While campaigning for his , Jim LeMunyon (R) named transportation and education as his top priorities.
Now nearly two months after his re-election, he says he's sticking with the same plan heading into the 2012 General Assembly session, which will convene Jan. 11 in Richmond.
Many of LeMunyon's priorities involve submitting tweaked versions of previously rejected bills or throwing his support behind other legislators who are now taking up the causes.
One of these resubmitted bills is about prioritizing transportation projects based on what they do to reduce congestion. Last session, LeMunyon received enough support in the Republican-majority House of Delegates, but it did not even make it to the floor of the Democrat-controlled Senate.
To address concerns raised last session, he plans to change his proposal from putting the responsibility of creating the priority list from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority to the Commonwealth Transportation Board, which is run by the state.
"I don't need all these local officials thinking I'm trying to mess with their sandbox. I'm not," said LeMunyon, who hopes the change will take local politics out of the equation. "And frankly they don't have a whole lot of money to spend, so I'd rather go to the people who have the money."
He also stressed the list would not be an immovable to-do list for the state. Instead, it would be a guide with all the information available to the public.
"It just says when they make the decisions in the district, this is what you go by. How much you go by it is still up in the air," he said. "I'm not trying to tie people's hands. It's a public list to be used as a guidance."
His other big focus on transportation will be to keep a close eye on the $150 million Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has agreed to put toward phase two of the Dulles Rail project.
Patch spoke with LeMunyon before McDonnell's funding agreement with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority on Dec. 30.
"My concern is putting conditions on the money to make sure it's spent the right way. It's pitched that it'll help buy down the tolls," LeMunyon said. "I'm concerned it'll be seen as a blank check. The other concern is if there's any cost overruns going forward, where's the money coming from? The state's not writing another check. Uncle Sam's not writing another check either."
In addition to transportation, LeMunyon wants to put some work into improving education. He applauded McDonnell's announcement he would be putting $100 million each year into higher education, and wants to find other ways for Virginia colleges and universities to find more money for their programs. Namely, through higher tuition for out-of-state students.
"I haven't yet figured out how to tackle this in the General Assembly, but I'm looking into it," LeMunyon said Dec. 19. "Public universities need to be charging market rate, and that means looking into rates comparable to private universities, too."
As for other education proposals, LeMunyon also has improvements to Virginia school systems in mind. He is an advocate for eliminating the law that forbids school systems from beginning the school year prior to Labor Day, and submitted a bill last session about it.
Through talking with fellow Assembly members, he has discovered others will be proposing a similar bill this year. Both Dels. Robert Tata (R-85th District), the education committee chairman, and Thomas "Tag" Greason (R-32nd District), an education committee member, have submitted legislation on it.
"It's got a good chance of passing this year. The chair of the education committee seems ready to get this done now," said LeMunyon, who saw his proposal left in the committee, of which he is also a member, last session.
He also said he would certainly support such a proposal and will even offer to propose any accompanying legislation if proponents of this change find it necessary.
Another change LeMunyon would like to see in education open enrollment, which he proposed last session, as well. His previous bill proposed students would be allowed to attend any school in the district — with optional criteria for school boards to require, if desired — as long as the seats are available at the school. If not, a lottery system would be used.
"It would put the burden on the school system to prove why [a decision regarding their school placement] was in the interest of the student, as opposed to putting the burden on the parents, which is what it is today," LeMunyon said.
The bill passed the House last year, but never made it to the Senate floor.
LeMunyon's most controversial proposal last session was arguably the Repeal Amendment, which supported an amendment to the Constitution that would allow states to repeal any federal law or regulation. It passed the House but quickly died in the Senate.
But LeMunyon is not sure he'll propose it again this session. He still supports it, but thinks a better tactic might be to look into a variation more comparable to bills that have been passed in other states.
"I'd like to see some variation of the repeal amendment that brings to the table the idea that the legislative body that brings forth the program better be the one to pay for the program," LeMunyon said. "Congress can't just create these things and hand them off."
When asked what legislation he has heard might be proposed he is concerned about, LeMunyon cited a proposal that received support from the majority of the Republicans in the House of Delegates in 2010: a repeal of the one-gun-a-month rule.
LeMunyon was one of five Republicans to vote against it that year, and plans to do so again.
"I can see the House passing it, though I won't be voting for it. What bugs me is that they're not just saying let's go from one to two or one to five. They're saying let's go from one to no limit," LeMunyon said. "So you have a situation of someone who is fairly young, doesn't have a criminal record so there's no background to check, who can buy 500 of these things and turn around and sell them illegally. Six hours later they're in New York. If I were a gun bad guy, that's exactly what I would do."
He also said he is not keen on allowing those with concealed weapons permits to carry weapons on college campuses, an issue he has heard might come before the General Assembly this session.
LeMunyon will host a town hall meeting with constituents 11 a.m. Saturday at the Sully Government Center in Chantilly. LeMunyon is also asking people who live in the 67th District to fill out his annual Consituent Survey, which can be filled out by clicking here.