Representing Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax

Newsletter - May 29, 2020

Read other newsletters

On the website,
 via email,
 on Facebook,
 or on Twitter.

Or by mail and phone:

Alexandria Office:
301 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314

[email protected]

The May edition of Mark's Monthly Meetup will be this Sunday, May 31, from 1-3 pm. I will be hosting it via Zoom. (Join and download Zoom for FREE by clicking here.) As always, we'll be discussing whatever issues are important to you. I'll also be sharing the results of my constituent survey. There's still time for you to take the survey if you haven't yet. It takes less than a minute.

Mark's Monthly Meetup 
Sunday, May 31, 1 - 3 pm

Join via Zoom

Northern Virginia Enters Phase One of Reopening...

Northern Virginia – including Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax – today begins Phase One of "Forward Virginia," Governor Northam's plan for reopening. I shared more details of Phase One in a prior newsletter. Then, it applied to other areas of Virginia. Now it applies to us. 

  • Restaurants will be allowed to re-open for outdoor dining at 50% capacity.
  • You can go to a beauty salon or get a haircut again (but by appointment only). 
  • Retail stores may operate at 50% capacity. 
  • Farmer’s markets may permit limited on-site shopping.
  • Fitness and exercise facilities can re-open for limited outdoor activities.
  • Houses of worship can open at 50% capacity. (This one makes me the most nervous.)

But apart from these items, there are not major changes between Phase Zero and Phase One.

You can learn everything you need to know about Phase One - what's allowed, what's prohibited, and what's recommended - by clicking here

The below image offers a pretty good snapshot of what is changing as Phase One begins. 

At his public briefing yesterday (which you can watch by clicking here), the Governor announced that public beaches will be open for general recreation again, with social distancing rules still in place (for example, gatherings of more than 10 and group sports activities will remain prohibited).

The Governor said today the earliest Virginia will enter into Phase Two is Friday, June 5.

I'm most concerned about places of worship, as they are the only indoors public setting where large numbers of people will be allowed to congregate for significant periods of time. We've learned that the virus is more contagious the more you are exposed to it, and the recirculated air of people engaged in choral singing indoors is extremely dangerous. I would have preferred houses of worship still have services online or outdoors, and I encourage them to continue to doing so for the safety of all those praying together.

Virginians Must Wear Face Coverings in Public Indoors

Read Executive Order 63 in its entirety here. Or, check out the Governor's Frequently Asked Questions page for answers to your question about the face-covering requirement. Learn more about why face coverings are so important by clicking here

Under the order, face coverings must be worn in the following locations:

  • Inside essential and non-essential brick and mortar retail establishments;
  • Inside personal care and personal grooming establishments;
  • Inside places where people congregate, including places of worship, waiting rooms, and libraries;
  • Inside food and beverage establishments, except when eating or drinking;
  • When utilizing public transportation, as well as in any waiting or congregating areas associated with boarding public transportation;
  • When accessing state or local government services; and
  • All employment settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained for more than 10 minutes.

There are a few exceptions to the requirements:

  • People who are eating or drinking at a restaurant;

  • People who are exercising;

  • People who have a health condition that makes a face covering unsafe; and

  • Those under the age of 10, although Dr. Northam strongly recommended children over the age of 3 wear one, if possible.

I have been encouraging the Governor to make such a face-covering order – at least here in Northern Virginia – for a while now, so I am pleased he has finally done so. 

Other COVID Updates

New Community Testing Sites
39 CVS locations will offer community testing sites throughout Virginia. More information can be found here.

Unfortunately there are no CVS sites particularly close to Alexandria or Arlington or the part of Fairfax I represent. The closest is probably the one in Annandale, about 15 miles or 25 minutes away. I will contact CVS to see if one of the many CVS stores in our community can join these 39 others in offering community testing. There is other testing in our community in the Chirilagua/Arlandria area that I've been working to promote. Contact me for more information on that.

Driver's Licenses Automatically Extended
The Governor is extending the time Virginians can renew their expired driver’s licenses. If your license or ID card expires before July 31st, you will have until August 31st to renew.

Federal Funding for Virginia National Guard Extended
The federal government will extend its Title 32 status for Virginia’s National Guard. This means the federal government will continue to fund the state’s National Guard while it helps with the COVID-19 response.

Your State Taxes Are Due this Monday, June 1!

Although the Federal tax deadline has been moved this year from April 15 to July 15, 2020, Virginia's tax payment deadline has been moved only one month from May 1 to this Monday, June 1.

For the two decades I've lived in Virginia, I've paid my federal taxes and then had a couple more weeks to pay my Virginia taxes. This year, Virginia taxes are required to be paid first.

In fact, I just completed my Federal taxes today. I did two versions, one with a standard deduction and one with an itemized deduction. (I'm still mad at Trump and the 2017 Republican-controlled Congress for capping our state and local tax deductions to give trillions of dollars in tax cuts to multinational corporations, billionaires, and real estate magnates. But I digress...) 

I haven't filed either version yet. I'm now going to spend this weekend doing my Virginia taxes with both options, to see which gives me the greater deduction. I suspect that while I save money with the standard deduction in Federal taxes, I would save more in Virginia by itemizing than the extra taxes I'd pay at the Federal level. We'll see. 

The deadline to file your Virginia taxes is still, as in past years, on November 1, 2020, with the automatic six-month extension you don't even have to apply for. But all income tax payments (individual and corporate) normally due during the time period from April 1, 2020 to June 1, 2020 are now due this Monday, June 1, 2020

Neither late payment penalties nor interest will be charged so long as you pay at least 90% of your total Virginia tax liability by this Monday, June 1, 2020 and the remainder by the time of filing. But please don't underestimate, as there are heavy penalties if you do.

At the General Assembly's reconvene session on April 22, we passed (and I voted for) provisions to abate interest on state income tax payments from May 1 to June 1. So there is no penalty for taxes originally due May 1 so long as you pay by this Monday. Don't forget! And if a refund is due, why would you wait until November? Get your refund now.

Click here for coronavirus updates from the Virginia Tax Department.

One more reminder: the deadline to FILE and PAY federal income taxes has been extended from April 15 to July 15, 2020. See details on IRS website.

You may reasonably ask why Virginia cannot match the new 2020 federal deadline of July 15, instead of requiring them be paid by this Monday, June 1. It's because our fiscal year by law ends on June 30 and begins on July 1 every year. Congress has flexibility we don’t have to fund the national government ahead of time, because their fiscal year ends September 30 and begins October 1. So they can collect their taxes 3 months late and still have their funds for two and a half month before their budgeting period ends.

They also have a tremendous advantage Virginia doesn’t have in that they, unlike us, can “print money.” They can run an infinite budget deficit, whereas we are required to balance our budget every single fiscal year. There would simply be no way for Virginia to fund services that are required by law to be paid for by June 30, 2020 unless we receive sufficient tax money at least a month ahead of time. We would risk our AAA bond rating we’ve maintained for decades. Even the new payment date of June 1 is pushing it.

Click Here to Take Our COVID-19 Constituent Survey Today!

Thank you to the 114 of you have completed the survey so far. That's an impressive amount of feedback!

If you have yet to do so, please consider taking my COVID-19 Constituent Survey today to let me know what issues are most important to you during this trying time. The results of our survey help inform our priorities. 

I'll share a deep dive into the results at Mark's Monthly Meetup this Sunday (details above), but here are my big takeaways:

  • You're concerned about protecting our most vulnerable residents, e.g. people experiencing homelessness, in long-term care facilities, or incarcerated.
    (89% of respondents shared this concern)
  • You're concerned about protecting our frontline workers
    (84% of respondents shared this concern)
  • You're concerned about the accessibility and security of our upcoming elections
    (81% of respondents shared this concern)
  • And a large number of you are gravely concerned that we are entering into Phase One too soon (I saw a lot of this in the comments section.)

In addition to helping folks navigate the unemployment assistance program, I have been heavily focused on testing, housing, rent relief, promoting the wearing of masks, protecting our most vulnerable communities, and caring for folks in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

As noted, I'll be discussing the survey results and answering your questions this Sunday at my monthly meetup. 

I thank you again for the honor and privilege of serving you.

Delegate Mark Levine
Proudly serving Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax
      in the Virginia House of Delegates