SB 843, Amended

 

In the 2011 session, Delegate David Bulova and I worked hard on pushing for stricter regulations for the Pickett Road Tank Farm, which has been a source of spills and environmental contamination for fifty years. 

When SB 843 passed, it required the Pickett Road site to be upgraded to current Code requirements, i.e. with double-bottoms and above-ground piping.

In order to mitigate industry impact, the bill was limited to just Fairfax City.  ”Special legislation” for a single jurisdiction is a common practice and completely legal when passed by a 2/3 majority of each body.  SB 843 passed unanimously.   No big deal.

Or so we thought.

On Monday, I found out from the Governor’s office that SB 843 had been amended to weaken its restrictions and also take away the Fairfax-only application.  According to the AG’s office, the limitation to one jurisdiction raised concerns about “equal protection.” 

Are you kidding me?  Equal protection is a legal theory which states that all citizens must be treated equally under the law.  It has no application to above-ground storage tanks (“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all storage tanks are created equal”?)

Due to the political reality of Richmond, Delegate Bulova and I don’t have much discretion here.  We either accept the Governor’s amendment or the bill likely dies.

But that’s a very strange basis to amend legislation.

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