Report from the First Day of the 2017 Virginia General Assembly

Virginia State Capitol

Virginia State Capitol

A very productive opening day at the G.A., as Champe Burnley & I were able to meet with Del. Villanueva, learn that his bill to provide Maintenance Reimbursement for road diets had been filed and had received the number of HB2023. Agreeing that he would welcome co-patrons for the bill, later in the day we met with a number of legislators (or their aides) who had been co-patrons of the similar SB669 last year (which had failed at the last minute) asking them to sign on again this year as co-patrons.

We then met with Sen. Surovell, who was filing his “Due Care” and “No Passing another motor vehicle while driving in a bike lane” bills later today, at which time we expect to get those bill numbers. We learned that he had filed SB860 recently, which would prohibit usage of handheld personal communication devices while driving, which we will support.

We then met with Sen. DeSteph…  (to ask him to sign on as Co-Patron with Sen. Surovell’s “Due Care” bill)

Then we met with Del. Anderson’s aide and received a copy of his HB 1834 which adds a “Distracted Driving” offense to the section of the Code that prohibits Reckless Driving (46.2-868). This will not be a primary charge a law enforcement officer can make, but a driver charged with “Reckless Driving” could have the charge reduced by the Judge to “Distracted Driving” with a fine of $125 ($250 for 2nd offense), as is now the case with Improper Driving. As is the case with the “Due Care” bills, this will add a lesser infraction to the code for infractions that are not as severe as to warrant “Reckless Driving” which has traditionally been considered a very severe charge in this state. We will certainly support this bill, as Del. Anderson continues to work hard to legislatively address the problems caused by distracted drivers.

Along the way, we met with Del. Fowler and discussed HB 1504 & HB 1514, the two bills attempting to get drivers with poor vision off the road that he had filed at the request of Dr. Ed Wortham (an ophthalmologist and the father of Carrie Wortham, who had been killed in Sept. of ’15 by a driver with poor vision who drove into her as she was cycling on Rt. 33). We told Del. Fowler we would be there to support them when they are heard.

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