Read the Bills Act Coalition

Monday, February 2, 2009

Senator Ken Stolle's Legislative Update

Posted by MAXMIUS

SENATOR KEN STOLLE'S LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

February 2, 2009

While Governor Kaine’s initial budget projections show nearly a $3 Billion shortfall, I personally believe that the shortfall could be in excess of $4 Billion. We will have a better idea this week after the January revenues are released. Both the House and the Senate are scheduled to present their budgets on February 8.

As a Senate Finance Committee member, I have been carefully reviewing Governor Kaine’s proposed cuts. In next week’s newsletter I plan on highlighting the almost $75 Million in cuts to public safety. Virginia is well-known as being at the forefront of law enforcement initiatives and a model for the rest of the country. These cuts could mean at the very least drastic reductions in direct funding for fighting crime coupled with the loss of hundreds of existing sheriff’s deputy, police officer and state trooper jobs.

In this week’s newsletter I wish to highlight legislation that I am strongly supporting, including protecting Virginia’s right-to-work status, improving mass transit in Hampton Roads, and defending the property rights of landowners.

As always, if there is anything my office or I can do for you, please do not hesitate to contact me. With warm and personal regards, I remain

Very truly yours,

Ken Stolle

Amendment to Protect Virginia's Right-To-Work Status Fails
Sen. Stolle was co-patron of SJ 347, a proposed amendment to the Virginia Constitution that would have added Virginia's right-to-work law to the state Constitution. Unfortunately this resolution was defeated on Wednesday by a straight party-line vote. The joint resolution would have been the first step towards granting Constitutional protection to Virginia's coveted right-to-work law.

For the last three years in a row, Forbes.com has named Virginia the "Best State for Business," citing the Commonwealth's outstanding regulatory environment, low unemployment rate, prime location for new businesses, low tort atmosphere, and low tax burden.

Recently, efforts at the Federal level have begun which would essentially remove secret ballot votes in union elections. It is my hope that we not let Congress jeopardize Virginia's right-to-work status. It is imperative that in these uncertain economic times that we do everything possible to make sure our actions are in line with Virginia's tradition of pro-business fiscal policy.

In order to amend the Virginia Constitution, identical legislation must be passed during two separate General Assembly sessions with an election in between. It must then pass a statewide voter referendum.

Improving Mass Transit in Hampton Roads
Amidst a Budget-dominated session and with transportation dollars scarcely available, Sen. Stolle offered a budget amendment that will help acquire the Norfolk Southern right of way in Virginia Beach for future public transportation use.

It is strategically important to Virginia Beach and the Commonwealth that this land be purchased, which will be used at least as a multi purpose trail for Virginia Beach and could be used as extension of The Tide light rail line, a bus rapid transit line or a future transportation corridor. The Norfolk Southern rail line runs from Newtown Road to Birdneck Road near the Oceanfront, roughly paralleling Interstate 264.

The amendment does not allocate new funding to the Mass Transit Fund but simply uses existing dollars from cancelled projects to help purchase the land. If approved, the money would be added to $10 million the City Council agreed two weeks ago to spend on it, $10 million set aside by the State two years ago, and $5 million in utility easement payments.

If the City does not purchase the land, it is likely to be cut up in smaller, unconnected portions that will be of little use. Additionally, cost analysis of transportation materials and land values have shown that the transportation project's cost will dramatically increase if not started now.

Defending the Property Rights of Landowners
As a co-patron of SJ 290, Sen. Stolle makes it clear that eminent domain cannot be used for economic development in Virginia. Since the U.S. Supreme Court's 2005 Kelo v. New London decision, the General Assembly has debated the application of eminent domain. It is Sen. Stolle's hope that his colleagues in the Senate will join him in securing the rights of land and property owners by supporting this amendment to Virginia's Constitution. SJ 290 has yet to be heard in the Senate Privileges and Elections committee.

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