AG addresses Chamber of Commerce

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Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell returned to his hometown of Alexandria on Sept. 13, where he addressed the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce in a round table discussion.

The smoking ban was tops on the agenda of the attendees, who have focused on a special use permit and discussions with the City Council for months.

cDonnells office made a ruling on the issue in the past, stating that local jurisdictions can not impose restrictions more powerful than the state, the rule goes, and McDonnell was sticking by his decision. Virginia is a state that follows the Dillon Rule, and concerning the state laws, the Dillon Rule prohibited for local statutes to go against that, he said.

Backers of the smoking ban are looking for a city-wide ban in restaurants. Currently, restaurants are allowed to have a smoking section. McDonnell called the special use permit an end run, around the Dillon Rule, he said. The statute requires that there be a section for non-smoking, he said. The city has legislation on the smoking ban that will take effect next July but this is dependent on whether the state enacts any smoking ban legislation of its own in the interim. Other localities are watching what happens in Alexandria to gauge whether they can also pursue such legislation, said chamber president Christine Michaels, who responded by email.

McDonnell also discussed a property rights issue surrounding the New London clause, which refers to a situation in New London, Conn., where the state confiscated property for a commercial business, citing tax advantages for the whole state, calling the move public use. The Virginia clause defines what public use is not, McDonnell said.

McDonnell also focused on Internet scams and protection against Internet predators as well. His office passed a set of anti-spam laws in past years, and is now focusing on education of Internet users to protect against identity theft. Identity theft is one of the crimes that is very preventable, he said.

McDonnell grew up in the Mount Vernon area and attended Bishop Ireton as a teenager. He kicked off his discussion, talking about the fond memories of Alexandria, McDonnell said. Early on, he hinted that running for governor of Virginia may be part of his plan in 2009.

On Oct. 30, the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce is having Lt. Governor Bill Bolling at the Chamber from 8-9:30 a.m.

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