First thing this morning HB320/Don’t Pass Vehicles Stopped at a Crosswalk was tabled by a 12-10 vote, with 3 R’s Rust, Minchew, & LeMunyon joining the 7 D’s in voting AGAINST Tabling. That kills the bill for this session.
The more you look at that bill, the more you see how little it would change the existing section of Code, but it was an attempt to more clearly give a law enforcement officer something specific that they could charge an offender with.
Then most of the rest of the morning was spent with Del. McQuinn and others in trying to work up acceptable language for HB 542 the Mask bill. Originally designed to stop the KKK from parading with masks on, as well as to prevent hold ups by masked people, if you look at the language, going to a masked ball and wearing a medically prescribed mask were exempted. With temps outside in the low teens, it was common to see motorcyclists, bicyclists, and people waiting at a bus stop wearing masks, all of whom were technically committing a felony.
As we met with Del. Todd Gilbert, the Chair of the House General Laws Committee, it was obvious that he saw the problem and was looking for help in developing the proper language that would prevent the KKK (or anyone else) from marching with hoods on, meet the Retail Merchants strong demand that Masked people be discouraged from entering banks and commercial establishments, yet not make Cyclists, Motorcyclists, Hunters, Trick or Treaters, or anyone in the general public wearing a mask to protect their face from the cold a felon. The language we are working on includes a prohibition on wearing a mask for the purpose of concealing one’s identity, as opposed to for protection from the cold. (The motorcycle rep reported that they occasionally wear masks in warm weather to protect their faces from bugs and flying sand) Also included would be a requirement that anyone wearing a mask to protect their face must remove it prior to entering a bank or commercial establishment.
If you would like to be involved in drafting a piece of legislation, print the existing HB542 from the Legislative Services Website and send me any suggestions for language ASAP as we are trying to get this passed as early as next week.
Also in order ASAP are calls to your Delegates supporting HB82, the Following Too Closely bill, which has been Carried Over for the weekend, so that it will be Debated on Monday, and Voted On on Tuesday.