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Habeeb Takes Time to Weigh In on Issues

Greg Habeeb at the Griffith Open with son William (5) and daughter Anna (3).

Delegate Greg Habeeb has not made up his mind on whether the ban on uranium mining in Virginia should be lifted to allow for the uranium deposit in Pittsylvania County to be unearthed.

 It comes down to two questions said Habeeb. “Can Virginia be trusted to regulate a way that it can be safe and two, once that’s in place does it remain economically viable? What we can’t do is say, ‘what’s the maximum regulation we can put in place that remains economically viable,’ because that would set up disaster. Those two decisions must be made purely independent.”

 Habeeb said he will rely on the experts to determine if it can be made safe. “What’s been interesting to me is that the two sides of the issue read the same report and site it to favor their position.” For example, one side says there are “steep hurdles” and the other side calls them barriers. “Hurdles mean they can be overcome,” said Habeeb.

 Habeeb is fairly sure there well be a bill to be considered but the big question is “will the governor’s office be neutral, negative or positive – that is largely what will drive the conversation.”

 He says if there is a bill there will be some head counting and it has got a chance in the House but the Senate is another story. “That’s just the way the dynamics are.”

 Habeeb has pre-filed a bill to eliminate the “King’s Dominion Rule” and restore local control of school calendars to parents and local school boards. Last year it failed to get out of the Senate Education and Health committee on a 6-9 vote. He said it is sure to pass in the House in the 2013 session. “No one in the House who has voted against it has been able to enunciate a really good straight-faced argument for [the law].”

 It also depends on the makeup of the Senate committee. “I think there are 21 senators who would vote yes if it could get out of committee.” Senator Ralph Smith agreed. “The tourist lobby works very hard against us. I’ll support it one more time.”

 Habeeb is attending Governor Bob McDonnell’s K-12 Education Reform Summit on August 15th (post press time) and wasn’t sure if it would involve more charter school conversation or school choice. Habeeb said there was a significant K-12 funding investment last session but admitted that the funding formula is always a variable. “There were no massive cuts to K-12 money.”

 Habeeb said he was very proud of what the House focused on last year when asked if he thought more social issues would distract again this year.

 “I think from a political standpoint [the Republican House Caucus] let the narrative get away from us.” This year he said there is more of an awareness of the importance of “keeping the narrative on-point too.”  The Personhood bill was only meant to address a “wrongful death” of a fetus during a criminal act. That bill passed with bipartisan support he said.

By Valerie Garner

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