By Michael D. Shear
Friday, February 25, 2005
The announcement was not a surprise. Dillard, 71, had widely signaled his intention to return to private life. A moderate Republican with an independent streak, Dillard broke with his GOP leaders last year to support a tax increase compromise.
Dillard has represented the 41st District since 1972. In that time, he focused on education and environmental policy. In the past several years, he has been outspoken in declaring President Bush's No Child Left Behind school accountability program to be a failure.
Anticipating Dillard's decision, several candidates in both parties have been jockeying for position as the June 14 primaries approach. Dillard's term ends in January.
The legislation opens the door for Virginia companies to allow domestic partnership benefits, including same-sex partnerships. Virginia is the only state that does not permit private companies to allow employees to share health care benefits for those who are not their spouses or dependent children. Senate Bill 1338, sponsored by Sen.
Opponents said the bill does not reflect mainstream thinking in Virginia regarding same-sex partnerships, because it would allow insurance companies to add same-sex domestic partners to an employee's health insurance plan. They also said that such insurance plans are expensive.
Warner hired Jones in January 2002 to be his deputy chief of staff and named him commissioner later that year. As commissioner, Jones oversaw a department that regulates foster care, assisted living facilities and welfare programs.
In 2003, several state and local social service employees involved with the distribution of food stamps were terminated after allegations that they had committed fraud. The investigation continues.
Jones, 40, is a former corporate lawyer and lives in Northern Virginia.
Staff writer Chris L. Jenkins contributed to this report.