Several days ago, I was shocked to learn that the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has given notice to terminate its arrangement with the Prince William County Registrar at the Caton Hill DMV Office. I could not believe what I was hearing.
Voter participation is one of the most important things in any democracy but not all citizens are given equal access to that franchise- and we are learning that this week here in Woodbridge. Virginia has a long history in this area and none of it has been positive.
A few precincts in Woodbridge actually became nationally known because of four to five hour long lines in order to cast a vote in the 2012 election. Of course those also happened to be the precincts with the largest percentage of minority voters, and the precincts where President Obama was expected to be the strongest.
Now once again, Woodbridge voters are being targeted by Virginia in a way that could hamper attempts to turn our voters out. For the last decade the one refuge from potentially long lines on election day was the option to vote early at the DMV office in Woodbridge. In Virginia, early voters must state a reason in order to vote- but most residents in our area qualify for either expecting to leave Prince William County at any time on election day or having a combined work/commute schedule on election day that exceeds 11 hours.
As residents have learned of this option, turnout has increased at the Woodbridge DMV every year and turnout in our area continues to rise- especially for important off year elections. I support no excuse needed absentee voting to raise turnout even higher. But despite all of that somehow the Commissioner of DMV has decided that the Commonwealth will close our voter registration and early vote center at the Woodbridge DMV.
I’m absolutely appalled that this is even being discussed and without any notice or input from our community. As your next State Delegate, I pledge to introduce legislation that would force all state agencies to accommodate early voting when requested by the locality. This is a no brainer decision, and will save local taxpayer dollars. We can not allow thousands of voters to be silenced.
Here in the Route 1 corridor most of our residents work jobs and have long commutes- we need to make it easy for them to participate in voting, not harder. Just last year Alabama made national news for closing its opportunities for early voting in the areas with the most minority voters.
Please join me in raising our voices together now to ensure Virginia- and specifically those of us in southern Prince William County- does not follow that example. Virginia’s history may be voter suppression, but let’s make our future into being a state that encourages voter participation. If you agree I hope you will join my campaign by visiting my website.
Opinion ‘It is a sad day when we use words like bigot and white supremacists…because of differing political views’
If Harry Wiggins didn’t single handedly hand over the election to Jackson Miller, he certainly helped him along to victory.
Wiggins, the Chairman of Prince William’s Democratic Committee on Tuesday likened Miller — a long-serving Republican in the House of Delegates, past Manassas City Counselor, and a former police officer in Arlington and Prince William counties — to President Trump, and called both white supremacists.
Residents both black and white have denounced his statement.
“The official comment from the [Prince William County] Democratic Chair may have just solidified my undecided vote for Mr. Miller. The name-calling in national politics is bad enough. If Mr. Wiggins wishes to bring that style of politics to [Prince William County], I will vote against his candidate every time,” James Johnson, of Bristow posted to Facebook.
Wiggins’s comments plunge our community deeper into the political divide, escalating our county into what many see the new national political status quo of an angry, polarized nation full of discontent and hate. (more…)
MANASSAS, Va. — The Chairman of the Prince William County Democratic Committee had some choice words for Delegate Jackson Miller on Wednesday.
Harry Wiggins on Facebook posted “Trump and Jackson Miller two unqualified bigots and white supremacists.”
“I can sit here and say nothing and watch Jackson Miller pat himself on the back and pretend like he is a wonderful person or I can state facts,” Wiggins told Potomac Local.
Miller, a Republican, represents the 50th House of Delegates District (Manassas) and is running to be the next Clerk of the Prince William Circuit Court. (more…)
Submitted by Gillespie campaign:
“Longtime conservative leader, 2014 U.S. Senate nominee and 2017 Republican candidate for governor Ed Gillespie won the straw poll at the Prince William County GOP Lincoln-Reagan Dinner Saturday night with over 60 percent of the vote.
Gillespie won with 62 percent of the vote, followed by Corey Stewart at 24 percent, Denver Riggleman at eight percent, and Frank Wagner at three percent. The Prince William County straw poll is the largest straw poll conducted in the primary to date.
Gillespie – 62%, 165 votes
Stewart – 24%, 65 votes
Riggleman – 8%, 23 votes
Wager – 3%, 8 votes”
Corey Stewart, who is the county’s top politician on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, reacted to the news on Twitter.
From Stewart’s Twitter Account:
I won in PWC 4 elections in a row – hundreds of thousands of votes. #EstablishmentEd has never won an election. Easy to buy a straw poll.
— Corey Stewart (@CoreyStewartVA) March 5, 2017
— Corey Stewart (@CoreyStewartVA) March 5, 2017
The stage is set for a special election for Prince Willaim Clerk of the Circuit Court.
Democrat Jacqueline Smith and Republican Delegate Jackson Miller (Manassas) are the two candidates who will face off on for an April 18, 2017, special election. The chosen candidate will replace the late Michele McQuigg who died late last month.
From the Prince William County Republicans:
On February 28, 2017, the 31st Judicial Circuit Court of Virginia filed a Writ of Election for a special election on April 18, 2017 to fill the Clerk of Court vacancy. Virginia Code Section 24.2-510(5) requires political parties to make and complete their nominations within five days of a Court’s Writ of Election, or 60 days before the election. To accommodate this extremely short five-day timeline, the chairmen of the Prince William County Republican Committee, City of Manassas Republican Committee, and Manassas Park Republican Committee chose a March 4 Party Canvass election to nominate the Republican candidate for Clerk of Court. Del. Jackson Miller was the only candidate to file for the nomination, therefore, he became the nominee by acclimation, and the Party Canvass was canceled.
We’ve asked Smith and Miller to fill out a Project: Election survey, and we’ll publish the answers to those surveys once we receive them.
Smith kicked off her campaign last week at City Tavern in Manassas. This is her second run for the job after challenging McQuigg for the seat in 2015.
Smith is a lawyer with an office in Dumfries.
Jackson Miller was elected to the House of Delegates in November 2006 and is a Realtor with an office in Manassas.
News Here is an infographic showing how many bills each Virginia legislator passed during the 2017 session
This post has been corrected: The previous graphic erred in saying that Bulova had a zero (0.000) rate in passing the bills he sponsored in 2016. In fact, he batted 0.500 — he passed 7 of his 14 bills.
Submitted News 2017 General Assembly is in the books
In the 2017 General Assembly session, which ended on February 25, we were able to make some progress in spite of a $1.1 billion budget shortfall.
First, we approved amendments to the state’s biennial budget. After drawing on a $560 million Rainy Day Fund, the budget funds the state share of a long-overdue two percent salary increase for teachers, a three percent raise for state employees, and a $7,000-per-year increase in starting salaries ($36,000) for state troopers. As always, we met our constitutional obligation to balance the budget.
Fifteen of my bills now await Governor McAuliffe’s action. The legislature referred two of my bills for further study. In the session’s last week, I served on seven conference committees to negotiate final language for several bills.
My legislation requiring the city of Alexandria to address raw sewage discharges passed both houses. Although the bill will allow Alexandria to discharge an additional 550 million gallons of raw sewage into the Potomac River, it requires all discharges to stop by 2025.
While this will cost the city about $150-$200 million to fix, I am committed to helping locate state funds to support construction over the next eight years. I especially appreciate Agriculture and Natural Resource Chairman Senator Richard Stuart’s dedication to finding a solution and the support of Senator Adam Ebbin and Delegate Paul Krizek who consistently supported solving this problem.
My legislation requiring owners of coal ash ponds to provide the public better information passed. I hope the Governor will restore some of the key provisions removed in the House of Delegates.
My legislation to make it easier to hold drunk drivers accountable for injuring victims passed both houses unanimously. This bill was necessary in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Birchfield v. North Dakota decision last year which now requires a search warrant for nearly all withdrawals of blood.
I introduced two college transparency bills. One requires 30-days’ notice of a proposed tuition increase, an explanation of the need and the date and time of any vote on a tuition increase at state-supported colleges. My second bill requires colleges and universities and community colleges to publish a list of all courses guaranteed to transfer so that students do not mistakenly take non-transferable classes and delay graduation.
During the last year, I have been involved in cases in which child support payors passed away while in arrears for child support. I was surprised to learn that this was not a priority debt during the administration of an estate and basically gets treated like credit card debt. My legislation to require child support arrearages to be paid before general debts passed both houses without a single dissenting vote.
All bills passed by the legislature now go to the Governor who must either amend, sign or veto them by March 27. Next week, I will cover some other bills that the legislature passed and the following week I will report on some bills that the legislature did not pass.
In the meantime, please complete my constituent survey at www.scottsurovell.org/survey and email me at email@example.com if you have any questions.
It is an honor to serve as your State Senator.
Flickr photo by Ror Quigley
RICHMOND, Va. – Beginning July 1, Virginians will be able to buy a can of beer – not just a cup – at indoor and outdoor concession stands that are licensed to sell alcoholic beverages.
That’s the effect of a bill that Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed into law on Monday. Senate Bill 1469 will add “single original metal cans” to the list of disposable containers that can be used for the sale of beer, wine and mixed alcoholic drinks.
The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Ben Chafin, R-Montgomery, will apply to concession stands at amphitheaters, stadiums, coliseums, convention centers and similar facilities, which currently must dispense alcoholic beverages in plastic or paper cups. (more…)
RICHMOND, Va. – Capping off a signature issue of the 2017 legislative session, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed five bills Thursday to help arm the fight against opioid abuse and fatal overdoses in Virginia.
The bills address the crisis in various ways. They include SB 848 and HB 1453, which allow community organizations to dispense and train individuals to use naloxone, a drug that can treat an opioid overdose in emergency situations.
“We recognize that addiction is a disease, not a moral failing,” McAuliffe said. “Our proposals for this General Assembly session focused on preventing addiction and providing treatment for those who suffer from it.”
The governor also signed HB 2165, which will mandate all opioid prescriptions be transmitted to pharmacies electronically by 2020. It will also create a workgroup to study how to best implement the change. (more…)
Republican delegates on Wednesday are expected to designate Majority Leader Kirk Cox as the next speaker of the House, following William Howell’s decision to retire. Republican House members will caucus to select Cox, a retired government teacher from Colonial Heights, as the speaker-in-waiting, according to reports published by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post and other news outlets.
Cox, 59, will succeed Howell, a Republican from Stafford, who announced that he will not seek re-election this fall to the 28th House District seat that he has held since 1988. Next January, Howell will conclude his term as the 54th speaker of the House of Delegates. Cox has served in the House of Delegates since 1989 and has run unopposed in the past eight House elections. He is a resident of the 66th House District, which includes the city of Colonial Heights and part of Chesterfield County. (more…)
MANASSAS, Va. — Rep. Barbara Comstock spoke today at the Rotary Club of Manassas.
We’re told the Republican representing Virginia’s 10th Congressional District discussed rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, and about replacing Obamacare with a new GOP-backed plan.
Constituents for days have urged Comstock, and other GOP lawmakers to hold a town hall meeting about the health care issue. They’re using Indivisible Guide website, which touts itself as “a practical guide to resisting the Trump agenda” to organize their efforts.
Protestors stood outside the Rotary Club meeting, held at the Center for the Arts at the Candy Factory in Downtown Manassas, while Comstock spoke.
Potomac Local called Comstock’s office seeking a statement for this post but has yet to hear back. We’ll post any statement from Comstock’s office in this post when/if we receive it.
RICHMOND – Both the House and Senate have unanimously approved a bill that would change the legal description of a “dangerous dog” and possibly put fewer animals on a state registry.
HB 2381 cleared the Senate, 40-0, on Tuesday after winning approval in the House on Feb. 6. The bill now goes to Gov. Terry McAuliffe for his signature. (more…)
Statement from Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Paul Milde:
“On behalf of the Board of Supervisors and the citizens of Stafford County, I would like to thank Bill Howell for his outstanding representation of our area during his 29 years in the General Assembly and 15 years as Speaker.
The fact that Bill served the second longest time of any speaker in Virginia history says so much about his leadership ability and his character. For an elected official, it can be difficult to balance the needs of your district and the needs of other districts, but Bill did a remarkable job of doing the best for the citizens of Stafford County as well as all citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia. He kept our state financially sound, gaining three AAA bond ratings for Virginia. He stood up for us against burdensome federal programs, and supported and enabled efforts to conserve open land. He helped us preserve our Civil War Park, Crow’s Nest and Widewater State Park through his support of land conservation. He worked hard to find – and enact – solutions for our transportation challenges.
As impressive and substantial as those accomplishments are, Bill’s best contribution to Stafford County is his love of the people and the history of the area. Bill and Cessie Howell never failed to greet their constituents and neighbors with warm smiles of welcome. We will greatly miss Speaker Howell’s exemplary leadership. We thank him for the many things he accomplished for Stafford County and the sacrifices he and his entire family made to serve the people of Virginia.”
RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia Senate on Thursday passed legislation allowing pharmacists to provide women a full year of birth control pills at once if prescribed by a doctor.
HB 2267, was sponsored by Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Springfield. The bill, titled the Birth Control Access Act, will now be sent to Gov. Terry McAuliffe to be signed into law.
Women’s right activists praised the measure’s passage. Many insurance policies currently limit women to a 90-day supply of birth control pills.
“Passing the Birth Control Access Act is a huge victory for women. Women lead busy lives, and going back and forth to the pharmacy every few weeks to get the birth control they need isn’t necessary, so we’re thrilled that the General Assembly has passed this common-sense solution,” said Anna Scholl, executive director of Progress Virginia. “Everyone in a community benefits when women are able to take control of their own bodies, and passing this bill is a step in the right direction.” (more…)
We have one week to go in session and negotiations are rapidly reaching conclusion as we push to finish out work so we can get back to our families and our jobs.
This past week, my legislation to raise Virginia’s threshold between misdemeanors and felonies from $200 to $500 failed. Virginia’s threshold has not changed since 1981. Our existing system unnecessarily focuses police and prosecutors on minor crimes instead of violent crime while tainting thousands of Virginia’s suffering from depression or drug addiction with felony charges for life.
The House of Delegates passed my legislation requiring Dominion to provide better information on coal ash pollution, disaster preparedness, and recycling. I am not happy that a permitting moratorium was removed, it is better than no bill at all and the Governor will also have a chance to amend the legislation.
The House is also poised to pass my legislation that would require the police to provide police records to next of kin in deaths involving suicide or unattended deaths. Some police departments refuse to provide this information. I think it will help families achieve closure and assure high quality policing.
Two of my more significant bills have been referred for further study. As a part-time legislature, we frequently refer meritorious, but complex proposals to groups who meet outside of session that have better staff support, can take a deeper dive into policy choices, and provide a longer period for stakeholder vetting.
My legislation that would require school systems to purchase personal computing devices for all students expected to use electronic textbooks was sent to the Future of Public Elementary and Secondary Education Joint Committee. I am hopeful we will finally come up with some guidelines to make a personal digital device an essential learning tool in the Commonwealth.
Also, my legislation requiring regulation of predatory internet lenders was sent to the Virginia’s Bureau of Financial Institutions who was directed to create a working group to propose a regulatory framework in 2018. Today, internet lenders are making loans in Virginia at rates north of 500%. For example, this week I went to www.cashnetusa.com and they are offering loans for $100, $300, or $1800 at a daily rate of 0.8192% or in other words – an APR of 299% before you include the 15% “transaction fee” on your initial loan. This means if you borrow $100 and make no payments you would owe $458.86 after one year before late fees. Others have seen rates as high as 5,000%. We need to get this under control.
This week, I also hope to be part of negotiating the final terms of my legislation placing controls on the City of Alexandria’s raw sewage discharges. The House passed similar legislation that takes a different approach. Also, about 10 more of my bills are set to pass the House of Delegates this week.
We will begin the process of packing up our office in preparation of moving to temporary office space for the next four years. The current General Assembly Building is an agglomeration of four asbestos-laden, leaky, and unreliable buildings with uncoordinated elevators and lousy accessibility. We will move down the hill for four years as “the GAB” is demolished and reconstructed through 2022.
Finally, I have received nearly 400 responses to my Constituent Survey. Please make sure you provide your opinions soon at www.scottsurovell.org/survey.
It is an honor to serve as your state senator.
A bill that seeks to protect Virginians from losing their income tax refunds to identity thieves won final approval Wednesday in the General Assembly.
The bill’s sponsor, Del. Mark Keam, D-Vienna, said thieves can steal information from the payroll system of an employer or payroll service and use it to claim a state income tax refund before the real taxpayer files a legitimate return.
“Incidents of cyber hacking and data breach are becoming way too common, and criminals are using every opportunity to prey on innocent Virginians,” Keam said. His legislation, HB 2113, passed unanimously in the state Senate on Wednesday. The bill, which was approved by the House on Feb. 2, now goes to Gov. Terry McAuliffe for his signature.
The measure would require employers to notify the attorney general’s office if they discover that sensitive information about their employee payroll has been compromised. The attorney general’s office then would work with the Virginia Department of Taxation to make sure employees don’t lose their tax refunds to identity thieves.
“To give the government a fighting chance against these criminals, it’s critical that employers notify the attorney general’s office as soon as they discover a breach of their employees’ payroll data so that the Tax Department can prevent fraudulent income tax refunds from being processed,” Keam said.
According to the Department of Taxation, more than 160 fraudulent refunds were issued during the first six months of 2016 as a result of 18 payroll breaches. Once a fraudulent tax refund is issued, it often is impossible to recover, state officials said. Annually, the state loses about $800,000 due to such cases of fraud involving tax refunds.
Paige Tucker, communications specialist with the Virginia Department of Taxation, said identity theft has been a serious problem but her agency is working to stop it. “We are committed to doing our part to prevent refund fraud,” Tucker said. “With the increased sophistication of our fraud models and increased resources devoted to our refund fraud prevention program, we’re seeing positive results.”
To prevent refund fraud, Tucker said, taxpayers should refrain from sending personal information, such as their Social Security number, to unknown people through email or text.
Featured photos in slideshow: Horner, Sinclair
From Prince William County:
Following a nationwide search and competitive hiring process, the Board of County Supervisors announced that Rebecca Horner is the new Planning Director and Dave Sinclair is the new Office of Management and Budget Director for Prince William County. (more…)
Lee Jin Carter is running for the 50th District of the House of Delegates
Carter submitted responses to our Project: Election survey posted below the jump.
6/13/17 June Primary (called if needed)
Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, is Monday, May 22, 2017
Deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you is 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, 2017. Your request must be received by your Registrar by 5:00 p.m.
11/7/17 General Election and Special Elections
Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration, is Monday, October 16, 2017
Deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you is 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 31, 2017. Your request must be received by your Registrar by 5:00 p.m.
PL: What are the top three major issues facing the district you wish to represent? (more…)
WOODBRIDGE, Va. — Five police cruisers sat outside the Prince William County Government Center Tuesday night.
Inside the building, more uniformed officers to include County Police Chief Barry Barnard were there to greet protesters who came to speak directly to Board of Supervisors Chairman At-large, and Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Corey Stewart.
They held signs, chanted about democracy, and brought a message to Prince William County’s top leader.
“I want him to see the immigrant community in a different perspective. I see him in s stereotype, known to commit violent acts when that is a small margin of the people. We also know that people born in the United States also commit crimes,” said Manassas Park City Councilman Hector Cendejas, 28. (more…)
Submitted News Crossover Week, town halls, senate budget
Crossover week of the 2017 Session came to a close as we finished initial action on over 3,000 bills. Twenty-two of my bills of were passed by the Senate and moved on to the House of Delegates.
My two Saturday Town Hall meetings had the largest crowds I have seen in eight years. There was significant concern regarding federal immigration raids on U.S. 1. On Friday, I received alarming reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had arrested numerous Latinos in a raid on U.S.1. While the deportation of convicted felons has been consistent policy, random street sweeps and arrest or deportations of law abiding residents is unprecedented in our community. I will work to get better information and seek to stop these actions.
Other questions focused on affordable housing, education funding, water quality, addressing the opioid crisis, respecting LGBTQ rights, proliferation of out-of-state license plates, and concerns about fracking. You can watch videos of both town halls on my You Tube channel.
On Monday, we heard a spirited debate on the regulation of short-term rentals by services such as AirBNB. Since we considered legislation last year, I heard concerns from numerous residents about residences being effectively used as hotel or movie studios. The bill we passed reaffirms local government’s authority to regulate temporary rentals and the fine owners who fail to pay occupancy taxes for renting property to multiple tenants over 30-days per years.
On Thursday, we passed the Senate Amendments to the State Budget. I am pleased that the Senate Budget Amendments provided unconditional matching funds for a two-percent raise for our teachers. These funds, coupled with other amendments would result in an additional $18.5 million for Fairfax County Public Schools, $26.6 million for Prince William County Public Schools and $7.1 million for Stafford County Public Schools.
Unfortunately, the Senate has proposed to cut about $6 million from the Governor’s proposed budget to improve operation of our election system. Last year, Virginia’s voter registration system failed on the last day of voter registration due to Virginians attempting to register to vote. The Governor’s proposed funding would have solved this problem. I will work to ensure it is restored.
On Thursday, my two pedestrian and cycling safety bills acquired a bit of a “fever” on the House side of the Chamber. Biking and pedestrian safety is a major problem in the United States, Virginia and the 36th District. Nationwide bike and pedestrian fatalities are rising faster than average. In Virginia, pedestrian fatalities were up fifty-one percent (51%) in 2016. That kind of increase is not an aberration.
My legislation to clarify the use of bike lanes and specifically prohibit the use of bike lanes to pass cars was killed in a House Transportation Subcommittee by one vote. Members were concerned that it would be “confusing” to drivers. I argued that driver education and signage would solve the problem, but was not persuasive.
My legislation to create a new standard and new penalties for seriously injuring a “vulnerable user” was sent to the House Courts Committee which previously killed a similar bill. Hopefully, I will have better luck.
This week, my legislation to generate better information regarding coal ash regulation will be up for vote along with most of my other bills in the House of Delegates.
As always, if you have any feedback, drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please complete my constituent survey at www.scottsurovell.org/survey if you have not done so yet. It is an honor to serve as your State Senator.
STAFFORD, Va. — Mark Dudenhefer will run to reclaim a seat on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors.
In his fall 2017 run for the Garrisonville District seat, the Republican said he plans to bring back a focus on local transportation issue to the Board. Improving the county’s roadways was his signature issue after he was first elected to the Board in 2005.
The retired Marine Corps Colonel decided last month not to run to keep his seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Almost immediately, rumors began to swirl that he would seek a return to local government.
“I want to stop the rumors that have been going around and want to formally announce my candidacy for the Garrisonville District seat,” said Dudenhefer.
He stepped away from the local office in 2011 when he being elected to the 2nd House District seat in Stafford and Woodbridge. While there, the Delegate was successful in winning funds for Widewater State Park in Stafford and passing Gwenyth’s Law requiring lifesaving defibrillators in schools. (more…)