Archive for May, 2011
I was pleased to join several of my colleagues from the General Assembly at a Dulles Airport ceremony where Governor McDonnell signed three pieces of legislation aimed at providing law enforcement with additional tools to combat human trafficking and to provide services for the victims of this terrible crime. One of my very first bills, brought to me by the City of Fairfax Commission for Women, involved strengthening the penalties for human trafficking. I’ve been proud to support these efforts ever since. While human trafficking sounds like something that could only happen in far away countries, unfortunately it happens right here in Virginia. In his remarks, Governor McDonnell stated “More than 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year, and although estimates vary widely, between 4 million and 27 million people are said to be trapped in modern-day slavery across the world. Virginia ranked among the top-10 states for human trafficking report calls received in the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s call center between December 2007 and December 2010. We must take action to raise awareness of this disturbing scourge on our society, and we must provide law enforcement and social services agencies all of the tools we can to address these inhumane crimes.” Well said, and thanks to the Governor for bringing much needed attention to this issue and to the advocacy groups that spent countless hours lobbying for these measures.
Emergency preparedness starts at home. Virginia’s annual Hurricane and Emergency Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday is May 25-31, 2011. During this period, items including batteries, flashlights, tarps, rope, duct tape, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, bottled water, first aid kits, and many others, will be tax-free as long as they cost $60 or less each. See www.tax.virginia.gov for more information.
This past Monday I received a call from the Governor’s office informing me that the Governor had signed HB2103, which is the bill that will require the Pickett Road Tank Farm to bring their tanks and pipes up to modern industry standards. This was truly a team effort. It is a real testament to our community that so many people were willing to call, write, and email the Governor to advocate for this legislation. Thank you also to the Governor for signing the bill and making a strong statement that the health and safety of our community comes first. And, of course, a special thanks to Senator Chap Petersen for fighting for the bill in the Senate and Mayor Rob Lederer for coming to Richmond to meet with the Governor’s staff.
While it is impossible to completely undo the damage the tank farm has caused in the past — there is absolutely no reason that we shouldn’t do all we can to prevent new leaks from spoiling our environment even more. While it is not the last step, it is certainly an important one in the right direction. See related articles in the Fairfax Connection, the Washington Post, and the Washington Examiner.