Racing Through the Streets (of Richmond)

Dear Friends, Virginians and Citizens of Fairfax:

If the long session in Richmond is a 5K race, the short session is a quarter-mile dash. You start fast and never let up.  This year, the Senate will review nearly 700 pieces of legislation in four weeks before the “cross-over” date.

Here’s the status of my top pieces of legislation as we enter the first turn:

Ethics: My bipartisan bill, SB 696, with Senator Richard Stuart as copatron, institutes a $100 gift cap for state officials.  No hearing yet. Notably, the House of Delegates leadership has adopted a very similar concept.  So I expect this standard to become the law, whether or not I get credit.

Plastic Bag Tax: My bill to institute a five-cent tax on plastic bags to protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed was killed in Senate Finance Committee but did get some “yes” votes. This is a critical piece of environmental legislation but it won’t happen this year.

Dooring Prevention: My annual effort to protect cyclists and motorcyclists from suddenly opened vehicle doors is off to a good start this year, having passed out of Senate Transportation with only three no votes. It will be voted on by the full Senate next week.  I expect it to pass and go to the House.

Homeowners Bill of Rights: This consumer rights legislation will be heard in the General Laws committee on Monday. If enacted, it will be the first legislation specifically created to protect the rights of HOA and condo homeowners.

Overdose Good Samaritan Law: Another bill coming up on Monday, we’ll have counselors and advocates from across the Commonwealth to support a bill that can save lives.  A similar concept has been endorsed by the Attorney General so we’ll see how it goes.

Privacy Protection: My bill, SB 965, has gotten a lot of attention from both the media, the ACLU and police departments. It will prohibit law enforcement agencies from collecting (and keeping) data on citizens, when that information is acquired without a warrant.  It carves out a 7-day exception for “license plate readers” which are used by police departments in northern Virginia.  There is a parallel bill in the house patroned by Delegate Rich Anderson (R-Woodbridge).

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