Civic Federation's 1996 Legislative Package

At Its November 14, 1995 Meeting, The Arlington County Civic Federation Adopted A 45-Point Legislative Package

The Arlington County Civic Federation has urged the General Assembly of Virginia to pass state "motor-voter" legislation and to repeal concealed weapons legislation enacted at the last session. The initiatives are part of a 45-point legislative package for 1996, adopted by the Federation at its November 14, 1995 meeting.

The motor-voter legislation would permit Virginians to register at Department of Motor Vehicle offices, which proponents argue would increase voter registration by making it more convenient. The controversial concealed weapons statute, adopted by the 1995 General Assembly but opposed by much of the Northern Virginia delegation, makes it easier for Virginians to acquire a permit for a concealed weapon.

Other portions of the legislative package oppose further cuts in higher education funding, seek authority for Arlington County to increase the cigarette tax, and endorse a state consitutional amendment to allow initiative and referendum. The Federation also endorsed a recycling goal of 40% by the year 2000 and other environmental initiatives. The detailed 45-point legislative package follows.


The Arlington County Civic Federation is the 79-year-old "Civic Voice of Arlington." Its delegates, including delegates from the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Federation, represent nearly 70 neighborhood associations and other civic groups throughout Arlington County.

Civic Federation's 1996 Legislative Package

1. Education

A. Funding. The Federation opposes any efforts to change the formula for state funding what would result in less funding for Arlington County Public Schools.

B. School Boards. The Federation continues to support legislation enabling school boards to bargain collectively with school employees.

C. Higher Education. The Federation believes that higher education plays a significant role in the economic development of the Commonwealth and region. The Federation is concerned that Virginia has dropped from 22nd to 43rd in the nation in tax dollar support per full-time student. This change in Virginia public policy drastically affects a student's ability to access a quality higher education at a time when U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Bureau of Census data indicate increasing reliance on higher education for worker training as we evolve from an industrial to a knowledge-driven economy and Virginia converts its defense industry. The Federation asks the General Assembly to maintain higher education funding at least at the current level.

D. At-Risk Students. The Federation supports the initiation of legislation to provide disparity funding for summer school programs for at-risk students.

2. Transportation

A. Funding. The Federation supports utilization of Federal, state, and local funding and technical assistance for mass transit, transportation management associations, commuter bikeways, and alternative work schedule programs. The Federation urges the General Assembly to revise the state transportation funding formula to increase funding formula to increase funding for growth areas such as Northern Virginia.

B. Streets and Highways. The Federation continues to support more efficient use of existing highways and specific initiatives such as

  1. better traffic light synchronization;
  2. greater state awareness of bicycle safety issues such as requiring the Virginia Department of Transportation to establish sufficient right-of-way for bicycles during planning and construction on state roadways and greater accommodation for bicycles on state roadways; and
  3. a requirement that operators of slow-moving vehicles use designated pullout areas every few miles if they are impeding the flow of traffic.

3. Housing and Human Services

A. Housing.
  1. The Federation supports continued General Assembly funding for the Virginia Housing Partnership.
  2. The Federation encourages Arlington County and the Commonwealth of Virginia to support affordable housing ownership opportunities.
B. Funding for Social Services. The Federation recognizes that demands for increased social services by needy persons in many localities, particularly in northern Virginia, have placed considerable pressure on already-tight local budgets. The Legislature should appropriate sufficient funding to local social service agencies to process food stamps, Medicaid and AFDC applicants in a timely and efficient manner.

C. Consolidated Services for At-Risk Youth. The Federation supports changes that will enhance the existing system of services to at-risk youth through additional funds appropriated by the General Assembly. In addition, the Federation endorses development of a coordinated service delivery system to include social service, school district and judicial system resource which would result in more efficiently meeting individual client needs.

D. Department for the Aging. The Federation requests legislation to provide funds through the Department for the Aging for public and professional education and training on guardianship and alternatives.

4. Fiscal and Tax Policy

A. Consumer Use Tax. The Federation urges legislation to repeal this tax on the grounds that it is inequitable and difficult to enforce compliance.

B. Contract Rent Study. The Federation requests legislation to study if contact rent should be considered an appropriate factor in determining value for assessments of commercial and residential rental property. The Supreme Court of Virginia has ruled that contract rent may be considered in addition to economic rent/fair market rent. The Federation has been opposed to the use of contract rent in the past because such use usually has lowered commercial assessments, shifting more of the real estate tax burden to homeowners.

C. Revenue Impact Statements. The Federation continues to support enactment by the General Assembly of legislation requiring a revenue impact statement as part of any legislative proposal that would change local taxing authority. Such a law would appropriately highlight the fiscal impact of legislative proposals prior to enactment.

D. Cigarette Tax. The Federation supports the Arlington County proposal to authorize the County to increase the cigarette tax, in a manner similar to that of cities.

5. General Government

A. Retention of Local Zoning Authority. The Federation believes that the General Assembly should not permit state agencies to override local land use plans and zoning ordinances.

B. Written Notice of Zoning Requests. The Federation supports legislation to allow the County to notify condo-co-op or townhouse owners associations when the property is located near a site for which a zoning change has been requested.

C. Initiative and Referendum. The Federation supports a constitutional amendment to reserve power to the people to propose laws and amendments to the constitution and to adopt or reject any law or section of a state law. Required percentages to place items to referenda be 5 percent of the total cast for Governor in the previous gubernatorial election for statutory initiatives and referenda and 8 percent for state constitutional amendments.

D. Board of Zoning Appeals. The Federation continues to support shifting the power of appointment of the Board of Zoning Appeals from the Circuit Court to the County Board, and, in the alternative, legislation granting the County Board the power to define what constitutes the "hardships" which can be the basis for granting variances.

E. State Corporation Commission. The SCC's membership should be increased from three to five. A body as powerful as the SCC should have broader, more diverse representation. The Federation also encourages the General Assembly members to ensure that confirmation of SCC candidates includes full review of relevant qualifications and records of prospective SCC members with regard to consumer issues.

F. Limited Partners-Access to Information. The Federation supports legislation that would permit citizens access to names and addresses of limited partners and their financial investments or other contributions in limited partnerships which conduct business with state or local governments of at least $10,0000 annually. Citizens must present bona-fide public interest reason for this information and the partnership or its agent must provide this information within ten business days at a reasonable cost to the requester.

G. Public Employee Ethics.

  1. The Federation supports legislation requiring that state ethics brochures be provided to public officials and employees before they assume their state or local government positions. These officials and employees should certify in writing that they have read and understand these ethics requirements as a condition of their employment.
  2. The Federation urges a legislative study on replacing the existing Virginia Senate and House Ethics Advisory Panels with a comprehensive state/local ethics commission.
H. Motor-Voter Registration. The Federation supports state motor-voter legislation to permit Virginia voters to register at Department of Motor Vehicle offices.

6. Environment

A. Recycling Goal of 40% by 2000. Because the cost of landfilling waste is expected to increase due to space limitations, environmental and energy considerations, the Federation recommends Virginia adopt a recycling goal of 40% by the year 2000 for the state. To promote recycling and reasonable comparisons of progress, the state should require reporting of recycling quantities so that valid comparisons can be made.

B. Use of Recycled Goods. The Federation supports allowing local governments to choose whether to employ recycled glass and recycled tires in the base layer of roads.

C. Water Quality Measurements. The Federation supports the development and standardization of methods for the measurement of storm waters and waters that feed the Chesapeake Bay.

D. Notification of Use of Lawn Pesticides. The Federation supports the adoption of a rule requiring commercial lawn care firms to post signs for 48 hours after chemical lawn treatment, similar to a pre-spray notification already in place for gypsy moth applications.

E. Exploration of Mitigation of Pollution by the Newspaper Industry. The Federation supports legislation to require the use of recycled paper in newsprint, to develop de-inking facilities, to promote the use of soy-based ink, and to initiate other actions aimed at mitigating or preventing pollution by this industry.

F. Requirement of State Industrial Facilities (Owned by the Commonwealth) to Develop Environmental Management Plans. The Federation supports legislation to develop and implement pollution prevention plans, and to establish a state office to coordinate and provide technical assistance.

G. Illegal Dumping and Incineration of Waste. The Federation recommends the following additions to the Arlington County Manager's proposal on Natural Resources: raising of fines for illegal dumping and a study of long-term effects of incineration of waste.

H. Environmental Protection Programs. The Federation strongly recommends that the state restore environmental programs to either pre "rollback" levels or to current and/or new EPA standards, whichever are more stringent, and that funding be restored to accomplish this.

7. Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority/Washington National Airport

The Federation recommends incorporating the following improvements in revised enabling legislation for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) and Washington National Airport:

A. Government/Oversight

  1. The directors of MWAA from the Commonwealth of Virginia should be selected by the Governor from a pool of candidates recommended by the governing bodies of Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun.
  2. If a Congressional advisory committee is retained for MWAA within constitutional guidelines, a majority of its members should be representatives of the Washington, D.C. area.
B. Regulatory Compliance No waiver or exception should be granted MWAA from federal state or state procedures for metropolitan or regional planning and historic preservation. Development at MWAA-controlled airports should require completion and approval of Environmental Impact Statements in accordance with Environmental Protection Agency requirements and should be subject to the provisions of section 4(f) of the U.S. Department of Transportation Act regarding the use of public parks, recreation areas, wildlife refuges, and historic sites.

C. Safety and Airport Use

  1. A safety panel should be established to recommend appropriate parameters for development at MWAA airports. Its members should be selected by a committee from the National Transportation Safety Board, the Air Line Pilots Association, the National Capital Planning Commission, the National Park Service, and the Washington Area Council of Governments.
  2. As the smallest of MWAA's airports, National should be designated a short-range airport, with a non-stop flight perimeter of 650 statute miles.
  3. A single Master Plan should be developed to coordinate efficient development and usage of MWAA airports according to the characteristics of each site, as is required by the existing legislation. Consideration should be given to incorporating Baltimore-Washington International Airport in the MWAA Master Plan.
  4. Wide-bodied jets, including the single-aisle 757, should be prohibited form National Airport.
  5. In any calculation of the number of jet carrier operations permitted at MWAA airports, there should be no loopholes in the mandate that there be no than 37 operations (the sum of take offs and landings) per any 60-minute period. Multiple sections of one flight shall not be counted as one operation only.
D. Noise
  1. The acoustical contour line for delineating the noise "footprint" of National Airport should be determined in consultation with the Washington Metropolitan Area Council of Governments. Useful standards, in addition to Ldn (Loudness, day/night) should be studied and incorporated in the final definition of National's noise impact.
  2. The recommendations of the Council of Governments regarding nighttime flights should be instituted.

8. Uninsured Motorists and Traffic Safety

A. Reduce Number of Uninsured and Enhance Verification of Claims. The Federation continues to support efforts to reduce the number of uninsured motorists and to enhance verification of motorists' claims of insurance.

B. Reports to Insurers. The Federation recommends that when motorists are not adjudicated "at fault" in an accident, the Commonwealth should not provide accident reports to insurers, except on request and with notice to the insured.

9. Miscellaneous

A. Gun Control
  1. The Federation supports obligatory firearms safety training and demonstrated proficiency from all purchasers of firearms.
  2. The Federation urges the General Assembly to rescind the 1995 concealed weapons permits bill. Failing recision, Arlington County should be exempted from the law.
  3. The Federation urges the Virginia State Crime Commission to study the types and numbers of weapons used in violent crime and to consider if strengthened penalties should be enacted.
B. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) The Federation continues to support mandatory stiff penalties for operating a motor vehicle on public rights of way while under the influence of alcohol or any other drug which impairs driving abilities. The use of an auto for travel to and from work shall not be a mitigating factor in sentencing a convicted DUI where alternative travel modes enable a one-way trip of less than two hours.

C. Courts:

  1. Damages in Civil Cases. The Federation continues to support modification of the doctrine of contributor negligence so that negligent defendants determined to be substantially at fault (for example, more than 75 percent) can be held liable for a proportionate share of damages and liable for the full award where the behavior of the defendant(s) has either been malicious or reckless. Arbitration should be explored as a reasonable, efficient, and fair means to avoid costly litigation.
  2. Selection of Judges. The Federation requests appointment of a commission to study and recommend a plan for merit selection of judges on a less partisan basis to ensure judicial independence and the appointment of the most qualified individuals based on legal experience and expertise.
D. Truck Safety.
  1. Unsafe and speeding trucks are a chronic problem in Northern Virginia. The Federation recommends that truck owners be required to present proof of a valid current inspection when obtaining or renewing a truck license. The Federation also continues to support increased fines for safety violations (to be based on vehicle weight), additional truck inspections, lane- restrictions on trucks on multi-lane highways, a rush-hour ban on the transportation of hazardous materials, and a requirement of improved rearview mirrors.
  2. The Federation encourages stronger enforcement of speed limits.
  3. The Federation urges tougher requirements for commercial drivers' licenses.
E. Telephone Solicitation. The Federation supports the Telephone Solicitation Act to require registration and regulation of telemarketers.

F. Sexual Orientation. The Federation supports the addition of sexual orientation to the coverage of antidiscrimination laws. Sexual orientation should be added to the Hate Crimes law.

G. Third-Party Notification. The Federation supports plain- language provisions for third-party notification in long-term care insurance policies, so that incapacitated persons would not lose coverage automatically if they should inadvertently miss a payment.

H. Aggressive Panhandling. The Federation requests that the Arlington County Board adopt an ordinance to make it unlawful for any person to panhandle in an aggressive manner, to panhandle within fifteen feet of an automatic teller machine, or to panhandle from any operator of a motor vehicle while standing in a roadway median or on a travel lane.

The BVSCA Home Page