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SENATOR TODDY PULLER ENDORSES SCOTT SUROVELL FOR THE 36TH SENATE DISTRICT

Mar 11, 2015

Untitled document *****FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***** March 11, 2015 More information: Megan Howard, Campaign Manager                              703.850.8618                             ...

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DELEGATE SCOTT SUROVELL HOSTS FIFTH ANNUAL AMUNDSON INSTITUTE

Feb 03, 2015

Untitled document *****FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***** February 3, 2014   More information: Legislative Aide, Megan Howard     571.249.4484 DELEGATE SCOTT SUROVELL HOSTS FIFTH ANNUAL AMUNDSON INSTITUTE Provides first-hand legislative experience to students interested in public service  Richmond, VA. Delegate Scott Surovell hosted the Fifth Annual Amundson...

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<a href="/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=629&Itemid=204">More Press Releases</a>

News Articles

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2015 Articles

03/18/15- Shining a Light on Virginia's Death Row - WVTF Public Radio
03/17/15- Scott Surovell Kicks Off Campaign for State Senate Seat - The Mount Vernon Patch  
03/13/15- Column: A 2015 Legislative Summary: Part 1 - The Virginia Connection 
03/12/15- Democrats Hold Mardi Gras Straw Poll in Alexandria - The Virginia Connection
03/11/15- Democratic Legislators Zero In to Urge 4 McAuliffe Vetoes - The Falls Church News-Press
03/08/15- Results in from Mt. Vernon Democrats Straw Poll - The Greater...

In the News | Administrator | Tuesday, 21 June 2011

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  • Endorsement of Senator Puller in 36th District
    I am proud to announce that State Senator Toddy Puller has endorsed my campaign for State Senate.

    Senator Puller has served the 44th and 36th Districts with distinction for 24 years.  Her passion for veterans, improving U.S. 1, education, and the legacy of George Washington will leave big shoes to fill, and I am honored to have her support.

    Below is an email she sent out this afternoon on my behalf:
    For 24 years I have served in the state legislature, and for the past 15 years serving the people of the 36th senatorial district. But now it is time for the next generation.
    I am pleased to endorse Delegate Scott Surovell for Senate, because I know he is not only a capable leader and passionate advocate, but he is always upbeat and looking to the future.

    He was one of the best chairmen the Fairfax County Democratic Committee has ever had. He created new programs and fundraising events to promote Democrats. He showed he was a capable leader willing to work with others to accomplish large goals. 
    Scott grew up in Mount Vernon and graduated from West Potomac High School, but has never used that familiarity as entitlement. He takes nothing for granted and is a tireless canvasser, knocking on the doors of every one of his constituents along Rt. 1. 
    He attends “back-to-school” nights and is constantly working to improve the educational opportunities for all children. He has a good relationship with Fort Belvoir, the Gum Springs community and local environmentalists working to protect the Potomac River and estuaries feeding into it.
    Scott is well-schooled on the issues of transportation and Route 1. For the past two years, he served with me on the Route 1 Multimodal Analysis Study Executive Committee fighting for a truly multi-modal approach for the community, including pushing for creative thinking for Metro extensions into Fairfax and Prince William counties. 
    I know once the people in Prince William and Stafford counties get the chance to get to know him, they will embrace him like the people of the 44th House of Delegates district have. I look forward to supporting his candidacy for the Senate. 
    This Saturday, please join me for the Scott Surovell for Senate Campaign Kickoff.
    Saturday, March 14th
    2:00pm-4:00pm
    The Landing Restaurant
    13188 Marina Way
    Woodbridge, VA 22191
    Toddy Puller
    36th Senatorial District of Virginia
  • March 5, 2015 Storm Update

    The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning, until 9 p.m. this evening for Northern Virginia. They expect the storm to dump 4-8 inches  of snow on the Mount Vernon area.
    I have cut and pasted an excerpt from the Weather Underground's forecast as of 10:50 a.m. on the right.  You can click on it to enlarge.

    The following information should help you prepare for the storm:
     

    Dominion Resources Power Outage Line

    Dominion Resources Storm Cente
    r

    VDOT Street Problem Number

    1 (800) FOR-ROAD

    VDOT Real Time Plow Map
    Real-Time Map of VDOT Plow Locations




    ********
    Road crews are currently treating interstates and primary roads with salt brine or anti-icing chemicals. Crews will be working overnight and through the duration of the storm treating icy roads and plowing snow.

    During the storm, please avoid driving on roads.  Automobile accidents account for about 70 percent of fatalities related to ice and snow.

    Winter weather driving tips and other preparations:
    • Monitor your local news sources for the latest weather conditions
    • Prepare your car for winter driving conditions including having an emergency kit in your vehicle
    • Prepare your home for winter weather conditions in case of power outages
    • Before getting behind the wheel, call 511, go to www.511virginia.org or download the 511 mobile app to get the latest road condition information
    • You may also call 800-FOR-ROAD (800-637-7623) to report road hazards or ask road-related questions at VDOT's 24-hour Customer Service Center
    • When driving, give yourself extra time to reach your destination, leave plenty of driving room between you and the vehicle ahead and slow down
    Road priorities and neighborhood snowplow tracker:
    VDOT's goal is to have all state-maintained roads passable within 48 hours after a winter storm ends
    Crews first begin clearing roads with the highest traffic volumes - interstates and primary roads - and then major secondary roads, followed by subdivision streets.

    A statewide network of 77 weather sensors in roadways and bridges, plus 16 mobile video platforms, allows crews to quickly identify when and where road surfaces might be freezing.
    VDOT has activated a web-based neighborhood tracking map that monitors the status of plowing in Northern Virginia neighborhoods if there is more than two inches of snow. It is available at www.vdotplows.org. VDOT will be testing the tracker concept in other parts of the state this year to determine which regions are best suited for the wireless technology required for the system.

    Please visit www.virginiadot.org/travel/snow/asp for more winter travel information.
    Other Resources
    Emergencies, Reporting Outages & Traffic Issues:
    Contact information for reporting utility outages and traffic problems follow:

    Dominion
    NOVEC
    Washington Gas

    Police non-emergency numbers are:

    Fairfax County:
    Prince William County:
    If you have any prolonged outages or if your street is blocked, feel free to contact my office at 571.249.4484 or email me at delssurovell@house.virginia.gov.

    Please prepare and be safe during the storm
  • The Top 20: A 2015 Legislative Summary
    This is an overview of legislative highlights from the 2015 General Assembly session.  Last week, I discussed the budget and some of my bills. 

    Generally speaking, this session was less contentious than the prior five regular sessions in which I have served mainly because the majority caucuses refused to hold hearings on many of the most controversial bills even though many were introduced.  Bills restricting birth control, limiting abortion, redefining fetuses as persons, limiting rights based on sexual orientation, marginalizing our newest residents and allowing guns in airports were denied hearings and votes.    

    Here are some highlights.  Governor Terry McAuliffe could amend or veto these bills or parts of them.  He must  act by March 30.  My votes are in parentheses for the bills that I had an opportunity to vote on (Y/N).

    #1 – Firearms Expanded
    The General Assembly passed legislation to make it easier for convicted stalkers, mentally ill people and convicted felons to obtain concealed weapon permits (CWP’s) for use in Virginia (N);to require local sheriffs to process background checks for machine gun purchases (N), to ban local governments from prohibiting loaded shotguns in vehicles for CWP holders (N), and to prohibit law enforcement of most other states from electronically verifying the validity of Virginia CWP’s (N). 


    Legislators rejected my legislation to prohibit people declared mentally incompetent from possessing ammunition (Y);  Governor McAuliffe’s legislation banning people subject to protective orders from possessing firearms; bills to require universal background checks for firearm purchases, restore Virginia’s “one-gun-a-month” law, and legislation suspending CWP’s when holders accumulate child support arrearages.  CWP holders currently owe at least $15 million in back child support.


    #2 – Execution Secrecy Rejected
    The Senate passed and the House killed legislation to authorize compounded drugs in executions and exempt the entire execution process from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (N). 

     
    #3 - Constitutional Amendments
    The legislature passed a constitutional amendment exempting the spouses of slain first responders from real estate taxes (Y), to put Virginia’s “right to work” law into the Constitution (N), and to move charter school approval from local school boards to the state (N).  The legislature must pass constitutional amendments again next year to be placed on the 2016 ballot for voter approval.
     
    Legislators killed constitutional amendments to allow automatic restoration of voting rights for convicted felons, require nonpartisan redistricting, allow two-term Governors and repeal Virginia’s gay marriage ban.   The legislature again did not ratification the Equal Rights Amendment.
     
    #4 –Education Reforms
    The General Assembly rejected legislation allowing a pre-Labor Day school start (Y); but we passed legislation making it easier to get a waiver from the post-Labor Day school start requirement which could help Fairfax County if the snow persists (Y).

     
    The legislature approved legislation to provide more flexibility to school systems meeting Standards of Learning (SOL) tests (Y), to allow more bake sales (N) and to restrict seclusion and restraint of students (Y). 
     
    The legislature repealed the A thru F school grading system (Y) and Governor Bob McDonnell’s state takeover of local school system initiative (Y). 
     
    The legislature passed bills to allow local school systems to allow home-schooled students to play in public school sports (N) and a bill limiting fees that Virginia colleges can charge to support athletics (Y).
     
    #5 – Transit Funded
    We passed legislation to head off the so-called “transit cliff” approaching in three years, thus protecting state funding for transit projects like those on U.S. 1 (Y). 
     
    #6 – Utilities Deregulated (Again)
    We passed legislation giving investor-owned utilities (e.g., Dominion Power) a five-year waiver on adjustments – up or down -- to their rates by regulators (N) and requiring some solar investments.  Stock analysts immediately upgraded Dominion to a “buy.”

     
    #7 – Hannah Graham and Sexual Assault Legislation
    We passed legislation liberalizing proof-of-venue requirements for criminal prosecutions and requiring DNA testing for certain misdemeanors (Y/N).  We passed a bill requiring school transcript to indicate if students withdraw from school during rape investigations (Y) and we clarified sexual assault investigation rules (Y).

     
    #8 - Uber Legalized
    The legislature authorized ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.  See my prior columns about problems with these services (N).
     
    #9 – Child Care Regulations Strengthened
    We lowered the threshold for state regulation of childcare facilities from six to five children excluding the proprietor’s kids and required criminal background checks for all employees and volunteers (Y).   

     
    #10 - Veterans
    We passed bills to establish two new veterans care centers in the state (Y) and to allow veterans to receive certain academic credits at community colleges for training and educational programs they completed during their military service (Y).  Another bill would require the Department of Education to determine how to track students with a parent in the military to help children of military families can get federal aid (Y).
     
    #11 - Limiting "Big Brother"
    We passed legislation limiting warrantless collection of personal information by law enforcement unrelated to pending criminal investigations (Y).  This includes license plate readers and other types of passive data collection.  We passed legislation prohibiting the use of drones for law enforcement without warrants except in emergencies and for training exercises (Y).
     
    #12 - Justice for Sterlizations
    We appropriated $400,000 to compensate survivors of the state’s eugenics program which sterilized more than 8,000 people between 1924 to 1979 at $25,000 per person.   (Y).
     
    In 2002, then-Gov. Mark R. Warner offered “the commonwealth’s sincere apology for Virginia’s participation in eugenics.” He called it “a shameful effort in which state government never should have been involved.”  Virginia would be the second state, after North Carolina, to compensate victims.
     
    #13 – Voting Restricted
    We passed legislation requiring mail-in absentee voters to provide copies of photo identification unless they are active duty military (N).

     
    #14 - Autism Insurance
    We passed legislation that will help about 5,000 Virginia children ages one thru 10 receive health insurance coverage for autism treatments (Y).

     
    #15 - Medical Marijuana & Legal Hemp
    We approved a bill legalizing the possession of oil derived from marijuana for people diagnosed with severe epilepsy (Y).  We also legalized industrial hemp so we can go back to exporting ropes and sails or something (Y). 
     
    #16 – Heroin Crisis
    Heroin use and overdoses are on the rise.  We passed legislation creating immunity from prosecution for certain persons reporting overdoses in progress (Y).  We also expanded a pilot to encourage the use of opioid overdose counteractant drugs by law enforcement (Y) and granted probation officers access to Virginia’s Prescription Monitoring Program to ensure probationers are not abusing prescription drugs (Y). 

     
    #17 - Off-Label Prescription Drugs
    We passed legislation to expand terminally-ill patients’ access to investigational drugs, under a physician’s supervision if an experimental drug has cleared the first phase of clinical trials but has not yet received final approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (Y).
     
    #18 – Ethics “Reforms”
    We passed legislation creating a $100 gift limit, but lifting the $250 overall cap on donations from a single donor (Y).    We also prohibited gifts and contributions to the Governor while negotiating grants.

     
    #19 - Tax Refunds
    We abolished the unsound policy requiring that tax refunds  be issued on debit cards (Y).
     
    #20 - State Song
    Virginia might finally have not just one, but two state songs – “Our Great Virginia” and “Sweet Virginia Breeze” (N).  
     
    Please email your feedback and suggestions at scott@scottsurovell.org.  It is an honor to serve as your state delegate. 
  • Weekly Column: Budget Tweaks, Execution Secrecy and Ethics
    The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of March 2, 2015.
    Budget Tweaks, Execution Secrecy and Ethics
    In the last week of the recent General Assembly session, we passed a budget and some of the most contentious legislation of the session.  We actually adjourned one day early on Friday, the first session in the six regular sessions in which I have served that has finished early.
     
    Here's a quick rundown on several bills:
     
    Four of my bills passed both houses and are with the Governor for his action.  I described them in my column last week.  I hope they will be signed into law without any amendments.

    We approved amendments to our biennial budget that  includes money to fund the state’s share of a 1.5% raise for teachers, a 2% raise for state employees and a 2% raise for college faculty.  Many of these employees have shad only one raise in the last seven years.
     
    The budget also endorses Governor McAuliffe’s new plan to provide mental health services to 21,600 Virginians with serious mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders who are at 60% of federal poverty level. 
     
    We prepaid $129 million for a constitutionally-required Rainy Day Fund deposit and restored about $41.5 million to higher education that was cut earlier in the year because of the economic downturn.  We also provided $106 million for construction for new buildings at various colleges, including James Madison University, Virginia Tech, Longwood University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Radford University and funds to restore the historic rotunda at the University of Virginia. 
     
    The budget also makes a $129 million one-time payment to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) to reduce our unfunded liability.  This will also reduce required contributions from local governments that are largely funded by real estate property taxes. 
     
    The budget also includes my proposal to restore one General District Court Judgeship to Fairfax County, a position that is desperately needed.
     
    Gaping Holes
    The legislature did not expand Medicaid as authorized by the Affordable Care Act.   To me, this omission is legislative malpractice.  As of today, Virginia has left $1.8 billion in federal funds on the table.  By next year, this will be the equivalent of $40 million in the 44th Delegate District alone or about 500 per constituent or about $2,000 for each four-person family I represent.  We have lost about 400 jobs in the 44th District and health care coverage for about 5,000 people.
     
    In addition, this budget fails to adequately fund education or address our unfair education funding formula, despite my efforts.  Virginia also still has a $15 billion unfunded liability in the Virginia Retirement System (VRS).  The legislature also failed to repeal or correct dozens of ineffective tax credits and tax preferences for things like coal, yachts and private schools.  Virginia also still has $100 billion transportation capital shortfall over the next 20 years.  These are some of the reasons that I voted “no.” 
     
    Transparency
    This year, the Department of Corrections pressed legislation to exempt the entire execution process from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  I fought this effort and killed the legislation in a bipartisan coalition of 33 Democrats, 27 Republicans and one independent.  Execution is the last thing that should be shrouded in secrecy. 
     
    Finally, on the last day, the legislature sent “ethics” legislation to the Governor.  I voted “yes” on the final bill, but I was anything but happy with it.  The bill did include my proposal to limit gifts and political contributions during the Governor’s Opportunity Fund process, but it is riddled with problems. 
     
    First, although the bill lowered Virginia’s gift cap to $100, it deleted the $250 aggregate gift cap, so now elected officials can accept an unlimited number of gifts under $100 from the same donor.
     
    The also bill lacks a real enforcement mechanism.  There are no mandatory audits. There is no independent ethics commission and the new ethics committee has no subpoena power.  Stronger ethics laws are essentially meaningless if they cannot be enforced.  
     
    You can see my floor speeches on ethics, death penalty secrecy and the state budget on my You Tube channel.  Thank you for all of your feedback and suggestions.  It is an honor to serve as your delegate.  I hope you will continue to be in touch at scott@scottsurovell.org.
     
  • Begging for Education Technolgy in Fairfax County
    Ensuring every public school student has access to technology has been a goal of mine for the last three years. Electronic textbooks are here and the learning resources that are now online are critical resources for our children to access. 

    Kids get it.  Watch this news story by Peggy Fox featuring my Janetzy Marisco where she lays it out. 


    However, most school systems, including Fairfax County, have failed to prioritize funding technology purchases.  Obviously, some blame for this lies with a lack of state funding, but in jurisdictions like Fairfax County where the state only provides 20% of the school budget, waiting for the state to show up is not a plausible excuse.   

    Several large Virginia jurisdictions are already purchasing computing devices for all of their students - Henrico, Albemarle, Arlington, Alexandria, and Chesterfield.  Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun Counties continue to lag behind.

    Teachers are becoming increasingly desperate.  A constituent recently forwarded this email from a French teacher.
    Bonjour!  
    I have recently written a grant on DonorsChoose.org for funding to buy iPod touches for my students to use in my classroom to do research, record their voices, Skype other French students, and many other activities that would improve their skills in the French language and in using technology. 
    To read an explanation of my project and to donate, click the link below;  
    Technology: An Engaging Journey Toward a Successful FutureIf you donate to my project in the next week (by March 2, 2015) and enter the code SPARK on the payment page, your donation be matched dollar for dollar (up to $100) thanks to DonorsChoose.org.   
    If I reach my goal and the project is funded, all those who donate will receive photos of my students benefitting from the project and our heartfelt thanks.  Merci beaucoup! 
    Mme. _____   
    P.S. If you know anyone who may want to help my classroom, please pass this along! 
    Please see the attached flyer for more information: DonorsChoose flyer.docx
    One of the ten wealthiest counties in the United States resorting to self-funding to purchase iPod's.  Requiring computing devices for every public school student in the Commonwealth needs to be an education objective as soon as possible.
  • Weekly Column: Ninja Weapons, Shotguns and State-run Local Schools Struck
    The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of February 24, 2015.
    Ninja Weapons, Shotguns and State-run Local Schools Struck
    In the fifth week of the General Assembly session, several of my bills moved toward passage and a few controversial bills are being debated. 
    Surovell Legislation Moving
    First, my legislation to protect Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit proceeds, plus child support and spousal support arrearages from creditors, passed the full Senate Courts Committee and should clear the full Senate on Monday as I write this column.  Second, my legislation to simplify the process of continuing lawsuits when parties pass away cleared the Senate last week and was sent to the Governor.
    Third, my bill to waive Standards of Learning tests for elementary and secondary students with high scores on Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests was added to another bill to grant greater flexibility to school systems to waive Standards of Learning tests. That legislation will likely pass the Senate as well.
    Fourth, Republican Delegate Manoli Loupassi and I crafted legislation providing new remedies for people whose criminal charges are publicized by private data companies after the individuals are found not guilty and the charges have been expunged from their record.  We also proposed to create a remedy against companies who post criminal conviction information on websites and will only remove the information after extorting a payment of money. These companies have been popping up around the world and republishing information from Fairfax County.  
    The Senate modified our bill to remove the expungement cause of action, and we will continue to refine the legislation. The legislation creating an action for extortion passed the Senate Courts Committee and will move through both bodies as modified this week. 
    Ninja Weapons and Shotguns
    On Tuesday, the House of Delegates passed legislation legalizing the sale of switchblades, ballistic darts and throwing stars. After a public outcry, the House reconsidered the bill the following day and killed it.
     
    That same day, the House, on a 62-34 vote, approved legislation allowing individuals who hold concealed weapon permits to carry loaded shotguns in vehicles even if local ordinances ban this conduct. I led the floor debate against this legislation, arguing that the last thing Virginia needs is loaded shotguns in Northern Virginia traffic.  I highlighted numerous road rage incidents involving shotguns, including one that took place just 20 hours before we debated the bill.
    Also, all of Virginia’s hunter education courses specifically teach hunters notto transport loaded shotguns and all shotgun manufacturers specifically advise shotgun owners to never transport loaded shotguns. We heard testimony about a Virginia state trooper who was killed when a vehicle was rolled over and the shotgun went off. 
    You can watch my speech on my You Tube channel. 
    I discovered that Fairfax, Arlington, Prince William and Loudoun Counties have not taken advantage of their authority to enact local bans on transporting loaded shotguns. Supervisor Gerry Hyland has started work on a Fairfax County ordinance. 
    “Tim Tebow” Bill Advances
    Each year, we debate legislation to allow home-schooled athletes to participate in public school sports programs. I routinely vote against this because I feel that it is unfair to public school athletes who must meet grade and conduct standards when it is impossible to enforce the same standards with home-schooled students. Also, public education cannot be a la carte or the entire system will become dysfunctional.  this legislation normally dies in the Senate, but this year, it was amended to allow the policy to become a local option instead of a state mandate. The bill is heading for a likely veto.
     
    Repeal of McDonnell Education Measures
    Both houses voted to repeal A through F grading of public schools and former Governor McDonnell’s “Opportunity Education Institute” (OEI), an effort to allow state takeover of local schools. In hindsight, school grading was seen as potentially destructive of communities and the OEI was held to be unconstitutional. 
     
    The Last Week
    We should conclude writing the budget this week and complete work on all legislation in joint conference committees. We appear to be heading for an on-time conclusion, which has been a rarity since I have been in office.
    Please continue emailing me your feedback at scott@scottsurovell.org. It is an honor to serve as your state delegate. 
  • Weekly Column: Ethics, Electricity Bills and Budget Negotiations
    The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of February 17, 2015.
    Ethics, Electricity Bills and Budget Negotiations
    The General Assembly is now in its fifth week of the 45-day session and starting budget negotiations.  Four of my bills are moving through the legislative process.   The Senate will consider two this week.

    This past weekend about 75 people shared their views at my town hall meeting with Senators Toddy Puller and Adam Ebbin at the Mount Vernon Government Center.  We appreciate the interest and the feedback. 
     
    Ethics "Reforms"
    Each body passed ethics bills last week.  The legislation creates a new overall gift cap of $100 for all local and state elected officials in Virginia .  It allows an exception for educational travel approved in advance by an Ethics Advisory Council.  It also contains an exception for “widely attended events,” such as the banquets in our area for local charities, and the bill incorporates a proposal I made last session to prohibit the Governor from accepting a gift or contribution from an entity seeking a Governor’s Opportunity Fund grant.
     I was one of seven out of 140 legislators to vote “no.”  You can watch my full remarks on my You Tube Channel, but for me the bottom line was that this “reform” was toothless.  Virginia needs an independent body to enforce its ethics laws, not an “advisory council.”  We need an independent body with subpoena power and a requirement to complete a minimum number of audits each year.  The proposed system will continue to run on the assumption that all 2,000+ elected officials in Virginia are honest in their campaign and financial filings and problems will only be exposed by whistleblowers or ancillary investigations.  Virginians deserve better.
    Keeping Electricity Affordable
    Both chambers have passed legislation significantly rewriting the laws regulating investor-owned utilities.  I voted “no.”  In 2007, Virginia re-regulated electric utilities by creating a process under which the incumbent monopoly (in our area, Dominion Power) is reviewed every two years by the State Corporation Commission to determine if the company is  earning an excess profit.  If so, excess profits are refunded or electricity rates are cut.  The legislation passed abolishes these biennial reviews for five years and freezes rates.

    While the legislation does provide consumers some protection from possible coal plant closure costs and requires some investments in solar, I am concerned we are getting shortchanged.  Two days before we voted, UBS Financial Services issued a very optimistic review of Dominion’s earning potential because our legislation “remove[d] one of the largest single risks” to Dominion’s earnings.  My priority is making home electric bills affordable, not enhancing shareholder value.   
    Budgets
    On proposed budgets, the good news is that state revenue projections have partially recovered, which has allowed both bodies to propose long overdue raises for teachers (1.5%), state employees (1.5%-3.0%), college faculty (2%) and law enforcement personnel.  Many of these individuals have only seen one raise in seven years. 

    I voted against the proposed budget for several reasons.  First, the budget deleted Governor Terry McAuliffe’s proposed Medicaid expansion.  Expansion would provide health insurance to 5,000 working adults in the 44th District and 400,000 statewide, bring $1.5 billion of Virginians’ federal taxpayer dollars home per year, create 30,000 jobs and free up $180 million of Virginia state taxpayer dollars for other priorities.  The 44th District has the second largest current Medicaid population of all delegates in Fairfax County, Arlington County, Loudoun County and Alexandria. 
    The House budget also cuts pre-kindergarten by $6 million and funds higher education $30 million less than the Senate budget.  It contains language that would prohibit taxpayer funding for abortions and language that would prohibit Governor McAuliffe from rolling back regulations designed to shut down most abortion clinics in Virginia.  It also contains language purporting to allow any of the 140 members of the House or Senate to bring a taxpayer-funded lawsuit against the Governor if a legislator or any agency interprets a state law contrary to the legislators’ opinion. That's the Attorney General's job. 
    In these last two weeks, conference committees will conduct intense negotiations over the budget and some of the most contentious bills.   
    I appreciate the hundreds of emails you have sent me.  Please continue to share your views at scott@scotsurovell.org
    Thank you for allowing me to serve as your state delegate.
  • February, 2015 Winter Storm Information
    Weather Underground Forecast as of 10:20 p.m.
    The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning, from 4 p.m. Monday February 16th to noon on February 17th for Northern Virginia. They expect the storm to dump 4 or more inches of snow and sleet on the Mount Vernon area. Snowfall is expected to begin on Monday afternoon and could become heavy at times.

    I have cut and pasted an excerpt from the Weather Underground's forecast as of 10:20 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 15 on the right.  You can click on it to enlarge.

    Although I am in Richmond for the General Assembly Session and we will remain in session during the storm, my staff will be available to deal with problems and I will continue to post updates about outages and other information as it is available. 

    The following information should help you prepare for the storm:

    Dominion Resources Power Outage Line

    Dominion Resources Storm Cente
    r

    VDOT Street Problem Number

    1 (800) FOR-ROAD

    VDOT Real Time Plow Map
    Real-Time Map of VDOT Plow Locations




    ********
    Road crews are currently treating interstates and primary roads with salt brine or anti-icing chemicals. Crews will be working overnight and through the duration of the storm treating icy roads and plowing snow.

    During the storm, please avoid driving on roads.  Automobile accidents account for about 70 percent of fatalities related to ice and snow.

    Winter weather driving tips and other preparations:
    • Monitor your local news sources for the latest weather conditions
    • Prepare your car for winter driving conditions including having an emergency kit in your vehicle
    • Prepare your home for winter weather conditions in case of power outages
    • Before getting behind the wheel, call 511, go to www.511virginia.org or download the 511 mobile app to get the latest road condition information
    • You may also call 800-FOR-ROAD (800-637-7623) to report road hazards or ask road-related questions at VDOT's 24-hour Customer Service Center
    • When driving, give yourself extra time to reach your destination, leave plenty of driving room between you and the vehicle ahead and slow down
    Road priorities and neighborhood snowplow tracker:
    VDOT's goal is to have all state-maintained roads passable within 48 hours after a winter storm ends
    Crews first begin clearing roads with the highest traffic volumes - interstates and primary roads - and then major secondary roads, followed by subdivision streets.

    A statewide network of 77 weather sensors in roadways and bridges, plus 16 mobile video platforms, allows crews to quickly identify when and where road surfaces might be freezing.
    VDOT has activated a web-based neighborhood tracking map that monitors the status of plowing in Northern Virginia neighborhoods if there is more than two inches of snow. It is available at www.vdotplows.org. VDOT will be testing the tracker concept in other parts of the state this year to determine which regions are best suited for the wireless technology required for the system.

    Please visit www.virginiadot.org/travel/snow/asp for more winter travel information.
    Other Resources
    Emergencies, Reporting Outages & Traffic Issues:
    Contact information for reporting utility outages and traffic problems follow:

    Dominion
    NOVEC
    Washington Gas

    Police non-emergency numbers are:

    Fairfax County:
    Prince William County:
    If you have any prolonged outages or if your street is blocked, feel free to contact my office at 571.249.4484 or email me at delssurovell@house.virginia.gov.

    Please prepare and be safe during the storm
  • Weekly Column: Bills on Protecting Child Support, SOL Flexibility, and Consumer Protection Pass
    The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of February 10, 2015.
    Bills on Protecting Child Support, SOL Flexibility, and Consumer Protect Pass
    The third week of the “short” session of the General Assembly brings us to “Crossover.”  “Crossover” is the midpoint of the session when both houses must complete work on their own bills and begin work on bills from the other chambers.    
     
    Several of my bills have moved forward.  First, last year, one of my Amundson Fellows from West Potomac High School, Colleen O’Grady, suggested that I introduce legislation allowing school systems to waive Standards of Learning (SOL) testing for students who achieved a certain score on an Advanced Placement test in the same subject.  My bill was rolled into legislation proposed by another member granting local systems more flexibility to waive SOL tests and passed the House of Delegates unanimously.


    Second, several attorney’s advised me that U.S. Bankruptcy Trustees were seizing child support and spousal support arrearages along with refunds of low income families’ tax refunds attributable to the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.  None of these assets should be available to creditors so I introduced legislation adding them to the list of assets that could be exempt from creditor collections.  Frequently, a child support or spousal support payor’s failure to meet their court-ordered obligations puts people into bankruptcy.  My legislation passed unanimously. 
    Third, I partnered with a Republican Senator to carry legislation simplifying the process for appointing a person to represent the interests of an individual who dies during or before litigation is commenced in their name.  This legislation passed both houses unanimously.
    Fourth, for the last three years, I have been pressing legislation to enhance consumer remedies with data providers sell or publish information relating to a criminal charge that has been expunged.  Today, consumers only have remedies if incorrect information is put out in connection with an employment application or landlord-tenant application.  The industry is pushing back very hard and I will continue to fight to push this bill through.
     
    Unfortunately, my legislation to remove the requirement that a voter provide a social security number during voter registration from the Constitution of Virginia died by one vote in committee.  If it had made it to the floor, it would have passed.  Requiring all nine digits of a social security number is no longer necessary. 
     
    My legislation to prohibit predatory lenders from evading consumer protections by lending money through unregulated “subsidiaries” in the same storefront died in committee.  However, one Republican member offered to help me push the bill through next year.  In the meantime, low income Virginians will continue to be victimized by 200% loans.
     
    We have also passed some other major legislation.  We passed legislation allowing companies like Uber to operate.  While Uber does provide a very attractive product and is an innovative company, I voted against the legislation for several reasons.  First, the company is providing insurance for vehicles that is 50% of what Fairfax County currently mandates for taxicabs.  Also, if an Uber driver takes cash for a ride, then their driver is not covered at all so if they collide with a completely innocent vehicle or pedestrian, there is no insurance. 
     
    Additionally, Uber does not provide wheelchair lift vehicles which is required of most taxicab companies.  If Uber puts taxicab companies out of business, this service will become a taxpayer function.  The filing fee for new companies is also $100,000.  This effectively bars new startup companies from entering the market, especially in smaller jurisdictions. 
     
    In response to the Hannah Graham case, we passed legislation expanding DNA collections for several misdemeanors associated with a higher incidence of sexual violence and also passed legislation attempting to increase responsiveness to sexual assault on college campuses.  It will continue to change as it goes through the system.
     
    This coming week will bring debate over the budget and some very controversial bills involving utility regulation and the death penalty.  Please continue to provide me with your feedback at scott@scottsurovell.org
     
    It is an honor to serve as your state delegate.  
  • Weekly Column: Gerry Hyland, the Epitome of Public Service
    The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette and The Mt. Vernon Voice in the week of February 3, 2015.
    Gerry Hyland, the Epitome of Public Service
    At Saturday’s town hall meeting, we learned that we are losing another 28-years of public policy wisdom, seniority and experience. 
    In 1987, Mount Vernon was a different place. In 1987, we had just emerged from a divisive high school merger battle driven by a decline in the number of students. Mount Vernon had seen a tsunami of homes built between 1955 and 1970 and about ten years after the construction stopped, the area found itself with thousands of aging empty nesters, fewer children and vacant schools.
    U.S. 1 was blighted by over a dozen old motels, a reputation for its hard knocks and crime, two strip clubs and curiosities like Northern Virginia’s last duck pin bowling alley and the Thieves’ Market. Lorton was known for its prison, from which inmates escaped periodically, a landfill and not much else.  
    In 1987 when I got my driver’s license, Mount Vernon elected a local PTA activist, former President of United Community Ministries, 30-year Air Force officer, farmer and lawyer to the Board of Supervisors on a campaign focused on nourishing schools  and closing prisons, landfills, and incinerators and bringing our area a better quality of life. That was Gerry Hyland.

    I was part of West Potomac High School’s inaugural freshman class and graduated in 1989. I mainly remember two things about graduation: Channel 4’s Jim Vance’s stirring commencement address and Supervisor Hyland (with hair) getting out of his chair to shake my hand as I walked across the dais. That stirring memory is the main reason I try to attend every high school graduation in my district and shake the hand of as many kids as I can. You only graduate from high school once and Gerry Hyland understands that that’s a big step in life. Today, West Potomac High School is a community institution.
    Over the last 28, most of the notorious “no-tell motels” are gone. Crime on U.S. 1 is down. Lorton Prison closed in 2001, Laurel Hill is springing up and South County has never looked back.
    Population and jobs on Fort Belvoir have probably tripled since Gerry took office. The Fairfax County Parkway now bisects the base and provides access to the west.  Belvoir boasts a state-of-the-art, billion dollar hospital and has become the largest employer in the County.
    Gerry has addressed New Alexandria and Belleview’s flooding, secured a $30 million floodwall to save Huntington, mediated dozens of complaints about infill housing stimulated by the desirability of our community, endured dog park battles and relentlessly protected Mason Neck’s unique bucolic character.
    When rumors started building that Mount Vernon Hospital was in danger of closing, Gerry led the charge to save the facility. Today, INOVA has just completed the first of five planned expansions including a 30,000 square foot emergency room scheduled for construction in a few months. Having hospital service closer to Mount Vernon than Alexandria or Fairfax saves lives. 
    He has been the leading voice on the Board of Supervisors for funding education and he has had the courage to propose new revenue sources. Every year, he has pressed his colleagues to fund Fairfax County’s schools at a level deserving of our community. 
    Recognizing the need for affordable housing and building on his early charity work, Gerry has fought to fully fund a safety net and pick up where the state and federal governments fail to meet their responsibility. 
    Our schools are bursting at the seams the Mount Vernon’s population has matured, diversified and young families flock to our community. Population south of Fort Belvoir has quadrupled and it’s hard to find a house in the 22079 zip code for less than $500,000. South County High School is a focal point of community activity and sits astride a nationally recognized public golf course. West Potomac High School stands as one of Fairfax County’s oldest schools; Mount Vernon High School, as a community institution. 
    Gerry has skillfully steered Mount Vernon through a generational transition and helped us set the stage for bringing rail and the next 30 years of responsible growth and change in Mount Vernon. 
    Thank you, Gerry, for your 28-plus years of public service and best wishes on a well-deserved retirement.