Thursday, February 21, 2013
Virginia Sen. Chap Petersen speaks out against police power in bill headed to governor's desk.
Thursday, February 21
One of the biggest public safety concerns over the past few years has been “texting while driving.” There have been countless accidents, including fatal ones, caused by foolish people who send texts while operating a moving motor vehicle. It’s hard to think of a more dangerous activity. As with all public safety problems, the General Assembly of Virginia has the answer. Or at least an answer. In 2010, we outlawed “driving while texting” and made it a civil infraction. As noted before in this column, that was a mistake. By establishing a lesser penalty for “DWT,” we essentially removed that activity from the list of “reckless”driving offenses. So drivers who caused a fatal accident while texting were guilty — of a civil penalty not …
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Sen. Janet Howell votes for bill that would impose harsher penalties, make texting while driving a primary offense; Sen. Chap Petersen votes against it.
A bill that would impose tougher penalties on those convicted of texting while driving cleared the state Senate on Tuesday and now heads to the desk of Gov. Bob McDonnell. The bill increases the fine to $250 — up from $20 — for the first texting-while-driving offense and $500 for each subsequent conviction. It also makes texting while driving an aggravating circumstance to reckless driving, and so anyone convicted of such would face a mandatory minimum $500 penalty if they were texting while they were driving recklessly. Texting while driving would also become a primary offense, which means police can stop someone on the suspicion that a driver is texting; current law allows police to charge someone with texting while driving only if they'…
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Vienna Sens. Chap Petersen, Janet Howell vote against measure aiming to thwart voter fraud, joining critics who say it will make it harder for residents to vote.
Thursday, February 14
By Michael Schuster, Capital News Service The Senate Privileges and Elections Committee has approved a bill supporters say would help thwart voter fraud — but the proposal's opponents claim it would only make it harder to vote. The committee voted 8-6 along party lines Tuesday for a bill that would limit the number of acceptable forms of voter identification – the types of documents someone must present in order to cast a ballot. Currently, voters can identify themselves by presenting a voter registration card, a driver’s license or various other documents. House Bill 1337, proposed by Delegate Mark Cole (Fredericksburg) would remove utility bills, bank statements and paychecks from the list of documents that would be accepted at polling …
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
House subcommittee rejects Senate amendment to allow Virginia governors to serve two consecutive terms.
Wednesday, February 13
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 — including Vienna's Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) — opposed it. When the Senate resolution “crossed over” to the House this wek, 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 …
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Vienna's Sen. Chap Petersen speaks out against proposal that would allow localities to impose a 1 percent income tax without voter approval.
The Virginia State Senate has passed a bill that would enable Virginia localities to create a local income tax to fund improvements to transportation infrastructure. Under the legislation, SB 1313, which is now awaiting review in the House of Delegates, local governments would be allowed to establish an income tax of up to 1 percent without approval from voters. The bill would affect the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William, and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park. Current Virginia law dictates a jurisdiction’s residents must approve a local income tax in a referendum. The majority of Virginia localities, like Fairfax County, rely on road maintenance from the state, with the …
Vienna will stay in Chap Petersen's district after Republican-sponsored Senate bill, which proposed redrawing many districts for GOP edge, failed.
Virginia Speaker of the House William J. Howell (R-Stafford) broke with his own party on Wednesday, using a procedural ruling to stop the Republican-sponsored redistricting plan. The plan might have had a chance of passing the Virginia House if it made it to the floor for a vote, but Howell quashed the bill, clearing the way for the House to concentrate on Gov. Bob McDonnell's transportation plan, The Washington Post reported. “I am committed to upholding the honor and traditions of both the office of Speaker, the institution as a whole and the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Howell said in a statement. The Senate had made changes to the House measure, so it had to return to the House of Delegates for approval. Howell said the amended bill was…
Friday, February 1, 2013
Virginia Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City) leads charge against proposal, which now goes before the House.
Friday, February 1
By Shelby Mertens, Capital News Service Starting in 2017, Virginia voters could have the opportunity to re-elect the governor to a second consecutive term if the House joins the Senate in seeking to amend the state’s Constitution. The Senate this week approved a proposed constitutional amendment to allow governors to serve two terms in a row. The vote was 25-15. The resolution now moves to the House of Delegates, where its fate is uncertain. “I’m not real optimistic about its chances, but I think it’s the right thing to do,” Sen. John Miller (D-Newport News) said. "We ought to give the voters the opportunity to decide whether a governor should keep his job and be re-elected." Virginia is the only state that does not allow governors to …
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Virginia Senate bill prohibits smoking in a vehicle when carrying kids aged 15 or younger.
Thursday, January 31
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 …
Del. Mark Keam votes for the amended package, which would eliminate Virginia's gas tax and hike sales taxes to raise $3 billion over five years.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s controversial transportation bill passed the House of Delegates Finance Committee on Wednesday, moving past its first hurdle in the state's 2013 General Assembly session. In a 14-8 vote, the committee passed McDonnell’s package, which calls for eliminating the state’s 17.5 cents per gallon gas tax and raising the state sales tax from 5 percent to 5.8 percent. The plan would also keep the 17.5 tax on diesel fuel and increase vehicle registration fees. It would also raise the amount of the state’s sales tax that goes to transportation from 5 to 75 cents over a five-year period. McDonnell said the bill would raise approximately $3 billion in that time, including $1.8 billion for new construction. The committee — …
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Virginia State Sen. Chap Petersen among those praised for introducing safety legislation Tuesday in first Bicycle Action Day in Richmond.
Wednesday, January 30
By Katherine Johnson and Blake Belden, Capital News Service State Sen. Chap Petersen 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 bicyclist Brantley Tyndall said of the group's …