The Northern Virginia Daily's Political Depot

A service for our readers outside the Northern Shenandoah Valley... a sampling of The Daily's political coverage, plus unofficial, 'reporter's notebook' stuff. And occasional dry humor...

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Location: Strasburg, Virginia

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Credit report, DUI bills on the table in January; B1

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

Christmas is nearly two weeks away, but it’s beginning to look a lot like January in Richmond.

Bills have been filed that would allow consumers to “freeze” their credit reports and strengthen penalties for involuntary manslaughter committed by people driving under the influence.

House Bill 34, filed by Del. Robert Tata, R-Virginia Beach, would let consumers stop virtually all releases of their credit report in an effort to fight identity theft.

A similar law in California allows those who have had their personal information stolen to stop all release of their credit information. That keeps identity thieves from opening new lines of credit in someone else’s name.

Del. Dave Albo, R-Springfield, has pre-filed a bill that would create a one-year minimum sentence for anyone convicted of involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence.

Current law has no mandatory minimum.

Meanwhile, across Capitol Square, Gov.-elect Tim Kaine’s nascent administration spent Monday filling some seats in the cabinet.

Kaine appointed:

• Marilyn Tavenner, 54, as secretary of health and human resources. The Medical College of Virginia graduate is currently the group president of outpatient services for HCA.

• Jody M. Wagner, 50, to be secretary of finance. Wagner has been the treasurer of Virginia since 2002 and will be the first woman to hold the state’s top finance job.

“Jody played a key role in righting Virginia’s finances and preserving our AAA bond rating during the budget crisis,” Kaine said. “With her knowledge, experience, and understanding of Virginia’s economy, Virginia will stay on the right fiscal track.”

• Richard Brown, 59, to continue as director of the Department of Planning and Budget. Outgoing Gov. Mark R. Warner appointed him to the post in 2001.

Meanwhile, up in Washington, Kaine’s name came up as a potential new face for the national Democratic Party.

Mike Allen of Time magazine suggested that Kaine might be the answer to an upcoming quandary for Democrats — who to put in front of the cameras to respond to President Bush’s State of the Union address in January?

Figures popular with party activists, like Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who has called for U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq, might not have a broad appeal outside the party.

“Democrats have decided that he can’t [do the response] because he doesn’t speak to everyone. So now I would look for a new face, like Gov.-elect Tim Kaine of Virginia to give that response,” Allen said.

But if the national party wants the new governor to make the speech, they haven’t told him yet.

Kaine Press Secretary Delacey Skinner said late Sunday that such suggestions are “all speculative.”

“He hasn’t been asked,” she said.

Political activity will heat up for one last time before a holiday break later this week, when Warner presents his last two-year budget to legislators and a Senate transportation panel meets on Friday.