General Assembly Roundup: Week Three
Sunday hunting bill makes its way through the state Senate
Five bill proposals from the state senators representing Vienna passed through their own chamber last week and await consideration from the House of Delegates.
The General Assembly began its fourth week of the 60-day legislative session on Monday.
Sen. Chap Petersen
The Senate approved a bill that would allow hunting Sundays on private property (SB 464) with a 29-11 vote. The legislation, which had Sen. Chap Petersen's bill (SB 173) on the issue rolled into it, was introduced by Sen. Ralph Northam (D-6th District).
Petersen (D-34th District) had another victory on the Senate floor when his proposal that would require state buildings to follow Virginia Energy Conservation and Environmental Standards (SB 160) passed on a 26-14 vote.
Petersen told Patch before the session he had introduced a similar bill last year — which passed the Senate, but failed in the Republican-dominated House of Delegates — but would re-introduce it this year using the term "cost-effective" rather than "green" to avoid partisan pushback. The General Laws and Technology Committee sent the bill to the floor with an amendment that would change "cost-effective" to "high Nperformance," which the Senate rejected.
Both bills await a decision in the House of Delegates.
But Petersen also saw some of his bill proposals delayed until the next legislative session.
Petersen proposed a bill that would prohibit using closed-circuit cameras in schools to monitor student conduct, with the exception of doing so to protect the physical safety of students. The Education Committee voted unanimously to continue the bill until 2013.
In an Oct. 2 post on his Ox Road South blog, Petersen posted his opinions about the discussion among the Fairfax County School Board members to allow interior surveillance cameras in schools, which they later voted to approve.
"If there is a consistent problem with discipline at lunch or elsewhere, then deal with it the old-fashioned way — have school staff eat lunch in the cafeteria and monitor the students first-hand," Petersen wrote. "There is no need to spend thousands of dollars on a wiring the school so students can be furtively watched from all angles."
Legislation that would reallocate seats on the Commonwealth Transportation Board to align with the current congressional districts rather than the current allocation based congressional lines determined in the 1930s.
"Since those are redrawn after every census, the CTB would reflect current demographics. That's imperative," Petersen wrote in a statement last week.
The Transportation Committee delayed decision until 2013 while the new congressional districts are being set this year, which Petersen saw as a slight shift in the right direction because the committee did not decide to kill the bill altogether.
Sen. Janet Howell
Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd District) saw three pieces of legislation pass without any opposition on the Senate floor.
One would adjust provisions pertaining to protective orders issued by a juvenile and domestic relations district court (SB 300).
According to the proposal, the changes would:
- clarify "only violations related to trespass, criminal offenses, acts of abuse, or prohibited contacts are Class 1 misdemeanors"
- clarify "juvenile and domestic relations district courts have jurisdiction over all protective orders that involve juveniles, whether as petitioner or as respondent"
- allow "judges to prohibit contact between the respondent and the petitioner's family"
Howell also saw the Senate pass her proposed legislation requiring each commonwealth attorney to invite any chiefs of campus police located within the jurisdiction to the annual Sexual Assault Response Team meeting (SB 301).
The third authorizes license plates for Reston that include the legend "LIVE WORK PLAY" (SB 93).
All three bills await action in the House of Delegates.
On Monday, Howell introduced an amendment that would mandate a rectal exam and cardiac stress test for men seeking prescriptions for erectile dysfunction medications, protesting a bill that would require women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion.
"We need some gender equity here," she told the Huffington Post on Monday. "The Virginia senate is about to pass a bill that will require a woman to have totally unnecessary medical procedure at their cost and inconvenience. If we're going to do that to women, why not do that to men?"
Howell's amendment was rejected 21 to 19. The mandatory ultrasound bill, however, passed, HuffPost reported.
House of Delegates
While legislation from Del. Ken Plum (D-36th District) has so far sat idly in committee, Del. Mark Keam (D-35th District) saw three bills effectively killed in committee.
One would have allowed temporary registration of overweight and oversize vehicles and assigns fees based on the amount that a vehicle is overweight or oversize (HB 1038). Another would have reduced the time limit on the duration of building permits from three years to two years (HB 1045).
The Criminal Subcommittee delayed indefinitely Keam's bill proposal that would require Miranda rights be read in the arrestee's native language (HB 1048).
Keam also signed on as a copatron to LeMunyon's resolution that urged political robocalls to citizens who have signed up on political do not contact lists (HR 9). The bill died in the Campaign Finance Committee.
"Unfortunately, the resolution failed in committee, but I have registered with the National Do Not Call Registry and plan to utilize it," LeMunyon wrote in a statement.
The house passed two bills from Barbara Comstock (R-34th Distric).
HB-33 bans state agencies or contractors working on their behalf from requiring or allowing bidders, contractors or subcontractors in a public works or facilities projects to enter into one or more labor organizations on the same or related projects or discriminate against these workers for becoming or refusing to become members of labor organizations.
HB45, which allows VDOT to drive on parts of the highway "other than a roadway at, en route to, or from the scene of a traffic accident, without direction from law-enforcement officers,"
To see legislation proposed by your representatives, click the following links:
- Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd District)
- Sen. Chap Petersen (D-34th District)
- Del. Barbara Comstock (R-34th District)
- Del. Mark Keam (D-35th District)
- Del. Ken Plum (D-36th District)
Petersen will host a town hall meeting with Del. David Bulova (D-37th District) at 9 a.m. Saturday at Fairfax City Hall.