Arlington and Alexandria set legislative priorities
Arlington County and Alexandria are not requesting a lot of legislation from their delegates in the 2011 General Assembly, but both jurisdictions have made clear which proposed laws they support and oppose.
Arlington has requested legislation to renew the hotel tax, which funds convention and visitors services. The county also has requested a bill to ensure that online travel companies pay tax on their Virginia bookings.
Alexandria is seeking legislation that would broaden the laws that deal with building permits so that repairs or renovations would require a timely completion. The city also wants legislation that would raise fees for the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program, to make it self-sustaining; an increase on cigarette taxes; and state nutrition funding for senior citizens.
School boards from Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church submitted the same legislative package, which includes studying the impact of opening school before Labor Day and prohibiting synthetic marijuana. They support higher education for students who are not permanent residents and oppose state control of spending or grading policies, among other issues.
A sample of the issues discussed by Alexandria and Arlington officials:
Government and school officials in both jurisdictions oppose unfunded state mandates. Not long ago, the state returned about half of its revenue to municipalities, but in the past three years, 42 percent has been returned.
Business license taxes
A report from the Governor's Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring suggests legislators consider repealing the business, professional and occupational license, or BPOL, tax, and the machinery and tools tax. Alexandria and Arlington officials oppose the idea until a study has been completed and new funding sources to replace the revenue are found. Alexandria's BPOL tax provides about $30 million to the city. The tax gives nearly $60 million to Arlington.
If privatization should occur, the city and the county want to be sure that the legislation allows localities to regulate where new liquor stores would be located and require them to continue paying local taxes, as do all retail establishments. Arlington also requested additional funding for public safety based on the number of new liquor stores.
Officials from both jurisdictions oppose legislation that might resemble Arizona's immigration law, which criminalizes illegal immigration by defining it as trespassing and allows local law enforcement agencies to question people whom they suspect of being undocumented.
Arlington and Alexandria would support new revenue-generating streams designated for transportation. Both governments are requesting dedicated revenue for the Metro system.
Alexandria officials said they would support the state requiring sustainable building standards for state agencies. Arlington officials said they would support a plastic bag tax; maintaining funding for Chesapeake Bay restoration; and requiring energy audits before home purchases.
Officials in Arlington and Alexandria support the state providing proper funding to the Virginia Retirement System, especially as it applies to teachers.
Felons' voting rights
Alexandria supports legislation or a constitutional amendment that would automatically restore voting rights to felons once their sentence is complete. Currently, voting rights can be restored by the governor.