ARLINGTON, VA (Nov. 18, 1997)--An Inspector General for Arlington and stronger gay rights are among the initiatives in the Arlington County Civic Federation's 1998 legislative package. The Federation, composed of delegates from civic associations throughout Arlington, adopted the package after extended discussion at its November 11th meeting.

The Federation's package calls for an Inspector General for the County "to audit and review County performance in contracting, construction of facilities, purchasing, and sale of land or other resources to assure appropriateness of expenditures." In a floor amendment to the package presented by its Legislative Committee, the Federation also called for an end to prosecutions under Virginia's sodomy laws, other than in conjunction with other charges, and for recognition of same-sex marriages.

A plank supporting initiative and referendum--a process by which certain percentages of citizens can directly amend the Commonwealth's statutes and Constitution--was amended to call for a bipartisan study of the idea.

Other provisions of the package support increased funding for transportation in Northern Virginia, authorization for a local cigarette tax, opposition to a local income tax, and stronger state ethical and environmental regulations. The Federation also called for local authority to adopt an ordinance combatting aggressive panhandling and to open public schools before Labor Day.

"This document makes clear where the Federation stands on crucial issues for Arlington," Federation President Bill Nolden said. "I think the committee did an excellent job of distilling the legislative package, so it is easy to use and understand."

"This legislative package pulls together the best research and ideas of a lot of people working together to do what's best for Arlington and the Commonwealth," said Legislation Committee Chairman Nancy Graham, a delegate from the American Association of University Women. "We will share it promptly with our delegations in Richmond and Washington as well as the County Board."

The Federation, often called the "Civic Voice of Arlington," is a nonpartisan alliance of nearly 70 neighborhood associations and other civic groups throughout the County. Delegates to the Federation meet monthly to discuss important public policy issues affecting Arlington.

Arlington County Civic Federation 1998 Legislative Package

As Adopted, November 11, 1997

1. Education
A. State Funding Formula.
Opposes any efforts to change the formula for state funding that would result in less funding for Arlington County Public Schools.
B. Public School Opening. Supports allowing local school boards to control their public school calendars. Currently in Virginia, by state law, the school year cannot begin before Labor Day. This denies school boards the flexibility that may be needed when establishing the school calendar. [See Endnote i.]

2. Transportation and Highway Safety
A. Transportation Funding.
Urges the General Assembly to revise the state transportation funding formula to increase funding for growth areas such as Northern Virginia.
B. Bicycle Safety. Supports requiring the Virginia Department of Transportation to establish sufficient right-of-way for bicycles during planning and construction of state roadways and greater accommodation for bicycles on state roadways.
C. Truck Safety. Supports strengthening measures to improve safety of truck operations on Virginia highways, encourages stronger enforcement of speed limits, urges tougher requirements for commercial drivers' licenses.
D. Mass Transit. Supports increased funding for mass transit.
E. Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Supports efforts of the Northern Virginia and other metropolitan congressional delegations to obtain maximum federal funding to rebuild the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. [See Endnote ii.]
F. National Airport. Opposes any liberalization of standards at National Airport. [See Endnote iii.]

3. Housing and Human Services
Supports proposal in the draft County legislation package to restore General Assembly funding for the Virginia Housing Partnership Fund to the level of $8 million per annum.

4. Fiscal and Tax Policy
A. Consumer Use Tax.
Supports repeal of the Consumer Use Tax.
B. Economic (Fair-Market) Rent. Supports the County Manager's recommendation to establish, statewide, economic (fair- market) rent, not contract rent, as the basis for assessments of commercial property. [See Endnote iv.]
C. Cigarette Tax. Supports the Arlington County proposal to authorize the County to increase the cigarette tax, in a manner similar to that of cities.
D. Local Income Tax. Opposes legislation that would allow a local income tax.
E. Professional Sports Facilities. Supports Sen. Moynihan's proposed bill (currently S.B. 434 "The Stop Tax-Exempt Arena Debt Issuance Act") to end Federal tax subsidy for professional sports facilities.
F. National Airport Property Taxes. Arlington County should collect appropriate property taxes at National Airport as Fairfax County does at Dulles.

5. General Government
A. Retention of Local Zoning Authority.
Supports legislation to prohibit Commonwealth agencies from overriding local jurisdictional use plans and zoning decision and ordinances.
B. Retirement Plans. Opposes any efforts to change formulas or actuarial assumptions in public employee retirement plans which directly or indirectly reduce retirement benefits for current and former Arlington County employees.
C. State Corporation Commission. Supports increasing the SCC's membership from three to five and encourages General Assembly members to ensure that confirmation of candidates includes full review of their qualifications and records with regard to consumer issues. [See Endnote v.]
D. Limited Partners-Access to Information. Supports legislation that would permit citizen access to names and addresses of limited partners and their financial investments or other contributions in limited partnerships which conduct business with state or local governments of at least $10,000 annually. [See Endnote vi.]
E. Public Employee Ethics. (1) Supports legislation requiring that state ethics brochures be provided to public officials and employees before they assume their state or local government positions. These officials and employees should certify in writing that they have read and understand these ethics requirements as a condition of their employment. [See Endnote vii.] (2) Urges a legislative study on replacing the existing Virginia Senate and House Ethics Advisory Panels with a comprehensive state/local ethics commission.
F. Baseball Stadium Authority. Supports repeal of the Virginia Stadium Authority, Virginia Code section 15.1.227-71.
G. Office of Inspector General. Supports the establishment of an Office of Inspector General for the County to audit and review County performance in contracting, construction of facilities, purchasing, and the sale of land or other resources to assure appropriateness of expenditures.
H. Sodomy Laws. Supports prohibition of prosecution under the sodomy law except in conjunction with another charge.
I. Same-sex Marriage. Supports requirement that the Commonwealth of Virginia recognize same-sex marriages that take place within Virginia and also recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

6. Environment
A. Recycling Goal of 40% by 2000.
Supports adoption of a state recycling goal of 40% by the year 2000 and comparative progress reports by jurisdictions.
B. Notification of Use of Lawn Pesticides. Supports the adoption of a rule requiring commercial lawn care firms to post signs for 24 hours before and 48 hours after chemical lawn treatment, similar to a pre-spray notification already in place for gypsy moth applications.
C. Requirement of State-Owned Industrial Facilities to Develop Environmental Management Plans. Supports legislation to develop and implement pollution-prevention plans and to establish a state office to coordinate and provide technical assistance.
D. Illegal Dumping and Littering of Waste. Supports legislation to allow raising of fines for illegal dumping and littering and stricter enforcement of environmental laws.
E. Water Quality Measurements. Supports the development and standardization of methods for the measurement of storm waters and waters that feed the Chesapeake Bay.
F. Water Quality Improvement. Supports stabilization of the Virginia Water Quality Improvement Fund Act to permit qualifying localities to receive up to 50 percent of the local costs to design, test, and install biological nutrient removal technologies at waste water treatment facilities.
G. Nutrient Reduction. Encourages the Commonwealth to consider methods in addition to point source control to achieve identified nutrient reduction goals.
H. Appropriation of Resources. Encourages the Virginia General Assembly to appropriate the necessary resources to implement environmental regulations effectively so that health and the environment are protected. [See Endnote ix.]

7. Miscellaneous
A. Insurance Rates.
Supports a law to prohibit insurance companies from raising rates when the insured motorists in accidents are found to be not "at fault."
B. Third-Party Notification. Supports mandatory third-party notification so that incapacitated persons would not lose coverage automatically if they should inadvertently miss a payment.
C. Selection of Judges. Supports appointment of a commission to study and recommend a plan for merit selection of judges to ensure judicial independence and the appointment of the most qualified individuals.
D. Audio Recording of Court Sessions. Supports a study of legal and cost implications of all general and circuit court sessions proceedings. [See Endnote x.]
E. 21-Day Rule. Supports modification of the 21-Day Rule (Rule 1.1 of the Virginia Supreme Court) to permit courts to consider potentially exculpatory evidence which is submitted beyond the 21-day period currently allowed in capital cases.
F. Sexual Orientation. Supports the addition of sexual orientation to the coverage of antidiscrimination laws and Hate Crimes laws.
G. Initiative and Referendum. Requests the Governor of Virginia to appoint a bipartisan study commission to examine how the adoption of initiative and referendum would mesh with Virginia's traditions and weigh the assets and liabilities of I & R.
H. Aggressive Panhandling. Requests that the Arlington County Board be authorized to adopt an ordinance to make it unlawful for any person to panhandle in an aggressive manner, to panhandle within fifteen feet of an automatic teller machine, or to panhandle from any operator of a motor vehicle while standing in a roadway median or on a travel lane.


i. Allowing school to begin prior to Labor Day should have no fiscal impact in Northern Virginia. Reason given for school not beginning before Labor Day is to allow employers a sufficient pool of summer laborers.

ii. There is at present only one plan on the table. The cost including ramps and approach reconfiguration is approximately $1.8 billion. The current House Appropriation Bill has no money earmarked for this project, and the Senate bill has designated only $900 million. Unless the Congress provides adequate funding for this federally owned bridge, the project will have to be significantly changed or the State of Maryland and the Commonwealth of Virginia will have to make up the difference.

iii. There are many safety and environmental concerns at National:

  1. National Airport should be designated a short-range airport, and its current perimeter should remain at 1,250 miles.
  2. A single master plan should be developed to coordinate efficient development and usage of MWAA airports according to the characteristics of each site, as required by existing legislation.
  3. MWAA should permit no 2-aisle wide-body jet operations.
  4. No loopholes should be allowed in the mandate that no more than 37 operations shall occur during any 60-minute period (the sum of takeoffs and landings; multiple sections of one flight shall not be counted as one operation only).
  5. MWAS should permit no commercial flight operations between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
  6. MWAA should develop immediately a plan for preventing the flow of highly poisonous de-icing solutions from flowing into the Potomac River.
  7. Detailed measurements should be made of all airport- polluting substances that result from all land and air vehicles.
  8. Congress should ensure that there are no international flights at this airport.

    iv. Although the Virginia Supreme Court Virginia has ruled that contract rent may be used, the Federation has opposed its use because it usually lowered commercial assessments shifting more of the real estate tax burden to homeowners.

    v. The Federation believes a body as powerful as the SCC should have broader, more diverse representation than its present membership permits.

    vi. Citizens must present bona-fide public interest reason for this information and the partnership or its agent must provide this information within ten business days at a reasonable cost to the requester.

    vii. These officials and employees should certify in writing that they have read and understand these ethics requirements as a condition of employment.

    viii. The Inspector General shall operate independently but shall provide periodic reports to the County Board and the Courts as may be required.

    ix. This includes providing required and necessary state resources and enforcement.

    x. The tape recording would become part of the official record.

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