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Advocacy Update #4 — Cell Phone Ban, Minimum Speed Limits

With Senate Trans & Courts of Justice both scheduled at exactly the same 15 minutes after adjournment (which turned out to be 1:45 on 1/24), I opted to attend Courts since Surovell’s SB74/Prohibiting the use of Handheld Personal Communication Devices while Driving had been re-referred there after starting out in Trans and being sent on to the floor by an encouraging 9-4 vote and now being bounced back to Courts. We had to hear several other bills first in Courts since Sen. Surovell was also carrying the much publicized “Driver Cards for Immigrants” bill across the hall in Trans and their chair wanted him on first in order to thin out the crowd in the packed wall to wall room. After going down to defeat over there for the third year in a row (this year by a party line 7-6), into Courts he comes where he is called upon next.

Since he’s also carried this bill previously, he does an excellent job of presenting it, citing the increase in motorist, pedestrian, and cyclist fatalities over the past two years, (generally considered to be due to the increase in distracted driving) and being followed by my testimony in support, that of the mother of a victim, representatives of law enforcement, Drive Smart Virginia, Triple A, Geico, and several individuals, the vote is called for. Once again, the bill is defeated, this time 11 – 4 as several D’s fail to support it, and one R does, leaving us to ask a few senators what their problem is with the bill. As expected, our local senators, McDougle (Hanover), Sturtevant (Richmond), & Peake (Goochland) all opposed the bill.

Now some time to kill prior to House Trans Sub3 at 4 p.m. where HB428 carried by Del. Danny Marshall of Danville which would apply a Minimum Speed Limit of 45 mph to all Primary Roads will be heard. Another small meeting room , but this time not overly crowded. Del. Marshall, who proudly has a reputation as a race car driver has carried similar bills previously where he has stated that he has come upon from behind and almost hit mo-peds on Rt. 58 and therefore wants to get them off the road. After some discussion he offered to change the language in his bill from “primary highways” (which would include such roads in this area as Broad St., Brook Rd., & Patterson Ave.) to “limited access highways” (Chippenham Parkway, Rt.288, Willey Bridge, etc.) which the Commonwealth Transportation Board already has the authority to prohibit certain types of vehicle from. With this amendment, we had no objection to the bill, and it reported unanimously.

That being enough for the day, we departed to spend a little time checking to see if we had any bills remaining that we were concerned about as our list is getting short, and we’ll have to check to see if we have anything listed in the next few days.

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