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'…
Friday, February 15, 2013
Virginia will remain among the 21 states that do not give home-schoolers access to play public school sports.
Friday, February 15
By Paige Baxter, Capital News Service. A Senate committee Thursday shot down the “Tebow bill” aimed at allowing home-schoolers to participate in public schools’ sports and other extracurricular activities. The Senate Education and Health Committee defeated House Bill 1442 on a 7-8 vote, taking the matter off the table for this legislative session. All of the Republicans on the committee voted in favor of HB 1442, except Sen. Harry Blevins (R-Chesapeake), who joined the seven Democratic committee members —including Vienna-area Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston) in opposing the bill. Do you think the bill should have made it to the Senate floor? Speak out here. The legislation is nicknamed for NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who as a home-schooler in …
Thursday, February 14, 2013
With 10 days left in the 2013 Virginia General Assembly session, Vienna-area Sen. Janet Howell joins group that will hammer out a transportation deal.
By Whitney Spicer, Capital News Service A conference committee of 10 legislators has less than a week and a half to hammer out a compromise between the House and Senate versions of a bill to increase transportation funding in Virginia. The committee was named Wednesday after the Senate passed a version of House Bill 2313 that differs greatly from a proposal approved by delegates last week. The group will have eight Republicans and two Democrats — including Vienna-area Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston). Nearby, Fairfax's Republican Del. Dave Albo was also appointed to the group. McDonnell said that if the committee can agree upon “a fiscally responsible plan,” he will sign it into law. The panel must agree on a plan before the General Assembly’…
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 …
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
The Virginia House and Senate will have to come together on a comprehensive package quickly.
A Senate Finance Committee passed a transportation plan for Virginia on Tuesday that modifies Gov. McDonnell's proposed plan, which hinges on eliminating the state's gas tax in favor of a larger sales tax. The Senate Finance Committee plan differs from Gov. McDonnell's proposal in key ways—it raises the gas tax instead of eliminating it, for example. (See the summary of the HB 2313 substitute in the media box at right for additional details.) The plan (which was not itself a bill but does move the discussions forward) passed on a 9 - 6 vote with bipartisan support. Sen. Janet Howell, who represents parts of Vienna, Tysons Corner and McLean, along with Reston and surrounding areas, is on the Senate Finance Committee. In an email to Patch…
Thursday, February 7, 2013
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…
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 …
Thursday, January 24, 2013
State Sen. Janet Howell was a sponsor of bill that would demand background checks at gun shows.
A Virginia Senate bill co-sponsored by Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston) that would close the "gun-show loophole" allowing people to purchase firearms at gun shows without a background check died in committee Wednesday. The committee voted 8-7 to stop SB 1001 from going forward. Howell, whose district includes Tysons Corner and parts of Vienna and Oakton, had touted the bill in several town halls even before the session began, trying to garner public scupport. Tighter gun control laws were also a cause she took on in last year's session. Lawmakers were were unable to work out an acceptable compromise, even after Sen. William Stanley (R-Franklin County) said last week he would work with Sens. Henry Marsh (D-Richmond) and Don McEachin (D-Henrico…
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Virginia State Sen. Janet Howell would also lose some of her constituents in Republican redistricting plan.
A Republican effort to redistrict Virginia's state senate would move most Vienna voters into different districts. The changes, introduced as an amendment to a larger bill late Monday, are awaiting House approval, but Democrats — who called the move an attempt to gain control of the evenly-split senate — are gearing up for a fight. Republicans called the redistricting attempt "an effort to create another majority black Senate district." It comes two years after Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the state's traditional redistricting plan, crafted every 10 years with census data in years that end in "1." Introducing yet another plan is unconstitutional, Senate democrats say; voting while Democratic State Sen. Harry Marsh, a 79-year-old civil rights …
Saturday, January 5, 2013
Residents talk Silver Line, gun laws and other issues as legislators prepare for Virginia General Assembly Session.
Gun control was on the minds of residents Thursday- as well as Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd) - as Howell and Del. Ken Plum (D-36th) held their annual public meeting in advance of the Virginia General Assembly session that begins next week. In the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Howell told constituents she will work at the 46-day session to close the gun show loophole in Virginia: a law that allows people to easily purchase a gun at a show without a background check. "Virginia is deplorable in what we do," in regards to gun purchases, Howell said at the meeting Thursday evening at Reston Community Center. Howell, whose district includes parts of Vienna and Tysons, added the lack of funding for mental …