Delegate, Senator Visit Manassas Park Tuesday
Virginia Senator Charles J Colgan and Delegate Jackson Miller attend dinner Manassas Park, discuss local issues.
Virginia Senator Charles J. Colgan and Virginia House Delegate Jackson Miller visited Manassas Park Tuesday to discuss city and state issues with their constituents during a special legislative dinner held at the Manassas Park Recreational Center.
Both Colgan and Miller represent Manassas Park, Manassas city and parts of Prince William County.
Many residents spoke to the lawmakers and told them what issues they would most like to see addressed in Richmond.
Manassas Park Fire Chief John O'Neal told Colgan and Miller that he and other firefighters support a bill that would add fire marshals with law enforcement abilities to the state assault and battery code.
"Often times, (fire marshals) are on the front lines just like the police," O'Neal told Colgan and Miller during the meeting. "It's very important to us."
Right now the code makes it a felony to assault a police officer.
State Bill 816, which sought to add fire marshals with law enforcement authority to the assault and battery code, passed in the Senate. It was held up in the House Courts committee and was then sent to appropriations where it died because because of a lack of a budget amendment.
Miller said turning misdemenaor crimes into a felonies have an impact on the budget because it increases prison time.
Bills fashioned to make misdemeanors, felonies often die because of that, Miller said.
Manassas Park City Schools officials also addressed Miller and Colgan and referenced data that showed state funding for schools is decreasing.
The school district is one of just two that had to implement furlough days for all of its employees, Manassas Park City School Superintendent Bruce McDade said Tuesday.
"That was big news. We never had to do (furloughs) before," McDade said.
The furlough days saved the school district about $250,000, according to financial data released by the district's central office.
Manassas Park Schools financial data shows the amount of state money available per pupil has dropped by $300 per student, Krista Kelly, who presented the financial data Tuesday for the city's school district said.
If the district had that $300, Netbooks could be purchased for students and conventional textbooks could be done away with, she said.
City officials requested that state laws prohibiting predatory and usurious lending practices be enacted during the next General Assembly.
Miller told Manassas Park Governing Body members that he hadn't received many phone calls from his constituents requesting that he work to have payday lenders and title loan businesses banded.
Some people don't have a choice but to get loans with high interest rates because they don't have other options such as credit cards, Miller said.
If you force payday lenders and others out of business, the practice will just go underground, he said.
People could start borrowing money from "loan sharks" who could become violent if debts aren't paid, Miller said.
After the dinner, the delegate said he often attends meetings like the one held Tuesday to meet with the communities he represents.
"It's a good thing to do," Miller said. "Sen. Colgan and myself are in the minority because we have once served on local governments before our current positions."
A background in local government gives them the ability to understand such issues very well, the four-session delegate said.
After the dinner the Manassas Park Governing Body held a brief meeting where they voted to move all the items on the agenda to the next meeting, which is scheduled Tuesday.