2015 Legislative Recap

These Short (46 day) Sessions really fly by, and this one was no exception. Unlike some years, we had more in the way of successful results than usual. In the partisan world that is the Legislature these days, much of our success has been due not to the increased merits of our positions, but rather to the fact that our successful patrons and co-patrons have been from the majority party’s side of the aisle.

First the BAD NEWS, as we did have several bills we would have liked to get passed FAIL to survive at some point along the difficult winnowing process. In this category were…

SB 882 the “Dooring” bill “No operator shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side adjacent to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so”. Passed through Senate Transportation 9-3; through the Senate 27-12; but was rejected in House Transportation SubCommittee2 by 4-3

HB 2159 “Motorist to stop for a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk” As has been the case with this bill a number of times over the last decade, it again failed to survive in House Transportation SubCommittee2, this time by a 4-3 vote.

HB 1926 & SB 1279 Two similar bills “to prohibit a person operating a motor vehicle from using a personal communications device, unless its operation is hands-free” both failed early, the House bill in the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee by a voice vote, and the Senate bill by an 8-7 vote in the Senate Transportation Committee.

But some GOOD NEWS followed, as…

SB1220 & HB1342 the identical bills stating that “The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer more closely than is reasonable and prudent” both passed all the way through. The Senate bill unanimously clearing both Senate Transportation and the Senate floor, while the House bill came through Transportation Sub2 6-1, Transportation 20-2, and the House floor 75-22

SB 781 including two other identical Senate bills, 1027 & 1228 that were rolled into it, which provided that “A motorist may cross the double yellow (or solid and broken) line in order to pass a bicycle or pedestrian provided such movement can be made safely” also passed all the way through, clearing Senate Transportation 13-2, Senate floor 37-1, House Trans Sub2 6-1, House Trans 21-1, and House floor 87-9

HB 1402 into which several other bills were either rolled or dropped, provided for “VDOT to reimburse Cities and Towns for maintenance of travel lanes, even if lanes were converted to bike lanes” This bill became controversial and got amended several times, becoming strictly for the City of Richmond (instead of statewide), for one year only, but to be studied by the Secretary of Transportation’s office prior to being brought back next year, before it was finally passed, getting through the House by 84-12, and the Senate unanimously.

All these bills now go on to the Governor for his signature prior to taking effect on July 1.

Three other bills which we opposed all failed to report out of their first committee hearing. This group included…

HB 1746 which would require “Bicyclists to be on a bicycle path or trail, provided one was available, rather than on the highway”

HB 2353 “Prohibiting operation of mopeds on highways where the posted speed limit is greater than 45 miles per hour”

SB 1175 “Permitting localities to impose a tax on bicycle rentals”

Thanks to all who took the trouble to make contacts to their legislators in support of, or opposition to, these bills. Their efforts were definitely helpful and much appreciated, and if you haven’t thanked your legislator for their support (or expressed your disappoint at their lack of it) its not too late to do so.

Legislative Update 2/18/15: Heavily Amended HB1402 ‘Road Diet Bill’ Clears Senate Transpo; SB781 ‘Crossing the Double Yellow’ Up for House Vote

Amendments were flying today in Senate Transportation as HB1402, Delegate Loupassi of Richmond’s bill to provide that cities and towns would not lose their highway maintenance payments from VDOT if they converted travel lanes to transit or bicycle lanes was being heard.

I’m not absolutely positive what the final bill will look like until I see it in writing, but my take on what ended up being Reported unanimously contained amendments — to make it apply only to Richmond; then to put a one year “Sunset” date of 7/1/16 on it; then (after a number of witnesses from other jurisdictions strongly testified that it was needed statewide to eliminate the current disincentive to convert travel lanes to bike lanes) an amendment from Sen. Barbara Favola of Fairfax was passed to expand the scope of the bill to the entire state; then, finally to refer the entire matter to further Study by the Secretary of Transportation’s staff to be taken up again next year.

If I’m incorrect, I’ll clarify the situation, but I think the bottom line is — Richmond only, for transit and bike lanes, for one year, then the entire statewide situation to be revisited in the next legislative session.

Meanwhile, on the House floor, SB781, the “Crossing the Double Yellow Line” bill, had second reading today and should be up for third reading and a vote tomorrow, so this is your last chance to get on board a ship that is “sailing through” by sending a request for support to your Delegate tonight or tomorrow morning prior to tomorrow’s vote, if you haven’t done so already.

Legislative Update 2/17/15 — ‘Crossing the Double Yellow’ Clears Full House Transpo Committee

In deference to the snowy conditions in the area, House Transportation Committee was scheduled to convene an hour later, at 9:30 and all but two of the Delegates were present.

Reconsideration of the Dooring bill/SB882 was not granted, so its defeat in SubCommittee by a 4-3 vote stands.

The Crossing the Double Yellow Line bill/SB781 was reported to the Committee by SubCommittee2 Chair Garrett, without the Patron or either of the Co-Patrons present. Following Chairman Rust’s practice of giving great weight to the bill’s result in SubCommittee, and not wanting to hear witnesses testify if they had done so in SubCommittee, no witnesses spoke. There was minimal discussion by Committee members, primarily by Del. Habeeb (who I think is the only attorney on the Committee) as to the possible legal consequences for unsafely crossing the line, and by Del. Hugo as to how difficult it is to safely pass the increasing number of cyclists on the country roads in his area without crossing the line, which was why he supported the bill. There being no other comments by Committee members, Del. Garrett moved to Report the bill, which carried by a 19-1 vote, with Dr. Garrett himself being the only one in opposition. Later, the two absent members’ proxies were tallied, making the official count 21-1 as the bill goes on to the House Floor for final passage.

Now, everyone has a Delegate who will be voting, and this is your chance to get in the game and ask their support. If you don’t know who they are, or their Email, go to VirginiaGeneralAssembly.gov and click on the box at the top of the page “Who’s my Legislator?”

Thanks to everyone who took the trouble to make contacts along the way, as we appear to have had a very successful Legislative session!

Bud Vye Advocacy Director RABA & VBF

Legislative Update 2/16/15 — ‘Dooring’ Dies in Subcommittee, ‘Crossing the Double Yellow’ Gets Through

One for two in House Trans Sub 2 this morning starting at 6:55 a.m. as Sen. Chap Petersen went first with the “Dooring” bill (SB882) and gave a good presentation, followed by VBF support, only to go down by a 3-4 vote, with Carr, Ward, & LeMunyon voting Aye, and Taylor, Austin, and Pillion joining Chairman Garrett in opposition. After the hearing, we asked Sen. Petersen if he would request a reconsideration before the Full House Transportation Committee and he agreed to do so to Del. Rust of Herndon, the Chair of the full committee. If granted, the bill would then be heard by the full committee tomorrow morning at 8:30.

Next up was SB781, the “Crossing the Double Yellow Line” bill, now in its amended form to include the ability to also cross a solid line with a broken line on the opposite side of it. Co-Patron Sen. Reeves began the presentation of the bill, and then was joined by the Patron Sen. Alexander, both of whom gave strong support. After some discussion, including questions of Capt. Glick (the representative of the State Police), who supported the bill and was asked how it would be enforced, answering with a “Reckless Driving” citation if the crossing of the line was observed to be an unsafe one, and then comments by Chairman Garrett who indicated that “we would not be having this discussion if we had not passed the Three Foot Passing bill last year”, there was a move to Report, which passed by a 6-1 vote, with only Chairman Garrett voting Nay. Now the bill goes on to the Full House Transportation Committee tomorrow at 8:30.

Requests by constituents to their Trans Comm members to Support the bill tomorrow will definitely be helpful:

  • Chairman Rust — Herndon deltrust@house.virginia.gov
  • Vice Chairman Villanueva — VaBeach delrvillanueva@house.virginia.gov
  • Hugo — Prince William delthugo@house.virginia.gov
  • Scott — Culpeper delescott@house.virginia.gov
  • Habeeb — Salem delghabeeb@house.virginia.gov
  • Anderson — Woodbridge delranderson@house.virginia.gov
  • Minchew — Leesburg delrminchew@house.virginia.gov
  • Yancey — NewportNews deldyancey@house.virginia.gov
  • LeMunyon — Chantilly deljlemunyon@house.virginia.gov (w/thanks for support in subcommittee)
  • Davis — VaBeach delgdavis@house.virginia.gov
  • Taylor — VaBeach delstaylor@house.virginai.gov (w/thanks for support in subcommittee)
  • Austin — Bedford deltaustin@house.virginia.gov (w/thanks for support in subcommittee)
  • LaRock — Hamilton deldlarock@house.virginia.gov
  • Pillion — Abingdon deltpillion@house.virginia.gov (w/thanks for support in subcommittee)
  • Ward — Newport News deljward@house.virginia.gov (w/thanks for support in subcommittee)
  • Carr — Richmond delbcarr@house.virginia.gov (w/thanks for support in subcommittee)
  • McQuinn — Richmond deldmcquinn@house.virginia.gov
  • BaCote — Newport News delmbacote@house.virginia.gov
  • Toscano — Charlottesville deldtoscano@house.virginia.gov
  • Filler-Corn — Springfield delefiller-corn@house.virginia.gov
  • Plum — Reston delkplum@house.virginia.gov

Legislative Update 2/11/15 — ‘Following Too Closely’ Clears Senate Committee; ‘Maintenance Funding for Road Diets’ Still in the Works

After getting a pleasant surprise yesterday, while expecting Sen. Reeves’ SB1220/Following Too Closely to go into House Transportation SubCommittee2 next Monday, we learned instead that it had bypassed Sub2 and been heard directly in House Transportation yesterday morning, where it was reported by a 19-3 vote, with only Delegates Hugo (Prince William) & Austin (Bedford) joining Scott Garrett (Lynchburg) in opposing it. Now it goes on to the House Floor, where final passage should happen later this week.

Del. De Steph’s identical House Bill 1342 was handled this afternoon in Senate Transportation by being included in a bloc with several other bills that had identical versions on the Senate side, and the bloc was reported unanimously without any discussion. Now it goes on to the Senate floor for final passage which should also happen later this week.

The other bill we were interested in that was on the Senate Trans docket this afternoon, Del. Loupassi’s HB1402 which would permit VDOT maintenance reimbursement to Cities and Towns for lane miles that are converted to bike or transit lanes did generate some discussion. After some back and forth it was “Passed by for the Day”, with the patron and Transportation Dept. officials being directed to discuss it further with the Senators who had concerns about its language so that some changes could be made prior to the bill being heard again next Wednesday.

Prior to that, we have only SB781 “Crossing the Double Yellow Line” and SB882 “the Dooring bill”, both of which will be heard in House Trans Sub2 next Monday. As usual, we can use the help of our Northern VA folks to ask Del. LeMunyon’s support and our Hampton Roads folks to ask Del. Taylor’s so we can get these bills out of this SubCommittee, which would appear to be our last major obstacle.

Action Alert: Support HB1342 & HB1402 in Senate Transpo Committee by Wed. Morning

These bills have already been passed by the House.  They stand a good chance of becoming law if we can get them through the Senate Transportation Committee, which meets mid-afternoon on Wednesday.  

Especially if your senator is listed below, please email or call their office by Wednesday morning, and ask them to support these bills.  

Bud Vye writes:

A big docket in Senate Transportation Committee tomorrow after lunch includes our two House bills that have passed the House and Crossed Over to the Senate —

HB 1342 Del DeSteph’s “Following Too Closely”

& HB 1402 Del. Loupassi’s “Maintenance Reimbursement for Lanes that are used for Bike Lanes or Bus Rapid Transit” (preserves maintenance funding based on lane-miles when road diets are implemented)

Northern Virginia folks should contact Senators…

  • Marsden 804 698 7537 or district37@senate.virginia.gov, Colgan 804 698 7529 or district29@senate.virginia.gov,
  • Favola 804 698 7531 or district31@senate.virginia.gov and
  • Wexton 804 698-7533 or district33@senate.virginia.gov

…(particularly if they are YOUR Senators) and ask them to SUPPORT these bills tomorrow afternoon.

Similarly, Hampton Roads folks should contact Senators…

  • Wagner 804 698 7507 or district07@senate.virginia.gov,
  • McWaters 804 698 7508 or district08@senate.virginia.gov,
  • Alexander 804 698 7505 or district 05@senate.virginia.gov,
  • & Cosgrove 804 698 7514 or district14@senate.virginia.gov

…and ask their support.

Also on the Committee from around the state are Senators…

  • Newman (Lynchburg) 698-7523 or district23@senate.virginia.gov,
  • Deeds (Charlottesville) 804 698 7525 or district25@senate.virginia.gov,
  • Smith (Roanoke) 804 698 7519 or district19@senate.virginia.gov &
  • Edwards (Roanoke) 804 698 7521 or district21@senate.virginia.gov

Stay with us! We’re making progress and we can see the finish line for these bills if we can clear this hurdle tomorrow.

Bud Vye

Legislative Update 2/3/15 — Moped Bill Dies, Contact Your Legislators About ‘Dooring’ & ‘Crossing the Double Yellow’

HB 2353 Prohibiting operation of Mo-Peds on Highways where the posted speed is greater than 45 mph was listed on the docket in House Trans Sub 3 at 4 p.m. A bare quorum of 3 finally showed up to join the Chairman, and only two bills were heard and reported; one bill had its patron in another meeting so was reported so it could be heard in full House Trans; and the others (including HB2353) were stricken from the docket as their patron was not in attendance. Lots of waiting around followed by a brief flurry of activity, but a good result as we can now forget about HB2353 and cross it off our list.

Also good news with our only other bill needing action prior to Crossover — SB1220/Senator Reeves’ Don’t Follow Too Closely being passed on the Senate floor by a 38 – 0 vote.

Now it joins our other Senate bills that have passed and await crossing over to the House next week — the “Dooring” and “Crossing the Double Yellow” bills…

…and our House bills that have passed and await crossing over to the Senate — Following too Closely and Maintenance Reimbursement for Bike Lanes.

A bit of a breather for the rest of the week, but we’ve got some work awaiting us next week, particularly with the Dooring and Crossing the Double Yellow bills in the House, both with Democrat patrons. Stay with us, and be ready to call YOUR legislators when the bills are listed, as we’ve got a great chance to get them all through if we keep working at it.

Legislative Update 2/2/15 – Mandatory Sidepaths Tabled

Got lucky at 7 this morning in House Trans Sub 2 as Del. Riley Ingram’s (who’s District includes Hopewell and across the Benj. Harrison Bridge to Charles City county) HB1746 Mandatory Sidepath bill was heard first. Stating that he had been swamped with EMails from around the state, he was amending the bill from statewide to only Rt. 5 and the Virginia Capital Trail. He further stated that a female constituent had contacted him, stating that driving east on Rt.5 in Charles City county, with a completed section of the Trail alongside (on which millions of dollars of taxpayer’s money had been spent) she came around a bend only to find cyclists riding four abreast in the highway, who she almost hit. Her request to him was, “Please do what you can to get those cyclists off the road and onto that Trail. I couldn’t live with myself, if I had hit one of them”.

After I stated that this incident did not warrant banning cyclists from the entire length of Rt. 5, Del. Ingram responded that he would further amend his bill to cover only Rt. 5 in Charles City county. Given a final chance to respond by Chairman Garrett, I stated that this section was on Bike Rt. 76, the TransAmerica Trail, and although cyclists would generally opt to ride the Trail rather than the road, there would be occasions when it would be preferable to be on the road, and they should have that option. Further, I mentioned that the Commonwealth Trans Board already had the authority to restrict slow traffic from highway sections where they thought they would be unsafe, so no further legislation was necessary. With that, the Chairman called for a vote, and by 7-0 the bill was tabled, although he offered Del. Ingram the chance to rework the bill into something “acceptable” if he could do so by tomorrow or Thursday so it could be heard in the Full Committee’s final meetings prior to Crossover. In talking to Del. Ingram (who is a really good guy) after the meeting, we apologized for the riders’ improper behavior, stating we would continue to preach for proper riding, whereupon he replied that he thought he would “drop the matter”. Tomorrow’s House Trans Comm docket does not list this bill, which I believe confirms his intention.

Our other bill that we were opposing, to restrict mo-peds to highways with 45 mph speed limits or below, was listed for House Trans SubComm3 at 4 p.m., but upon arrival we and a number of Committee members, Patron Delegates and the usual attendees were informed by the Clerk that the meeting was postponed, to be rescheduled. Later, we learned that it will be tomorrow at 4 p.m.

The only other bill of interest to us that is still being considered prior to Crossover, SB1220, Sen. Reeves’ Following Too Closely bill, had 2nd reading on the Senate floor today, so 3rd reading and vote should be tomorrow or Wednesday. If and when it passes, it will be conformed with Del. DeSteph’s identical House bill, and it will go to the Governor for his signature.

Our other bills, Dooring, Crossing the Double Yellow Line, and Reimbursement for Bike Lanes, have all passed their House of origin, and are awaiting Crossover (which is not til next week), so it appears we will have the rest of the week off after tomorrow’s House TransSubComm3 meeting.

Legislative Update 1/30/15: HB1402 & HB1342 Pass House

HB1402 (providing Maintenance Payments even if motor vehicle lanes are converted to bike lanes) PASSED the House today by a 84-12 vote and now joins the following two bills that have passed their originating body and are awaiting Crossover — SB781 (Crossing the Double Yellow Line) and SB882 (the Dooring bill).

HB1342 (Del. DeSteph’s Following Too Closely bill) has also passed the House, but Sen. Reeves’ identical SB1220 is now on the Senate floor awaiting passage. Should it pass, as I expect, it and Del. DeSteph’s House bill will go into Conference Committee and be “conformed” into one bill considered as having passed all the way through the process so it can be forwarded to the Governor for his signature.

That leaves us with only two other bills still alive prior to Crossover, both of which will be heard in House Transportation SubCommittees on Monday, and both of which we will be opposing — HB1746 (the Mandatory Sidepath bill) which is at 7 a.m. in Sub 2, and HB2353 (Restricting Mo-Peds to Highways with speed limits of 45 or under) which is in Sub 3 at 4 p.m.

It won’t hurt for everyone to contact their Senators in favor of Sen. Reeves’ SB1220 (Following too closely bill)…

…and for constituents to contact LeMunyon (Chantilly), Austin (Bedford), Taylor (Va Beach), Pillion (Abingdon), Ward (Newport News), and Carr (Richmond) in opposition to HB1746

…and for constituents to contact Hugo (Fairfax & Prince William), Scott (Culpeper), Yancey (Newport News), Davis (VA Beach),McQuinn (Richmond) & Plum (Fairfax) in opposition to HB2353

Thanks again for everyone’s efforts! We’re well on our way to having a very productive session.