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The Comstock Connection
Monday, April 11, 2011

The Comstock Connection
April 11, 2011

Dear Friend, 

Last week, the General Assembly held the reconvene session in Richmond to review the Governor's amendments to the budget, amendments to legislation passed this session and the Governor's vetoes.

We also began the 2011 Special Session on Redistricting, which will continue this week.  By law, the redistricting process happens once every ten years to adjust districts in accordance with the changes in the population identified during the annual census.  We expect to complete the redistricting process this week.  

Key Reconvene Issues 

Budget Amendment - General Assembly Endorses Commonwealth WMATA Board Representation.  Both houses of the Virginia General Assembly passed an amendment to the state biennial budget authorizing the Governor to appoint a representative to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC), and for the NVTC to include that appointee as one of its principal representatives on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA) Board of Directors.  The Governor is committed to appointing someone from Northern Virginia with professional transportation experience for this position.


In February, the House passed a bill, with my support, that would have done the same thing.  However, the bill was killed in the Senate Finance Committee at the behest of several Northern Virginia Senators and local governments.  Enactment of this legislation is consistent with the Greater Washington Board of Trade, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and Joint WMATA Governance Task Force recommendation that Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia should exercise greater oversight of WMATA's $2 billion operation.  It is important that the state has a representative on the Metro Board representing the state's interests and monitoring the $130 million a year we are providing Metro.


HB 1459 - Medical Malpractice Caps.  The Governor vetoed this bill, which would raise the medical malpractice cap for doctors, but the veto was overridden in the House and the Senate.  I voted against the bill during the legislative session, and I also supported the Governor's veto last week.  This bill will now increase the cap from $2 million to $3 million over the next 20 years by increments of $50,000 each year.  I voted against this measure because I agree with the Governor that Virginia currently has a climate that has effectively stabilized malpractice premiums and attracted health care service providers to the Commonwealth.  Virginia's $2 million cap is the highest all-encompassing cap in the nation, and was last raised in 2008. 


Budget Amendment - Allocation of Funding for Commercialization and Research.  I joined 97 of my colleagues in voting against this amendment, which would have shifted $2 million dollars from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Matching Program to the Commonwealth Research and Commercialization Fund (CRCF).  In our original budget we put the money into the SBIR fund because the fund is critical to Virginia's efforts to compete for 21st century jobs.  It is the largest innovation program in the United States, which offers competition-based awards to stimulate technological innovation among small private-sector businesses.


HB 2467 - Health Insurance Coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorder.  During the legislative session we passed a bill that will require health insurance companies to provide coverage for the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and treatment for children ages 2-6.  The treatment is subject to an annual maximum of $35,000 coverage for applied behavior analysis.  The Governor made five amendments to the bill, four of which were agreed to with strong bipartisan support; however, we rejected the fifth because it would have allowed the requirement to expire if the provision limiting the annual benefit to a maximum of $35,000 is invalidated by state or federal law or by a court of competent jurisdiction.

Jobs And Innovation Bill Signing

On Thursday, I joined the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, many cabinet officials, and my colleagues at a jobs and economic development bill signing ceremony.  The Governor signed 10 bills aimed at supporting Virginia's Growing Innovation Economy, including a bill of which I was the Chief Co-Patron of,  HB 1447:  The Research and Development Tax Credit.  This bill will make $5 million available to promote job creation across the Commonwealth and enhance Virginia's competitiveness as a preferred location for research.  In addition, it will boost industry sponsored research and collaboration with Virginia's universities.    

Bill Signing Ceremony 4.7.11 

Virginia Free File Public Briefing and  

Tax Preparation Training Workshop 

I recently attended a public briefing and tax training workshop at the McLean Community Center to highlight the Virginia Free Fileprogram, a new public-private partnership that provides FREE online federal and state income tax preparation and e-filing services to Virginia's lower and moderate income taxpayers, active-duty military, students, and seniors.


The Virginia Free File program allows the majority of taxpayers access to several of the most popular commercial tax software programs. Taxpayers can use these programs to prepare and electronically file boththeir state and federal taxes.  This year the eligibility for Free File is capped at $58,000 AGI, however, if you used Virginia's old iFile system last year, you are eligible for, and should have received, a voucher from the Virginia Tax Department to use Free File this year.  If you need additional information visit tax.virginia.gov/

Senate Bill 966:  PE Requirement 

The Governor vetoed Senate Bill 966, which would have required at least 150 minutes of physical education per week for kindergarten through eighth grade, without providing any additional funding.   I opposed this bill during the legislative session and sent a letter to the Governor urging him to veto the bill.  The veto was sustained during the reconvene session last week.  This bill was an unfunded mandate that Fairfax County schools estimated would have cost our schools from $18-24 million and would have taken away time from science, math, arts and other subjects.  While I appreciate the concerns about the growing problems with childhood obesity, we can provide other public and private sector solutions that do not take time away from academics.  You can read the letter that I sent to the Governor on mywebsite.  

Little League Opening Days

The past two Saturdays, we've joined McLean and Vienna Little Leagues for their opening day ceremonies and parades.  Thanks to all the parents, coaches, volunteers and sponsors who provide this great opportunity for our children.   

2011 McLean Little League 

Conference On Community Solutions For Childhood Obesity

On April 29, I will be joining Sheila Johnson at the "Let's Move The Needle On Childhood Obesity" event at George Mason University's Mason Inn and Conference Center.  The program will be held from 8:00am-2:00pm.  This event is a community call to action, which creates a regional coalition of interested parties and groups and will provide access to information about how to combat childhood obesity through community action. 

Inaugural Commonwealth Prayer Breakfast 

Last Wednesday, I joined the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and many of my colleagues in the General Assembly for the inaugural meeting of the Commonwealth Prayer Breakfast.  We joined  citizens from around Virginia to help launch this group and to ask for God's blessings on our Commonwealth and our Nation.

McLean And Japanese Youth Orchestras Join Together For Benefit Concert
McLean Youth Orchestra and the Chiba Japan Youth Orchestra came together recently - just weeks after the Japan earthquake.  They held a concert to benefit victims of the earthquake.  At the concert, I presented both the McLean Youth Orchestra and the Chiba Japan Youth Orchestra with a framed copy of House Joint Resolution 784, which commended their artistic partnership.  
Virginia Chamber Orchestra Gala
I joined the Virginia Chamber Orchestra last weekend for their Benefit Gala Dinner and Dance.  The Governor and Mrs. McDonnell were the Honorary Chairs of the event and, on their behalf, I was pleased to commend the Orchestra on celebrating their 40th anniversary this year.
Colvin Run Mill 200th Anniversary
I was pleased to join The Fairfax County Park Authority Board and The Friends of Colvin Run Mill for a 200th anniversary celebration for Colvin Run Mill on Sunday, April 10.  This celebration also kicked off the 2011 grinding season.  We celebrated with a corn meal cake alongside costumed military re-enactors.  For more information about this local treasure:  Colvin Run Mill is located at 10017 Colvin Run Road, Great Falls, VA.  For directions visitwww.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/crm/ or call 703-759-2771.
Colvin Mill Run 200th Anniversary
McLean Orchestra Gala
Congratulations to The McLean Orchestra, Wayne Sharp, and Gala Co-Chairs Ann Page and Lori Jenkins for a fabulous "Evening of Enchantment" Friday night, April 8, at the Ritz Carlton.  Many thanks to all the Sponsors and Hosts from our community that support the orchestra.  Chip and I were thrilled to be hosts for this great evening with Flamenco dancers, dinner, live music, a live and silent auction, and more dancing to support and cultivate a new generation of classical musicians in our community.
McLean Orchestra Gala 2011
Save The Dates:

It is a great honor to serve in the House as your Delegate and I am very grateful to the many people who have provided support, talent, counsel and ideas as we have worked to respond to the quality-of-life issues that are your priorities.  As always, we appreciate hearing from you.  We can be reached at:  703-209-3787.


I invite you to share this newsletter with any friends or colleagues who might be interested and to keep in touch with us. We are always working to improve our outreach and communication and make sure you receive information and we receive your input. 


If you have other events, news, or issues of concern, always feel free to contact me at [email protected].



Barbara Comstock

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