Kris Amundson reveals her legislative priorities for 2007 session

Mount Vernon Gazette
December 14, 2006
Chuck Hagee
Prior to the Kings Crossing discussion, Virginia State Delegate Kristen J. Amundson (D-44) addressed the group concerning the January 10 commencement of the Virginia General Assembly and her priorities. "Although, this is not a budget year there will be some very critical budgetary issues," she stated.

"There is approximately $1 billion in revenue to be allocated to specific projects. However, this is one-time money not money that is allocated to items that create ongoing expenses such as salaries," Amundson explained.

She further emphasized that transportation, most particularly in Northern Virginia, continues to command center stage in legislative debates. "The bulk of that billion dollars will go to transportation issues. But, can we find long term solutions to our transportation problems?" she asked rhetorically.

Amundson implored the audience to encourage legislators to return to the days of bi-partisan cooperation in reaching solutions for area problems. "Northern Virginia has had a tradition of working together to solve common problems regardless of party label. That has become fractured. You can encourage bipartisan support for legislation you believe in," she stressed.

She encouraged them to be proactive through email, phone calls, their district supervisor, their Senator, herself, and the County Board of Supervisors. "If you see a bill you like encourage support by both Democrats and Republicans." she said.

As for her legislative initiatives in the upcoming session, Amundson outlined the following:

Shelter Win 'Food Fight' But Is Short of Volunteers

Mount Vernon Voice
December 7, 2006
Sidoux Mitchell
The "food fight" over bringing home-cooked meals to the Ventures in the Community's hypothermia shelter (VIC-HOP) caused consternation throughout the local church communities which provide the meals for the program.

Fairfax County's health department instead, according to regulations, that meals provided to the shelters be cooked in certified kitchens. Home kitchens and most church kitchens don't meet that standard.

Fortunately, before the hypothermia shelters opened, Gerry Connolly, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, lifted the ban on home-cooked meals.

However, VIC-HOP did not open on Dec. 1 as planned because their Saturday and Sunday operations do not have volunteers.

This is a more serious complication than the food. If the goal is to prevent deaths from cold among the homeless, the shelter has to be reliably open from the start of cold weather until the spring.

The weather over the first weekend in December was not bitter and perhaps the delayed opening will give VIC and New Hope Housing the opportunity to "tack some people together" to keep the program running through the weekends.

February and March are covered for every day by various churches and organizations but December and January are not.

Christmas Eve, according to Keary Kincannon, pastor of Rising Hope, is covered but help is needed on other Saturday and Sunday nights.

This year's program is a more ambitious one for VIC than the very successful one last year which was new and ran for 60 days. This year they are hoping to run one that is twice as long.