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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..

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