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Commentary: Richmond Highlights: 94-1 for Metro Reform
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Commentary: Richmond Highlights: 94-1 for Metro Reform

General Assembly session wrap-up.

This year, the General Assembly addressed a myriad of issues that will impact our community and the entire Commonwealth. From economic development to energy, public safety to transportation, many important discussions and compromises occurred.

My policy initiatives were driven by conversations I have with constituents. I focused on improving our transportation infrastructure, increasing Virginia’s renewable energy portfolio, and creating safer communities, while holding the line on new taxes.

Northern Virginia’s congestion impacts our quality of life and regional economy daily. A vital component of our transportation infrastructure is the Metro system which, unfortunately, is unreliable and less safe than riders deserve. When running efficiently, Metro gets cars off the roads, reduces congestion, and provides transportation options for Northern Virginians.

This year, I sponsored the bipartisan comprehensive Metro reform and funding package that passed with a 94-1 vote. The legislation includes key reforms such as a three percent cap on annual operating expenses, increased oversight, and changes to depoliticize Metro board governance. We met Virginia’s funding goal by prioritizing existing transportation dollars. With local taxes going up again in Fairfax, I felt additional tax increases on Northern Virginians were not necessary.

Virginia’s renewable energy portfolio has expanded, but we can do more. I sponsored legislation removing barriers for solar project development, strengthening our grid infrastructure, and directing utilities to generate more power from renewable sources -- specifically 5,000 megawatts of utility solar and wind energy. This is in addition to my previous legislation that promoted net-metering and that created Virginia’s Solar Development Authority.

The opioid epidemic continues to impact Fairfax families at an alarming rate. The General Assembly has worked to help those suffering and reduce overdoses. This year, the House expanded on my 2017 legislation which required doctors to request a patient’s prescription history before initiating a new prescription and direct them to limit opioid prescriptions to no longer than seven days. Now, a prescription history check is required for new prescriptions related to a surgical procedure such as wisdom tooth removal.

In years past, this time of year is when high school bands, cheerleading squads, and sports teams are holding car wash fundraisers. Recently, various localities have restricted these activities due to over-burdensome federal regulations. My legislation will allow these groups to hold car washes with biodegradable soaps to lessen the environmental impact. I want to thank Springfield Supervisor Pat Herrity for bringing this to my attention.

Lastly, I frequently hear constituents say their taxes are high enough. I agree. That’s why I again worked to hold the line on new taxes. This year, the House defeated more than $770 million in proposed new taxes, including a new tax for streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, and Spotify, as well as an effort to reinstate the Estate Tax (so called “Death Tax”).

Overall, the 2018 session was productive. Virginia once again proved that bipartisanship works. If I can ever be of assistance, please email me at delthugo@house.virginia.gov.