Elizabeth “Liz” Quist seeks to keep her seat as Mayor of Occoquan in the May 3, 2016 General Election.
Quist won the seat in 2014 running unopposed. She replaced Earnie Porta who last fall went on to mount an unsuccessful campaign for Occoquan District Supervisor on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.
Quist served as Vice Mayor prior to serving as Mayor on the Occoquan Town Council.
We sent Quist a candidate survey as part of our Project: Election series. Here are her responses: (more…)
Jim Drakes, 52, is an incumbent on the Occoquan Town Council, and he’s running in the May 3, 2016 General Election to keep his seat.
The Northeast Pennsylvania native says he’s enjoyed his time in the riverfront town, and that the Occoquan River should be utilized more so than it is already.
We sent Drakes and all candidates running for office in Occoquan for the General Election a survey as part of our annual Project: Election coverage. Here are Drakes’ responses: (more…)
Jonathan Torres, 32, is running to become the next Mayor of the Town of Occoquan.
He’s running against incumbent Mayor Liz Quist.
Torres said traffic is an issue in the tiny riverfront town. And so is taxes and businesses, according to the candidate.
Potomac Local sent a questionnaire to Torres as part of our annual Project:Election series for the upcoming May 3, 2016 towns elections in Prince William County. Here are his responses: (more…)
Chris Morris hopes to keep his seat on the Haymarket Town Council.
Voters elected him back in 2014. They will head to the polls again on May 3, 2016, for a General Election for Haymarket Town Council. Morris is one of eight candidates seeking a seat on Town Council, including incumbent Mayor David Leake.
We sent a candidate questionnaire to the incumbent Morris and posted his responses below. (more…)
Charles Brewer is running to keep his seat on the Dumfries Town Council.
He is one of five candidates seeking a seat on the Town Council. Voters will head to the polls May 3, 2016 to cast their votes.
We sent a questionnaire to the incumbent and he responded with the following statements: (more…)
The Manassas and Manassas Park Cities Democratic Committee (MMPCDC) has scheduled assembled caucuses on Monday, April 18, at 7:30 pm to elect delegates and alternates from both cities to the Virginia 10th Congressional District and State Democratic Party Conventions. Caucus participation–including eligiblity to run for election as a delegate or alternate–is open to all registered voters in the respective cities of Manassas and Manassas Park who sign a standard Democratic declaration form. (more…)
Ian Lovejoy was born to a working class family in rural Appalachia. He became one of the first members of his family to attend college, at Concord University in southern West Virginia, where he graduated summa cum laude.
Lovejoy spent summers working as a camp counselor and youth mentor, invaluable experiences that helped shape his life forever. Lovejoy became Concord University’s first Rhodes Scholar Nominee. He later graduated from Virginia Tech Graduate School,, ultimately teaching at Radford University before entering the private sector.
While possessing a background in research and data analysis, Lovejoy found his true professional calling in positions of organizational leadership–in particular serving seniors. Lovejoy was Director of Operations of WSR Solutions, a national medical equipment company.
Submitted News Government ID’s for all Virginia residents
In August of 2014, I organized a Hispanic Town Hall Meeting in Hybla Valley. I spent the first hour going over issues with constituents.
Then, I asked attendees for feedback – what was their #1 issue? Lack of government identification. Attendees said that they and their friends and family were weary of obtaining ID’s from Maryland or not having them at all.
At the beginning of last session, I was approached by Virginia New Majority and the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACALAO) about working together to bring this issue forward. I introduced Senate Bill 390 that would have allowed the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue a temporary driver’s visitor’s driver’s license to anyone who (1) resided in Virginia for one year, (2) had filed a Virginia tax return or been claimed as a dependent another Virginia tax return and (3) paid a $53 fee. These licenses would be conspicuously marked with language stating “NOT FOR FEDERAL USE” so it is clear that they are not compliant with the Real ID Act.
Similar legislation has now been passed in over twelve states: California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Illinois, Vermont, Connecticut, Maryland, District of Columbia, New Mexico, and Washington. Other states are considering it. Why is this legislation a good idea?
Reason #1 – Reducing Accidents
New residents do not know the rules of the road. According to the DMV, in other states where this has been implemented, over 80% of applicants fail the driving test and need to retake the test. Having informed driver’s is good for everyone. Data from California showed that people without driver’s licenses were three times more likely to cause a fatal accident. The states with the longest record of providing licenses to all residents have experienced nearly a 100% larger drop in traffic fatalities than the nationwide average. This legislation will save lives.
Reason #2 – Reducing Hit and Runs
States adopting these measures have seen significant reductions in hit and run accidents. Analyses by AAA have found that 41% of hit and run drivers lack a driver’s license and that unlicensed drivers are 66.36 times more likely to be hit and run drivers. When people do not fear prosecution they stop and collisions are dealt with appropriately through our system.
Reason #3 – Lower Virginia Insurance Premiums
More insured drivers means risk spread among more people, fewer accidents with uninsured drivers, and lower premiums for everyone.
Reason #4 – Increase Interaction With Law Enforcement
Residents with government ID are much more likely to interact with law enforcement whether it’s for car accidents, domestic violence or to come forward as witnesses for other crimes. Government ID means greater civic participation.
Reason #5 – More Tax Revenue
There are an estimated 400,000 people who would benefit from this. If 80% of estimated eligible Virginians sign up, Virginia will collect $1.7 million in new licensing fees per year. If each new licensed driver claims $35,000 per year in taxable Virginia income, they would pay an additional $1,755 of state income taxes per person or a total of $561 million per year of new tax revenue. If 200,000 new auto insurance policies are purchased for $1,000 per year, it will result in $225 million per year of new auto insurance premium tax revenue.
Reason #6 – Provide All Virginians A High Quality of Life
Licenses allow people to enjoy a healthy quality of life. Licenses mean being able to take children to soccer games, drive to work, get a bank account, or get to the doctor.
The Way Forward
The legislation was supported by the McAuliffe Administration and the DMV has assembled a working group including representatives from law enforcement, the immigrant community, faith groups, driving safety groups, criminal defense, courts, chambers of commerce, taxation, human trafficking, and local governments to come up with consensus legislation.
Hopefully, next year, this legislation will pass so that everyone living in Virginia can enjoy a healthy quality of life. If you have any feedback, please send me a note at email@example.com.
Theresa Coates Ellis is a native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania and has been lived in the City of Manassas since 1987.
Ellis is a graduate of George Mason University with a degree in Business Communication. She is the founder of Tackle Management Corp, a company that provides local businesses aid in regards to public relations services. Her strengths encompass a skill set of Management, Marketing, and Public Relations. Besides being known as a businesswoman, Ellis is a mother of seven children and is very active within the community.
Ellis currently serves as a member for the Manassas Regional Airport Commission, the MCPS Education Foundation Board, and the President-Elect for the Bull Run Rotary Club. Additionally, she is a Sponsor and Founder of the Community Connection Network (CCN) Manassas City Public School and is a George Mason University Community Speaker. (more…)
Submitted News Firearm reforms, and the electric chair returns
In the past two weeks, I reviewed action on my legislation and the state budget. This column covers some of the major bills to pass the state legislature. (more…)
Jonathan L. Way seeks a new term as a Manassas City Council member.
He’s been a City Councilman for nine years and currently serves as the Vice Mayor. Not to mention, Way has been a city representative on three regional government boards and on the Virginia Railway Express and Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission bus system.
He is a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy with a Bachelors of Science in Marine Transportation and has a Masters in Science in Industrial Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Way is also a member of the NRA, the Grace United Methodist Church, and was previously a Rotary Club officer for 5 years.
Way is on the ballot for the Republican Primary Election on May 21 at Metz Middle School in Manassas.
Potomac Local sent a questionnaire to Way and he sent us the responses below: (more…)
Submitted News Good news: Virginia has a state budget
I am typing these words of good news on the night of Friday, March 11th, on the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates in Richmond. We just adjourned the 2016 legislative session of the Virginia General Assembly with approval of a bipartisan two-year Virginia state budget. The good news: The budget is balanced, cautious, sensible, and doesn’t increase taxes or fees.
As a member of the 22-member House Appropriations Committee (HAC), I have been engaged since December with crafting the budget, along with two other Prince William County legislators, Del. Scott M. Lingamfelter (R-31st) and Del. Luke M. Torian (D-52nd). I serve on three HAC subcommittee (Public Safety, Transportation, and Higher Education), so I had a hand in developing these three parts of the budget.
Here in bullet fashion are the highlights of the budget we approved Friday night:
– It was passed by large margins in a spirit of bipartisan cooperation in both houses of the General Assembly.
– It was completed early, permitting the General Assembly to adjourn one day early, saving taxpayers $25,000.
– It is balanced, fair, and cautious. Unlike the federal government, we build the budget like you build your family budget, with common sense and without gimmicks.
– It doesn’t increase taxes or fees.
– It represents a spending decrease of 5% over the last 10 years, when adjusted for population and inflation.
– It funds the core functions of state government from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2018.
– It eliminates state liabilities, reduces borrowing, and makes one-time investments rather than long-term spending commitments.
– It funds investments in economic development to grow businesses and create jobs.
– It invests $73M more for K-12 public education than Gov. McAuliffe proposed, for a total of $900M.
– It includes $36M for Cost to Compete for school employees in Northern Virginia (a budget amendment that I co-patroned with several of my PWC colleagues).
– It includes $100K for the VaSTAR (Virginia Student Training and Refurbishment Program) computer rehab program administered by PWC Schools (a budget amendment for which I was Chief Patron).
– It invests $78M more for higher education than Gov. McAuliffe proposed.
– It includes $114M for operations and maintenance at colleges and universities and $48M for undergraduate financial aid to hold the line on tuition increases.
– It includes a 2% teacher pay raise, a 2% pay raise for state-supported local employees, and a 3% pay raise for state employees and state police.
– It deposits $605M in the state rainy day fund to raise the balance to $845M in two years as a hedge against the unforeseen.
– It funds the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) at 100% of the Board-certified rate (two years early). It repays VRS $189.5M owed from a funding deferral in 2010 (six years early).
While this is a lot of information, it’s not all-inclusive, so go to the state budget website for details: https://budget.lis.virginia.gov/amendments/2016/1
No budget is perfect in every respect. This budget is no different in that regard, but the bipartisan, bicameral way in which it was approved says that it is a sound spending plan. We have a second crack at improving it next January when we can offer amendments during the 2017 legislative session of the General Assembly. In the meantime, I sincerely thank our neighbors for the privilege of working on their behalf in crafting the state budget.
I’ll be back home with Ruth and on the job in Prince William County the week of March 14th, and I look forward to getting back to the rigors of community life. Although the General Assembly session has ended, my duty to you has not. If I may assist you or your family in any way, please don’t hesitate to call or email.
I’m easily reached at DelRAnderson@house.virginia.gov or at our legislative district office (571-264-9983). My legislative aide, Ryan Galloway, is at RGalloway@house.virginia.gov. If your need is urgent and can’t wait until the next business day, please call my Woodbridge home at 703-730-1380. We’re here for you.
Many thanks for the privilege of serving you and your family at home and in Richmond!
Submitted News Over $210 million in new funds coming to the 36th District
Submitted News New budget emerges from Senate
Submitted News Electronic textbook bill moves to House of Delegates
As we pass the mid-point of this General Assembly session, many bills are moving.
After a 30-minute debate, the Senate approved my bill prohibiting the use of electronic textbooks in public schools without a plan to provide school broadband and digital devices to every student required to use an electronic textbook.
Virginia’s constitution requires that every child receive a free textbook. On the floor, I argued that without home computers, electronic textbooks create a two-tiered education system for the haves and the have-nots. Senators Adam Ebbin and George Barker joined me in stressing that even Northern Virginia’s schools have significant low-income student populations who face disadvantages in the classroom without their own devices. The bill now moves to the House of Delegates.
Also, the Senate passed, 39 to 1 my legislation to reverse recent anti-sunshine Virginia Supreme Court rulings. Last year, the Court held that if one sentence of a government document is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the government can withhold an entire document instead of simply redacting the sentence. My legislation requires disclosure to the public of the text of the document that is not redacted.
Additionally, the Court held that government officials’ decisions to withhold documents are entitled to “great weight.” My legislation requires judges reviewing FOIA responses to look at government officials’ decisions in an unbiased manner. The House of Delegates passed identical legislation 99-0 and it will be on the Governor’s desk by the end of the week.
Around 100 people attended our town hall meetings this weekend in the Mount Vernon and Lee areas of Fairfax County. The number one concern raised was public school funding. Governor Terry McAuliffe’s proposed budget has $54 million in new funding for Prince William County and $15 million for Stafford County. The House and Senate budgets come out this weekend and will likely include additional funds.
We also heard concerns about Potomac River oil spills and coal ash pollution, skyrocketing college tuition, protecting women’s reproductive rights and strengthening mental health services. People voiced support for driver’s licenses for undocumented Virginians and anger about voting restrictions.
This week, we will debate the state budget. To share your view, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is an honor to serve as your state senator.
The fifth week of the General Assembly Session brought some long days and nights as we rushed to complete work on bills before our mid-session deadline called “Crossover.”
First the Senate passed legislation to plug a hole in the Northern Virginia 2.1% regional gas tax that is used to fund transit. This legislation was the top priority for Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford Counties. It now goes on to an uncertain future in the House of Delegates, but without the legislation, localities will be under even more pressure to raise real estate taxes if we expect to maintain the same level of transit service.
Eleven of my bills have passed the full Senate with two more still waiting for final passage. One bill involved improving the fairness of protective order proceedings and another ensured that Virginians can enforce subpoenae in civil and criminal cases in Virginia due to a recent Supreme Court of Virginia opinion.
My legislation to help close the Digital Divide moved through committee this week. Today’s children learn digitally and digital literacy is a key job skill in a modern workforce. However, low income families often cannot afford devices or broadband connections.
After I learned Fairfax County was using electronic textbooks and failing to provide computers for low income families to use them at home, I introduced legislation to require any school using electronic textbooks to provide a digital device to every student. The legislation was vetted and approved by the Joint Commission on Technology and Science but was tabled in the House. Last week, the Senate Education, Health and Welfare Committee passed the bill on a 14-1 vote.
The proliferation of companies providing background checks for people has led to an increase in dissemination of inaccurate information. This severely limits Virginians’ opportunities, especially in employment and housing. My legislation to create a Virginia-based cause of action to remedy these situations and hold companies accountable for putting out inaccurate information passed the Senate.
Several of my law firm clients and lawyers in Northern Virginia have told me that some orthopedic practices are refusing to see individuals who have suffered injuries in vehicle collisions – even if they have insurance. My bill to require insurance companies to contractually prohibit doctors from refusing patients based on how they were injured was continued to 2017 so we can convene meetings between insurance companies, doctors, and other stakeholders to mediate a resolution.
If you have any feedback, please send me a note at email@example.com. It is an honor to serve as your state senator.
Submitted News Coal ash bill fails, other bills move forward
Submitted News Despite gun deal, legislation still incomplete
The third week of the General Assembly saw a major agreement emerge on firearm violence issues, and action on several of my bills.
Bills Moving Through
Three of my bills passed the full Senate this week. My resolution ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) passed on a bipartisan 21-19 vote. ERA remains five states short of ratification. The Senate also passed my bill to give consumers a remedy when consumer finance companies fail to include language protecting consumers in their agreements, and prohibiting local governments from requiring homeowners or condo association approval before granting a permit or license.
As trains, buses, bicycles and walking become more popular, many states have enacted “vulnerable user” laws – making it easier to convict vehicle drivers of a serious traffic offense when collisions occur with vulnerable users who are seriously injured. My legislation will be studied this summer.
My legislation to require the State Board of Education to redesign 11th Grade English examinations for English language learners passed subcommittee. This will result in a fairer tests for students. This will also result in a more accurate accreditation analysis for schools with large language learner populations such as many schools in the Route 1 Corridor.
On Friday, Governor McAuliffe announced an agreement with conservative legislators about firearms. Last month, Attorney General Mark Herring announced that he was revoking agreements to recognize out of state concealed weapon permits (CWP) in Virginia due to other state laws lacking the same protections we use in Virginia. The National Rifle Association reached out and offered to support prohibiting firearm possession by individuals subject to protective orders and requiring State Police presence at all gun shows to conduct voluntary background checks for firearms sellers without federal firearms licenses.
In return, the Governor agreed to sign legislation providing universal reciprocity for weapon permits between Virginia and other states. While the agreement provides that reciprocity will not apply to Virginians whose permits have been revoked in Virginia, it is still incomplete. If enacted, a Virginians who cannot obtain a permit in Virginia after a conviction for stalking, drunk driving, or inpatient mental health or substance abuse treatment will be able to obtain a Utah permit and legally carry a concealed gun, switchblade, machete, nun chuck, or throwing stars it in Virginia.
While I would like to see reciprocity for Virginia permit holders, our Virginians’ firearms safety rules should be up to the Virginia legislature and not delegated to the legislatures of states like Utah, Idaho or Alaska. The agreement is not acceptable to me and I will not support the compromise without tighter firearm violence protections.
This week will be busy – I have over a dozen bills up this week. Please complete my constituent survey at www.scottsurovell.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any feedback.
It is an honor to serve as your state senator.
A Republican state legislator is urging Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe to delay the revocation of reciprocal agreements Virginia has with 25 states on whether to honor their concealed handgun carry permits.
Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter of Woodbridge made the request in a letter this week to McAuliffe.
“Given the fact that the State Police has told me that they have no records of any out-of-state individual with a concealed carry permit committing crimes in Virginia, I think a few months’ delay hardly represents a threat to our citizens,” Lingamfelter said.
His letter comes a month after Attorney General Mark Herring announced that beginning Feb. 1, Virginia would no longer recognize concealed handgun permits from 25 states, including North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky. (more…)
Submitted News Metro extension, guns issues on Surovell’s docket
Last week, the 2016 General Assembly gaveled into action and I became your State Senator for Virginia’s 36thDistrict.
The Rules Committee assigned me to three committees. (1) The Local Government Committee considers legislation addressing land use, zoning and local government. (2) The Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee has jurisdiction over the safety net programs, prisons, alcoholic beverage regulation and childcare. (3) The General Laws and Technology Committee examines bills affecting homeowners associations, gambling, professional occupation regulation, procurement and the Freedom of Information Act. Each of these has jurisdiction over issues critical to the quality of life in our area.
Blue Line Extension and Multimodal Transportation
Interstate 95 is one of the most congested commuter corridors in the United States. In light of the congestion and the need for more high-quality development and employment, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors endorsed the concept of studying the extension of Metro’s Blue Line from Springfield through Lorton, Woodbridge and Potomac Mills to Quantico. I have introduced legislation to direct the Department of Rail and Public Transit to conduct a multimodal study for this and U.S. 1 south of the Occoquan so we can plan for the next 25 years.
As our highways become more clogged and as bike lanes and pedestrian facilities are incorporated into our infrastructure, it is important to encourage drivers to respect other users. Many states have enacted “vulnerable rider” laws to create heightened penalties for drivers who seriously injure pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users and others while distracted. I have introduced a bill to create a Class 1 misdemeanor for injuring a vulnerable user while distracted.
Over the last two years, I have helped to push back on the growing power of homeowners’ and condominium owners’ associations (HOA’s). Some Northern Virginia localities improperly require property owners to show HOA approval before they issue a building permits. I have introduced legislation to make clear this is prohibited.
Helping Our Hispanic Community
In August, 2014, I hosted a Hispanic Town Hall in Hybla Valley. The number one issue raised was difficulty in obtaining a driver’s license or government identification. Therefore, I have introduced legislation to allow people to obtain a temporary license if they can establish that they have been living in Virginia for one year and have either filed a Virginia tax return or been claimed as a dependent on another Virginian’s tax return. Fifteen other states, including Maryland and the District of Columbia, have passed similar legislation.
At the request of Prince William County Public Schools, I have introduced a bill to require Virginia schools to use a recognized English language proficiency assessment exam for children with limited English proficiency, as an alternative to the 11th grade Standards of Learning English reading exam. This is a fairer way to measure student achievement and will ensure that test scores in high schools with large ESOL populations are not affected by recently-arrived students.
Firearm Violence Prevention
During my discussions with the State Police about concealed weapon permit (CWP) proposals, we became aware that CWP’s are automatically revoked for felony convictions, protective orders and other criminal offenses. However, for people who have received inpatient mental health and/or inpatient drug treatment after their CWP was issued, permits are not automatically revoked. I have introduced a bill to require automatic revocation.
Second, I have put in a bill to prohibit mentally ill people who are prohibited from possessing a firearm from also possessing ammunition. Today, mentally ill people can have as many bullets as they want – just no guns.
Third, I have re-introduced my 2014 legislation prohibiting individuals on the Terrorist Watch List from obtaining a CWP or purchasing a firearm. In 2014, the House of Delegates leadership would not give the bill a hearing.