Delegate Brian Moran, the House Minority Caucus chairman whose 46th House district covers part of of Fairfax County and part of Alexandria, will be here for a live blog session on Thursday, July 13, at 3:30.
Feel free to leave any questions or comments you have for Delegate Moran here.
UPDATE: I intend to keep this post at the top of the page so that everyone has a chance to ask their questions. Keep ’em coming!
DELEGATE BRIAN J. MORAN
Chairman, House Democratic Caucus
Thank you very much for inviting me to participate on your blog today. We have some real challenges and amazing opportunities here in Virginia but it’s going to take grassroots energy with ‘boots-on-the-ground’ and ‘fingers-on-the-keyboard’ to continue moving Virginia forward.
I was proud to serve in Governor Warner’s inner circle as we fought for critical investments in education, healthcare and public safety. I am now proud to stand with Governor Kaine and lead house Democrats in support of real transportation solutions. The challenges of the 21st century won’t be easy, but Virginians have shown a resilient spirit to rise up and meet those challenges – to achieve our full potential. I’m glad I get to discuss the issues with you today and hope you and your colleagues in Hampton Roads will seriously engage in the debate unfolding. As you know, I’ve spent considerable time in Hampton Roads lately because I believe strongly that Hampton Roads is ready for a change. I’ve spent considerable time engaging the community in Hampton Roads about the leadership we need to see in their delegation to the General Assembly. I’m encouraged by our progress…. But let’s talk about issues…
What are the prospects of picking up house seats in Virginia Beach, how is candidate recruitment going, and what districts in VB do you see as winnable by the Dems?
We have a terrific opportunity to pick up seats in Virginia Beach. Voters there see the failure in leadership within the House Republican Caucus and are going to support candidates who will work on the issues to benefit their constituents instead of for partisan gain. The Hampton Roads region will see the adverse effects of the House Republicans’ failure to address transportation. Voters in Hampton Roads sit in traffic each day – missing vital time with their families – and they want representatives that can work across party lines to get something done.
Things are swinging our way in Virginia Beach, Tim Kaine carried the city in 2005, and we have a terrific candidate for Congress there, Phil Kellam, who is running ahead of the Republican incumbent Thelma Drake. The Democratic Committee there is as strong as I have seen in recent years. Phil’s election is the most important factor there, it will set the tone for the Beach Democrats in 07. Go Phil!
What are your plans to fund our transportation needs? Does it involve raising taxes?
I am committed to improving our transportation system by investing in our vital infrastructure so we can ensure our economy continues to grow. We have an acute mobility crisis in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia that must be addressed. I’m proud to lead House Democrats and stand with Governor Kaine, and both Republicans & Democrats in the state Senate, in support of these investments. Residents of Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia lose nearly one work week a year stuck in traffic – that’s a tax on our economic productivity and our quality of life. It is time to eliminate this commuter tax. It’s time for a change!
Early in the Session, the House Democratic Caucus set out a six-point plan to address the transportation crisis in Virginia. You can see the plan at www.BrianMoran.com/TransporationPlan. The principles included commitments to tie land-use to transportation, avoid raiding funding from education, healthcare, public safety and natural resource protection (the general fund), continue to reform VDOT, and invest the funds needed to address our transportation crisis.
The demands on our transportation system are growing and the cost of doing nothing is far too high. Since the last major investment in transportation twenty years ago, our vehicle miles traveled have increased 79%, transit rider-ship is up 58%, and we’ve seen a 34% increase in the number of licensed drivers. Yet during that same time, the buying power of a transportation dollar has eroded by 40 cents. Every day we delay, our system falls farther behind. Now is the time to act.
Do you support the Marshall/Newman amendment?
I adamantly oppose any attempt to write discrimination into the state constitution. I was one of the first to state that on the House floor and my position remains the same today.
Even more appalling is that this amendment has very little to do with marriage – gay marriage is already outlawed in Virginia. The amendment has to do with changing our constitution and adding restrictions on rights to our state’s Bill of Rights. It is particularly worrisome that the amendment’s authors ignored the many dangerous implications of the language to single-out and attack a specific segment of Virginia’s population.
I hope Virginians will join me in voting against the Marshall/Newman amendment because, regardless of your position on gay marriage, the amendment threatens civil unions, contract rights, and numerous other basic legal rights. It would be dangerous to business, commerce and our society if contracts were voided because they were entered into by two unmarried persons. I’m proud to stand with Governor Kaine in this regard.
Do you support increasing Virginia’s minimum wage? If so, by how much? What is your opinion of the effects of the minimum wage on business?
I grew up the youngest of seven with a father and mother who emphasized work and education as the key’s to the American Dream. I took my first job at age 14 and have worked jobs ranging from construction to bar tending, surveyor to grocery bagger. I worked my way through college and law school. My family struggled when my father was laid off by a company that didn’t understand or respect his hard work and service. I know the importance of a livable wage for employees and their families. I have consistently supported a living wage for Alexandria City and I am committed to making sure they can succeed. I know that inaction isn’t the solution any longer.
Does Phil Kellam have a chance to win in November? If so, what specifically can we fellow Dems do to help him out?
Absolutely! Phil is a terrific candidate and we look forward to referring to him as Congressman Kellam. Virginia Beach is 70%+ of the vote in the 2nd congressional district and Phil Kellam has represented the Beach since 1997. He’s been an innovative commissioner of the revenue working hard to improve city government and lives of the residents of the Beach. A recent poll in the district had Phil leading Thelma Drake by 3%.
As Vivian posted on her blog, I spent the 4th of July with Governor Kaine campaigning for Phil in Virginia Beach. We spent the day at the Norfolk festival with Congressman Bobby Scott and at Fort Monroe in Hampton. We concluded the day at Mt. Trashmore with the Mayor visiting with voters. There is tremendous energy for a change in Virginia Beach and I’m confident Phil is the right guy for the job.
All I can say is get involved in their campaign. Go visit http://www.philkellam.com and sign up to help him out! Virginia Beach was strong when Congressman Owen Pickett represented it and it will be strong again.
What is your position on opening up Virginia’s coastline to off-shore drilling?
I’m opposed to drilling on Virginia’s coastline and was proud to stand with the Virginia Beach Mayor and oppose that legislation this session. At no point has the case been made that we should take such a substantial risk along our coastline. Virginia Beach is too important to Virginia’s natural resources and scenic beauty. Our natural resources are not something we inherit from our parents that we are free to squander, they are a treasure we’ve borrowed from our children and we must protect. Virginia Beach is a vital tourist attracting that brings good, high-paying jobs to Virginia. We must protect it.
Do both sides of the Legislature play a role in redistricting? What are the chances of the Dems playing a large role in redistricting? Will you continue to push for bi-partisan redistricting after the Dems have taken over control of the state government?
I’ve been a proud sponsor of changes to our redistricting system. Voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around. Hyper-partisan redistricting is anathema to our democracy and polarizes the political process. We are left with legislators that only have to cater to the most extreme interests and that doesn’t allow us to governor in what Mark Warner called the “sensible center”. I will continue to push for redistricting reform until no one will listen to me any more.