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Legislative Package Sets Priorities for Roanoke City

At last Monday’s council meeting Mayor David Bowers suggested that a separate resolution be included in the legislative package that would address the dangerous drug “K2.” The drug, sold as incense, is said to contain a synthetic marijuana substitute. Bowers suggested either uniting with other localities or preparing a separate resolution. Roanoke County Board of Supervisor member Mike Altizer has already asked to add language in the county’s legislative package that would label the drug a “controlled substance.”

The drug has been linked to dangerous reactions ranging from vomiting to seizures and is known to increase cardiovascular issues and poses potential life-threatening problems to other areas of the body.

The legislative package includes:

TransDominion Express Commission to be responsible, within the TransDominion Corridor, for identifying needed construction, reconstruction, improvements of or repairs to railroads and their facilities and equipment necessary to provide enhanced passenger rail service, coordinated with freight rail opportunities, within the Corridor.

Passenger Rail Service Funding to extend passenger rail service from Bristol through Roanoke and on to Lynchburg and then to Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia (the “TransDominion Express”). Passenger rail service between Roanoke and Lynchburg should be given priority. Until funding is available for rail service, Roanoke asks that funding be made available to institute bus service between Roanoke and Lynchburg that will be coordinated with train schedules.

School Start Date authorization to set its school calendar so that students are required to attend school no earlier than two weeks prior to Labor Day.

Evictions as defined in the Code of Virginia require sheriffs to remove the personal property and place it in the “public way.” Neighborhoods have complained that it creates an unsightly pile of belongings that draws scavengers and subjects personal belongings to the weather. The nuisance is an expense to the City’s taxpayers. The Code of Virginia should eliminate the provisions permitting the personal property being placed in the “public way.”

Education Funding by the state is a constitutional duty and the City opposes shifting funding responsibility from the state to localities. The state should consider alternatives to generate additional funds to fulfill the constitutional commitment to education including raising the sales tax or decreasing the amount of funding for the personal property tax exemption program. The state should not continue to maintain and increase educational requirements while at the same time decreasing state funding.

Virginia High School League should be examined to ensure its mission, activities and decision-making processes are consistent with those of the state Department of Education and supportive of all Virginia school districts and the unique characteristics therein.

Other wish list items included reduced requirements for legal notices, a plastic bag tax, the sale of spray paint to minors, outdoor smoking limitations, weapons in government buildings and opposition to eliminating the business license tax or the machinery and tools tax. City Council will meet with legislators in November.

By Valerie Garner
[email protected]

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