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.