time. The budget included funding for a number of priorities such as pay increases for public employees, significant new funding for mental health services (drop off centers, child psychiatry, supportive housing, etc.), and an additional $10 million for financial aid at our colleges and universities.
But the budget does not include funding for Medicaid expansion, leaving over $2 billion that Virginians already pay on the table, money that could be providing health insurance to hundreds of thousands of Virginians, and creating jobs and economic activity. The budget even cuts the Governor’s modest proposal to provide services to the severely mentally ill by reducing eligibility from 100 percent of the federal poverty level to 60 percent. Several hundred people who signed up already will receive one year of care and then be cut off, precisely the thing that House Republicans said that they did not want to occur with Medicaid expansion.
Sexual Assault on Campus
We began this session under a cloud of tragedy. Hannah Graham, a 19 year old UVA student, was murdered this fall after going missing early one morning on the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville. We were all shocked to learn that the primary suspect in the case, Jesse Matthew, had complaints against him while he was enrolled at Christopher Newport University and Liberty University. The incidents did not result in criminal charges or convictions but demonstrated a history and pattern of dangerous behavior.The University and Charlottesville communities were then stunned by the publication of a
Rolling Stone article, since discredited, detailing a graphic sexual assault of a student and criticizing the University’s fraternity culture and the institutional response to such attacks. Even though the article did not accurately reflect the facts that had occurred, there was a tremendous feeling on the part of many that we had to address the issue of sexual assault on campuses.
Many families entrust their children to the Commonwealth at our institutions of higher learning. As a Commonwealth, we have an obligation to protect those students and make sure that they can receive an education in safety. A number of bills were introduced, including a couple that I sponsored, limiting the role of an institution of higher learning in the investigation of sexual assault allegations and requiring dismissals for criminal acts to be noted on a student’s academic record.
In the end, state legislative action was bound to a large extent by federal law. Privacy rights are protected, and colleges cannot release much information. The final compromisebill establishes a review team at each institution consisting of the Title IX officer, law enforcement and a student representative, requires certain higher education employees to report sexual assaults to the college’s Title IX officer within 72 hours of learning about the incident, and provides that law enforcement be notified of the incident if there is a risk to the public or the victim. Furthermore, if the incident would be chargeable as a felonious sexual assault, the law enforcement representative on the review team must consult with the Commonwealth’s Attorney.
In addition, we passed legislation requiring a notation on a student’s academic record from any public or private college or university if the student was suspended, dismissed, or withdrew while under investigation for a violation of the institution’s rules or student code of conduct. On a related note, the General Assembly also adopted legislation, sponsored by Delegates David Toscano and Rob Bell, expanding the number of misdemeanor convictions for which a DNA sample is required.
In light of the convictions last year of the former Governor and First Lady, there was a push to change the General Assembly’s ethics rules. The legislature overwhelming approved some modest reforms. The legislation maintains the current cap on unreported gifts to $50. Gifts that are worth between $50 and $100 have to be reported, and gifts over $100 in value are prohibited.
The bill imposes significant travel restrictions, not in where a person can go, but in the compensation or reimbursement one can expect for that travel. The legislation does not address campaign contributions or the use of campaign accounts, which have been of particular interest to many people who have reached out to me on ethics reform. I anticipate that the bills will be subject to significant amendment by the Governor.
In 1986, the most significant investment in transportation for many years occurred under Governor Gerald Baliles. The gasoline tax was increased, and a modern transportation formula was developed. Although the process worked very well for a number of years, beginning in the mid-1990s the formula stopped working effectively due in large part to changes in policy at the state level and population growth. In fact by 2009, the formula was not working at all and transportation funding was insufficient even for maintenance much less construction of new projects. Governor Warner tried to address it in 2004, but other needs were prioritized. Governor Kaine tried to address it numerous times but was turned away. In 2013, Governor McDonnell championed House Bill 2013, which for the first time in a generation raised significant money for transportation.
Legislative action to increase transportation revenues was followed in 2014 by House Bill 2, which aimed to depoliticize the process by which major projects are selected. My view has always been that projects ought to be determined by need rather than by politics. A legislator should not be able to get a project selected just because he has clout or seniority. This year, the administration, working with Delegate Chris Jones, introducedHouse Bill 1887 that resulted in a re-write of the funding formulas. I was honored to be on the subcommittee that reviewed and rewrote this bill in the Senate. We wanted to make sure that all parts of the state were served. The legislation for the first time ensures sustainable funding for transit, which is a significant source of transportation in Northern Virginia and a growing means of transportation in Hampton Roads, and also serves the interests of freight rail as well. I can tell you that House Bill 1887, while not perfect, does in fact meet the needs of all of Virginia.
After setting aside money for maintenance, 45 percent of the money will go into a fund for “State of Good Repair”, which is for bridges, tunnels and overpasses, statewide. I think we will see a significant amount of this money in the Staunton, Culpeper and Lynchburg districts. The remaining 55 percent is broken into two categories. Half of the money will be used for House Bill 2 projects of statewide or regional significance. The remaining half will go into the transportation districts for projects of regional or local significance. There is money for dirt roads and to ensure flexibility so that we can utilize technology to pave or otherwise surface these roads.
Of significance, the legislation takes the politics out of the Commonwealth Transportation Board. This is significant because in the past CTB members have felt obliged to support projects that the Governor who appointed them supported. Now, board members’ terms will be staggered and they can only be removed for cause. This bill, House Bill 1887 is significant and may be the most important legislation that passed in the 2015 Session.
Child Day Care
Over the past year or so there have been a number of high profile situations, some tragic, that have thrust into the spotlight the use of unregulated daycare in Virginia. A number of bills were introduced this year to address this issue. The compromise legislation will require family day home providers who watch 5 or more children to become licensed. Current law sets that limit at 6. The bill also requires unlicensed and unregistered family day home providers to provide written notice to parents that they are unregulated and to share information about a website maintained by the Department of Social Services that discusses the different types of child care available. The compromise also requires fingerprint criminal background checks for those operating family day homes, other adults living in the home, and volunteers at day care facilities. The whole idea is to do as much as possible to protect children and families but to acknowledge that much of this care is run by churches and other groups that are not regulated. The balance is between protecting children and allowing parents to raise their children as they see fit.
Those in the Charlottesville area remember all too clearly the details involving the UVA students who purchased bottled water and cookies at a local grocery store only to be confronted in their vehicle by a group of undercover ABC agents. The year prior and every year since, I have introduced a study resolution seeking to consolidate law enforcement functions under the Virginia State Police. While those efforts have failed, the General Assembly did adopt reforms this year of ABC. The legislation overhauls the supervisory structure at the Department and creates the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Authority as an independent agency governed by a five member board of directors. Those directors must hold a degree in business or a related field and have experience in business management. The members of the board, which will be paid significantly less than the current three sitting ABC Commissioners, can only be fired with cause. The push for reform was driven to a large extent by what happened in Charlottesville in 2013
For the second time in the 24 years that I have served in the General Assembly, the session ended a day early. Just as we did in 2000, business finished late on Friday evening in advance of the scheduled Saturday adjournment. While many may laud the legislature for being efficient, I am concerned that details may be overlooked when we rush our business. For example, the ethics bill is forty-nine pages and was changed multiple times on the last day of session. In fact, changes were written into the bill in the last hour before we voted. I voted for the bill, because in balance it did many good things, but I worry that we did not have enough time to vet the last minute edits.
While some bills have already been signed into law by the Governor, most are still in the final enrolling process and will soon head to the Governor for consideration. The General Assembly will reconvene in Richmond on April 15 to vote on the Governor’s amendments and vetoes. If you are concerned about any of the bills adopted by the legislature, I urge you to express your views to the Governor.
It is a great honor to continue to serve you in the Senate of Virginia. I can be reached at my legislative office in Charlottesville at 434-296-5491 or PO Box 5462; Charlottesville, VA 22905 or in Hot Springs at 540-839-2473. Or you can reach me by email email@example.com
You can signup for Senator Deeds email updates at his web site.