The AFP Blog – Feb. 6-8, 2009
– Bills prohibiting Virginia from complying with Federal Real ID Act head to floor of General Assembly, Friday, 9:38 a.m.
– State awards contract for design of truck-climbing lanes on I-81 in Rockbridge, Friday, 9:38 a.m.
– Libertarians call on Kaine to step down as DNC chair, Friday, 9:38 a.m.
– DuPont Community Credit Union to award scholarships, Friday, 9:38 a.m.
News: Bills prohibiting Virginia from complying with Federal Real ID Act head to floor of General Assembly, Friday, 9:38 a.m.
Identical House and Senate bills prohibiting the Virginia government from complying with provisions of the Federal REAL ID Act that compromise the privacy rights of Virginia’s citizens passed committees of both chambers today, and are headed to the floor of both.
Marshall’s bill was reported from the House Transportation Committee this morning. Cuccinelli’s bill was reported from the Senate Transportation Committee early this evening.
“We’re pleased with the progress these bills are making this year,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. “REAL ID not only allows the government to create an massive new data base containing highly personal data about nearly every adult in the United States, but that data base will almost certainly become a gold mine for identity thieves.”
“Word is finally getting out that REAL ID is a very real threat to our privacy rights,” added ACLU Legislative Counsel Hope Amezquita. “Legislators clearly want to limit its impact in Virginia, and these bills are a good start.”
Passed by Congress in 2005, but still unimplemented, the Real ID Act requires every state DMV to issue a federally-approved driver’s license that will become part of a national database. Real IDs will be required to board an airplane and to access many federal facilities.
If the bills become law, Virginia will join 21 other states that have passed anti-Real ID Act legislation, some asking Congress to amend the law, some refusing to comply with some portions of the law, and others rejecting the law entirely. (For more information on REAL ID and actions taken by other states, visit www.realnightmare.org.)
The Virginia bills are not an outright rejection of Real ID but prevent any ID or database linked to the ID from containing biometric data (such as DNA, fingerprints, or retinal scans) or financial information that compromises “economic privacy” (such as tax returns or personal investment information).
Real ID Act opponents say it will cost billions of dollars to implement, will greatly complicate and congest the system for obtaining drivers’ licenses by requiring background checks on every applicant, and will, in effect, create a mandatory national ID system.
The Libertarian Party of Virginia is calling the Real ID act “essentially a national ID card.” “Virginia has been a leader in supporting personal freedom and the liberty to travel without undue harassment. REAL ID would be a real threat to personal privacy,” said Libertarian Party of Virginia chairman Jeff Bowles.
The party’s State Central Committee passed a resolution supporting legislation such as HB 1587 and the companion SB 1431, which direct the Virginia government to remain independent from the federal REAL ID program.
News: State awards contract for design of truck-climbing lanes on I-81 in Rockbridge, Friday, 9:38 a.m.
At its February 5 meeting, the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) awarded a design-build contract for construction of truck-climbing lanes on Interstate 81 in Rockbridge County. This project is located in the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Staunton District. The VDOT Staunton District serves Frederick, Shenandoah, Clarke, Warren, Page, Rockingham, Augusta, Highland, Rockbridge, Alleghany and Bath counties.
The truck-climbing lane contract, valued at $74,213,533.63 was awarded to W. C. English Inc. of Lynchburg. The project is located on the northbound lanes of I-81 from mile marker 195.6 to 202.5 in the Fairfield area, which is north of Lexington. The 6.97 mile-long project will add a truck-climbing lane in this location, replace the bridges and construct retaining walls at Route 716, Route 712 and Route 710, improve existing left and right shoulders, plus update guardrails, guardrail transitions and end treatments to meet current Federal Highway standards.
This project is in line with a resolution passed by the CTB in October 2006 that directed VDOT to implement a program of safety improvements to I-81, including construction of truck climbing lanes. About a dozen locations along steep grades on I-81 have been identified where climbing lanes would improve traffic flow and safety, with the Rockbridge location being a top priority for construction.
In 2009 the average traffic volume on I-81 in this area was 45,500 vehicles per day. The average traffic volume is projected to increase to 68,650 vehicles per day by the year 2029.
Completion of the project will enhance the safety of I-81 in this area by allowing slower moving vehicles to stay in the right two-lanes. Other benefits of the project include better traffic management with wider shoulders plus the use of the additional travel lane during traffic incidents.
Randy Kiser, VDOT Staunton District construction engineer said, “This particular northbound segment was chosen because it has one of the longest and steepest uphill grades, higher than average crashes compared to other uphill grades, and low operating speeds for trucks within the VDOT Staunton District. Truck climbing lane locations were identified in accordance with American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) criteria during the corridor study conducted in the late 1990s.”
Current funding for this project in the Interstate Six Year Program is provided through Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) earmarks for the interstate system, along with SAFETEA-LU earmarks matching state funds, which constitutes the state match portion required by SAFETEA-LU regulations.
The expected completion date is October 30, 2012.
News: Libertarians call on Kaine to step down as DNC chair, Friday, 9:38 a.m.
The Libertarian Party of Virginia is calling on Gov. Tim Kaine to immediately resign from his new position as chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
The party’s State Central Committee passed a resolution declaring that Kaine’s chairmanship puts him in a position with partisan and fiduciary responsibilities to the membership of the Democratic Party, in direct conflict with his non-partisan fiduciary duties as governor to citizens of the Commonwealth. The resolution states that “a fiduciary cannot operate to the full extent of his office when a conflict of interest exists.”
Libertarian Party leaders asked Kaine to resign as DNC chairman and continue to serve full-time as governor until his term ends in 2010.
“We want the governor to concentrate on what the people of Virginia elected him to do – being governor,” said Libertarian Party of Virginia chairman Jeff Bowles.
News: DuPont Community Credit Union to award scholarships, Friday, 9:38 a.m.
For the 14th year, DuPont Community Credit Union (DCCU) will award $1,000 scholarships to 19 high school students at the DCCU Annual Meeting on April 28. A total of $19,000 in scholarships to area students will be awarded at the meeting. The deadline for applications is March 9.
“DuPont Community Credit Union stresses financial education and assisting students in our community,” said David Snyder, Financial Education Manager. “This is a tangible way that the Credit Union can give back to the young people and their families in the communities which we serve.”
Eligible high school seniors include those attending public high schools in DCCU’s service area (see list at right); local private schools; and home-schooled students. Students are required to complete a one-page application and write on an assigned essay topic, which is available on the Credit Union’s website: www.mydccu.com. Credit Union membership is not required to apply for the scholarship.
All applications are to be submitted directly to: DuPont Community Credit Union, Attention: Scholarship Committee, P.O. Box 1365, Waynesboro, VA 22980 or delivered to any office location in Waynesboro, Staunton, Stuarts Draft, Verona, Harrisonburg, or Woodstock. For further information contact Sarah Landram, Financial Educator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-946-3200 x3149.