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Legislative Report 1/21/10

Things are very slow in getting posted to the Legislative website, so I have not heard how HB163 Vehicles Passing in the Same Lane made out in House Transportation this morning. Not critical to us, but curious since I heard it in Sub Committee, and will check to see how it fared today.

In Senate Transportation this afternoon, SB 228 Patroned by Sen. Barker from Fairfax & Prince William, which is the Senate version of Stop for Pedestrians in Marked Crosswalks, was reported out unanimously, and now goes on to the Full Senate, where it should have no trouble. Then we’ll see how it does in House Transportation after cross over. It will have tough sledding over there, but hopefully, it will go to the full committee and not to Sub-Committee 2, where I guarantee it will be Dead on Arrival. I spoke in favor of it, as well as all the usual supporters, which numbered eight in all.

Interestingly, this bill was not on the docket as shown on the legislative website, and neither was Sen. Ticer’s SB566 Three Foot Passing & Careless Driving, but both were on the list that Chairman Miller had. Since Sen. Ticer was not aware that the bill was to be discussed, she asked that it be continued to next week’s (Thursday @ 2 p.m.) meeting, which was granted. After the meeting concluded, Sen. Ticer & I conferred with Sen. Ryan McDougle of Hanover county, who I know quite well, and who is a well known defense attorney in this area specializing in DUI, speeding and other motor vehicle violations. As such, his thoughts carry quite a bit of weight with the non-lawyers on the committee in matters like this.

He felt that “3 foot passing” and “Careless Driving” definitely did NOT belong in the same bill, since “3 foot passing” is a Transportation matter, while “Careless Driving” establishes a new class of Misdemeanor, with penalty, which is the province of the Courts of Justice Committee. Additionally, he did not feel that a new misdemeanor was needed, and that he couldn’t support it. He feels that a driver who hits and injures or kills a cyclist should be charged with Reckless Driving (which the Judge can reduce to Improper if he sees fit) or Vehicular homicide, and was surprised to learn that the Commonwealth Atty in the Daniel Hersh case did neither. In any case, if the two items stayed in the same bill, he guaranteed that the bill would be referred to the Courts of Justice committee, where the bill would not survive. Further, he stated that if we dropped the “Careless Driving” from the bill, he would support the change from 2 to 3 foot passing, although he didn’t know what good it does the cyclist (and he has began riding some in the last year, at my invitation).

Getting Ryan on board with us for the 3 foot passing will be a big help (although it will still not be smooth sailing in House Transportation), and I met with Sen. Ticer later and recommended that she remove the “Careless Driving” from the bill, which she agreed was the best tactic. Now we will have a pure “3 foot passing” bill in SB566, which will be heard next Thursday in Senate Transportation, and with Ryan’s support should have no trouble. Then we have to hit the phones to get some support in House Transportation for after crossover.

Some of our group was interested in the rumble strip bill (SB200) which
would have VDOT install rumble strips on all highways w/speed limits of 55 or higher. It was heard this afternoon, and when the VDOT rep stated that their objective was to do just that, eventually, but that the price tag was around $2 Billion, so it wouldn’t be happening anytime soon. With that, Patron Blevins requested that the bill be Carried Over to the 2011 Session, which was Passed.

Much of the session was spent on four Seat Belt bills, the main one being SB9, making non use by anyone, in all seats of a car, a primary offense. After much discussion, it was Reported by a 9 – 4 vote, but was said by some of the Senators that they expected it again to be DOA over in the House.

Tomorrow a.m. we have a conference call with Sen. Edwards, the RRs, and other parties , on SB546 the Landowner Liability bill, which is on the docket for Monday in Senate Ag & Conservation , which is chaired by Sen. Ticer.

Also tomorrow a.m. HB22, the cell phone ban bill, is in House Militia,
Police, & Public Safety.

Everyone should be aware of who their Delegates are, their Emails & phone numbers, and particularly if they are on House Transportation — May, Carrico, Cosgrove, Gear, Oder, Rust, Hugo, Scott, E.T., Tata, Knight, Villaneuva, Comstock, Garrett, Cox, Ward, Ebbin, BaCote, Brink, Toscano, McQuinn, & Carr since that’s where the decisive campaign of this session will be fought.

Find your legislators at the Virginia General Assembly’s Who’s My Legislator page.

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