These Short (46 day) Sessions really fly by, and this one was no exception. Unlike some years, we had more in the way of successful results than usual. In the partisan world that is the Legislature these days, much of our success has been due not to the increased merits of our positions, but rather to the fact that our successful patrons and co-patrons have been from the majority party’s side of the aisle.
First the BAD NEWS, as we did have several bills we would have liked to get passed FAIL to survive at some point along the difficult winnowing process. In this category were…
SB 882 the “Dooring” bill “No operator shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side adjacent to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so”. Passed through Senate Transportation 9-3; through the Senate 27-12; but was rejected in House Transportation SubCommittee2 by 4-3
HB 2159 “Motorist to stop for a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk” As has been the case with this bill a number of times over the last decade, it again failed to survive in House Transportation SubCommittee2, this time by a 4-3 vote.
HB 1926 & SB 1279 Two similar bills “to prohibit a person operating a motor vehicle from using a personal communications device, unless its operation is hands-free” both failed early, the House bill in the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee by a voice vote, and the Senate bill by an 8-7 vote in the Senate Transportation Committee.
But some GOOD NEWS followed, as…
SB1220 & HB1342 the identical bills stating that “The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer more closely than is reasonable and prudent” both passed all the way through. The Senate bill unanimously clearing both Senate Transportation and the Senate floor, while the House bill came through Transportation Sub2 6-1, Transportation 20-2, and the House floor 75-22
SB 781 including two other identical Senate bills, 1027 & 1228 that were rolled into it, which provided that “A motorist may cross the double yellow (or solid and broken) line in order to pass a bicycle or pedestrian provided such movement can be made safely” also passed all the way through, clearing Senate Transportation 13-2, Senate floor 37-1, House Trans Sub2 6-1, House Trans 21-1, and House floor 87-9
HB 1402 into which several other bills were either rolled or dropped, provided for “VDOT to reimburse Cities and Towns for maintenance of travel lanes, even if lanes were converted to bike lanes” This bill became controversial and got amended several times, becoming strictly for the City of Richmond (instead of statewide), for one year only, but to be studied by the Secretary of Transportation’s office prior to being brought back next year, before it was finally passed, getting through the House by 84-12, and the Senate unanimously.
All these bills now go on to the Governor for his signature prior to taking effect on July 1.
Three other bills which we opposed all failed to report out of their first committee hearing. This group included…
HB 1746 which would require “Bicyclists to be on a bicycle path or trail, provided one was available, rather than on the highway”
HB 2353 “Prohibiting operation of mopeds on highways where the posted speed limit is greater than 45 miles per hour”
SB 1175 “Permitting localities to impose a tax on bicycle rentals”
Thanks to all who took the trouble to make contacts to their legislators in support of, or opposition to, these bills. Their efforts were definitely helpful and much appreciated, and if you haven’t thanked your legislator for their support (or expressed your disappoint at their lack of it) its not too late to do so.