Read more about Virginia’s new mountain biking mecca. (Grind TV)
Did you know that Harrisonburg is an IMBA Ride Center, one of only 17 worldwide?
Great to see everyone at the Bike Summit! Report & photos soon, but the big news is, “three foot passing” was passed by the House.
HB542, the Mask Bill, after testimony by the Motorcycling rep and me, sailed right through the Senate Courts of Justice Committee with no opposition and now goes on to the Senate floor, where final passage is about as certain as anything we ever see at the Legislature.
Next up is HB 82, Don’t Follow Too Closely, in the Senate Trans Committee after adjournment on Wednesday afternoon.
Although there have been some responses to my appeal to send emails in support of the remaining three bills (the Salsa program shared with us by the Washington Area Bicycling Assn. logs how many, and to which Legislator) I have been disappointed at the resounding level of apathy shown by the vast majority of RABA members.
Responses would still be very helpful, and I urge the rest of you to weigh in, as it never will be any easier than it is made by this program:
These three bills have already been passed by either the House or Senate, and each is now headed to the other. In reality, they’re more than halfway to becoming law.
SB 97, three foot passing: would require motorists to leave three feet of clearance while passing people on bikes — in line with the 22 other states plus DC that have a minimum passing distance. Passed by both the Senate and the House, awaiting the governor’s signature.
SB 225, dooring: “No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side adjacent to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so.” This would make it illegal to open a car door into the path of a cyclist. Killed in committee 2/24.
HB 82, following too closely: would make it illegal for motorists to tailgate non-motorized vehicles — including people on bikes — as well as other motor vehicles.
We can get these bills passed, but we need your help. Please contact your legislators immediately, and ask them to support these bills. To make this easy, our friends at WABA have provided a ready-made, automated email. Go there now.
As to be expected with an uncontested bill, included in a bloc of other uncontested bills, on the very last day of the session before Crossover, HB542 was passed by the House by a 99 – 0 vote and now goes over to the Senate, where I expect it will be referred to the Courts of Justice Committee, perhaps as early as Monday at 8 a.m. As I reported earlier, this bill will make it legal to wear a mask outdoors in public places, but definitely NOT into a bank or retail establishment, as long as it is NOT with the intent to conceal one’s identity, but rather for the physical safety of the wearer. Should we get this all the way through, as I now expect, you winter time balaclava wearers should get ready to cite Section 18.2-422 of the Code of Virginia, should you ever get questioned while wearing one.
This was an excellent example of how, in this legislature, much of the heavy discussion takes place in a bill’s first stop in its originating body, and should it come out of there in good shape, it has a good chance of sailing right through.
Its shaping up as though Monday will be a big day for us, with the Mask bill on at 8 a.m. and both SB97 the 3 ft. Passing Bill & SB225 the Dooring bill on at 4 p.m. Stand by for an alert on Thursday to make some contacts to the members of the two committees.
Update: Due to having a conflicting commitment, Del. Comstock requested, and was granted, that HB82,the Don’t Follow Too Closely bill, be Passed by for the Day, so that it will be listed on the Docket of the next meeting of the Senate Trans Committee, which is Wednesday, 2/19, 45 minutes after Adjournment of the Senate.
This does not indicate that the bill is in any trouble, but is only a routine postponement.
Just reported by Champe from the GAB that the Mask bill, HB542 has been reported out of the House Courts of Justice Committee in a bloc of Uncontested Bills, and now goes on to the House Floor, on Monday, unless they have to meet over the weekend, where it should sail on through.
That gives us four bills that we are interested in crossing over, for the first time in a number of years.
No high fives yet, as we need everyone to keep working to get these bills all the way home.
Stand by for further appeals to make contacts in support of these bills late next week.
The last week before Crossover has been a quiet one, with three of our bills, “3 foot Passing”, “Don’t Follow Too Closely”, & “Dooring” all passing their House of origin and awaiting their hearings in the other House starting the week after next. (Please contact your legislators.)
Champe Burnley & Tom Bowden did join me for our favorite Monday morning at 7 a.m. House Trans Sub 2 meeting, where we had been led to believe that we had a chance for HB277/the “Stop for Pedestrians in a Crosswalk” bill patroned by Del. Rob Krupicka to be reconsidered since it had previously failed to report by a 3 – 3 vote with one of the members absent with a Drs. appointment. Alas, SubComm Chair Dr. Garrett from Lynchburg kept his unbroken streak of opposition intact to any bill that would benefit bicyclists or pedestrians intact by failing to call the bill for reconsideration.
Smarting a little from that not entirely unexpected setback, we headed for the General Assembly Building’s Cafeteria for a bit of breakfast and networking with early arriving legislators following which it was back out into the rain for the walk down to the Patrick Henry building for our appointment with Molly Ward. We briefed her on the 2015 races, and the Trails projects currently underway in the state — Cap2Cap, Tobacco Heritage, Beaches to Bluegrass, and U.S. Bike Rt. 11. After a lengthy audience with her, we departed encouraged.
After meeting again with Del. Dolores McQuinn and her aide to go over the several times modified language for HB 542, the bill that currently makes it a felony to wear a mask, and learning that it finally was listed for hearing on Wednesday at some indefinite time after adjournment, we departed the GAB still well before lunch time.
Come Wednesday, with no one having a real idea when the Criminal Law SubComm of the House Courts of Justice Comm would be meeting, only that it would be after the Adjournment of the House (usually about 1 p.m. or so) and the conclusion of the Constitutional and then the Ethics SubComms of the Committee. Not wanting to be late, having spent so much time on this bill already, Champe & I arrived about 3 p.m. only to find that the House had not adjourned until 2:45, so that the Constitutional SubComm was just getting started. It had a lengthy docket, with a number of controversial bills on it. So we had a chance to hear the spirited and lengthy debates on several Abortion bills and a number of other less controversial ones, prior to the SubComm finishing its business about 5:45.
With no break in between, the same 11 persons became the Ethics SubComm and launched right into the bill to revise the law regarding the acceptance of gifts by elected officials. Even though this topic was discussed solely by the Committee members with no testimony from the audience, it took almost two hours before it concluded.
With the clock now approaching 8, the same SubComm changed hats again and became the Criminal Law SubComm which began to hear the Docket our Mask bill was on. Unfortunately, our patron had been a little late in signing up to be heard, so we were down the line a bit. Late hour or not, the Committee was giving the full treatment to each bill, for which they are to be commended.
Finally, a little after 10, our bill was called, and our much revised language was presented by Del. McQuinn to the still attentive Committee, with the representative of the motorcyclists testifying very effectively and citing previous cases involving bikers wearing masks and being stopped by law enforcement. I followed him, followed by a law enforcement rep, one from the Retail Merchants (who wanted no masks whatever inside their banks and stores, stating that the police would be called immediately if someone entered wearing one). Lastly came the rep from the ACLU, who recognized the problem, but was concerned that people might be stopped by law enforcement for no reason other than wearing a mask. Along the way, the exception we had put in for “participating in recreational activities” was stricken since one of the delegates didn’t want the Ku Klux Klan to be able to say while marching that they were participating in a “recreational activity”. Finally, after some back and forth, language was generally agreed upon that would leave as a felony anyone “wearing a mask with the intent of concealing their identity”, recognizing that someone riding a motorcycle, or bicycle, or standing waiting for a bus, or hunting, or running in cold weather, would be considered as “protecting their face” rather than “intentionally concealing their identity” and would be taking it off prior to entering a retail establishment. After all of this, the bill was unanimously reported by the 11 members and will go on to be heard by the full Courts of Justice Committee, probably tomorrow.
As we walked out at 10:38 p.m. we said “Good Luck” to the guys in orange caps who had also been waiting since about 3 p.m. to oppose a bill they felt was trying to restrict their “fox penning” . When I note on the Legislative website this morning that the bill was Passed by Indefinitely by a voice vote, I would assume that they went home happy, some time around 11. Although I’ve not experienced this previously in the 15 years I’ve been going down there, some of the regulars tell me that this occasionally happens on the House side only, when certain committees get a backlog of bills and Crossover is approaching.
Please, no one nominate me to run for Delegate! $18,000 a year is not enough to compensate one for this kind of pressure, and I commend the ones who take on the responsibility.
SB 225, the dooring bill patroned by Sen. Chap Petersen, was passed by the Senate today 28-12. How senators voted is below. While support was bipartisan, the “noes” were only Republican.
Now it goes to the House after Crossover (Wed. Feb. 12).
If your senator voted for the bill, a note of thanks is in order; if they didn’t, a note expressing your disappointment. More importantly, ask your House delegate to support this bill when it gets to the House.
We can never take votes for granted, as shown by some surprises here — including some pleasant ones, like Sen. Carrico voting with us, after a perfect record of voting against.
YEAS — Alexander, Barker, Carrico, Colgan, Cosgrove, Deeds, Ebbin, Edwards, Favola, Garrett, Howell, Locke, Lucas, Marsden, Marsh, McEachin, McWaters, Miller, Newman, Norment, Petersen, Puckett, Puller, Saslaw, Smith, Vogel, Watkins, Wexton — 28.
NAYS — Black, Hanger, Lewis, Martin, McDougle, Obenshain, Reeves, Ruff, Stanley, Stosch, Stuart, Wagner — 12.
Update: SB 225 ‘dooring’ has passed the Senate.
Good news on HB82-Comstock, Don’t Follow Too Closely, as it passed the House by 68 -28. Looks like the two who didn’t vote would have probably been 1 -1. From the Richmond area, we were surprised to see that Delores McQuinn, Joe Morrissey, and Chris Peace voted Nay, everyone else voted For the bill. Even better in Northern Virginia & Hampton Roads, where it appears that ALL delegates voted for the bill, R & D. That leaves most of the Nay votes to come from the western and central rural sections of the state. Next stop for this bill will be Senate Transportation on a Wednesday about 2 weeks from tomorrow, after it crosses over.
With 3 foot passing coming along after Crossover in about two weeks, it will be helpful if everyone thanks their delegate for their support of this bill, and alerting them that SB97, 3 foot passing, will be coming along and hoping that they will continue to support bicycling safety by supporting it also. In the Richmond area, we will also express our disappointment to the three delegates who didn’t support the bill and ask them to be with us on 3 foot passing.
HB1237, Sunday Hunting, passed the House on the same docket by a 71 – 27 count, which was not as close as I expected it to be. As I had expected, most of the opposition had come from the rural and urban delegates; most of the support from the suburban.
SB225, the Dooring bill, has had 2nd reading on the Senate Floor and been passed by for the day once, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it voted on tomorrow. Last minute calls to ALL Senators will not hurt!
And Champe Burnley reports that the new Secretary of Natural Resources, Molly Ward, has agreed to meet with a small delegation of us on Monday, so we can bring her up to speed on what we are up to. This could turn out…
Here’s the vote on HB 82
YEAS–Albo, Anderson, Austin, BaCote, Bell, Robert B., Brink, Bulova, Campbell, Carr, Cole, Comstock, Cox, Dance, Davis, DeSteph, Farrell, Filler-Corn, Fowler, Futrell, Greason, Habeeb, Head, Herring, Hester, Hope, Howell, A.T., Hugo, Ingram, James, Jones, Keam, Kory, LaRock, Leftwich, LeMunyon, Lingamfelter, Lopez, Loupassi, Marshall, R.G., Mason, Massie, McClellan, Minchew, O’Bannon, Orrock, Plum, Pogge, Rasoul, Robinson, Rush, Rust, Scott, Sickles, Simon, Spruill, Stolle, Surovell, Taylor, Toscano, Villanueva, Ward, Ware, Watts, Wilt, Wright, Yancey, Yost, Mr. Speaker–68.
NAYS–Adams, Bell, Richard P., Berg, Byron, Chafin, Cline, Edmunds, Fariss, Garrett, Gilbert, Helsel, Hodges, Kilgore, Landes, Marshall, D.W., McQuinn, Miller, Morefield, Morris, Morrissey, O’Quinn, Peace, Poindexter, Ramadan, Ransone, Torian, Tyler, Webert–28.
NOT VOTING–Knight, Krupicka–2.
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.