Legislative Update 1/30/15: HB1402 & HB1342 Pass House

HB1402 (providing Maintenance Payments even if motor vehicle lanes are converted to bike lanes) PASSED the House today by a 84-12 vote and now joins the following two bills that have passed their originating body and are awaiting Crossover — SB781 (Crossing the Double Yellow Line) and SB882 (the Dooring bill).

HB1342 (Del. DeSteph’s Following Too Closely bill) has also passed the House, but Sen. Reeves’ identical SB1220 is now on the Senate floor awaiting passage. Should it pass, as I expect, it and Del. DeSteph’s House bill will go into Conference Committee and be “conformed” into one bill considered as having passed all the way through the process so it can be forwarded to the Governor for his signature.

That leaves us with only two other bills still alive prior to Crossover, both of which will be heard in House Transportation SubCommittees on Monday, and both of which we will be opposing — HB1746 (the Mandatory Sidepath bill) which is at 7 a.m. in Sub 2, and HB2353 (Restricting Mo-Peds to Highways with speed limits of 45 or under) which is in Sub 3 at 4 p.m.

It won’t hurt for everyone to contact their Senators in favor of Sen. Reeves’ SB1220 (Following too closely bill)…

…and for constituents to contact LeMunyon (Chantilly), Austin (Bedford), Taylor (Va Beach), Pillion (Abingdon), Ward (Newport News), and Carr (Richmond) in opposition to HB1746

…and for constituents to contact Hugo (Fairfax & Prince William), Scott (Culpeper), Yancey (Newport News), Davis (VA Beach),McQuinn (Richmond) & Plum (Fairfax) in opposition to HB2353

Thanks again for everyone’s efforts! We’re well on our way to having a very productive session.

Legislative Report — January 28, Part 2

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!

Legislative Report – January 28

Today was a good day at the legislature.

I’m happy to report that SB1220, Senator Reeve’s Following Too Closely, reported from Senate Transportation unanimously, 15-0.

Senator Reeves did a great job presenting the bill.

There were a few questions regarding the ability to enforce the law The State Police testified that if this were enacted, they would investigate an incident the same way they would a car on car accident. In the case of a blatant tailgating situation, the police could use their judgement and charge if appropriate.

The VBF, of course, spoke in favor of the bill as did Drive Smart Virginia’s, Janet Brooking. No one spoke in opposition.

The bill passed on a voice vote, with no opposition. A number of Senators were out of the room at the time. Checking back, it appears those absent cast proxy votes and the bill has reported from the Senate Transportation Committee unanimously, 15-0. This is very good news for us and is a testimony to everyones’ hard work. Well done!

In other news, Senator Dance presented her Maintenance Funding bills, SB952 and SB953 which were identical to the House Bills offered by Betsy Carr and acted upon last week.

As expected, both bills were tabled but the Committee recommended they be referred to the Commission on Transportation Accountability. Recommending that they be reviewed by the Commission will allow the legislature to investigate a new policy area which is a positive outcome.

Finally, Senator Jennifer Wexton presented SB1279, her anti-texting bill. It was was tabled, 8-7.

Wexton’s bill was amended to be identical to Delegate Anderson’s HB1926.

There were a number of people speaking in favor of the bill including the VBF, DriveSmart, AAA and a gentleman who had been involved in a distracted driving accident several years ago.

The only people speaking against it were HAM radio operators who felt this might interfere with their ability to assist in times of crisis.

Voting AGAINST the bill: Newman, Watkins, Wagner, McDougle, Smith, Carrico, Alexander, Cosgrove–8.

Voting in FAVOR: Deeds, Marsden, McWaters, Colgan, Favola, Edwards, Wexton–7.

Finally, I’m happy to report that I had a cordial discussion with Delegate Riley Ingram, Patron of the Mandatory Sidepath Bill, HB1746. Delegate Ingram is open to considering a much more limited scope which is a move in the right direction.

We will continue to explore options with him.

In the meantime, I encourage interested advocates to stay tuned until we have further developments.


Legislative Update, 1/27/15

A good day today, which started with HB1402, Del. Loupassi’s Highway Maintenance Payments bill clearing House Transportation with a 17-4 vote and another supporting voter (Del. Delores McQuinn) out sick. The bill now goes on to the House floor to be voted on by the entire 100 Delegates. Although the bill appears to be sailing through, would not hurt for everyone to contact their Delegate asking them to support the bill on the floor, in the next day or so.

Then, on the Senate Floor, SB781, which will permit a driver to cross the double yellow line, when safe to do so, in order to safely pass a bicyclist, runner or pedestrian, was passed by a resounding 37 – 1 with only our old friend, Sen. Carrico keeping his record intact of never supporting a single cycling safety bill in his more than 10 years worth of votes.

Also on the Senate Floor, SB882, the Dooring bill, passed by a somewhat closer 27-12 vote, as Sen. Carrico was joined in opposing the bill by 11 others, including Martin (Chesterfield), McDougle (Hanover) & Garrett (Goochland) from the Richmond area. Now both bills await Crossover, where I expect we will see them both in House Transportation SubCommittee2, probably on Monday, Feb. 9 at 7 a.m.

A big docket tomorrow in Senate Transportation (45 minutes after the Senate Floor adjourns, which is usually somewhere around 1:45- 2:00) containing a number of duplicate bills we have already seen on the House side. In this category are Sen. Bryce Reeves’ Don’t Follow Too Closely bill (Del. Bill DeSteph’s identical bill has already passed the House); Sen. Dance’s two Highway Reimbursement bills (Del. Loupassi’s similar bill has already passed House Transportation); Sen Jennifer Wexton’s bill Restricting Cell Phone Usage by Drivers of Moving Vehicles to Hands Free (Del. Rich Anderson’s similar House bill has already been defeated. Having seen how these bills have fared in the House, it’ll be interesting to see how they do in the Senate. Here again, doesn’t hurt to contact our area Senators on Transportation to ask their support.

Bike Facilities in the I-66 Corridor Improvement Project — Attend These Public Meetings

Map:  I-66 Corridor Improvement Project -- I-495 to Haymarket

VDOT is in the process of upgrading I-66 as a multimodal corridor, along a 25-mile stretch from The Beltway (I-495) to Haymarket. The Custis Trail already runs along I-66 through Arlington. Why not extend it westward, all the way to Haymarket?

According to VDOT’s own Policy for Integrating Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodations and State Bicycle Policy Plan, bicycling should be included in such projects. So let’s hold them to it. Please attend the upcoming series of public meetings, and submit your comments.

Ask VDOT to include a multi-use trail along the I-66 Corridor.  Submit your own comments, or use WABA’s ready made form.

Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling has taken the lead in advocating for this. But like I-66 itself, the Custis and W&OD trails, it’s important to all Virginians, and Washington area residents.

Legislative Update 1/26/15: ‘Dooring’ & ‘Crossing the Double Yellow’ Pass Senate; ‘Stop For Peds’ Tabled

Bad news early this morning in House Transportation SubCommittee 2, as Del. Rob Krupicka from Alexandria’s HB2159 / Stop for Pedestrians in a Marked Crosswalk, despite strong support from five speakers, and none in opposition, was tabled by a 4-3 vote, with Betsy Carr (Richmond), Jeion Ward (Newport News) & LeMunyon (Chantilly) voting yea, while Chairman Garrett was joined by Scott Taylor (VA Beach), Terry Austin (Buchanan), & Todd Pillion (Abingdon) in voting to kill it.

Good news later in the day as the full Senate engrossed both SB781, the “Crossing the Double Yellow Line” bill, and SB 882, the “Dooring” bill, which usually means that they will be passed in the next day’s session.

HB1402 / Del. Loupassi’s Maintenance Reimbursement for Bike Lanes bill is on the docket for the House Transportation Committee tomorrow morning at 8:30.

See our updated list of bike-related bills for 2015, along with a detailed online spreadsheet.

Legislative Update 1/23/15 – ‘Following Too Closely’ Passes House, ‘Crossing Double Yellow’ & ‘Dooring’ Up for Senate Vote

A good first week as HB1342/Following too Closely PASSED the House by a 72-24 vote, with the members of the Transportation Comm supporting it 20 – 2 as they did in Committee. Now it will cross over to Senate Transportation week after next.

RABA members should contact their Delegates and THANK them for their support, except Chris Peace of New Kent 698-1097, Lee Ware of Powhatan 698-1065 & Tommy Wright of Amelia 698-1061 who should receive a call expressing their constituent’s disappointment.

All Northern VA Delegates except Lingamfelter, 804 698-1031 & Hugo 804 698-1040 supported the bill as did all Hampton Roads delegates except Barry Knight, 804 698-1081 so Northern VA & Hampton Roads cyclists should also thank or express disappointment to their delegates. Note that virtually all the opposition was from rural districts.

SB 781/Crossing the Double Yellow Line & SB 882/Dooring are both now on the Senate floor and should be voted on on Monday, so it is timely for all to contact their Senators to support these two bills.

Also on Monday we will have HB2159/Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalks in House Trans Sub 2, so any Hampton Roads contacts to Scott Taylor & Northern VA contacts to LeMunyon will be helpful.

WELL DONE to all who have taken the trouble to make a contact or two! Lets keep it rolling as we have a great chance to make some real progress this session.

Legislative Report 1/22/15 — Maintenance Funding, Cell Phone Restrictions, Following Too Closely

Another early day as House Trans Sub 4 met at 7 a.m. with the feature bill HB1887 going first and taking just about 2 hours. This is the Omnibus Transportation Funding bill which determines how which projects will be funded by the Commonwealth Trans Board now that the funds will be coming from the Sales Tax rather than the State gas tax. Lots of committee member and witnesses questions of Trans Secy Aubrey Lane & Deputy Secy Nick Donohue, both of whom had done their homework and had all the answers. At length, SubComm Chair Greg Habeeb of Salem called those proceedings to a close, stating that the bill would be voted on at next Thursday’s meeting, with no further questions or debate.

Then a few more bills before the three I was interested in were heard last of all. Del. Manoli Loupassi from the Fan District did a nice job of patroning HB 1402 (into which Del. Betsy Carr’s similar HB1501 had been combined) This bill would provide that the Jurisdictions that do their own Highway Maintenance rather than having VDOT do it for them (City of Richmond, Henrico county, and Town of Ashland are in this category) do not lose their maintenance reimbursement if they convert highway “lane miles” to bike lanes, as is now the case. This is a fairly big deal since the current reimbursement practice has been a big dis-incentive for the installation of bike lanes in those jurisdictions).

After some discussion, and some mild dissent from Del. Randy Minchew of Leesburg, the bill was REPORTED by a 6-1 vote, with only Minchew voting against, and now goes on to the full Trans Comm, probably on Tuesday morning at 8:30.

Last of all was Del. Carr with her HB1502, which would give the City of Richmond maintenance reimbursement at 1/2 that of highway mileage for that portion of the Capital Trail which was (and will be) built by VDOT in the City but will be the City’s to maintain (unlike the rest of the Trail, which was built by VDOT and will be maintained by them). With little sentiment by the panel members for helping the City in this way, the bill was TABLED by a 7-0 vote.

I had hoped to get up to the House Militia, Police and Public Safety SubComm meeting to support Del. Rich Anderson’s HB1926 restricting the use of Cell Phones by drivers which started at 7:30. In going up to the 4th Floor to one of the small Conf. Rooms I found all of the room’s seats and standing area jam packed, with about 20 more people out in the Hall trying to hear through the open doors. Interested, but not that interested, I went back down to Trans Sub Comm4 which was in one of the large meeting rooms with plenty of seats. After the meeting, I learned that HB 1926 had been TABLED on a voice vote, which will be a big disappointment to the Drive Smart people and the others working to reduce Distracted Driving, who had some hopes of getting it through. With that result, I don’t hold any hope for Sen. Wexton’s similar, but a little more strict SB1279, which will be heard next week.

Meanwhile, HB1342, the Following Too Closely bill got its 2nd reading today on the House Floor and probably will get voted on Tomorrow. If you haven’t done so, it’s not too late to contact YOUR Delegate and ask them to support it. I think its in good shape, but nothing is certain til the vote is tallied, so your contact will be a big help.

Senate Transportation Committee Meeting Results, 1/21/15

Good news this afternoon in Senate Transportation where both Sen. Garrett’s and Sen. Reeves’ Crossing the Double Yellow Line bill were rolled into Sen. Ken Alexander’s SB781, but he let Sen. Reeves do the patroning. Since we had discussed the bill thoroughly with the State Police Rep prior to the meeting, we agreed to amend the bill, dropping the 25 mph provision and leaving “Safely” as the major condition that had to be met when passing. With that change made, the State Police were now in support of the bill, and only the lobbyist for the Administration spoke against it, after which it was REPORTED overwhelmingly, although perhaps not unanimously. (There is no electronic scoreboard in the room where Senate Trans meets and the official results have not been posted to the website as I report.) When it is we will know the exact score and what the amended bill looks like. (13Y-2N)

Much less complicated was SB 882, the Dooring bill, which Sen. Petersen did a nice job of patroning, had no speakers in opposition and was also REPORTED. Again, I do not yet know the exact score, but I don’t think there were more than 2 Nay votes (the Committee has 15 members). Again, I await the official posting to the website. (9Y-3N)

Sen. Reeves’ Following too Closely Senate bill for some reason was Passed by until next week, which is not critical since Del. DeSteph’s identical bill is moving right along in the House.

All the other bills were handled before the main event of the afternoon, which was the bill pitting the Taxicabs against UBER, which I did not hang around to observe.

Sen. Wexton’s Cell phone restriction bill was Passed by for the day, so Del. Anderson’s similar House bill will go first, at 7:30 tomorrow morning in Militia, Police, & Public Safety, and Champe and I will be there for it, as well as for the three reimbursement for Maintenance bills, which will be at 7 a.m. in House Trans Sub 4.

Also, it is very timely for everyone to contact their Delegates in Support of HB1342, Del. DeSteph’s Don’t Follow Too Closely bill, which got its first reading on the House floor today, and probably will get its final floor vote by Friday, as this Short Session moves right along.

In the Senate Transportation Committee…

…where we have three bills being heard tomorrow afternoon (Wed. Jan. 21) permitting a driver to Cross the Double Yellow Line in order to pass a slower moving vehicle as long as it is safe to do so:

  • SB 781 by Sen. Ken Alexander of Norfolk
  • SB 1027 by Sen. Tom Garrett of Goochland
  • SB 1228 by Sen. Bryce Reeves of Fredericksburg

At some point, if more than one of these identical bills go forward, they will be conformed into one, but for the moment they are all still alive and need our support. Note that 15 states now have such laws, with none reporting a rash of head on collisions as a result.

Also being heard will be SB 882 by Sen Petersen of Fairfax “No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side adjacent to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so” 40 states now have such laws, with Virginia being one of only 10 that don’t.

…and the Senate version of the “Following too Closely” bill, SB 1220 being carried by Sen. Reeves of Fredericksburg

All of these bills need our support, and of the 15 Senators on Transportation, we have:

  • Two from the Richmond area in John Watkins & Ryan McDougle
  • Four from Hampton Roads in Frank Wagner, Jeff McWaters, Ken Alexander, & John Cosgrove
  • Four from Northern VA in Dave Marsden, Chas. Colgan, Barbara Favola, & Jennifer Wexton
  • Two from the Roanoke area in John Edwards & Ralph Smith

…with one each from the Charlottesville area in Creigh Deeds, from Galax in Bill Carrico, & Chairman Steve Newman from Lynchburg.

Let’s have everyone, particularly constituents, make a call or two and see if we can move these bills along.

Please call or email your senator Wednesday morning. There’s still plenty of time. If you need their contact info, use the Who’s My Legislator page.