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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.

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