It has been years since the City Council has been giddy during a meeting discussing its state legislative package.
Mayor Justin Wilson previously told ALXnow that the win opens up doors for several longstanding city goals, like more free-reign to control local financing. At a City Council meeting last night (Tuesday), some of those goals took shape in a draft of the city’s legislative package.
Every year, the city assembles a selection of local requests for Alexandria’s legislative representatives to take to Richmond. Proposals have ranged from increasing the minimum wage to changes in the minutiae of preschool management, and most of the requests were ignored or shot down by the Republican majority.
“As everyone understands, this is going to be quite a different General Assembly session,” Wilson told the City Council. “That’s certainly a very exciting thing.”
Officials warned, however, that the city had to exercise some restraint to ensure that most of the goals would be approved.
“This is a clear double-edged sword for us,” Sarah Taylor, the city’s legislative director, told the City Council. “The opportunities are really good. The legislature and our delegation will be able to do some really great things, but we have to be very smart and very strategic in how we approach things.”
Taylor said the city priorities were broken up into three categories:
- State investment in infrastructure
- Protection and expansion of local authority and funding for localities
- Access, equity and equality
The big ask for the infrastructure investment is assistance with the RiverRenew project, the largest infrastructure project in Alexandria’s history and the result of an unfunded mandate by the state legislature. The project is estimated to cost between $370 and $555 million. It secured some funding earlier this year, but the city is requesting $65 million more.
Taylor said state Sen. Richard “Dick” Saslaw (D-35) asked for $75 million. Several members of the City Council noted that they wouldn’t say “no” to higher funding than what they requested.
Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, which means local authorities can only exercise powers expressly granted to them by the state, but several of the items in the legislative package aim to pick away fractionally, like granting localities the right to regulate firearms in government buildings and property.
“There’s a lot that could be done with local authority,” Taylor said. “There are a lot of pieces that could be done incrementally.”
Other specific asks in the legislative package include:
- Incrementally raise the minimum wage in Virginia to $15/hour
- Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment
- Allow voters to use an otherwise valid but expired photo ID
- Amend the Virginia Constitution to establish the bipartisan Virginia Redistricting Commission
- Additional state funding for K-12 education
- “Red flag” gun control laws and stronger background checks
- Broaden the coverage of the Communications Sales and Use Tax (CSUT) to include audio and video streaming services and prepaid calling services
- Comprehensive tax reform to allow more types of taxes and reduce reliance on property taxes
- Add Alexandria to the list of localities where a state income tax credit is available to landlords accepting Housing Choice Vouchers
- Full restoration of funding to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority for local transit projects
- Legislation that will allow the city to increase recycling rates in our community and reduce the use of plastic bags, single use plastics and Styrofoam
A public hearing on the legislative package is scheduled this Saturday, Nov. 16. Final adoption of the package is scheduled for Dec. 12 with the legislative session beginning Jan. 8.
“To undo the amount of damage that has been done to the Commonwealth — to move the Commonwealth forward to a more progressive agenda — we may have to roll up our sleeves,” Councilman Mohamed “Mo” Seifeldein said. “We’re playing with house money and let’s clean up.”
“Gambling is still illegal in Virginia,” Wilson was quick to note.
“Well, maybe we can get a bill on that too,” Seifeldein said.
Staff photo by Kalina Newman
It was another busy week in Alexandria. The fallout of Wilson’s announcement that he would not run for reelection continues, with two City Council members — Vice Mayor Amy Jackson…
A small but dedicated team of volunteers spent last Saturday clearing trash from Holmes Run near the Charles Beatley Library. The City of Alexandria celebrated twelve volunteers who helped in…
With the advent of virtual learning in public schools during the Covid pandemic, it seemed like snow days would become a thing of the past. In late 2021, Alexandria said…
A 4 BD/4.5 BA brick townhome with four finished levels, multiple fireplaces and a brick patio is included in Just Listed.
About Latinas Leading Tomorrow (LLT): Latinas Leading Tomorrow is a dynamic 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering young Latina women through education, mentorship, and leadership development. We are committed to fostering a community of future leaders who will make a significant impact to the community.
Job Description: We are seeking a passionate and dedicated Part-time Executive Director to lead our organization into its next phase of growth and impact. The ideal candidate will be a visionary leader who can oversee day-to-day operations, drive fundraising efforts, and cultivate relationships with stakeholders. This is a 1099 position; Remote position with ability to attend DMV events; 8-10 hours a week; $35-40/per hour.
Get ready to Shake, Rattle and Roll with this one-of-a-kind, high-octane rockabilly concert experience! Rockabilly Rumble is the all-new, musical experience celebrating the southern rock music that exploded on the scene in the 1950s. Organized by Alexandria City High School Alum and pro-musician Sam C. Jones, this band of world-class performers will have you dancing in your Blue Suede Shoes all night long with songs made famous by Bo Ridley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and more. Relive their most popular hits, along with some forgotten gems. “Rockabilly Rumble” is a dance-worthy, foot stomping evening you’ll never forget!
This show is 21+ only.
YOU MUST HAVE A VALID PHYSICAL ID. A PICTURE OF YOUR ID IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.