Sunday, April 14, 2013
"No officer, I was just typing directions into my GPS…"
Texting while driving is dangerous, but some people do it anyway. This year, Virginia's General Assembly passed a measure that increased the fine to $125 (it was $20) for the first infraction and $250 for the second. But Virginia legislators did not pass a hands-free measure like they have in the District, and as such enforcing the law could prove difficult. The problem: Using cell phones to dial a number or setting the phone GPS is legal. “Distracted driving is a big problem, but it’s bigger than just phone use,” said Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, to the Washington Post. “Even if a law were successful in stopping phone use and texting, it wouldn’t eliminate distracted driving.” Northern Virginia Del. Scott …
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Sen. Toddy Puller discusses two hot button issues in the Virginia General Assembly's veto session last week.
The General Assembly reconvened on April 3 to take up the Governor’s amendments and vetoes. HB 2313, the transportation bill, which caused so much debate during the session, came back with amendments which addressed concerns of constitutionality and reduced some of the burdensome fees that my constituents were displeased with. I heard from over one hundred constituents on the issue of the Governor’s recent transportation plan, HB 2313, who came down on both sides of the issue. Although I still feel the repeal of the gas tax and the fee on hybrid cars are misguided, I voted for the bill again during our April 3 veto session for one simple reason: this is the biggest increase in funding for transportation in 27 years, providing substantial …
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Greater Alexandria area senators Adam Ebbin and Toddy Puller voted against amendment that will prohibit certain health insurance companies in Virginia from providing coverage for women seeking an abortion.
By Mark Robinson Capital News Service The General Assembly on Wednesday narrowly approved an amendment by Gov. Bob McDonnell that will prohibit certain health insurance companies in Virginia from providing coverage for women seeking an abortion. McDonnell added the anti-abortion amendment to House Bill 1900, sponsored by Delegate Thomas Davis Rust (R-Herndon). The assembly passed the bill in February to comply with the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Under the system, Virginians who cannot afford health insurance will participate in a federally operated health insurance exchange. McDonnell’s amendment will prohibit insurers participating in the exchange from covering abortion except in the case of rape or incest or if …
Monday, February 25, 2013
Sen. Janet Howell calls compromise — expected to raise $880 million a year for roads and mass transit —"truly the best we're going to get."
Monday, February 25
By Stephen Nielsen, Capital News Service A divided Virginia Senate on Saturday passed Gov. Bob McDonnell’s signature issue of the 2013 legislative session – a bill to overhaul the state’s system for funding transportation. Just hours before the session’s end, the Senate voted 25-15 for House Bill 2313, which will raise about $880 million a year more for roads and mass transit by increasing sales taxes while lowering the fuels tax. The debate over how to increase revenue continued right up until the vote. Here's how Mount Vernon-area Senators voted: Voting for it were: Sen. Toddy Puller (D-36th), Sen. Dave Marsden (D-37th), Sen. Mark Herring (D-33rd). Voting against it was: Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30th) “This isn’t any bill. This is the only …
Friday, February 15, 2013
House subcommittee rejects Senate amendment to allow Virginia governors to serve two consecutive terms.
Friday, February 15
By Shelby Mertens, Capital News Service A House subcommittee has rejected the Senate’s proposed constitutional amendment that would allow Virginia governors to serve two consecutive terms starting in 2017. Sen. Thomas Garrett, R-Lynchburg, introduced Senate Joint Resolution 276. The amendment passed in the Senate on Jan. 28 with a 25-15 bipartisan vote: 16 Democrats and nine Republicans voted for it, while 11 Republicans and four Democrats opposed it. When the Senate resolution “crossed over” to the House this week, however, it ran into trouble. The proposed amendment was assigned to the House Committee on Privileges and Elections. This week, that panel’s Constitutional Amendments Subcommittee recommended tabling the bill, killing it for …
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
The Virginia legislature is approaching "crossover."
The Virginia legislature is now approaching “crossover” – the day that each body must complete work on its own bills and begin work on bills from the other body. As I write this, one of my bills has passed the House and four more are probably headed to the Senate for consideration. Earlier this year, I represented a client who had work done on his condominium by a contractor. My client did not know the contractor was unlicensed. An unlicensed contractor cannot sue because their contract is illegal (like trying to sue on a contract for cocaine), but he placed a lien on my client’s condominium. I was shocked that there was nothing in the mechanic’s lien statute that required a license. My bill requires all contractors to put their …
Friday, February 1, 2013
Virginia Senate bill prohibits smoking in a vehicle when carrying kids aged 15 or younger.
Friday, February 1
By Paige Baxter, Capital News Service The Senate today passed a bill to prohibit smoking in a vehicle when a child under 15 is present. Senators voted 30-10 for the bill, which now goes to the House of Delegates for consideration. All Democrats — including Vienna's senators Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City) and Janet Howell (D-Reston) — supported the bill, along with half of the Senate Republicans. Under Senate Bill 975, proposed by Sen. Ralph Northam (D-Virginia Beach and Norfolk), people who violate the proposed law would face a civil penalty of $100. On the floor of the Senate, Northam said the legislation was inspired by a third-grader who told Northam his parents smoke in the car with him. “It will protect our children and improve their …
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Virginia State Sen. Chap Petersen among those praised for introducing safety legislation Tuesday in first Bicycle Action Day in Richmond.
Thursday, January 31
By Katherine Johnson and Blake Belden, Capital News Service State Sen. Chap Petersen, whose District includes a part of Chantilly, was among the legislators who joined Virginia bicyclists Tuesday for a Bicycle Action Day in Richmond, an event designed to support state legislators who are introducing bills that aim to make roads and biking safer across the Commonwealth. About 15 bicyclists – members of RideRichmond, a nonprofit organization of bicycle enthusiasts, and their supporters – met on the Virginia Commonwealth University campus and biked to the General Assembly Building to demonstrate support for legislation that would require drivers to give bicycles more room on the road. “It’s our day to be supportive and loud,” RideRichmond …
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Del. Scott Surovell presented twelve bills, cast about three hundred votes at four different committee hearings and two floor sessions during a two-day span last week.
Last week in the General Assembly was a busy one. I have introduced 15 bills, three constitutional amendments, one study resolution, seven budget amendments, and I am Chief Co-Patron on four bills. In two days, I presented twelve bills, cast about three hundred votes at four different committee hearings and two floor sessions. As a child of the 80s, it’s more like the late stages of Atari Missile Command. Three of my bills were referred to study commissions. One would require the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to abide by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The SCC is an independent agency that regulates Virginia utilities, insurance, securities and corporations. My legislation to allow real estate brokers to determine who can…
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Virginia senators say GOP redistricting plan is unconstitutional; Republican legislators say proposal helps the state better comply with the Voting Rights Act.
Wednesday, January 23
By Mark Robinson, Capital News Service Virginia Democrats continued to call a Republican-backed plan to redistrict the state's senate seats unconstitutional on Wednesday -- but GOP leaders say the measure could actually help the Commonwealth better comply with the federal Voting Rights Act. After Republicans narrowly passed a bill Monday that included an amendment to redraw the lines of several state senate districts, the result of which in many cases was more seats with GOP-leaning voters, Democrats took to the Senate floor Tuesday to blast the measure, calling it unconstitutional. In remarks on the Senate floor on Monday, the bill's sponsor, Sen. John Watkins, R-Powhatan, said the move would create a sixth majority-African American …