City Adopts General Assembly Wish List

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The city officially adopted a legislative package that it will send with its delegates to the next General Assembly session in January, hoping to secure funds and enact a plethora of laws having to do with everything from public safety to the environment.

Top on the Councils list is to retain $1 million annually from the state for Alexandrias prison. The Commonwealth is entitled to a portion of the revenue that comes from housing federal prisoners because the state pays for part of deputy sheriffs salaries. Alexandria was previously exempt from the law because the federal government paid more of its costs than did the state.

But citing budget constraints, Richmond is trying to take the exemption away, meaning the city would transfer $1 million annually to the state. Alexandria currently pays more for the jail than either the state or federal government does, and if the city were forced to share the revenue, the Commonwealth would subsidize Alexandrias jail with less money than any other jail in the state.
Mayor Bill Euille has asked Gov. Tim Kaine to amend the proposed budget and continue the exemption.

Next on the citys priorities is to quell the reduction of state aid to Alexandria. Amid the citys $10.5 million shortfall, the Governor has requested Alexandria give back $1.1 million of allocated funds as part of statewide effort to preserve $50 million in the ailing state budget.

According to a memo, while the city realizes that the state budget must be reduced further, we are asking that the Governor and General Assembly, in the 2009 Session, minimize any further reductions in payments to localities for programs for which the state and the local governments share.

Following an East Coast trend and headed by Councilman Krupicka, the citys delegates will propose a prohibition on cell phone use while driving. The Assembly passed legislation in the 2007 session that prohibited minors from driving while talking on a cell phone, but the offense is secondary, meaning the driver must be pulled over for another offense. The delegation will propose an all-out ban on cell phones while driving unless attached to a hands-free device.

Suggested by Councilman Lovain, the citys delegates will either pursue or support legislation that would prohibit retail merchants from using disposable plastic bags. Lovain has vented his distaste for the noxious satchels in the past as an environmental and energy-saving issue. The Department of Environmental Quality is currently studying the issue after legislation was introduced earlier this year. If passed, the law could result in a statewide ban of plastic bags.

A complete list of the citys initiatives in Richmond is available on the City of Alexandrias website.

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