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Posts Tagged ‘Great ideas’

Can our trash work for us?

January 30, 2009 Leave a comment

From Too Conservative, we hear that Delegate Joe May has submitted a bill that would allow localities to work with power companies to mine for methane in our landfills. From Delegate May: 

This bill originated because of my participation in the Climate Change Commission. Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas and landfills are a large untapped energy source. By making methane mining eligible for public-private partnership methane can be used to produce electricity for local communities. In Maryland several companies have entered into contracts with Baltimore Gas and Electric to supply electricity from methane mined from large landfills. These companies mine methane gas from local landfills, burn it and use the energy produced to supply electricity to local communities. This bill will reduce greenhouse gas, produces energy and has the potential to save the Commonwealth millions of dollars. A win-win for everybody

I don’t agree with some of May’s votes, particularly his actions in 2004. However, he is a very affable guy, and probably one of the brightest in the statehouse, holding more patents than Thomas Jefferson himself. His failed 2005 LG bid was a real shame, but he’s really proving his worth in the house these days.

On the actual policy, what a great idea. Not only would localities benefit from the sale of the gas, helping to offset the amount of aid needed from the state, but it would also cut down on emissions from the landfill and remove a public hazard (no kidding, they actually have to have pipes all around our county landfill to vent the gas in order to avoid explosions).

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Fighting for Transparency in Capitol Squares

January 17, 2009 Leave a comment

A few days ago Tertium Quids, an independent advocacy organization focused on increasing individual opportunity and the free market while decreasing the size of government (See guys, got it right this time), introduced its 2009 legislative agenda. 

At the core of the agenda is government transparency, which as anyone who has spent more than, say, five minutes on my blog knows is an issue that is very close to my heart. Senator Ken Cuccinelli is carrying SB936, which would require that the state put up a searchable database of all state expenditures, revenues and appropriations. The bill has the support of Bob McDonell, the GOP’s presumptive nominee for Governor, and Bill Bolling, the incumbent Lieutenant Governor. Such support indicates that transparency and limited government may in fact become a cornerstone of the Republican’s 2009 efforts.

TQ even has Senator Chap Petersen from deep blue Fairfax carrying the measure. You would think that a bill with bipartisan support would have plenty of support in and around Capitol Square….

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Gilbert: Stimulus Jobs for Citizens Only

January 16, 2009 Leave a comment

We talked last night about what our local representatives are presenting during the session that focuses on economic recovery. Today comes word that Delegate Todd Gilbert has introduced a bill that not only focuses on the economy but keeps up his long term fight on illegal immigration:

“President-elect Obama has told us that his stimulus package is intended to put millions of Americans back to work. I’m sure that Governor Kaine is working with the new administration to secure many billions of dollars for Virginia to help us improve our infrastructure. If federal money comes pouring into Virginia, it is imperative that the General Assembly ensures that we are indeed creating jobs for our citizens and not countless thousands of illegal aliens,” Gilbert said in a prepared statement.

Gilbert’s House budget amendment to Governor Kaine’s budget would make certain that anyone receiving even one dollar of the federal stimulus construction funding will have had his or her citizen and legal residency status confirmed utilizing “E-Verify”, a computer database operated jointly by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration. As of yesterday, January 15, 2009, all federal government contractors and subcontractors who receive direct federal money are already required to verify the legal status of their employees using this system. Delegate Gilbert believes those same requirements should apply when the state spends federal dollars on these upcoming state projects.

Bravo, Delegate Gilbert. This is the sort of innovation and vigilance we need on this issue: if the federal government is going to be weak on it, the states have the responsibility to push for action through measures like this. 

 

TABOR or Zero?

January 15, 2009 Leave a comment

Garren Shipley of the Northern Virginia Daily has an (as always) superb write up on Delegate Gilbert’s efforts to revive the Taxpayer Bill of Rights in Virginia:

Slowing economic growth combined with an overly optimistic revenue estimate led legislators to spend billions more than the state will collect in tax revenue this year.

The problem is deeper than that, according to Gilbert.

“The problem with the state budget crisis that we find ourselves right now is that the growth of the budget has grown far in excess of the needs of the citizens of the commonwealth of Virginia,” he said.

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Out of business: Privatize ABC now!

January 15, 2009 Leave a comment

From the “Great Idea” file: Senator Mark Obenshain has revived former Delegate Allen Louderback’s dream of privatizing liquor sales in the state. From nvdaily.com

Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, said Monday that he plans to introduce a bill that would require the state to unload the 331 liquor outlets and wholesale wine distribution business.

While the finer points are still being worked out, previous studies have found the commonwealth could realize some $700 million in new revenue — or 23 percent of this year’s budget shortfall — every year.

“ABC sales aren’t that impressive,” Obenshain said. Virginia’s stores made a profit of about $104 million last year, roughly equal to the amount of wine and liquor taxes the stores took in.

Taxpayers could do much better by letting the private sector take over, he said.

Farming out the operation of ABC stores was just one of hundreds of recommendations of a 2002 report on government efficiency and effectiveness chaired by former Democratic Gov. L. Douglas Wilder.

I have long been a fan of this proposal. I agree wholeheartedly with Louderback’s simple summation:

I don’t believe that the government should be in enterprises that the private sector can do.

Certainly I understand the argument that by keeping sales under strict control of the government has the potential to keep it out of the hands of chronic alcoholics and youth. But does it really? Increasing technology has made it nearly impossible to credibly fake an ID in many states. Law enforcement and independent training by businesses has done more than anything to ensure the that youths and alcoholics do not have ready access to alcohol. With the sort of cost savings that are possible under the switch to private sales, now is high time for a change.