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InsideNOVA: Arlington Highs & Lows PDF Print E-mail



THE FIRST HALF OF THE VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION ended last week with two measures of interest to the local community being left behind, and a third still in play.

State Sen. Barbara Favola’s measure allowing localities to rename highways – currently the province of the Commonwealth Transportation Board and legislature itself – died in a Senate committee. Favola, an optimist in such things, said (correctly) that such measures often do much better the second or third year they’re introduced. So onward to 2019 we go.

Del. Patrick Hope’s measure to allow, but not require, instant-runoff voting in Arlington County Board elections looked like it might stand a chance when it cleared the House Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns. But on a party-line vote, Republican legislators then sent the measure to another committee – Privileges and Elections – where time ran out before it was considered.

This, too, is another bill that might stand a better chance in 2019, although we’d suggest one provision that might make it more palatable to Richmond: Require that any County Board vote to enact instant-runoff voting be unanimous, as was the case when Arlington, long ago, was able to enact a meals tax without being required to submit it to voters.

Still alive is a proposal relating to Arlington’s ability to continue imposing a surtax on hotel stays to bring in about $1.2 million a year for tourism promotion.


That taxing power is set to “sunset” at mid-year if the legislature does not extend it. While a bill patroned by state Sen. Janet Howell to extend the tax – and remove the sunset provision for once and all – passed the Senate, a companion measure by Hope got stuck in the House Committee on Finance and died without an an airing.

We’d hope that the House leadership allows Howell’s bill to get to the floor and that the taxing power is extended. Whether legislators want to retain the every-couple-of-years sunset provision on the measure is up to them; we could live with their decision either way.