Morning Notes

Car Keys Stolen from Hotel Room — “8125 Gatehouse Road (Residence Inn), 01/22/2019, 10:36 a.m. A guest left their room unlocked and someone entered the room and took keys to a car belonging to the guest. When the guest went to look for their car, they noticed it was missing. The car is a black 2014 Honda Accord.” [FCPD]

Va. Minimum Wage Bill Defeated — “A local legislator’s efforts to give Virginia’s 133 cities and counties the power to set their own minimum wage has gone down, probably predictably, to defeat in Richmond.” [InsideNova]

Hedgehogs Now Legal in Fairfax County — “Despite strong opposition to hedgehogs as suitable pets, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved adding them to the list of commonly accepted pets, along with chinchillas and hermit crabs.” [Reston Now]

New Local Bank Launching in Tysons — “VisionBank aims to be Greater Washington’s next community bank — and it’s gathered a group of longtime bankers with plans to launch in Tysons later this year.” [Washington Business Journal]


If you’ve been one of the local policy wonks closely following the new legislation put forward by your state representatives, next Saturday is your chance to have your voice heard.

A town hall meeting is scheduled for Jan. 26 from 9:30-11:30 a.m. to discuss the latest news out of Richmond. State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-34th District) and Del. Mark Keam (D-35th District) are scheduled to host the meeting and share their insight into what to expect from this year’s General Assembly session.

The candidates will also be available to address questions and concerns from residents.

Keam recently made waves for taking an active role in the fight against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Virginia’s Legislative Information System says Petersen’s bill requiring governing boards of public institutions of higher learning to permit public comment on tuition increases was assigned to the higher education subcommittee earlier this week. Another major bill, imposing a new 5-cent per bag tax to support the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan, died earlier this week.

If you want to make things awkward at the meeting, bring up that Petersen opposed a two-term governorship that Keam had championed in the House of Delegates.

Photo via Facebook


Tysons isn’t just a major transportation junction, it’s also the convergence of several state legislative districts. As the 2019 legislative session nears its beginning on Jan. 9, several local state senators and delegates are bringing a variety of bills to Richmond.

In the state Senate, the Tysons area is represented by Sens. Barbara Favola (D-31st District), Janet Howell (D-32nd District), and Chap Petersen (D-34th District).

Favola is championing a bill that would prohibit prospective employers from requiring employees disclose their wage or salary history, or attempting to obtain wage and salary histories.

Howell is backing a bill that would allow evidence of a prior statement that is inconsistent with testimony at the hearing or trial to be admissible. The bill was proposed late last year and is awaiting a vote in the Courts of Justice Committee.

Another one of Howell’s bills would require assisted living facilities with six or more residents to have a temporary emergency electrical power source available on site.

Favola and Howell are both putting forward bills would allow localities to determine the opening day of school, a region-wide push to get around the “King’s Dominion Rule.” A similar bill was passed in the House last year but was left in the Senate’s Education and Health Committee. Fairfax and Loudoun counties already have waivers to start before Labor Day, but the new bill would grant a similar exception for Arlington.

Petersen has a bill that would charge a five-cent per bag tax on plastic bags for localities inside the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, to be used to support the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan.

Another bill would require the governing board of each public institution of higher education to permit public comment on the proposed increase at a meeting of that board.

Meanwhile, in the House of Delegates, Del. Mark Keam (D-35th District) is continuing to lead a push on two changes to the Virginia governorship. The first is a bill to make the governor and lieutenant governor a joint election. The bill was introduced in October 2018 and referred to the Committee on Privileges and Elections.

The second would remove Virginia’s stipulation that governors cannot run for reelection, allowing governors to run for two four-year terms. This had previously been proposed by Del. Mark Levine (D-45th District) but failed in earlier years.

Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48th District) is re-introducing a bill that would allow police or prosecutors secure a two-week ban on buying or owning a gun if they believe they present a “substantial risk of injury to himself or others.”

Sullivan has twice seen similar legislation left to die in committees: one bill failed in 2018, another in 2017.

Del. Marcus B. Simon (D-53rd District) has a bill that would make the manufacture, import, sale, transfer, or possession of undetectable firearms a class five felony. These are weapons designed to avoid detection devices, including X-ray machines, used at airports and other types of security screening. A similar bill is proposed by Howell, who previously succeeded in establishing a misdemeanor penalty for the practice in 2016, but failed two years ago.

Del. Kathleen Murphy (D-34th District) is not listed as a chief patron of any 2019 legislation yet but has signed on as a co-patron for a bill trying to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

File photo

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Tysons Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in the Tysons area.

We’ve scoured the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield and McLean. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Saturday, Jan. 5

Community Open House
McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Ave)
Time: 11 a.m-2 p.m.

The newly renovated McLean Community Center will be hosting an open house with a self-guided tour. The open house will allow visitors to peek at The Alden theater and learn about upcoming events in 2019.

Resolution Jam
The Palladium (1524 Spring Hill Road)
Time: 8 p.m.-2 a.m.

The Palladium nightclub is hosting a New Year’s themed “Resolutions” party, with a live band and DJ’s throughout the night on two floors of the club. Tickets to the party are $20.

Sunday, Jan. 6

Lil’ Kickers DMV Open House
Sport & Health McLean (1800 Old Meadow Rd)
Time: 9:15-10:05 a.m.

Lil’ Kickers invites prospective members to join the group for an open house. The event will feature free soccer activities and learn more about the area’s newest soccer program for kids from 18 months to 8 years old.

Road to Richmond Legislative Brunch
Westwood Country Club (800 Maple Ave E)
Time: 11 a.m.

Attendees at the Fairfax County Democratic Committee’s legislative brunch will hear from state and local Democratic leaders about the upcoming legislative session. Individual tickets are $50.

The Fellowship Book Club: Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Bards Alley (110 Church Street NW)
Time: 4-5 p.m.

As the new year starts, the Bards Alley book club will move into a new genre: sci-fi/fantasy. The group meets every Sunday at the Bards Alley book store.

Jammin’ Java Mid-Atlantic Battle
Jammin’ Java (227 Maple Ave E)
Time: 6 p.m.

Eight bands will compete on Sunday to win a $2,000 cash, studio time with Bias Studios, and a headline show at Jammin Java.


Union Hill isn’t anywhere close to Tysons, but state Del. Mark Keam (D-35) is taking an active role in a fight against a controversial gas compressor station proposed to be built in Buckingham County neighborhood.

Yesterday (Wednesday) the State Air Pollution Control Board delayed a decision on whether or not to approve a piece of Dominion Energy’s $7 billion Atlantic Coast natural-gas pipeline.

The board voted 3 to 1 in favor of a delay in approval, but a new vote was not scheduled.

Staff from Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality said at the meeting that the area around the compressor was sparsely populated and did not have historic resources of significance.

But local community members have repeatedly protested contested staff’s findings. Keam says he’s in the nearby residents’ corner and told Tysons Reporter there’s reason for concern in his home district.

“[Dominion] has used misleading data that covers a broader range,” said Keam, referring to a census cited in DEQ reports. “But if you go neighborhood to neighborhood, it shows that these [residences] are very close and more condensed. I went around there and I can tell you that there are houses within eyesight of this location.”

Keam’s assessment goes against the findings of DEQ staff, which reiterated at yesterday’s meeting that a failed attempt to have Union Hill recognized by the Department of Historic Resources further cemented staff’s findings that the area surrounding the proposed compressor station does not qualify for historic protections.

While DEQ staff said the broader census data shows no greater concentration of minorities than the rest of the state, local residents characterized Union Hill as a historic African-American neighborhood settled by freedmen and emancipated slaves following the Civil War.

Keam said staff’s findings are the result of understaffing and over-reliance on information provided by Dominion:

I’ve had deep concerns about this from the get-go. DEQ only has a few people that work on these things. Like most government agencies, they are overworked and understaffed… The fact that they have to rely on applicant, I understand that’s the process, but something like this that’s so controversial… it would really beg the question why DEQ isn’t spending more time looking into these issues. I’m hoping this will give everyone a chance to come to consensus. But it tells you, if they’re willing to overlook this, what else are they overlooking.

Keam acknowledged that he would still have been opposed to the compressor station even if it weren’t at Union Hill, pointing to concerns that the federal law authorizing the pipeline allowed Dominion Energy to cite its own affiliates as the customers when making a case for the pipeline’s economic necessity.

At the Atlantic Coast Pipeline website, Dominion Energy says the new pipeline will save consumers an estimated $377 million in energy costs, but Keam said existing underground pipelines are only being used at 50 percent capacity, so Keam said a new line won’t necessarily mean Northern Virginia will see a decrease in energy costs, but that Dominion Energy will push the costs to build the pipeline onto the consumer.

“Our power lines are fine,” said Keam. “It’s not going to have any impact on getting more or less power. But if Dominion is spending, eventually someone will have to pay for it, and that’s ratepayers like you and I. Whatever cost, they get to spread to its ratepayers.”

Finally, Keam argues that the placement of the various compressor stations, like one on Native American land in North Carolina, further shows the oppressive mechanisms at work behind the pipeline.

“You’re not going to see [this compressor station] in McLean or Tysons,” Keam said. “This is land they bought for pennies on the dollar where [the residents] are the descendants of slaves. It’s racial injustice.”

Photo via Twitter

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