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July 2015 News
I hope that this newsletter finds you well and that your summer is going smoothly. The season has been busy with high school graduations, primary elections, and Richmond meetings of the Joint Commission on Health Care and the Adult Education and Literacy Advisory Committee.
I extend congratulations to all graduates and their families and teachers. I also join many of you in celebrating the recent Supreme Court decisions upholding the Affordable Care Act and the right of same-sex couples to marry, and in mourning the lives lost to domestic terrorism in South Carolina.
Speaking of civil rights issues, I want to call attention to the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed into law on July 26, 1990. This landmark legislation was an important step toward equalizing opportunities for individuals with disabilities in areas such as employment, transportation, and government services. As we celebrate the ADA's silver anniversary, it is important to recognize that there is still a long way to go. I am committed to continuing to push for equal access for all Americans across all venues.
Next month, I look forward to representing you in Richmond during a special session on August 17th. The Governor has called this special session to revise the Virginia congressional districting map. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia found the state's current map of districts to be unconstitutional.
Legislation Affecting You
The Division of Legislative Services has prepared In Due Course, summaries of laws passed by the General Assembly in 2015 that are likely to affect most Virginians. You can access In Due Course in PDF format and HTML format. The legislation discussed therein has been signed by the Governor and went into effect on July 1. Complete information on actions of the 2015 General Assembly session is available on the Legislative Information System.
New Traffic Laws
Several new traffic laws that took effect on July 1 (some of which are listed in In Due Course) demonstrate the relevance that legislation can have to our daily lives. The 2015 General Assembly amended state code to increase safety provisions for traffic management vehicles, bicyclists, postal vehicles, and refuse-collection vehicles, among other initiatives.
Here are a few highlights:
- Vehicles that assist with the management of roadside and traffic incidents or perform traffic management services along highways may be equipped with flashing, blinking, or alternating amber warning lights, qualifying these vehicles for Virginia’s “Move Over” law. The “Move Over” law requires drivers to proceed with caution and, if reasonable, change lanes when approaching stationary emergency vehicles on highways.
- Drivers passing a stationary mail vehicle displaying a flashing, blinking, or alternating amber light must proceed with due caution and maintain a safe speed for road conditions.
- Bicycles, mopeds, and other non-motorized vehicles are now included in the list of vehicles for which a motorist can be cited for following too closely.
- When passing stationary refuse-collection vehicles on roadways with less than four lanes, the driver must decrease his speed by 10 mph below the posted speed limit and pass at least two feet to the left of the vehicle. When passing a stationary refuse-collection vehicle on a roadway with at least four lanes – and at least two lanes intended for traffic proceeding in the same direction – the driver must pass in a lane not adjacent to the vehicle and yield the right of way.
- Motorists may cross double yellow lines to pass a pedestrian or a device moved by human power, including a bicycle, skateboard, or foot scooter, if such movement can be made safely.
In addition, a Virginia resident convicted in federal court of an offense substantially similar to Virginia's DUI laws may now petition the Virginia general district court in the jurisdiction in which he resides for restricted driving privileges. Previously, only residents convicted of DUI in Virginia courts or other states’ courts could petition.
A restricted driver’s license allows a DUI offender to drive for limited purposes, such as going to work or church, while his license is suspended. In Virginia, a conviction of first-offense DUI is punishable by a mandatory fine and a one-year license revocation. The installation of an ignition interlock device is a condition of receiving a restricted driver’s license. The interlock condition has also now been extended to Virginia residents who have been convicted of a substantially similar DUI offense under the laws of another state or of the United States. The DUI-related changes went into effect immediately upon the legislation's passage earlier this year.
Speaking of Transportation
I have received many questions about landscaping and parking in the VDOT rights-of-way that border our roads and play a role in drainage. A citizen can do NO work in the VDOT right-of-way without VDOT's review, approval, and issuance of a Land Use Permit. A section of the Virginia Administrative Code covers landscaping.
I also frequently receive emails alerting me to specific road problems. I appreciate your being my eyes and ears on the ground and am happy to call VDOT's attention to the safety issues that you point out to me. I ask that before contacting me, you report the problem to VDOT using the link or the phone number below. The reporting process takes just a few minutes and allows the problem to be entered into VDOT's service request system and given a tracking number. Please share the tracking number with me, as well as a description of the problem, and I will be able to emphasize your specific request.
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Call 1-800-367-7623 (FOR-ROAD) to report problematic road conditions.
If you'll be traveling in the days ahead, you may wish to visithttp://www.vamegaprojects.com/lane-closures/#laneClosureBulletins for information about construction and planned closures in the Virginia Megaprojects work zone, which includes the I-95/395/495 corridors and arterial connector roads. You can sign up for a weekly bulletin about lane closures at that site. However, since construction work and road closures can be affected by the weather and scheduling changes, it is a good idea to checkhttp://www.511virginia.org/ for "real-time" traffic information.
New Scoring Process for Transportation Projects
In accordance with HB 2, passed in 2014, the Commonwealth Transportation Board has developed a new process for scoring transportation projects to prioritize funding. The new scoring process has been developed through meetings with hundreds of representatives from local and regional governments in Virginia. This process has been published athttp://www.virginiahb2.org/ (look under the heading "Now Available" for the Final HB2 Implementation Policy Guide).
While I appreciate the work and expertise reflected by the proposed implementation guide, I share with other electeds a strong concern about the fact that the proposed guide does not include any scoring of projects based upon reduction of storm water pollution. The poor conditions of roads in the 38th District often result from storm water that is not appropriately drained from road surfaces. With that concern in mind, I joined a number of other Delegates and Senators in signing a letterauthored by Delegate Scott Surovell (D-44) to the CTB, recommending amendment of the guide to include assessment of transportation projects on their impact on the control of storm water pollution.
Saving for Higher Education
Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Stuart Educational Foundation.
The rising cost of college is becoming a serious barrier to higher education for many families. I am working to lessen this burden legislatively and in our community. To this end, I have introduced legislation to increase state student tuition aid, legislation to allow more families to benefit from the lower cost of in-state tuition, and legislation to create tax-free education and medical care savings accounts for disabled children over 18. I also actively support local scholarship efforts. I was the founding President of the Stuart Educational Foundation, which offers need-based last dollar scholarships to Stuart graduates who demonstrate academic promise and community leadership. I also sit on the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund Board, as well as acting as a judge and presenter in the AASuccess Scholarship Program. Finally, I strongly advocate for the Virginia 529 College Savings Plans. This national award-winning college savings instrument can make college significantly more affordable for many families. These plans, named for Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, hold tax benefits similar to those for 401K retirement savings plans. Upon withdrawal, earnings are tax-free when used for qualified higher education expenses. Find more information at http://virginia529.com/529day/.
Adult Education & Literacy Advisory Committee (AELAC) News
Last year, I was pleased to be named a member of the AELAC. Currently, we are focused on recommending standards that must be met by any marketer of a high-school equivalency test seeking to sell that test in Virginia. The need for setting and approving these standards for both content and cost arose when the management of the GED test, formerly the only high-school equivalency test administered in the Commonwealth, transitioned to a for-profit enterprise. During the process of approving standards, I kept in mind the need for the residents of Virginia's correctional facilities and local detention centers to have access to these tests. My particular concern was whether a test offered electronically only (i.e., no paper and pencil version) would be accessible to this population. I consulted with the Department of Corrections and the Fairfax County Sheriff's office and was pleased to learn that these facilities have already made arrangements such that online-only tests are accessible to prisoners. Descriptions and status reports of other state study commissions, joint committees, and subcommittees are reported in the Virginia Legislative Record. Click here for the June 2015 issue.
August Sales Tax Holiday
Starting this August 7-9, all Virginia Sales Tax Holidays will be consolidated into one weekend. Previously, Virginia held three separate Tax Holidays in May, August, and October. In this year's session of the General Assembly, however, legislators achieved consolidation into one three-day period. During that period, retailers who sell the following products will not collect and remit the sales tax on these items:
· School supplies ($20 or less), clothing, and footwear ($100 or less)
· Energy Star and WaterSense items ($2,500 or less)
· Hurricane and emergency equipment (portable generators $1,000 or less and many more items)
NB: If you sell products or services that fall into the above categories, you are required to participate in this state Tax Holiday.
The Virginia Department of Taxation website has more information about the qualifying tax-exempt items.
You can find additional information on the Virginia Retail Federation website.
Out and About
I was proud to speak at the Stuart Educational Foundation's 10th anniversary reception. The Foundation is a totally volunteer organization in every way, from the fund-raising to the scholarship application evaluations; and because of the many hard-working volunteers, all contributions to the Foundation go directly into scholarships. Learn more athttp://stuartfund.com/.
Also last month, my staff and I had the opportunity to attend the annual meeting of the Evergreen Heights Community Association and a town hall meeting sponsored by Decoding Dyslexia Virginia (DDVA). I am working with VDOE and DDVA to bring appropriate approaches and supports for dyslexic students to our public schools.
NVFS Seeks Foster Families
The Foster Care programs of Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS) are seeking foster parents, especially those interested in caring for siblings and teens. NVFS provides strong support to its foster families, including training and certification, 24-hour help from social workers, and family activities and support groups. The next training session dates are September 12, 19, and 26 (all three sessions mandatory) from 9 am to 5 pm in Oakton, Virginia. For more information, please contact Ginny Snaider, Program Supervisor, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 571-748-2557.
As always, it is an honor to represent you in the House of Delegates. Thank you.
Copyright (C) 2014 Kory for Delegate. All rights reserved.
Authorized by Kory for Delegate
Kaye Kory for Delegate
6505 Waterway Dr
Falls Church VA 22044 United States
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