I had a family commitment today, but Champe did a fine job of covering the Senate Transportation Committee meeting, as four bills, all of which had previously been heard in the House with different patrons, were on the docket.
SB952, patroned by Sen. Dance of Petersburg & Richmond, which is identical to Del. Loupassi’s HB 1402, providing for Highway Maintenance payments from VDOT to jurisdictions even if lanes are converted to bike lanes was Passed by Indefinitely by a unanimous voice vote and referred to a Committee for further study. Since Del. Loupassi’s bill has already cleared the House Trans Sub2 and the House Trans Committees and appears to be sailing through, this result was not unexpected, and the Committee didn’t seem to see a need to let this duplicate bill go forward. So strike SB952 off your list, as henceforth we will only be following HB1402, which presently is on the House floor.
SB953, also carried by Sen. Dance, which was a duplicate of Del. Betsy Carr’s HB1502, providing for the Payments from VDOT to jurisdictions for the maintenance of paved trails that had been built by VDOT, met a fate similar to that met by 952, and it can also be stricken off your list. It’s demise was not a surprise either, since the identical HB1502 had not survived in the House Transportation SubCommittee.
Next came SB1220 the Don’t Follow Too Closely bill carried by Sen. Bryce Reeves of Fredericksburg, the House version of which, carried by Del. DeSteph of VA Beach, has already cleared the House and is awaiting crossover. Quick work was made of this one as, after Champe Burnley spoke in favor of it, it was Reported unanimously (15-0) with the yea votes including that of Sen. Carrico. Since this was his very first vote in favor of a Bicycling Safety bill in more than a decade, I lost my bet with Champe and gladly owe him a bottle of Champagne. I have a similar bet, which I also hope I can lose the first time Del. Scott Garrett votes for a bike safety bill. He did vote for Del. Loupassi’s Maintenance Funds for Bike Lanes bill yesterday, but I didn’t count that as a Bike Safety bill, so the bet still stands. Now Sen. Reeves’ bill is on to the Senate floor very soon, where it is in order for everyone to ask their Senator to support SB1220. Should it get through, we’ll then see how they handle it, with DeSteph’s identical bill already having cleared the House.
Lastly, Sen. Wexton’s SB1279, providing a penalty for a driver using a handheld communication device while driving, was Passed By Indefinitely by a 8-7 vote, despite the strong support of VBF, AAA, and Drive Smart Virginia. An interesting voting pattern on this one, as the R Senator McWaters from VA Beach joined the D’s to vote FOR the bill, while D Senator Alexander of Norfolk joined the R’s to give them the deciding vote to kill the bill. It also should be noted that this bill, having been assigned to the Transportation Committee in the Senate, came much closer to being reported than did Del. Rich Anderson’s similar HB1926 which had been assigned to the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee in the House, where it was tabled by a unanimous voice vote.
Now we have SB1220/Following Too Closely on the Senate Floor to ask our Senators to Support plus HB1402/Maintenance Reimbursement for Bike Lanes to ask our Delegates to support on the House floor. Lets see if we can get both of these out of their originating House to Cross Over, as Bill DeSteph and his Following too Closely bill already has done, along with SB781/Crossing the Double Yellow Line , and SB882/Dooring. Keep up your support, its really helping!