Committees of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors generally are committees of the whole, meaning that all 10 board members also serve on each committee. Most committees meet at least quarterly, but the Board’s Legislative Committee is different. Since the Virginia General Assembly sessions are short — 45 or 60 days in January, February, and March — the Legislative Committee meets nearly every week during the winter. And the meetings are on Friday afternoons, at 4 p.m., instead of the regular Tuesday sessions of other committees. Since the General Assembly usually does not meet on Friday afternoons, the later hour permits county legislative staff to drive back from Richmond and give board members the latest updates about the legislative agenda.
Last Friday’s meeting was the first since the new Governor and General Assembly members were sworn in. Committee Chairman Jeff McKay announced his desire to adjourn by 7 p.m., a fruitless goal given the long list of bills under discussion. We finally adjourned shortly after 7:30 p.m. Priority principles for the county’s legislative package include adequately funding K-12 education, dedicated state funding for the Metro system, and preserving local government authority, especially in taxation and land use. Of special interest are bills that address the previously approved proffer bill, violations for passing stopped school buses (penalties would not be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles!), and WMATA capital needs. In every jurisdiction, Metro needs additional new money, not just reallocated funds that will take away from other state-funded projects. A well-functioning Metro system is integral to a healthy regional economy, and that means new money or new sources of revenue. Another bill would require localities to provide a full waiver of stormwater fees for public use airport runways and taxiways, proposed by legislators from the Roanoke area. Large or small, airports have a lot of impervious surfaces, and should ante up, like the rest of us, to meet stormwater requirements for water quality.
Joint resolutions in both the House (Kory, Lopez, Robinson) and the Senate (Surovell, Wexton) propose to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the United States Constitution that was proposed by Congress in 1972, notwithstanding the expiration of the 10-year ratification period. The state of Nevada ratified the amendment in 2017, and Congress is considering a bill that removes the time limit. The Board of Supervisors has supported ratification previously, but I felt it was important to state our support this year via a formal resolution, and my motion was adopted unanimously on Tuesday. Women continue to confront a lack of political parity, workplace discrimination, and disparate rates of poverty, rape, and domestic violence assaults. We’ve come a long way since 1972, but basic rights still elude many women, and it’s way past time to right that wrong.
The Art in the Mason District Governmental Center program features colorful landscapes by Alejandra Pineiro. The vibrant colors brighten a dreary winter day. Come see for yourself any weekday between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. at 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at email@example.com.