38th House of Delegates Interview: Bob Hull

Friday, May 1, 2009

In early April, I sent out identical questionnaires to both Democrats - Del. Robert Hull and challenger Kaye Kory - running for the Democratic nomination in the 38th House of Delegates district (Fairfax County - Mason and Providence magisterial districts). The Kory campaign responded immediately, and I published her interview on April 13. For whatever reason, I didn't hear back from Del. Bob Hull until a few days ago. Anyway, Del. Hull has now responded with his completed questionnaire, and I appreciate it. Thanks to both candidates for their responses to my questions, and may the best - most energetic, most progressive, etc. - candidate win!

1. Why, in your own words, have you decided to run for election/reelection to the Virginia House of Delegates from the 38th district at this time? What specific qualifications do you bring to the table?
1. I bring knowledge of my district. I have lived in or adjacent to my district my entire life. I think that I know my constituents and I have listened to their concerns.

2. I bring experience to the job. I served on Fairfax County boards and commissions for almost 19 years before being elected to office. I have served in the General Assembly for 17 years and I know how to get things done in Richmond.

3. I bring effectiveness to the job. I have sponsored legislation to prohibit firearms in recreation centers, consistently supported keeping abortions legal and available for women who choose to have them, helped secure millions of dollars in bonds to help build new road and rail projects in Northern Virginia, and fought to pass legislation that effectively bans smoking in restaurants in Virginia.

4. I have stood with Governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine to ensure that Virginia is the best managed state in the nation, the most business-friendly state, and the place where children are the most likely to experience success.

2. How would you describe your political philosophy - progressive, moderate, conservative, or - to paraphrase Jim Webb - "the old political labels no longer apply?"
On fiscal matters, I am conservative and think that we need to preserve and protect Virginia’s triple-A credit rating. On other matters, I have a liberal or progressive viewpoint and I have fought to protect the civil rights, human rights, reproductive rights, worker’s rights, and civil liberties of the people of Virginia.

NOTE: I've moved Q&A's 3-12 to the comments section. Why doesn't Blogger software come with a "there's more" feature? Very annoying, as it means that long posts like this one take up the whole front page of the blog. Not good.


  1. 3. What is your attitude regarding bipartisanship, aka "reaching across the aisle?" Is this a high priority for you, or are you more interested in pushing hard for what you believe over compromising with conservative Republicans in the House of Delegates?There is nothing wrong with reaching across the table on matters of practicality. In fact, for a Democrat in a legislative chamber with a Republican majority, you have to do so in order to achieve anything. I am proud of the fact that the bills that I have introduced which have been approved have passed with unanimous or near unanimous support. However, you can never compromise on matters of principle. For example, in the 17 years that I have served in the House of Delegates, I have never supported a bill, resolution, committee amendment, floor amendment, or budget amendment that would in any way restrict the right of a woman to make her own reproductive choices and I am proud that Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia. NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, and the National Organization of Women have consistently ranked me as a 100% supporter.

    4. If elected/re-elected, what would your top three priorities be when you get to Richmond? Why these and not others?Hopefully, Democrats will defeat at least six Republican members of the House of Delegates so that we regain a Democratic majority and can make the changes needed to bring Virginia into the 21st century. In that regard, my priorities are:

    1. Relieve traffic congestion in Northern Virginia by any means possible. We have to increase revenue for road maintenance, probably by increasing the fuels tax; provide more dedicated funding to Metro and VRE to improve service; and increase revenue to the Transportation Trust Fund to fund construction projects, many of which – like the Gallows Road/Lee Highway overpass – are ready to go.

    2. Improve our public schools and institutions of higher education. For our community colleges and universities, we need to find more dedicated funding so that we can increase the number of students who can go to each school and keep tuitions at a reasonable level. For public education, we need to reform the funding formula for public education to take all local tax sources into account in calculating the local ability to pay, fully fund the standards of quality, and restore the categorical grants which do not run through the funding formula.

    3. Make the changes to our unemployment insurance law that Governor Kaine has recommended in order to draw down $125 million in federal stimulus funds for the Virginia unemployment trust fund by allowing those who lost their jobs through no fault of their own to receive unemployment benefits if they are looking for part-time work and those in state-approved worker training programs before they look for work.
    5. What is your position on Dillon Rule, which severely limits the power of local government vis-à-vis the state? Should it be weakened to allow a progressive place like the 38th district to move ahead on things like human rights, energy efficiency, environmental protection, and other areas?As a judicial philosophy, there is nothing inherently wrong with the Dillon Rule. It prevents a hodge podge of local ordinances which would be hard for individuals and business owners to follow if they move from one Virginia locality to another. There already a lot of flexibility for local governments in Virginia because all cities and towns and some counties in Virginia have charters which contain specific local provisions and there are several forms of county government structure. To provide for more local authority, I have been the sponsor or co-sponsor over the years of bills to allow local governments to include sexual orientation in local human rights ordinances, to allow public employees to “meet and confer” with local governments, to allow local governments to use local funds for workforce housing, and to restrict guns and other dangerous weapons in public facilities.

    6. What will you do to fix the traffic mess in Northern Virginia? Specifically, what is your stance on "smart growth," extending Metrorail to Dulles airport, and I-66 widening?Smart growth seems to mean different things to different people. But, the general concept of smart growth, whereby housing and commercial development are built at a higher density closer to mass transit in order to reduce the cost of maintaining the transportation infrastructure and reduce pollution from automobile traffic, makes sense. I have consistently supported rail to Dulles. I also think that there is a need to widen I-66 in Arlington within the current right-of-way to handle the Dulles toll road merge, consistent with the plan recently approved by the Transportation Planning Board.

    7. What are your beliefs regarding gun control? For instance, do you favor banning so-called "cop killer bullets" and "assault weapons?" What about closing the so-called "gun show loophole?"I have been the sponsor or co-sponsor of bills to ban deadly bullets or deadly weapons, including “cop killer” bullets and assault weapons, and to close the gun show loophole. I was a co-sponsor of then-Governor Wilder’s bill to limit gun sales to no more than one per month, which has reduced gun-running from Virginia to a fraction of what it was before. The General Assembly previously banned “cop killer” bullets and I introduced a bill that did not pass which would have added bullets made entirely of nonmetallic substances, such as carbon-based plastics, to the definition. I have been a co-sponsor of a number of bills over the years to ban assault firearms. I was a co-sponsor of the successful legislation that banned the streetsweeper shotgun. I have also been the sponsor or co-sponsor of a number of bills over the years to allow localities to ban deadly weapons from recreation centers, government facilities, and banks and hospitals. I have also been the co-sponsor of several bills over the years to close the gun show loophole. For my gun control efforts in the General Assembly over the years, I have been endorsed by Jim and Sarah Brady before and been given an “F” or “F minus“ rating by the NRA. On Mother’s Day on May 14, 2000, my family and I also marched in Washington with the Million Mom March.

    8. Do you believe that gays and lesbians should have full marriage rights in the Commonwealth of Virginia? If not, why not?I have consistently supported the right of gay, lesbian and transgender Virginians to enjoy the same rights and privileges as every other Virginian. I am one of just nine House members – and only two of us are still in the House – who voted against the bill in 1997 to not recognize same sex marriages from other states. I am also one of only 12 House members who voted against the Newman/Marshall constitutional amendment defining marriage in 2006. I am pleased to have the support of the Virginia Partisans PAC in my re-election campaign.

    9. Do you support an aggressive move to slash Virginia's power consumption, particularly for fuels that emit carbon dioxide or cause environmental destruction (e.g., mountaintop removal coal mining) in their production? Would you press for "decoupling," "smart metering," and mandatory "renewable portfolio standards" if you get to Richmond/return to Richmond?Mountaintop removal of coal is a despicable practice that destroys the natural contour of the earth, alters watersheds, allows coal contaminants to wash into streams and pollute ground and subsurface water, and it should not be allowed. Decoupling, whereby the profits of a utility are separated from the amount of the commodity sold, is something that I have supported. I voted for HB 543 in 2008, which decoupled the natural gas distribution business. This year, I voted for HB 2506 and SB 1248, which essentially decouple electric utilities by providing incentives for conservation programs. Smart metering is a great idea. By allowing an electric utility to reduce the voltage into a home, it conserves electricity for the utility and reduces the electric bill for the consumer. The General Assembly clarified in HB 2506 and SB 1248 that electric utilities can earn a higher rate of return for smart metering and I understand that there are funds for it in the federal stimulus bill. I supported increasing the state Renewable Portfolio Standard from 12 percent of total electric energy sales from renewable sources by 2022 to 15 percent by 2025 when I voted for HB 1994 this year. This is a voluntary RPS based on the incentive of a higher rate of return for electric utilities, but I believe that the U.S. Congress is working on a national RPS mandate for all electric utilities.10. On a related note, will you pledge to take no money from Dominion Power or other companies that act in ways that harm workers, the environment, etc? If you have taken money from Dominion or other such companies, will you pledge to return it?I am certainly not interested in taking money from a company that purposely harms its employees and the environment, but I have not viewed Dominion Virginia Power as that type of a company and I have taken contributions from them. When constituents have contacted me with problems or concerns about electrical service, I have found Dominion to be responsive. I also remember that they went to the EPA and agreed to reduce pollution levels at their generating plants when other utilities were fighting the EPA in court.

    11. What will you do, or what have you done, as a Delegate to improve public education in Virginia?1. In 1994, I sponsored the budget amendment that authorized Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia to build the Northern Virginia Center next to the East Falls Church Metro Station to make more accessible the UVa teacher training classes and Virginia Tech graduate courses. I later worked to set up negotiations between the Falls Church City school system and Virginia Tech to convert unused classroom space at George Mason Middle School into the Technology Learning Center, used by classroom students in the day and adult students at night.

    2. I was a co-sponsor of the Omnibus Education Act of 1995 which established in the Code of Virginia for the first time primary class size reductions, the at-risk four-year-old preschool program, the educational technology grant program, dropout prevention programs, and school/community health centers. This set the General Assembly on the course of funding smaller pupil-teacher ratios.

    3. In 1998, I joined my Democratic colleagues on the House Finance Committee in voting five times against the car tax cut legislation until a school construction component was added. The Republicans finally relented and we funded school construction for the first time in 50 years.

    4. In 1999, after two years of work, I introduced the bills that limit strip searches of school students and mandate annual evaluations of probationary teachers. Also in 1999, I introduced the bill that authorizes school superintendents to require certain students to attend alternative education programs.

    5. In 2002, I introduced unsuccessful legislation to allow localities to increase the local option sales tax with the money going to school construction.

    6. In 2004, after three years of work, I introduced the bill that requires on-line reporting of the Standards of Learning assessment scores and averages for each year by gender and ethnicity.

    7. Also in 2004, I was a co-sponsor of Governor Warner’s tax restructuring bill that provided an additional $1 billion to public schools, the largest amount ever approved by the General Assembly.

    8. While a member of the House Education Committee, I supported raising the Standards of Learning. I have also voted for several increases in teacher salaries in the budget over the years.

    9. I have never supported a bill, resolution, committee amendment, floor amendment, or budget amendment that would have created vouchers or other similar tax credits which would divert money from public education.
    12. Which one issue are you most passionate about and why?I am passionate about promoting equality. I believe that when we recite “The Pledge of Allegiance,” that the phrase “with liberty and justice for all” really means something. As a legislator, I have opposed any effort that causes inequality or denies a person’s rights, whether due to race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, or family status. I want to ensure that when we act, we do so without causing any one an injustice. I always look at legislation with the thought of how it affects the average person. Government can be a great tool for bettering people’s lives. But, history shows that it can also cause harm, as the General Assembly did in the 1950s with Massive Resistance. I am also reminded of the adage that the power to tax is the power to destroy and that we need to make sure that we do no harm in that regard.13. Can you give us a few reasons why people should vote for you instead of your Democratic opponent?In the 17 years that I have represented the 38th district, I have fought to improve public education and I have worked to improve traffic and transportation and successfully helped pass legislation to increase funding for better roads in Northern Virginia. I have consistently protected a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion, sponsored legislation to ban guns from recreation centers, had a 100 percent environmental voting record last year, and sponsored legislation to give jail time to repeat zoning violators. I believe that I have the experience needed to stand up for Northern Virginia in Richmond. If re-elected, I will be at least 18 th in seniority in the 100-member House of Delegates and sixth in Democratic seniority, and I believe that I can put that seniority to use for my constituents.

  2. Regarding the westbound-only widening of I-66 in Arlington there is no "plan recently approved by the Transportation Planning Board", other than a resolution allowing the federally earmarked "Spot #1" (Fairfax Dr to Sycamore St) to proceed while requiring VDOT to first complete a full, fair, and open multimodal corridor study before widening any other segments, including "the Dulles toll road merge ".

    Of course, any westbound-only widening of I-66 would only increase traffic congestion in the eastbound direction.