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.