Transportation Reform

Like you, I get frustrated sitting in traffic when I could be spending time with my family, being productive or just relaxing. As traffic worsens, we want solutions -- not excuses. When it comes to transportation reform, I have three key priorities:

  • Repeal the Abusive Driver Fees

    We must repeal the Abusive Driver Fees and I have called for a special session to do that. Read my position...

  • Secure the Transportation Trust Fund

    The Transportation Trust Fund has been repeatedly raided to fund non-transportation spending. The most recent raid was in the 2002 session, just before I had arrived in the Senate, when $332 million dollars was taken! I have proposed a Constitutional Amendment that would ensure this fund could not be raided and that those dollars allocated to transportation are spent on transportation.

  • Bring more money back to Northern Virginia for transportation.

    I have been working hard to make sure Northern Virginia gets its fair share of transportation dollars. That’s why I supported the 2007 transportation compromise bill, which allowed Northern Virginians to raise $400 million dollars to fund planned projects right here in Northern Virginia.

  • Use the power of the free market to solve transportation problems

    1. Push for Public-Private Partnerships to build transportation infrastructure quicker and cheaper;
    2. Support efforts to allow governments to reject local development that would increase congestion;
    3. Add High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes to some of our existing roads. This will allow us to leverage private funds to alleviate heavy congestion.
I also work in other areas to reduce traffic congestion. In 2005, I led my colleagues in passing legislation to promote real-time traffic light synchronization to keep cars moving during peak hours. I have also supported Bus Rapid Transit in our communities (with HOT lane access, where available), as part of a cost-effective mass transit plan for Northern Virginia. Elevated roadways is another approach that should be investigated. I have also opposed the rail to Dulles boondoggle as it experiences one massive cost overrun after another – threatening to devour our other transportation dollars and increase our real estate taxes even further.
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Taxation and Spending

Taxes in Virginia have remained low – especially relative to neighboring states. We need to keep taxes low and control spending to remain competitive and attract business in this economy. Last year, we succeeded in repealing the unfair death tax, but we have much more work to do. I advocate reforming the tax code to make state government more efficient and accountable to voters.

As currently set, Northern Virginia and Fairfax County receive a disproportionately small return on tax revenues paid compared to other areas of Virginia. A fairer allocation formula would reduce the tax burden on all of us. I am the only Senator to propose changes to the funding formula to bring Fairfax K-12 education its fair share.

Spending restraints are essential to meaningful tax reform. I support:

  • Limiting spending growth in the state budget so that legislators are legally bound to control their appetite for spending;
  • Better prioritization of spending so that the Commonwealth lives within its means. Programs that do not effectively accomplish their missions should be eliminated;
  • Returning tax surpluses not required to fund necessary Commonwealth departments and services directly to taxpayers.
I do not support earmarks as the means for funding non-governmental organizations. In my tenure in the State Senate I have never submitted a request for an earmark.

I have been a leader in opposing efforts to increase real estate taxes, income taxes and sales taxes. I believe in tightening accountability systems, controlling the government’s appetite for spending, and insisting on efficiency at every level of government.
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Immigration Reform

The federal government has been negligent in its responsibility to secure our borders. As a founding member of State Legislators for Legal Immigration, I am committed to passing legislation that removes the economic incentives that fuel illegal immigration.

Legal immigrants began their story in the United States with respect for our laws. Illegal aliens have begun their history with us in an unlawful way. Some have chosen to further violate our laws by stealing identities and trafficking in illegal substances. Some have joined gangs that victimize citizens. Others take advantage of the generosity of our society by using our social service safety net as a means of support. Even more alarming, terrorists are now using the same routes as many illegal aliens to enter this country. We must protect our citizens and taxpayers from being abused by those who do not respect our laws. That’s why I support legislation to:

  • Reserve in-state tuition at public colleges and universities for those who are citizens and legal residents of Virginia;
  • Require proof of identity when voting and provide a means to remove non-citizens from the voter rolls;
  • Allow for civil litigation when an employer knowingly hires illegal aliens and, in so doing, unfairly harms a law-abiding competitor;
  • Most localities have rules about how many unrelated persons can live in the same house. In 2007, I passed legislation to allow counties and cities to investigate and penalize illegal boarding houses- 1 of only 2 bills passed in 2007 to address the symptoms of illegal immigration.

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Education

Every Virginia child deserves the highest quality education possible. As a graduate of Virginia public universities and a student in Fairfax County public schools, I learned that our teachers are on the front lines in education. My record on improving education in Fairfax County shows that I:
  1. Consistently supported pay raises for our teachers. Those who are on the front-lines of educating our children must empower our children to achieve their potential;
  2. Co-sponsored legislation to strengthen the accountability of local school boards in Virginia;
  3. Support making meaningful educational options available to parents, regardless of their economic situation. Research shows that everyone wins – teachers, parents, and especially students – with effective school choice.
  4. Support adequate funding for the state-supported Virginia colleges and universities;
  5. Support measures to strengthen accountability and make sure all Virginia students have the chance to get the higher education they need.

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Property Rights

In 2007, I led the passage of effective Eminent Domain Reform in Virginia. Our property rights protection went from being among the weakest in the country to being among the best.

Even prior to the United States Supreme Court Decision in Kelo vs. New London, I knew Virginia had weak protections for property owners, that’s why I introduced legislation to keep government from exercising the eminent domain power just to benefit private entities, like developers. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Kelo case effectively eliminated any protection of private property under the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, leaving all private property vulnerable to being taken by government – for any reason at all. Churches, homes, and private businesses should not be threatened without a legitimate public need.

The government’s eminent domain power shouldn’t be used to force individuals to accept below-market prices for their property – just so a private developer can build on it. I believe that exercise of the eminent domain power should be limited to traditional public uses such as schools, roads, jails, and utility easements. That’s what Virginia’s new law does and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished to protect private property ownership in the Commonwealth.
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Personal Freedom

As your State Senator, I have consistently worked to roll back restrictions on your freedom and to preserve the values which have made America strong.

  • 2nd Amendment: I am a consistent defender of the right of law-abiding citizens to own and use firearms for recreation and personal protection.
  • Conscience Clause: I support the right of professionals to refuse to perform an action that is inconsistent with their moral convictions without losing their job.

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Public Safety

I believe that promoting public safety is the first responsibility of state government.

  • Gang Violence: Gang activity is continuing to threaten many communities in Western Fairfax. In 2004, I co-sponsored successful legislation which adds additional penalties for hazing of gang members – a normal part of gang recruitment and initiation. I also co-patroned successful legislation that creates an additional penalty for threatening anyone with a machete. This legislation was a response to the use of machetes as a weapon by gangs in Northern Virginia.
  • Firearm Safety: In 2007, I sponsored legislation to help keep mentally ill persons away from firearms. I support legislation mirroring Governor Kaine’s recent executive order to ensure that those who are receiving court ordered treatment for a mental illness can’t buy a gun.
  • Domestic Violence: In 2006, I co-patroned successful legislation which protects victims of domestic violence from being unfairly evicted from their homes.
  • Sex Crimes: In 2006, I worked with the Attorney General’s office and my colleagues to reform our laws. My legislation improved our procedures for keeping our most violent and dangerous sexual predators detained in a manner consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s requirements. Now, violent offenders who cannot be rehabilitated can be incarcerated for mental health reasons even after their sentence is served, thereby keeping our children safer.
  • Police Officer Pay: Our public safety officers go above and beyond the call of duty week after week to protect us. They often sacrifice time with their families and neglect normal activities to keep us safe. My legislation makes sure that police officers are fairly paid for the overtime hours that they work.
  • Identity Theft: In 2006, I sponsored legislation to give you greater control over your personal information.
  • Illegal Drugs: I was one of the chief sponsors of successful legislation that helps keep addictive “meth” off our streets.

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Family Matters

As an attorney with family law experience and a father myself, I know how important strong families are to our society.

  • Child Protection and Family Law Reform: We must have zero tolerance for child abuse in Virginia. I have sponsored several pieces of legislation designed to protect innocent children caught in the middle of family crises. My bills also strengthen penalties for criminals who threaten children.
  • Valuing Traditional Marriage and Respecting All Individuals: I support Virginia’s legal recognition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.
  • Support For Families With Special Needs: I believe that helping those who, through no fault of their own, are unable to help themselves is a critical part of good government. Families who care for a mentally retarded child or one who lives with intellectual or developmental disabilities need our support. In 2007, after many years of work, I helped pass a 15% cost of living “differential,” just for Northern Virginia, to increase Medicaid funds available to those with mental retardation and developmental disabilities.
  • Protecting Life: My consistent life-affirming philosophy of government motivates me to see that human life receives protection at every stage of development. I have supported initiatives to:
    • Protect women’s health by ensuring Virginia’s abortion providers are subject to the same health and safety standards as other outpatient surgical facilities;
    • Ensure women are fully informed about alternatives to abortion;
    • Make sure parents are as involved as possible in the reproductive decisions of their minor daughters;
    • Prohibit the partial-birth abortion procedure from being performed in Virginia;.
  • Parental Rights: I am a strong supporter of the fundamental right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children. These rights should only be abridged when necessary to protect a child in an abusive situation.
  • Community Decency Standards: I support local zoning authority to keep sex-oriented businesses away from schools, houses of worship, day care centers and playgrounds.

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Health and Human Services

Citizens of Virginia should have the opportunity to receive the best healthcare services and human service that we can reasonably afford.

  • Filling the Insurance Gap: Nearly 20 million Americans are currently uninsured. To combat this problem in Virginia, I have supported Family Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS), a state program that helps children and pregnant women get needed medical care.
  • Women’s Reproductive Health: The 4th Circuit Court recently confirmed that state governments have a legitimate interest in making sure that the health and safety of women are protected when they are seeking a legal abortion. That’s why I introduced legislation to make sure the same health and safety rules that regulate other ambulatory surgery centers are also applied to abortion clinics.

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Conserving our Natural Resources

I have consistently supported legislation that protects and improves environmental quality.

I am an active member of the Arlington-Fairfax chapter of the Izaak Walton League, an organization dedicated to conserving our natural resources. As a member of the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee, I help direct the Commonwealth’s policies on environmental issues. I have supported funding to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and to upgrade failing water treatment facilities across Virginia. In addition, my 2005 legislation provided incentives for drivers to purchase newer, cleaner, and more energy efficient vehicles.
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Human Rights

In Virginia or around the world, we each have a responsibility to do our best to defend basic human rights.

  • Sudan Divestment: The genocide being perpetrated by the Sudanese government against the people of Darfur must be stopped. My bill to divest the Virginia Retirement System from companies that knowingly support genocide came very close to passing in 2007. Divestment works as a tool to stop this most egregious human rights abuse and I believe Virginia should join the 12 states that have already passed divestment legislation.
  • Human Trafficking: In 2006, I sponsored successful legislation to close a loophole in Virginia law by making it a felony to blackmail someone based on their immigration status.

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