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Updated: 15 hours 44 min ago

Legislative Update #12, Feb. 15, 2019

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 15:50

With the House having convened at 11:00 a.m. today, shortly after adjournment was much earlier than in the last few days, so Sen. Surovell’s SB1550 “Vulnerable Road User” bill was heard relatively early, but after significant discussion with the Rep of the Commonwealth’s Attorneys Assn in opposition along with SubComm Chair Todd Gilbert, the bill was Passed By Indefinitely along party lines by a 5-2 vote, as Rob Bell, Chris Collins, Les Adams, & Margaret Ransone joined Chairman Gilbert in opposing it, while Delegates Vivian Watts & Mike Mullin supported it.

Not clear at this juncture where we stand officially with the two bills banning hand held cell phones by drivers, but it appears that HB1811 will be dropped and Sen. Stuart’s SB 1341 will go on to be approved on the House Floor and then sent on to the Governor for his signature. I will do another update as soon as I receive official word on the status of these bills.

Legislative Update #11, Feb. 13, 2019

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 19:35

Hadn’t yet heard what caused the lengthy session in the House but it resulted in “shortly after adjournment” being right around 4:00 p.m. for House Courts Sub Comm1, and they didn’t have a quorum then, but Chairman Rob Bell and a undersized committee heard some bills without voting on them with the understanding that they would have to adjourn just prior to 5:30 since they would have to get back to the House Floor by then.

As a result they did hear Sen. Mason’s SB1768, the increased penalty for using a cell phone in a Work Zone bill and they will report it as soon as they have a full sub comm.

Sen. Surovell was told that his SB1550 Vulnerable Road User bill will not be heard until Friday, when the SubComm next meets at shortly after adjournment, so we have another day to contact members of the subcomm in support of the bill.

We look for the two bills banning the use of hand held cell phones to be heard in their respective Courts committees on Friday and next Monday.

Many Thanks to Champe Burnley for hanging in there through a long and fruitless afternoon.

Now with an extra day for constituents to contact committee members in support of SB1550, please do so if you haven’t already.

Legislative Update #10, Feb. 12, 2019

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 10:34

On a rainy morning,Sen. Black’s SB1154 Due Care bill was heard first in House Trans Sub1 shortly after 7:00 a.m. and was Passed by indefinitely by an 8-1 vote , following some comments by Committee members that it was too vague.

After two other bills were heard, Sen. Surovell did a nice job of presenting his SB1550 Vulnerable Road User bill, which Champe Burnley and the representative from Alexandria spoke in favor of, following which it was Reported by a 6-3 vote with a recommendation that it be referred to the Courts of Justice Committee, with only Chairman Garrett, Dels. Thomas & Toscano in opposition. Hopefully it will be handled promptly there as time is running short, but Courts does have more than one meeting scheduled before this session concludes. Its very encouraging that this bill has gotten further than ever before as Sen. Surovell has carried it several times previously, but never gotten it this far.

If your delegate is on the House Courts of Justice Committee, please write or call and ask them to support SB1550, the Vulnerable Road User bill, before they meet Wednesday afternoon (do it now).

Legislative Update #9, Feb. 11, 2019

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 00:19

A really long day in the House meant that half an hour after adjournment turned out to be 4:20 p.m. for the House Courts Sub Comm 1 to begin, so it was about 5 when they got to SB1341 the Senate version of the bill banning the use of hand held Cell Phones by drivers.

With the House version of this bill already being familiar to the SubComm members, there was a question confirming whether this bill was indeed identical to HB1811. When it was noted that it was, there was an immediate “Move to Report” followed by passage by a 6-1 vote, without any further discussion or testimony, with only Del. Gilbert in opposition. The entire process taking only about a minute, the bill now moves on to the full House Courts Committee, which should be Wednesday, half an hour after adjournment, where I expect it to get similar treatment as it sails on to the House floor.

The last bill on today’s docket, SB1768 increasing the penalty for using a handheld personal communication device in a work zone to a class 1 misdemeanor, was not heard until about 6 p.m. With the patron not present, after a little discussion, it was passed by for the day, which means that it should be heard by this SubComm on Wednesday, shortly after adjournment of the House.

Now, tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. we have two bills on the docket in House Trans Sub 1, SB1154, Sen. Black’s bill to require a driver to give his full attention to the operation of his vehicle and exercise due care and decrease speed as necessary to avoid a collision with any person, vehicle or other conveyance and making it a traffic infraction for failure to do so.

A somewhat similar bill, Sen Surovell’s SB1550, is also a due care and vulnerable road user bill, and we will watch with interest to see how both of them do in a SubComm that has not been particularly friendly to our cause.

Support SB1550, the Vulnerable Road User Bill, Today!

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 02:01

SB1550 would make it easier to prosecute drivers who hit cyclists, by making it illegal to operate a vehicle in a distracted or careless manner resulting in injury to cyclists, pedestrians, wheelchair users, scooter riders, and other vulnerable road users.

SB1550 will be up for vote by House Transportation Subcommittee #1 this Tuesday morning, Feb. 12, at 7am. If you’re in any of these delegates’ districts…

…please call or write their office today, and tell them to support SB1550, the Vulnerable Road User bill.

If you’re not sure whether you’re in these delegates’ districts, see the Who’s My Legislator page.

Please try to drum up as much support as you can today, by getting everyone to call or write.

We have a good chance of getting this passed, but we need these delegates’ votes!

Legislative Update #8, Feb. 6, 2019

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 23:13

Apologies for holding back on this for a few hours, as I have been waiting to see if any of our five bills that have survived to Crossover have been assigned to Committees yet, but only two have — SB1154, carried by Sen. Black of Leesburg and SB1768, carried by Sen. Mason of Williamsburg, both of which have been assigned to House Transportation, SubComm1, our favorite venue, probably next Tuesday at 7:00 a.m.

SB1154 is sort of a watered down DUE CARE bill which requires the driver to give full time and attention to the safe operation of the vehicle and exercise due care and decrease speed as necessary to avoid a collision with any person, vehicle or other conveyance, with failure to do so being a traffic infraction.

Sen. Mason’s SB1768 increases the penalty for using a handheld personal communication device in a WORK ZONE to a Class I Misdemeanor

Additionally, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sen. Surovell’s SB1550, the Vulnerable User bill we have been following more closely than these other two bills, also get assigned to House Trans Sub 1, where it could join these other two on the same docket.

The top two bills sailed through the Senate without much in the way of problems, while you might recall that Surovell’s 1550 was the one that initially failed 6-6 in Senate Trans with Sen. DeSteph absent, only to squeak through 7-6 after he asked to have his aye vote counted later.

Although they didn’t receive that much coverage in the media, the two Distracted Driving bills that would ban the use of handheld personal communication devices by drivers House Bill 1811/Collins and Senate Bill1341/Stuart, after both gave us some concern by being Passed by for the day on Monday, were passed by their respective houses comfortably on Tuesday, 69-27 and 34-6 and have not yet been assigned to committees in the other house .