So what have you been doing lately, Senator?
Even when the General Assembly is not in session, there’s always plenty to do.
Here’s a sampling of activities since Labor Day when I attended two Democratic events: the Falls Church Ice Cream Social and the Arlington Chili Cook-Off.
The day after Labor Day I was present when former Governor Mark Warner gave a well-received address to a large group at George Mason Law School in Arlington on 9/11 and Homeland Security. In the evening it was on to the Arlington Civic Federation debate – the annual fall kickoff of the election season.
The next day I was off to Richmond for a roundtable meeting of stakeholders on my Renewable Portfolio Standard bill, S.B. 278, that was carried over from the last session of the General Assembly. Many ideas and approaches have been shared in the group and I’m hopeful that a consensus bill can be crafted.
In no particular order, I have met in my district office with housing advocates, representatives of the Community Service Board concerned about LPACAP funds, the director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, citizens distressed about the widening of I-66, a representative of the Arlington Food Assistance Center, and an aggrieved tenant with ideas for new legislation.
I attended the monthly meeting of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission where the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy invited Northern Virginia to join in a project to privatize roads and charge tolls on existing interstates and other roads, followed by a presentation on a possible Northern Virginia regional plan for taxes and fees, imposed locally, to make up for the state’s failure to fund transportation effectively.
Two more days were spent in Richmond attending work group meetings of the Housing Commission. I chair the community and homeowner’s association group that heard presentations on flying the American flag – the proposal is to ensure the right to fly the flag with appropriate restrictions on size, time and place – and also the question of whether a homeowners association can forbid the placement of political signs.
While there I also participated on a panel at a meeting of the Virginia Manufacturers Association on environmental issues. I spoke particularly about the Renewable Portfolio Standard legislation that I’m proposing.
My fellow panelist was Delegate Rob Wittman who is encouraging the production of ethanol and biodiesel fuels in the Commonwealth.
In the past two weeks, in addition to the meetings mentioned above, I have attended the Northern Virginia Community College Education Foundation dinner, the Arlington Committee of 100, and the American Association of University Women’s meeting on early childhood education, the Falls Church Fall Festival, and five Democratic fundraisers.
I also visited a group home for mentally and developmentally disabled persons, part of a program by the ARC of Northern Virginia to help legislators understand that they should be able to lead "a life like yours".
The most moving event was the solemn ceremony remembering 9/11 held on Memorial Plaza at the Arlington Court House. Among many others, I struck the bell to mark a life lost at the Pentagon that day five years ago.