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Arlington County Civic Federation

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Arlington County Civic Federation

Legislation Committee
Tim Wise, Chair
Arlington, VA

FINAL DRAFT 2006 Legislative Priorities To be considered November 8, 2005

Note: proposed additional item on eminent domain attached below.

Civic Federation Principles

The Civic Federation adopts the following principles in order to maintain our quality of life, enhance the desirability of our community as a place to live and work, and meet future human and infrastructure needs:

  • We urge the General Assembly to revise state revenue-sharing formulas to result in more equitable funding for Arlington County government, public schools, and transportation

  • We support funding for public education, public transit, roads and bridges, housing, human services, and regional COLAs throughout the state, which continue as high priorities.

1. Arlington County

Honor James B. Hunter, III. Urges the Arlington county Board to honor the long and distinguished public service contributions of former County Board member James B. Hunter, III by naming an appropriate public facility in his honor.

2. Economic and Community Development

Virginia Housing Partnership Fund. Encourages the General Assembly to re-establish the Fund, from which non-profits could borrow at low interest rates.

3. Conservation (environment)

Air Quality - Clean Smokestacks Act. Urges the legislature to adopt a Clean Smokestacks Act (similar to that of North Carolina) to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants in Virginia by closing the existing grandfather loophole in the federal Clean Air Act that exempts old, dirty coal plants. This law should require every power plant in Virginia to meet the most recent pollution control standards for new pollution sources. The new standards must be met on the later of the date that is 30 years after a power plant commenced operation or the date that is 5 years after the date of the enactment of the Virginia Clean Smokestacks Act.

4. Crimes and Offenses Generally

A. Sodomy Laws. Supports repeal of the sodomy law as it applies to consenting adults. B. Antidiscrimination and Hate Crimes Ordinances. Supports the addition of sexual orientation to the categories included in existing state antidiscrimination and hate crimes laws.

5. Criminal Procedure

A. 21-Day Rule. Urges elimination of the 21-day rule for consideration of potentially exculpatory evidence in all circumstances. B. Death Penalty Moratorium. Urges state legislation that will impose a moratorium on executions until policies are in place to minimize the risk that innocent persons will be executed and that will ensure that death-penalty cases are administered fairly and impartially. C. Handicapped Parking. Supports legislation to raise the reduced mail-in fine (currently $125) for parking in a handicapped space to $300 (the current fine is $500 should you go to court)

6. Dangerous Weapons

Gun Control. Support requiring mandatory instant background checks on purchasers of all firearms at all gun shows and allowing up to seventy-two hours to complete the check if the instant check is inconclusive

7. Equal Rights

A. Urges the General Assembly to repeal the "Affirmation of Marriage Act" (HB 751) passed in 2004 and supports repeal of code of Virginia section 20.45.5 that states "A Marriage between persons of the same sex is prohibited. Any marriage entered into by persons of the same sex in another state or jurisdiction shall be void and unenforceable." [1] B. Employment and Housing. Urges prohibition of discrimination in employment and housing on the basis of sexual orientation in a manner consistent with existing state discrimination laws.

8. Energy Conservation and Resources

Recycling. Urge the General Assembly to continue to increase recycling goals and to establish an official definition of recyclable materials

9. Health

A. Opposes any attempt to reduce the scope of the Certificate of Public Need (COPN) program in the review of acute-care hospitals, ambulatory clinics, and their associated services. Opposes any attempt to exempt services or equipment from COPN review on a piece-meal basis. B. Regional Health Planning Agencies. Opposes any attempt to eliminate or reduce the funding level for regional health planning agencies. These agencies provide meaningful input into the COPN process and also provide the sole opportunity for significant local public representation. C. Authority for Nurses. Supports enacting legislation to continue to expand the authority of certified advance practice nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician's assistants to write appropriate prescriptions and to practice independently or in collaboration with physicians. Such legislation would reduce costs and expand access to health care.

10. Insurance

Insurance Rates. Supports a law to prohibit insurance companies from raising rates when the insured motorists in accidents are found to be not "at fault," and when home owners inquire about coverage, but do not file a claim.

11. Property and Conveyances

Retention of Local Zoning Authority. Supports legislation to prohibit Commonwealth agencies from overriding local jurisdictional land-use plans and zoning decisions and ordinances.

12. Public Health

Ban on Smoking in Restaurants. Urges legislation extending to Arlington County the authority to ban smoking on the premises of any restaurant or other establishment open to the public in which prepared food is served for consumption on the premises. Furthermore, when such enabling legislation has been enacted, the Civic Federation urges immediate imposition of the aforementioned restriction by Arlington County.

13. Taxation

A. Consumer Use Tax. Supports revision and reform of the Consumer Use Tax. B. Economic (Fair-Market) Rent. Recommends establishment of statewide, economic (fair-market) rent, not contract rent, as the basis for assessments of commercial property. [2] C. Motor Fuels Tax. Supports legislation to permit Arlington County to levy a motor fuels tax as can cities in Virginia. Supports legislation to increase the motor vehicle fuel tax with revenue devoted to transportation and public transit. D. Sales Tax Modernization. Urges the Legislature to simplify and modernize its sales tax system by adopting legislation to conform to the multistate Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. The effect of such legislation, applicable to Internet and mail order sales, would be to adopt uniform definitions of goods and services (such as what constitutes computer software). As of 2004, 42 states are participants and 20 states have adopted conforming legislation. [3]

14. Transportation and Highway Safety.

A. Red Light Cameras. Urges the County to support legislation reinstating and expanding the Red Light Camera program. B. Interstate 66. Opposes changes to I 66 inside the capital beltway unless such changes are part of a comprehensive regional transportation plan and are made with community consensus.


[1] HB 751 states "A civil union, partnership contract, or other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage is prohibited. Any such civil union, partnership contract, or other arrangement entered into by persons of the same sex in another state or jurisdiction shall be void in all respects in Virginia and any and any contractual rights created thereby shall be void and unenforceable."

[2] Although the Virginia Supreme Court has ruled that contract rent may be used, the Federation has opposed its use because it usually lowers commercial assessments, shifting more of the real estate tax burden to homeowners.

[3] This effort was prompted by judicial decisions determining that retailers without physical presence in a given state do not have to collect sales and use tax on sales made into that state. The explosive growth of e-commerce beginning in the late 1990s increased the number of transactions that have escaped sales tax. States were losing revenue and so-called "bricks and mortar" retailers argue that they are at a competitive disadvantage to the electronic retailers because they do have to collect sales tax. The agreement does not change these rules (Federal legislation would be need) but, instead, focuses on making state sales taxes more uniform so that compliance with current rules is simplified. Project proposals include adopting more uniform definitions and procedures, more efficient administrative procedures, and new technologies to reduce the burden of tax collection. More information can be found on the project website, www.streamlinedsalestax.org.

Legislative Items to be Debated/Adopted
at November Meeting

1. Urges the General Assembly to prohibit the use of cell phones by drivers on state and federal roads.

2. Amend the Constitution to allow for the automatic restoration of voting rights to felons released from prison.

3. Asks the County Board to study the most effective way to match the annual real estate assessments with the start of the state fiscal year so that that tax rates match the fiscal year.

4. Supports developers, the County Board, and other interested parties to reach consensus on appropriate mechanisms consistent with state law for a process to continue providing for affordable units and/or affordable housing resources.

5. Amend the Constitution to allow the Governor to serve two consecutive terms.

6. Supports a Constitutional amendment to provide real estate tax relief in the form of a homestead exemption for owner-occupied residential properties.

Source: Results from Legislation Committee's work on 9/12/05.

Proposed addition from John Antonelli, delegate from Columbia Heights

In light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Kelo v. New London, which affirmed that government may take land by eminent domain to give to private entities for private use and benefit such as a baseball stadium, be it resolved, that the Arlington County Civic Federation supports legislation or a Constitutional Amendment that would enact the following language:

  • Notwithstanding any other provision of law, neither this Commonwealth, nor any political subdivision thereof, nor any other condemning entity shall use eminent domain unless it is necessary for a public use.

  • The term "public us" shall only mean the possession, occupation, and enjoyment ofthe land by the general public, or by public agencies; or the use of land forthe creation or functioning of public utilities; the acquisition of property to cure a concrete harmful effect of the current use of the land, including the removal of public nuisances, structures that are beyond repair or that are unfit for human habitation or use, and the acquisition of abandoned property. The public benefits of economic development,including an increase in tax base, tax revenues, employment and generaleconomic health, shall not constitute a public use.

  • Whether a taking constitutes a public use, concrete harmful effect, and/or abandoned property shall be subject to judicial review.

  • Should property taken by eminent domain no longer be required for the purpose for which it was taken, the government entity owning the now surplus land must perform due diligence to locate the prior owner, or the owner�s estate, heirs, or assigns, and offer then a right of first refusal to repurchase the property in constant years dollars from the price paid in the taking.

This page was last revised on: October 28, 2005.
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