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The Comstock Connection
Friday, February 4, 2011

The Comstock Connection
February 4, 2011
Dear Friend, 
We continue to be very busy in Richmond as we focused this week on the Governor's Transportation Plan, a major Higher Education initiative, and continued economic growth measures.  Our days in Richmond start early with committee meetings and presentation of our bills, through our afternoon sessions on the floor, and continued committee meetings into the evening.  If you are planning a trip to Richmond, please feel free to stop in or arrange a tour of the Capitol through my office

Happy 100th Birthday President Reagan 

Happy 100th Birthday to President Ronald Reagan.  Keep the Reagan Legacy alive! Visit reagan.gop.com/.

Ronald Reagan

Town Hall Meetings and Breakfasts with Barbara

It was great to see everyone at the McLean and Great Falls Town Halls that we had over the past few weeks.  Thank you for all who turned out for lively discussions and please keep in touch. 


We will also be initiating "Breakfasts with Barbara" around the district over the next few weeks to provide an informal setting for you to stop in and let us know of issues or concerns you would like to highlight.  Our first one will be Saturday, February 12.  I will be at Katie's Coffee in Great Falls from 9 -11 a.m. If you would like to arrange a particular time, please contact my office at 804-698-1034 or[email protected].  Also, if you would like to hold a breakfast with a particular group or at your home, let us know and we will arrange a time. 

Higher Education Act To Provide 100,000 More Degrees And More In-State College Spots For Our Students

This week we voted on a major Higher Education initiative that developed out of the Governor's Higher Education Commission.  I have co-patroned this bill which will enable our institutions to meet the goal of issuing an additional 100,000 degrees over the next 15 years, making Virginia one of the most highly educated states in the nation, providing our state with a great workforce that will attract top jobs. 


MORE IN-STATE COLLEGE SPOTS:  Based on this legislation, the University of Virginia Board of Visitors already is poised to add nearly 1,000 new spaces for in-state students -- a goal we have been working on -- and which I sponsored legislation on -- to help so many of our top students in Northern Virginia to get into our top schools. Other major colleges and universities will also be providing additional in-state slots.  The legislation also places a greater emphasis on the high demand science, technology, engineering and math subjects through the formation of a public-private partnership that will engage the business and professional community in leveraging best practices for K-12 and higher education.  The bill also includes reform initiatives to better utilize our educational resources year round and maximizing technology in education. 


I voted with my colleagues to pass this bill unanimously yesterday.  For more details on the bill, read the Governor's press release

Major Transportation Solution Progressing 

For the first time in over twenty years, we are succeeding with a major transportation bill that will provide over $4 billion in much needed transportation infrastructure funding over the next three years without raising taxes.  We will vote on the bill today and it is expected to get strong support.  I am a co-patron of this plan, which has the broad support of over 50 major business and transportation groups, including the Northern Virginia Technology Council, the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, and the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance.  The Democrat Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee also has signed on to the bill and we voting on this today.   


This multi-faceted transportation package, which is the single largest infusion of funding in decades, will fund over 900 projects across the Commonwealth.  The plan accelerates bonds already approved by bipartisan majorities in the General Assembly in 2007, in addition to federal GARVEE bonds, which are federally authorized to finance a specific capital project.  Additionally, there is $400 million in the plan from our successful audit of VDOT to create the Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank. 


In addition to building new roads and projects quickly, this plan will put thousands of Virginians to work.  For every $100 million spent on highway construction, 3000 jobs are estimated to be created or supported.    


In relation to this transportation effort, I sponsored a bill, H.B. 2203, on behalf of Fairfax County, which removes a priority structure for allocation of revenue-sharing funds to localities, which resulted in Fairfax County getting no revenue sharing funds.  Now, we will be eligible again on an equal footing.  This bill was incorporated into Transportation Chairman Joe May's similar bill and has been voted out of committee.  The Governor's plan also incorporates this bill. 


To learn more about our major transportation initiative, read the Governor's press release

Spotlight Bills
.  I was the Chief Co-Patron of HB 2052,
which provides that in any labor organization election an employee with have the right to a secret ballot.  Because bureaucrats in Washington are currently trying to force unionization through regulation, rather than by secret ballot, this bill is needed to protect our strong right to work ethic in the Commonwealth.  The bill passed last Friday in the House with a bipartisan strong majority of 63-32 and will now be considered in the Senate.

HB 2196:  GOVERNMENT BUDGET TRANSPARENCY.  I am working with the Governor's office and my colleagues to have my efforts to provide budget transparency and create a Government Transparency Advisory Council incorporated into the House Budget.  Simply placing government data online is not sufficient; it must be searchable and usable.  The amendment will help agencies provide required information online in an accessible and timely manner.  It will also help to provide government financial statements and budgets with a full statement of debts, liabilities, and guarantees.  The budget amendment will also provide a Government Transparency Advisory Committee that is to be made up of members from the public and private sector.  This Committee will be designed to get public input to provide the best possible budget information and transparency to all of our citizens. 

HB 2197:  TELEWORK TAX CREDIT BILL.  I am the patron of a Governor's bill to create a telework tax credit.  Employers would be eligible for a credit of up to $1,200 per teleworking employee, depending on the number of days per month an employee will telework. The total credit amount any one employer may take for 2012 and 2013 is $50,000.  This bill was passed unanimously in the Finance Subcommittee and is proceeding through the process this week in the House. I first started working on telework issues in Congressman Wolf's office almost 20 years ago.  Telework is both a family friendly workplace solution that helps Moms and Dads juggle their work and family obligations and it also helps with transportation headaches to enable people to use modern technology to work from home and save gas, time and energy.  I am happy to have the support of the Northern Virginia Technology Counciland the Virginia Small Business Partnership on this important issue. 


HB 2202:  CHILD SUPPORT ASSISTANCE.  In Virginia, it is estimated that $2.6 billion in child support goes uncollected.  That is a great burden on those families and children denied this support and puts additional burdens on our state budget.   My bill will require that the Division of Child Support Enforcement shall publish at regular intervals a list of delinquent parents who owe child support. Currently, only the most wanted parents are listed.   This has been passed unanimously in the Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee and will be voted on today.


HJ 642: ANTI-VAT TAX RESOLUTION PASSED.  HJR 642, my resolution to urge the Virginia delegation of Congress to oppose any legislation that would levy a value-added tax (VAT) passed this week by a strong bipartisan vote of 86-11.  A VAT tax is levied when an individual buys a good or service for consumption and the tax manifests as a higher purchase price.  In Europe the VAT tax ranges from 5-20% or more. A VAT tax levied on top of all the income, payroll and other taxes we already pay would mean less money for hard working taxpayers to house, clothe, feed and educate themselves and their children.  In a fragile economy, this would be another job killing tax.  Many in Washington are looking to this as a way to raise more revenue.  The Virginia House of Delegates is now strongly on record with Congress saying you can't tax your way to prosperity and we hope the Senate will express the same sentiment. 


HJ 734: DESIGNATING JUNE 2 AS POPE JOHN PAUL II'S PILGRIMAGE DAY.  This resolution designates June 2, in 2011 and in each year thereafter, as Pope John Paul II's Pilgrimage to Poland Day in Virginia to remember his historic pilgrimage to Communist Poland in 1979 and his courageous witness to human dignity, Christian hope, and religious liberty, which changed the world's spiritual and political landscapes.  This resolution was passed unanimously in the House of Delegates and has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee. 



Human Trafficking
Last week I joined a bipartisan group of my colleagues to discuss several bills that we introduced regarding Human Trafficking on Virginia Lobby Day to End Human Trafficking.  I will continue to work on this important issue with my colleagues and with Congressman Frank Wolf, who has always been a strong advocate of working to end human trafficking.
 Human Trafficking Press Conference

Commending Wolf Trap In The House Of Delegates
As I mentioned last week, I introduced HJR 655, a resolution commending Wolf Trap on the occasion of their 40th anniversary serving our community with "lasting memories that millions of people will treasure over their lifetimes, through unique performing arts experiences and arts education programs."  On Monday, we held a special Center Aisle presentation in the House of Delegates to commend Wolf Trap and present the resolution to Karen Pittleman, Director of Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, and Terre Jones, President and CEO of the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts.  Read about the Center Aisle presentation and the resolution here.
Wolf Trap Center Aisle Presentation
Photographer: Pierre Courtois

Creating The First House of Delegates Arts Caucus
On Arts Advocacy Day, January 27, last week, Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn and I held the inaugural meeting of the House of Delegates Arts Caucus.  We had a great turnout of arts advocates from around the state and a strong Northern Virginia representation.   The mission of the caucus is to promote and work with our local arts community in our respective districts to highlight and support their programs and performances and promote their efforts with our business community and the donor community.  I am excited to form the first Arts Caucus at the General Assembly.  The arts have always been a valued part of my life and our community is blessed with a thriving arts community that is vital in enhancing the economic vitality of our entire region. We look forward to promoting our creative talent throughout our community.  Read more about this on my website.

Part of our Arts Caucus efforts will be for each member to have a liaison contact with the Arts Community.  I have set up a working group that currently includes Robin Walker and Sally Burns.  If you would like to join this working group, please contact my office. 
Congratulations to Herndon High School On 100th Anniversary 
On Tuesday, I participated in another Center Aisle presentation congratulating Herndon High School.  I was the Chief Co-Patron of HJR 528, a resolution commending Herndon High School for their 100th anniversary, which the school is celebrating this year.  Herndon High School has been recognized for unique opportunities such as an award-winning Naval Junior ROTC and a well-recognized political science program that gives seniors the chance to intern with members of the United States Congress.  Herndon High School was the first accredited high school in Fairfax County. It has one of the most widely diverse student bodies in the Commonwealth with 79 countries represented and 53 different languages.   I was honored to be able to celebrate the school's 100th Anniversary with my colleagues in the House of Delegates this week.

Take Our Legislative Survey And Share Your Ideas 

Please take a few minutes to fill out the 2011 Legislative Survey.  I really appreciate hearing from you on the issues we are focusing on this year.    As always, my staff and I are here to serve you and would love to hear what you think about the legislation pending before the House.  You can also contact my office at 804-698-1034 or[email protected].  

I would also like to invite you to visit me in Richmond.  We would be happy to arrange for a tour of the Capitol building and I always like to meet with constituents in my office.  You can find me in room 407 of the General Assembly Building. 

Please continue to keep in touch and let me know about your concerns.


Barbara Comstock

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