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2015 Veto Session and More
I hope you are enjoying the warmer weather and lusher landscapes as spring comes to the 38th District. Please find below an update on my activities as your elected Delegate.
Veto Session: Wed., April 15 and Fri., April 17
The House and Senate reconvened on Wednesday, April 15, for a special session in which their business was restricted to considering the Governor's amendments and vetoes to legislation passed during the regular session in January and February.
Each body must approve an amendment and/or sustain a veto before a bill is final. If a veto is sustained, no further action is required. For a veto to be overturned, both bodies must vote to reject it. When an amendment is rejected by both bodies, the bill is returned to the Governor for his signature or veto. If an amendment is accepted by both bodies, no further action is needed. All legislation surviving this process becomes law on July 1, with the exception of those bills designated "emergency." Emergency bills become law immediately when signed by the Governor.
Highlights of the special session included discussion of, and voting on, the Governor's amendments to HB 2070, an ethics bill for state and local governments, and the House's rejection of the Governor's amendments to SB 1193, which concerned placing notations on students' transcripts if they are suspended or dismissed from an institution of higher education for, or withdraw from the institution while under investigation for, a violation of standards of conduct. The Governor's changes to SB 1193 would have limited placement of notations on transcripts to cases in which the violation was an offense involving sexual violence. I voted to support the Governor because I believe that his amendment strengthened this deterrent to acts of sexual violence on campus.
When the ethics bill was considered on Friday, April 17, I voted to uphold the Governor's amendments, although I felt that even they did not go far enough. (Please see my Marchcolumn in the Falls Church News Press for specific suggestions that I made to the Governor as he reviewed the bill, which had passed the House of Delegates on February 27, the last day of the regular session.) A number of Governor McAuliffe's amendments did not pass during Friday's special session; an important one that did, however, makes it illegal for a lawmaker to accept a personal gift or personal gifts in excess of $100 in value from any individual.
Please remember that unlike most legislation from the 2015 session, the ethics bill does not go into effect until January 1, 2016. In the interval, my fellow legislators and I will be compiling a list of changes to propose in the 2016 session to improve the legislation. Please feel free to reach out to me on this topic.
For a complete record of how I voted during the regular and special sessions, please click here and look up "Kaye Kory." Votes from the veto session may be difficult to decipher. It is important to remember that we are voting ONLY on an amendment or a veto, not on the entire piece of legislation.
Speaking of Transportation
At this time, VDOT is focusing on repairing Annandale Road and patching the potholes in the Lake Barcroft area. In fact, on the morning of Thursday, April 23, I led several VDOT officers in a tour of the area. We examined not only potholes but drainage issues as well. The officers agreed that there are many safety concerns in the neighborhoods located between Sleepy Hollow Road, Columbia Pike, and Route 7. Gaping potholes and crumbling pavement are dangerous not only for drivers but also for bicyclists and pedestrians. VDOT will continue to prioritize roadwork accordingly.
The following VDOT website tools describe current physical road conditions and allow the opportunity to report road problems that you encounter:
- http://www.virginiaroads.org/Mapping/#PavementConditions – Provides detailed information about the condition of every VDOT-maintained roadway in Virginia. You can search by street name.
- http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/citizen.asp – Allows you to report a road problem and submit an online work request. The cumulative number of requests makes a difference. If you believe that the work request you have made is important, you might encourage others to support your request by submitting requests also.
Meanwhile, Fairfax Water Authority is working to repair the many water main breaks that occurred this winter. The most serious water main break in the 38th District was on Lakeview Drive, followed by the multiple main breaks on Dockser Terrace. Homeowners on those streets should have received a letter describing the upcoming work. VDOT's repaving schedule will reflect the hiatus due to these water main repairs.
Also on the subject of our roads, I am including the following Q&A, which has been adapted from an exchange with a constituent who kindly allowed me to share it. I hope to include similar Q&As in future newsletters, so please be in touch with your concerns.
Q: While I now understand that VDOT owns the land adjacent to the roadway, they certainly do nothing to maintain it. Little wonder that people pave over it with gravel, stones, and other methods to improve the curb appeal. The salt and sand left over from the winter manages to kill anything that might grow there, with the exception of the weeds that thrive in the cracks of the gutter that has been in need of repairs for years. Since VDOT owns the land, will they pay me for mowing the pitiful amount of grass that tries to grow there?
When I drive throughout the County, I don't see many neighborhoods with similar slices of land next to the roads like we have. Most neighborhoods have paved roads and curbs. I'm sure it's hearsay to have a preference for paving over the dirt we have throughout Lake Barcroft, but wider streets and curbs would look better than the hodge-podge of differing frontage that we have now.
A: Good points all.
Easily answered first question: unfortunately, I doubt they will pay you to mow the right-of-way. You may receive a "thank you." The sad truth is that the VDOT budget does not allow them to maintain storm water gutters and rights-of-way as they should be maintained.
Lake Barcroft has "hodge-podge" frontage precisely because we do not have sidewalks and curbs. In Fairfax County, a neighborhood has to (1) request that sidewalks and curbs be installed and (2) pay for the installation. The process is not unlike installing speed bumps: a majority, if not all, of the affected homeowners must agree. In casual conversation, I have found that most folks are loathe to lose the land that would be taken for sidewalks and curbs, so I think that agreement and the willingness to pay would be hard to come by.
When walking the neighborhood with VDOT officials, we discussed the condition of many of the rights-of-way and what is conducive to maximum efficiency for handling storm water run-off. The issue is complex and important in many ways, but an immediate concern is that overflowing and standing storm water runoff erodes the roadways as well as the shoulder.
Sexual Assault AwarenessMonth
I am proud to have introduced successful legislation in this year's regular session to establish April as Sexual AssaultAwareness Month in Virginia. The Governor signed the bill, and last week the Capitol Police in Richmond launched their first Start by Believing Sexual Assault Awareness campaign. I encourage all of my constituents to mark SAAM by taking the pledge to "start by believing" at http://www.startbybelieving.org/. The website is part of a national campaign by End Violence Against Women International targeted at protecting and supporting sexual assault victims as they work to achieve justice and healing.
I am proud to announce that the Virginia Education Association has named me a Friendly Incumbent and accorded me an early endorsement for my re-election campaign. This honor reflects my long-term firm commitment to, and advocacy for, all aspects of education in the Commonwealth. I look forward to working with the VEA to strengthen our pre-K through higher education institutions during the 2016 session of the General Assembly.
Also, please see my most recent article in the Falls Church News Press, which examines the growing problem of the increasing cost of higher education in Virginia for in-state students.
On April 14, the Virginia State Board of Elections announced that it has decertified the AVS WINVote equipment that is currently used in more than 560 precincts throughout Virginia. Please see the press release from the state's Department of Elections. Effective immediately, the WINVote machines can no longer be used in elections in Virginia. It appears that localities will have to assume the costs of purchasing new machines. I am looking into the possible impact of the decertification on Fairfax County.
New Legislative Aide
Finally, I would like to introduce Elise Cleva, who has just started work as my Legislative Aide. Elise grew up here in northern Virginia and graduated with distinction from UVA. Previously she worked as a writer/editor in the communications office of the National Park Service and, more recently, as the coordinator of overseas charities and of advocacy for peace and justice at St. Charles Church in Arlington.
Copyright (C) 2014 Kory for Delegate. All rights reserved.
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Kaye Kory for Delegate
6505 Waterway Dr
Falls Church VA 22044 United States