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David Ramadan column: Senators, you can control college costs

posted February 20th, 2017

By David Ramadan Feb 16, 2017

For all the lip service the Virginia legislature pays to making higher education more affordable, Virginia students who want nothing more than a college degree and a more successful future may as well be watching a silent movie. It has long been my hope that the General Assembly would remedy the painfully obvious problem that many leaders within our public colleges and universities seem more concerned about featherbedding and less about openness and accountability.

Now, having read the RTD’s Feb. 12 editorial — aptly headlined “Higher Education: Duh” — waiting to speak out isn’t an option for me anymore because Virginians are clearly being short-changed.

The chance for a better future is something I take personally. I came to America from Lebanon with very little money, but I had an abundant supply of hope that an education would allow me to prosper in these great United States.

My immigration dream came true beyond my wildest imagination, leading me to tremendous professional success and the chance to serve my adopted home in the Virginia House of Delegates.

My first days walking the halls of Mr. Jefferson’s Capitol were a heady mix of unvarnished awe and a keen sense of responsibility. …

URL: http://www.richmond.com/opinion/their-opinion/guest-columnists/david-ramadan-column-senators-you-can-control-college-costs/article_3db9c7f7-3525-5638-af50-0b60a50cf26c.html

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Four people killed, dozens injured in vehicle wrecks on icy roadways

posted December 26th, 2016

By Michael S. Rosenwald and Rachel Weiner December 17
Four people were killed and dozens more were injured in vehicle wrecks across the Washington region early Saturday as winter’s first blast of precipitation covered the area in a sheet of ice, crippling roadways and grounding flights at local airports.

Though Maryland and Virginia transportation crews pre-treated highways and major roadways to thwart icing, officials said a steady stream of freezing rain fell longer than expected, outlasting the salt and other treatments applied to roads before and during the storm.

Stretches of the Beltway and Interstate 95 were closed for hours.

“After a while the salt becomes diluted,” said Charlie Gischlar, spokesman for the Maryland Department of Transportation. “People travel too fast for the conditions, and once you lose control, that’s it.”

Gischlar said the weather also stayed cooler longer than expected, making conditions more challenging. Rather than freezing rain giving way to regular rain that would melt the ice, he said, “it matured into a full-fledged ice storm.”

URL: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/four-people-killed-dozens-injured-in-vehicle-wrecks-on-icy-roadways/2016/12/17/a7aa9114-c460-11e6-9a51-cd56ea1c2bb7_story.html?utm_term=.0ad453612dab

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In countdown to election, Loudoun is prepared for voting

posted October 31st, 2016

By Sydney Kashiwagi

Judy Brown has overseen elections in Loudoun since the Reagan years.

Thirty-one years ago, she joined the county’s Board of Elections and took over as the General Registrar in 1991.

Over the years, Brown has seen Loudoun voters go from relying entirely on paper and mechanical voting machines to cast their vote, to now using several methods to get their vote in.

“There have been a lot of changes and a lot of things different. I think this year the thing that’s different is we have online voter registration, you can now pull up an absentee ballot online, and so the way people traditionally do things is a lot different,” Brown said.

The State Board of Elections opened online voter registration in July 2013 following legislation enacted by former state Del. David Ramadan (R) that now allows eligible Virginians to submit their voter registration application or update their registration online.

This year, Brown says her office has seen a “large increase” in the amount of absentee ballots they have mailed to Loudoun residents, about a 10 to 15 percent increase compared to four years ago.

Since absentee voting started on Sept. 23, 13,973 absentee ballots have been mailed in to Loudoun’s Board of Elections, 1,477 e-mailed in and 3,717 people have come in-person to cast their absentee votes.

In-person absentee voting ends on Nov. 5 and those mailing in their absentee ballots will need to get them in by 7 p.m. on Nov. 8.

Loudounders who wish to vote early can do so at three locations around the county: the Loudoun County Voter Registration Office in Leesburg, the Cascades Senior Center in Sterling and the Dulles Multipurpose Center in South Riding. …

URL: http://www.loudountimes.com/news/article/in_countdown_to_election_loudoun_is_prepared_for_voting745

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Statement from Former Delegate David Ramadan Regarding the Virginia Supreme Court’s Decision to Uphold Excessive Greenway Tolls

posted September 9th, 2016

Today, the Virginia Supreme Court upheld the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) rejection of my challenges to the Dulles Greenway’s excessive tolls. In December of 2012, I filed these challenges on behalf of my Loudoun constituents who are forced to either pay exorbitant tolls or sit in ever-growing traffic to drive around the Greenway. I was joined in this effort by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.

I would like to thank the Loudoun Board, particularly former Chairman Scott York and Dulles District Supervisor Matt Letourneau, for their work to join my effort, contribute resources, and direct the Loudoun County Attorney to argue the case, which he did admirably.

In the course of this challenge, I believe we built a strong case that the Greenway was violating the law and contributing to the severe congestion in eastern Loudoun County. Unfortunately, the deck was stacked against us at the SCC, and the Supreme Court elected to defer to the SCC’s authority.

In 2015, I filed legislation (HB2344) (http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?151+sum+HB2344) that would have alleviated this problem by lowering the current rates, applied distance-based pricing to the Greenway, and limited yearly increases. Unfortunately, the Greenway’s extensive network of special interests which included high paid lobbyists, lawyers and former officials ensured that my bill never saw the light of day.

The rejection of our appeal by the Supreme Court demonstrates that the only way to fix this problem is through legislation. I call on Governor McAuliffe, Attorney General Herring, and the entire House and Senate to do what is right and work together to provide relief to Loudoun commuters.


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