Metro's Woes Continue

To paraphrase Shakespeare, this is the spring of WMATA's discontent. Two weeks ago, the entire system (including the local Orange Line) was shut down a day for maintenance. Earlier this week, the head of the METRO board, Councilman Jack Evans of D.C., stated that certain lines may need to be shut down for extensive periods of time -- and the system also needed $1 billion in new revenue a year just to keep the system operational.

Good Samaritan Law, A Year Later

It was a year ago that Governor McAuliffe signed into law my SB 892, the "Good Samaritan" law, which protected reporters of overdose situations from prosecution and conviction.

The idea for the bill was originally suggested by Professor Gerard Lawson and his students at Virginia Tech. At the time the bill passed, I was largely unaware of the impact of heroin and opioid abuse in Virginia. Indeed, my own comprehension of the bill's effects had more to do with distress caused by alcohol (the intoxicant of choice in my generation).

Europe Reels Again

It was five months ago that I last posted on terrorist attacks in Europe by radical Islamic groups like ISIS. Yesterday in Brussels was another such bombing with thirty dead and hundreds wounded. There appears to be no logical stopping place for these attacks.

We are not "winning" this war on terror. Nor is ISIS. In fact, nobody is winning, because it's not a war that anyone can win. It is simply an attempt to take lives and create anarchy, thus eliciting a response which will lead to more violence.

March Maaaadness

Twenty-nine years ago, a group of college freshman gathered in a dorm room on a wintry March evening and chose teams. Three weeks later I was in a hotel room in Florida and saw Keith Smart drop a baseline jumper at the buzzer. Hey, I won $100!

We watched every game that year and fell in leave with our teams. Cue my friend Tim Shea singing Lynryd Skynryd for the iconic Bama-Providence match-up ("Derrick McKey does not bother me. Does Billy Donovan bother you? Tell me true"). A tradition was born.

Winners and Losers in 2016 State Budget

The session will be over in 48 hours. The Senate's last act will be to affirm the conference committee report which was published today. Before I vote (and I do plan to vote "yes"), here is a quick list of winners and losers.

Winners:

State employees and faculty: Will receive a 3% salary boost in FY2017.

K-12 education: Will receive nearly $855 million in new dollars over the biennium. The average per student support will increase from $4,450 to $4,905, which is a 10% increase.

Redskins Let Go of RG3 (but can we?)

Where were you in the fall of 2012?

I was in Section 451, my friend, for nearly every moment. I was there when Robert Griffin ran 76 yards against the Vikings on a quarterback draw and then fell backwards into the stands. Most amazing QB run of all time. Hell yes, the place went crazy.

I saw him hit Santana Moss on a post pattern off a play fake to beat the Giants. I saw him and Alfred Morris run the Eagles off the field with the "zone read." I saw him get knocked out of the Ravens game, and Cousins stepped in to take us home.

There's Something Happening Here...

... What is it ain't exactly clear.

Props for a great Sixties song by Buffalo Springfield.

Let's begin with the obvious. A big win last night for Hillary Clinton. Yes, I voted for her as did approx. 475,000 other Virginians. Her triumph was comprehensive and covered every corner of Fairfax County and the Commonwealth. (Bernie did win in the People's Republic of Charlottesville).

She's right where she needs to be for the general election.

Recovering from Black Monday

Today is Super Tuesday. Yesterday was Black Monday.

It started at 7:00 a.m when my SB 686 to eliminate partisan "pledges" in Presidential primaries was defeated in the House Privileges and Elections committee on a party-line vote. While the bill had been rendered moot for 2016, it was still necessary to strike the language from the State Code -- if only to confirm that state employees should be counting votes on primary day, not administering partisan oaths.

So now we'll face this same debacle against in 2020.

Senate Budget Rolls Out

Thursday, the Senate voted 39-1 to approve its FY2017-FY2018 budget. Here are the key statistics.

State employees, professors and teachers are all due for a 2% pay increase, effective December 1, 2016. That's the main news.

The Senate budget contains significant additional funds for K-12 education. By the second year, it's an increase of 10% in per diem spending for school children of Virginia. In terms of Fairfax County, the funding represents an extra $33 million in annual spending for FY2017 and more beyond. So that helps.

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