Legislative Update #11, Feb. 15, 2017

HB2023 Reports Unanimously

Bills in Senate Trans & House Courts Criminal Sub at the same time, so Champe stayed in Senate Trans while I went to House Courts.

House was running longer than Senate, so Senate Trans began with Committee present and no Patrons from the House, and since Courts was not convening I went back to Senate Trans. Chairman Carrico called a number of bills he must have considered non-controversial and had them voted on (all passed unanimously) without the patrons present (the first time I had ever seen this done). The House still in session,and still no Patrons present, so he recessed the meeting for almost an hour. Resuming at 3:05, the Chair noted that both the House and Senate had to reconvene at 4:30, so bills would be heard until then.

I then went back to House Courts which convened at 3:10 (leaving Champe in Senate Trans), Chairman Rob Bell also noting that he could hear bills only until 4:30 when the Committee members would have to leave since the House was reconvening. He must have known that the first bill would be one of the most controversial, since he heard SB 1563 w/Sen. Stanley first. This bill apparently is key to the Criminal trial system in this state, where now Prosecutors do not share the evidence, and witnesses to be called, with the Defense Attorneys ahead of time, leading some to call Virginia’s system “Trial by Ambush”. A stream of about 15 witnesses from various Defense Attorneys groups, Public Safety Secretary Moran, and groups representing defendant’s rights all spoke in favor of the bill which would require “Mandatory disclosure of exculpatory information”. This was followed by the recognition of about 15 Commonwealth’s Attorneys in attendance, as well as reps from the Attorney General’s office, and State Police, all of whom were opposed, primarily fearing that such disclosure would end up on social media, and endanger both defendants and witnesses. After about 40 minutes, the billed was tabled (killed) and followed by two more, only slightly less controversial. As 4:30 was nearing, and Surovell’s SB1339 was next up, Chairman Bell noted as he called a recess that it would have to wait since both the Committee members and Patrons had to get back to their reconvening chambers. Not exactly Bike/Ped stuff, but some important bills being heard here (which we may see reported on in tomorrow’s paper) and I thought I’d share my observations with you.

Just then, Champe came in and informed me that all of Del. Villanueva’s bills had been reported, HB2023/Maintenance Reimbursement & HB2016/Electric Personal Delivery Devices may operate on sidewalks & Shared use Paths unanimously, while HB1606/Use of Handheld Communication Devices banned in Work Zones passed by 9-4.

HB1606 Reports, 9-4

Since he had to get his car out of its parking lot, I excused him and told him I would stick it out to try to help Sen. Surovell with his Vulnerable User bill. After killing time for about 1 1/2 hours, everyone involved trickled back into the room, less a number of the spectators who had been there before we recessed. Noting that he still had 19 bills to hear, Chairman Bell called our SB1339 at 6:15. Sen. Surovell did a nice job of presenting it and I was the only one to speak on it, with no questions from the Committee, and Waynesboro Commonwealth’s Attorney Ledbetter not present to speak against it, I could sense that Sen. Bell and the Republican side of the committee were in no mood to pass any bills tonite, as the motion to Table promptly was made and passed on a voice vote, which I believed was on party lines. Not wishing to stay for any of the 18 remaining bills, as interesting as they are to a non-lawyer like me (which I will be surprised if any pass) I thanked Scott Surovell (he still had two more bills on the docket) for an excellent effort, and headed home at 6:30.

Everyone please take this opportunity to contact YOUR Senator to urge them to support Del. Villanueva’s 3 bills (listed above) that they will be seeing very shortly on the Senate Floor. I don’t sense that they will have any trouble, but nothing is certain down here until the bills are all the way to the finish line.

Thanks to everyone that took the trouble to make your contacts! We did make a little progress this session as we do seem to be inching forward in our efforts to combat the Distracted Driving problem, while the Maintenance Reimbursement bill will be helpful to a number of jurisdictions.

Support SB1339 Now, for Vulnerable Road Users

As we reported on Monday, SB1339, the vulnerable road user bill, has been referred to House Courts of Justice Committee, which meets again this Wednesday. If your delegate is on this committee, please contact them and ask them to support SB1339.

Why do we need to pass this bill? Without having committed another offense, such as running a red light or a stop sign, or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, drivers who are not paying attention and hit a cyclist are often not charged with anything, even when it results in serious injury or death. The Dan Hersh case in Virginia Beach is a good example:

“Hersh, an avid cyclist on his Sunday morning ride, was apparently following traffic laws by pedaling east in the right travel lane – not the turn lane – on Shore Drive near Starfish Road in the early light shortly before 6 a.m., when a Ford Explorer struck him from behind. He was wearing a helmet and a bright yellow windbreaker with reflective strips, Bryant said.

“In terms of his safety equipment, there certainly was no fault on his part,” he said.

The driver of the Explorer told police she never saw Hersh, and authorities found no evidence to support potential charges to allege that she hit him willfully or through negligent or reckless driving, Bryant said.”

SB1339 would make it a ticketable offense to drive in a careless or distracted manner that results in injury to a vulnerable road user, such as a cyclist or pedestrian.

If your delegate is on the House Courts of Justice Committee, please contact them now — before Wednesday’s meeting — and ask them to support SB1339.

Please forward this to your bike club mailing lists, and share it in social media.

Legislative Update #10, Feb. 13, 2017

First up on the Docket in House Transportation SubCommittee 1 at 7:02 this morning was Sen. Scott Surovell and his bills. SB 1338, to prevent Motor Vehicles from passing another Motor Vehicle while driving in a bike lane, received a full discussion before being voted down 4 -3 with Plum, Ward, & LeMunyon voting to report, while Rich Anderson surprisingly joined Garrett, Adams, and Pilion in voting against.

SB 1339, the Vulnerable Road User bill, was then heard. Even more discussion on this one, as the subcommittee members seemed to agree that the absence of any charge beneath Reckless Driving when a motorist hits a pedestrian or cyclist was an omission in the code that needs to be addressed. The only opposition to the bill was expressed by Commonwealth’s Atty David Ledbetter from Waynesboro, representing the CA’s Assn. this week, who felt that such an incident clearly warranted a Reckless Driving charge, and that a new level of lesser infraction was unnecessary. Despite his testimony, the subcomm felt that the bill should receive further consideration so it was unanimously voted to refer it to the Courts Committee, which meets M, W, & F a half hr. after House Adjournment. Sen. Surovell feels that it might be heard on Wednesday, but I will be surprised if it is not assigned to their Criminal SubComm which meets on Mondays after Adjournment. We’ll see how it is handled, but in any case contacts to members of the House Courts Committee are now in order.

In the Richmond area this would be Loupassi and newly elected Jeff Bourne, who replaces Jennifer McClellan.

Also on Wednesday, although no docket is yet posted, we expect to see Villanueva’s HB 2023/ Maintenance Reimbursement for Travel Lanes Converted to Bike Lanes & HB 1806/ No Handheld Communication Devices in Work Zones bills in Senate Transportation, where constituent contacts to their Senators are in order (which would be Chase & McClellan in the Richmond area).

Buddy Fowler’s two House bills aimed at getting unsafe drivers off the road are closing in on the finish line, as HB 1504, increasing the Field of Vision requirement for new driver’s license applicants is on the Senate floor awaiting final passage, while Sen. Dunnavant’s identical SB 1229 is on the House floor in about the same status.

The two identical bills providing Immunity from Civil Liability for Health Professionals who report patients with conditions that make them unsafe drivers are taking a little longer route, as Fowler’s HB 1514 was referred to Courts Committee in the Senate and then re-referred to Education & Health, which next meets on Thursday a.m.; Dunnavant’s SB 1024 was sent to the Courts Committee and then to its Civil SubComm, which meets this afternoon.

Legislative Update #9, Feb. 8, 2017

A fairly lengthy docket in Senate Transportation today, which started at a later than expected 1:45.

A number of the non-controversial bills were quickly Reported unanimously, or passed by til next week at the request of the patron, which narrowed the list considerably.

Buddy Fowler’s HB1504, to strengthen the Vision Test slightly for Driver’s License applicants, sailed through on a 12-0 vote and now goes to the Senate Floor. His HB1514, to provide Immunity from Civil suits to Medical personnel who report patients to DMV who have conditions they feel will make them unsafe drivers, was referred from the Courts of Justice Committee to the Education and Health Committee which meets on Thursday a.m. Dunnavant’s two similar Senate bills are taking a different and slower route, but at some point soon I expect they will be conformed with Fowler’s bills, where the surviving bills should continue to sail right through.

I was disappointed that the bills carried by Del. Villanueva that we were interested in were Passed by for the Day at the request of the patron. This means that we should see them on the docket at Senate Trans next Wednesday after adjournment, so we will come back again to support — HB 1606 Prohibiting the Use of Handheld Communication Devices in Work Zones, & HB2023 the Maintenance Reimbursement bill. I was afraid at first that there might be some problem with 2023, but I was assured by both Sen. DeSteph and Del. Villanueva’s Aide that the bill is in good shape with the only problem being that Del. Villanueva had to be in two places at the same time and chose to go to the other meeting and carry these and several other bills over.

That left Champe & me free to go and visit the members of House Trans SubComm 1, where Sen. Surovell’s two bills, SB 1338 No Passing by Motor Vehicles in a Bike Lane, and SB1339, the Due Care for Vulnerable Users, will be heard at our least favorite time of 7 a.m. next Monday. Getting enough copies of each bill from the Bill Room, we made the rounds and contacted all six members of the SubComm or their aides, asking their support on Monday. We did not bother to visit Del. Scott Garrett, the SubComm Chair, who has yet to EVER vote for one of our Bike & Pedestrian Safety bills, so we are not expecting him to do so this time. Anyone, particularly constituents, are urged to contact the other SubComm members — Anderson, LeMunyon, Adams (from Martinsville), Pillion (the dentist from Abingdon, who trained at VCU), Plum & Ward and ask their support.

In case my prediction of a 4-3 win in this SubComm comes to pass, we should also contact any of the 15 other members of House Transportation since it probably would be heard by the full committee the very next day, on Tuesday morning. Particularly helpful would be contacts to the Northern VA Delegates — Hugo, Minchew, Dudenhefer, LaRock, Filler-Corn, & Plum; Hampton Roads Delegates Villanueva, Glenn Davis, Yancey, and RABA types can help by contacting Betsy Carr, Delores McQuinn, and Lamont Bagby, who comprise the only Richmond area representation on this Committee.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, all of every legislator’s contact information can be found on the website so let’s make some contacts. We’re actually quite close to having a very productive session, so help us push these bills over the top.

Legislative Update #8, Feb. 2, 2017

SB1339 Surovell’s bill making it a Traffic Infraction with a penalty of not more than a $250 fine “for a motor vehicle to travel in a bicycle lane to pass or attempt to pass another vehicle” cleared the Senate by a 22 – 18 vote (with Sturtevant voting against, but indicating later that his intent was to vote for, which would have made the vote 23 – 17). All the D’s were joined by R’s DeSteph, Reeves, & Vogel in supporting the bill, which now will cross over to the Senate next week. Note, if you want to print this bill it is 6 pages, with all the changes on Pg. 1 and right at the end on Pg.6

In the Richmond area, RABA members should note that Chase, Dunnavant, & McDougle continue to vote AGAINST the bicycle safety bills.

At yesterday morning’s House Agriculture Committee meeting, HB 2381 Fariss’ bill to amend the Dangerous Dog Registry section of the code passed unanimously and is now on the House floor. The bill was carried at the request of the Animal Control Officer’s Assn. who apparently felt they were getting too many frivolous complaints and requests to have dogs placed on the Registry. Although some are concerned about these changes, I don’t see a serious problem in inserting “a canine is not a dangerous dog …………..if upon investigation ……….. by ………. finds that the injury inflicted ……… consists solely of a single nip or bite resulting only in a scratch, abrasion, or other minor injury.

The key statement still remains at the top of the code section that a dangerous dog is one that has BITTEN, ATTACKED, or INFLICTED INJURY UPON, a person, as it was originally crafted back in 2005. The Animal Control Officer, then, and still, has to make a determination of what constitutes “Attacked” and I’ve had the discussion with several Animal Control Officers that chasing, and running at or after, a cyclist does not; While knocking over, or getting under, a bike, causing it and the rider to fall and be injured, without the rider being bitten, does. I have shared the current bill’s amendments with Lt. Sears of the Henrico Animal Control group and am awaiting his comments. This bill probably will easily clear the House floor and we will catch it at its first stop in the Senate to make our comments, and perhaps get the “knocking over a bicycle” language inserted while they are spelling out the definition of “Attacked” .

Yesterday afternoon, Anderson’s HB1834 Distracted Driving was listed at the very top of a very long docket in House Courts Criminal Subcommittee for a half hour after adjournment, which usually means about 1:45. The House Floor ran very long, so that this SubComm didn’t convene until almost 3:30 at which time Del. Anderson was tied up in another Committee meeting. Several bills were heard and at 4:45 when Del. Anderson still hadn’t arrived, I had to leave and so wasn’t there to hear the bill discussed.

Eventually, it apparently had Del. Minchew’s similar HB 2435 Use of Handheld Personal Communication Devices bill incorporated with it, was amended to “allow the use of the phone” and then was unanimously reported out where it will be heard in the full House Courts Committee Friday afternoon at a half hour after adjournment (which on a Friday should be around 1:30). I haven’t been able to see the amended language yet, but fear that it will greatly water down the bill (Although DriveSmart’s Janet Brooking thinks it is a slight improvement over what we presently have, even tho watered down). We’ll probably see what it looks like later today, and I expect that it will have no problem clearing the committee tomorrow. This is a disappointment, but hopefully a slight movement in the right direction.

As we approach crossover next week, it appears that all of the bills we have been following are still alive in one form or another, except SB 1223 Bicycling While Intoxicated; SB 860 Use of Handheld Personal Comm. Devices While Driving; and HB 1633 Vulnerable Road User which have fallen by the wayside. As we get closer, I will report a list of the “still alive” bills, and when and where we should expect to see them, and what contacts need to be made..

Legislative Update #7, Jan. 31, 2017 — SB1339 Due Care

SB 1339, Surovell’s Due Care bill, passed the Senate today on a 21-19 vote, with all 19 Democrats voting for it, and two Republicans joining them (Bill DeSteph of Virginia Beach, who is a cyclist and a solid supporter of our bills, and Dave Suetterlein of Roanoke who had voted for the bill in the Senate Transportation Committee, along with DeSteph) to put the bill over the top. HB 1633 Sullivan’s identical Due Care bill was tabled yesterday in the House Courts Criminal SubComm, as Del. Todd Gilbert stated that he thought Del. Anderson’s Distracted Driving bill would be sufficient to cover this situation.

Now we wait to see to which Committee this SB 1339 will be assigned as it crosses over to the House, next Wednesday, 2/8. Although the bill will have a difficult assignment in the much more heavily Republican House, it is encouraging to see it clear the Senate and I’m thankful to all the RABA members who took the trouble to express their support to their Senators, even though all of our area R’s (Chase, Dunnavant, McDougle, & Sturtevant) voted against the bill, and those who had contacted them requesting their support may want to express their disappointment at their vote. On the other hand, those who had contacted Sen. McClellan may want to thank her for her support.

Although it is not showing up on the legislative website as I write this, I am told that Del. Rich Anderson’s HB 1834 Distracted Driving bill that I had discussed at length in my last update, will be brought out with its revised language tomorrow afternoon in House Courts Criminal Law SubCommittee. If I am to believe Del. Todd Gilbert (which I do), this bill should be solidly approved in this SubComm, and should also clear the full Courts Committee, hitting the House floor before the end of the week. I’m looking forward to seeing what the bill looks like in its revised form, as it could prove to be a big change in this state’s law banning the use of handheld personal communications devices by drivers.

HB 1504 Fowler’s Stricter Vision Testing by DMV passed the House unanimously, while Dunnavant’s identical Senate Bill 1229 appears to be stepping aside to let Fowler’s bill go forward alone. On the other hand, Dunnavant’s SB 1024 Civil Immunity for Health Practitioners who report a Patient to DMV with a condition that will make them an unsafe driver has cleared the Senate, while Fowler’s identical HB 1514 is still alive on the House Floor.

Three of Villanueva’s bills seem to be clearing the House & crossing over — HB 2023 Maintenance Reimbursement for bike lanes; HB 1606 No use of handheld phones in a work zone; HB 2016 Electric Personal Delivery Devices may operate on sidewalks and shared use paths (Although DeSteph’s identical SB 1207 is two steps ahead of HB2016), but HB 2021 VA Beach’s unused Right of Way for the Light Mail may be used for various public transportation projects (such as a trail) seems to be stuck in the House Transportation Committee for three weeks now, which does not look good.

SB1339/ Vulnerable Road User bill is moving!

Update:  SB1339 was passed by the full Senate, 21-19.

This bill has now made it to the Senate Floor and it is time to contact YOUR Senator and ask them to support it.

How to contact your state senator: visit “Who’s My Legislator”.

Here is a sample letter you can use:

Please vote for SB 1339 Careless driving (Surovell) on the Senate Floor.

As amended in the Senate Transportation Committee, SB 1339 would establish a simple traffic infraction, with no suspension of a drivers license, when a “person who operates a motor vehicle in a careless or distracted manner…is the proximate cause of serious physical injury to a vulnerable road user, defined in the bill as a pedestrian or person riding a bicycle, electric wheelchair, electric bicycle, wheelchair, skateboard, skates, foot-scooter, animal, or animal-drawn vehicle.”

Virginia is one of only four states (with MA, SD, and WI) that does not statutorily require drivers to exercise due care at all times to avoid colliding with a pedestrian or bicyclist. While SB 1339 would be applicable only when a driver’s carelessness has caused a serious injury, it’s still better than what Virginia has today.

Legislative Update #6, Thurs. Jan. 26, 2017

Virginia State Capitol

Virginia State Capitol

Good results on the full afternoon in Senate Transportation and then over to House Courts Criminal Subcommittee SB1207 DeSteph, Drones on Sidewalks was not heard until late, so I had left to go to House Courts Subcomm prior to its being called. I note that it was reported 12-0, but I still have not been able to find out from De Steph what company is requesting this, and what kind of deliveries they have in mind. Will report as soon as I do.

SB1223 Barker, Bicycling While Intoxicated — Sen. Barker brought down two of the students from Centreville HS in Fairfax county who spoke in favor of this bill, which their committee had come up with. I spoke against the bill, primarily that I thought it was unnecessary, and because I had questions about how it would be enforced, not because I endorse bicycling while intoxicated. Sen. DeSteph from VA Beach spoke strongly against the bill in that many hotel patrons along their boardwalk in the summer ride bikes to visit various bars and restaurants and such a bill would seriously impact their tourism. The bill failed to report, 7-6, on party lines, with all the R’s opposed, and all the D’s for, which was closer than I thought, after hearing all the discussion.

SB1338 Surovell, Motor Vehicle not to pass Motor Vehicle in Bike Lane — The amended version (from last week) was reported 8-5, with changes spelling out that motor vehicles are not to cross solid lines into a bike lane, but may do so in order to turn, or get to a driveway, if the line is broken. Also, the provision of a one year suspension of a driver’s license was removed.

SB1339 Surovell, Vulnerable Road User — Lots of discussion on this one, and some amendments, primarily reducing the penalty to a traffic infraction, and eliminating the one year suspension of license, before being reported 9-4

SB1406 Vogel, Black, Improper Driving when infraction not as severe as to warrant Reckless — Was re-referred back to the Courts Committee

SB1510 Carrico, Trooper at Work Zone may give ticket for speeding using a handheld speed gun with camera — This appeared to be reported 13-0, but I see on the website it showing as Passed by Indefinitely, with letter, so I will check as to what happened and report later.

Then, while Transportation was still in progress, over to House Courts Criminal Law Subcommittee where HB1834 Del. Rich Anderson’s Distracted Driving bill was being heard. The top three lawyers in the House, Rob Bell, Todd Gilbert, & Dave Albo were heavily into this discussion, calling frequently on a female police officer from the Herndon PD who was there as a witness for her views on the enforcement aspect, recognizing that Distracted Driving primarily due to Cell Phone usage “has become an epidemic and something needs to be done” BUT “the existing language, permitting some functions hand held, but not others, has become too cumbersome and convoluted and virtually impossible to enforce” and they did not want to make it more so. So, they want to start over, and Bell (the Chair of this subcomm) appointed the three of them as a sub subcomm which will meet before this weekend and come up with new language to replace the existing. It sounds like they are seriously considering that the simplest way to handle the problem will be to BAN Handheld Altogether, which will be a pretty big deal for this state. Accordingly, I will follow this one closely to see what language they come up with.

With the only thing of interest to me in Thursday morning’s House Transportation Meeting being HB1504 Buddy Fowler’s DMV Standards for Peripheral Vision Testing, which came out of SubComm by a 6-0 vote on Monday, I’m going to pass it up. We’re off to a good start in this session, so I’ll be following the progress of the bills that I have reported on above, as they go on to their next step in the process.

Report from the General Assembly #4, Thurs. Jan. 19, 2017

The meeting of the House Transportation Committee at 8:30 this morning led off with a 40 minute, very thorough and well presented briefing by Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne on how the construction project selection process under the House Bill 2 rules has been working. The Committee members and spectators all were impressed by the way the Secretary handled the briefing, as well as the way things seem to be working, which most felt was a big improvement over the way the Commonwealth Transportation Board had operated previously.

The briefing concluded, Chairman Villanueva proceeded to address the bills on the Docket, requesting that his HB 1606 bill (prohibiting the use by a driver of a hand held communication device in a work zone) be passed by for the day, which means it should be on the Docket along with his HB2021 (trail permitted on the unused light rail right of way between Va. Beach & Norfolk) & HB 2016 (Drone vehicles permitted on sidewalks and trails) at the Committee meeting next Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.

Then he called for his other bill, HB 2023 (the Maintenance Reimbursement bill) to be heard, asking Del. Garrett seated next to him to take over, while he came down front to present the bill, which he did after a very short preamble. A very few questions from the Committee members with only Del. Minchew of Loudoun making some comments in a negative vein. Then the call for any supporting the bill to step up, which was answered by Brian Solis, the City’s Transportation and Transit Manager, and Wayne Wilcox, the Senior Planner in the City’s Parks and Recreation Dept. (both of whom had made the trip up from Virginia Beach), plus a young lady from Richmond who stated that both she and her husband did not have a car and rode to work and around town on their bicycles, so were very strong supporters of bike lanes. Seeing that the proceedings were going very smoothly, and having learned long ago that there was no need for additional testimony when that was the case, both Champe and I stayed in our seats.

Prior to the meeting, we had shown the “Level of Service” language in the bill (which several of our members had expressed concern about) to several knowledgeable people, all of whom felt that the language at the end that stated “or if it will be reduced that the associated roadway network will retain adequate capacity to meet current and future mobility needs of all users” would cover any problems a reduction in level of service might present. Accordingly, we decided not to try to amend the bill, but to let it sail on through, as is.

With no more testimony, the vote was called, which was posted as 20-0 for reporting the bill, later amended to 22-0 as the proxies for two committee members who were out of the room were added in. Now the bill goes on to the House floor in the next few days. It really is a pleasure to have a bill being carried by a Committee Chairman, a luxury I’ve never experienced before.

Report from the General Assembly #3, Wed., Jan. 18, 2017

Virginia State Capitol

Virginia State Capitol

As quiet as things were at the GAB on Friday, they were just the opposite on Monday, with several groups having their Lobby Days on the Martin Luther King Holiday. The building was packed, making it difficult for Champe & me to wade through the traffic and make our contacts, as we continued to try to line up Co-Patrons for the bills we are supporting. One thing did bother me, as a person who supports the 2nd Amendment rights, but does not see the need for citizens to have Assault Rifles, was to see several of them being carried around the building, their owners proudly stating that they had a right to do so, while sporting their “Guns Save Lives” decals. While in another area, we saw a group telling their delegate that they would like to be able to prohibit guns from being brought into their church during services, which apparently is being done at present.

Beyond that we discovered an additional bill of interest to us that had been filed by Senator George Barker of Alexandria — SB 1223 making it a Class 2 Misdemeanor to ride a bicycle, SegWay, moped, or electric power assisted bicycle on a highway while intoxicated. Wondering what the motivation for this was, his aide told us he regularly speaks to a high school Civics class in his area and gives them a project of recommending legislation that they think is needed, and why, and this is what they came up with. As we were shown the reasons, we saw several we questioned, the most notable being a citation that “21% of cycling fatalities involved intoxicated cyclists”. Since I have never seen an intoxicated cyclist, and have never heard of one being involved in a fatality, we intend to stay neutral on the bill until we hear what the arguments are. Although we think the bill is unnecessary, as intoxicated cyclists would be unlikely to hurt anyone but themselves, we certainly don’t condone or endorse intoxicated cycling, and would have difficulty taking a position against the bill.

Today being not nearly as busy at the GAB, we were able to meet with Del. Rip Sullivan and discuss his HB 1633 Vulnerable User bill, which has been assigned to the House Courts of Justice Criminal Law sub-committee, which meets on Mondays & Wednesdays, 1/2 hour after adjournment (that usually means around 1:30 to 2:00). Since it wasn’t on the docket today, we will look for it on Monday. Shortly after our meeting, we ran into Del. Jim LeMunyon, who informed us that he had signed on to the bill as a co-patron, which was very good news, balancing the Democrat patron with a Republican co-patron, and making it a bi-partisan bill, which is always helpful. Shortly after that, we got some bad news, as Sen. Bill DeSteph from Va. Beach informed us that he had declined to sign on as Co-Patron on Sen. Surovell’s similar Vulnerable User bill, SB 1339.

A little later we learned that DMV, their Medical Staff, and the patrons of the two Driver Vision Testing bills, HB 1504 & SB 1229, were making some changes to the vision requirements so the bills are being passed by until they are ready. This meant that SB 1229, which was on the docket in Senate Trans would not be heard this afternoon.

With a huge crowd of Latinos (about twice as many as the Hearing Room could hold) on hand to support SB 1345 which would permit DMV to issue Driver Privilege Cards (not a full fledged driver’s license, but which would permit the holder to have ID and drive, but not vote, as long as they showed evidence of paying taxes. After extensive discussion, the bill failed 7-6, along party lines, as the R’s obviously did not want to legitimize what they felt were “illegal aliens” that are the responsibility of the Federal government even tho many of them have been in this country as long as 20 years, driving without a license when they drive, or not being able to get around if they don’t have public transportation. Since the representative of the State Police estimated that there may be as many as 300,000 of these in the state, this problem will continue to be out there.

Once that bill was dispensed with, it wasn’t long before SB 1223 Barker’s Cycling While Intoxicated, Surovell’s SB 1338 Motor Vehicle Passing in a Bike Lane, and Dunnavant’s SB1229 Vision Testing bills were all Passed By until the next meeting. That left only Surovell’s SB 860 Prohibiting Use of Personal Communication Devices While Driving of our bills to be heard. After a good presentation by Sen. Surovell and strong support by me, Drive Smart Virginia, and several other witnesses, the bill failed by a 7-6 vote, along straight party lines as we could not get a single R to vote in favor of the bill.

Now, its on to House Transportation on Thursday morning, where we look forward to seeing Chairman Villanueva’s HB 2023 Maintenance Reimbursement & HB 1606 Prohibiting Hand Held Personal Communication Devices by Drivers In Work Zones.