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Thread: Virginia Legislation Action Thread

  1. #1
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    Exclamation Virginia Legislation Action Thread

    Hi, all. I thought it would be helpful to start a new thread that summarizes the state of play for the various bits of legislation working its way through the General Assembly in Richmond. I'll lead off with WABA's Action Alert for today's items, and then follow up with a post about other pending items.

    Today:

    Please Act Now to Support SB 1060 and Oppose SB 731 in the Virginia Senate


    The Virginia Senate Transportation Committee will consider two bicycle-related bills on Wednesday afternoon (1/23/13). We need you to respectfully ask the Senate Transportation Committee members to:


    1) Support SB 1060, Reeves, which would prohibit motorists from rear-ending or side-swiping bicyclists (i.e., following bicyclists too closely or passing bicyclists with less than a 3-foot gap).


    2) Oppose SB 731, Carrico, which would prohibit riding mopeds on highways with speed limits above 35 MPH. If moped riding is banned, bicycling may be next!
    You can identify and contact your state legislators from the Who’s My Legislator page.
    If your Senator is listed below, call or email them directly - constituent calls really matter. Otherwise, you may call or email all three committee members from NoVA or bulk email the entire 14-member committee by simply copying the email addresses on this page and pasting them into your email's To: field.


    Senate Transportation Committee Members from NoVA

    * Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31st District), 804-698-7531, <district31@senate.virginia.gov>
    * Sen. Dave Marsden (D-37th District), 804-698-7537, <district37@senate.virginia.gov>
    * Sen. Chuck Colgan (D-29th District), 804-698-7529, <district29@senate.virginia.gov>




    Thank you for acting on very short notice to improve bicycling in Virginia. Unfortunately, bills move swiftly at the Virginia General Assembly, and we only learned yesterday afternoon that these bill would be heard today. If the Senate Transportation Committee reports these bill today, they will be considered by the full Senate in just a few days. Please check our blog for regular updates - we'll try not too email you too frequently.


    Due to the response to our recent action alerts, the Virginia Senate has already passed SB 736 (prohibits dooring), whereas the House Transportation Committee has passed HB 1950 (prohibits rear-ending bicyclists) with a 20-1 vote.
    I cannot emphasize enough now much of a difference actual constituent contact makes on these matters. We turned some votes last year with them, and have again this year. We need that to keep happening. Please feel free to cut, paste, and forward to your friends and relatives who don't read the forum.

    Finally, the General Assembly makes it difficult to get notice of what's on the docket in a timely manner, unfortunately, so if communications/action alerts seem a bit rushed and disjointed, well . . . there are many things I'd like to fix about Richmond. But let's start with getting better bike legislation out of them.

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    Mark, just for clarification, is SB 1060 the Senate version of HB 1950, to which we alerted about a week or two ago?

    Thanks.

    Liz

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    Quote Originally Posted by eminva View Post
    Mark, just for clarification, is SB 1060 the Senate version of HB 1950, to which we alerted about a week or two ago?
    No. HB1950 simply addressed following too closely (with slightly different language*). SB 1060 addresses following too closely AND giving at least three feet clearance when passing. Ideally, we'd get SB1060 passed in both houses. Unfortunately, the 3 foot language seems to stir up great opposition in the House of Delegates.


    *SB1060 would prohibit a motor vehicle from following another vehicle too closely. HB1950 would prohibit a vehicle from following another vehicle too closely. The problem? Is that the language of HB1950 could very well be construed (and was, by some of the delegates that voted for it) as prohibiting drafting/pacelines. Srsly.

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    Default Update on SB 959 (Trail Stop Signs Crossing Highways)

    Unfortunately, Senator Favola's SB959 passed the full Senate yesterday, with a unanimous vote in support of it. Unless it fails in the House of Delegates, it will become law. Keep in mind that it, as poorly considered as the bill is, it still requires passage of a local ordinance to bring into effect. So there are a number of points at which this can be addressed in the future.

    Remember, it's an unnecessary bill (cyclists and pedestrians already have a duty to not enter the road in disregard of approaching traffic) and creates an opportunity for revenue-raising harassment of cyclists who fail to put a foot down at every stop sign (something Loudoun County already engages in). And by all reports, Loudoun County was lobbying heavily for it, so you can be sure they're going to try to recover their costs on the W&OD this summer.

    The identical bill in the House is Del. Greason's HB2217. We'll let you know as soon as we see/need action on that.
    Last edited by Mark Blacknell; 01-23-2013 at 09:26 AM.

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    Default Update on SB736 (Anti-Dooring Bill)

    Sen. Chap Petersen's SB736 (here, and the subject of this thread) passed the Senate with a vote of 23-17. The split vote should make us concerned about passage in the House. In fact, one of the Senators voting against it was the same Senator that is sponsoring the following too closely/3 foot bill!

    There's nothing more to be done about it in the Senate, but it will be a tough one in the House. We'll especially need the help and support of the following three Delegates (who sit on the Transportation Subcommittee #2):
    • Del. Richard Anderson (R-Woodbridge)
    • Del. Barbara Comstock (R- Fairfax/Loudon/McLean)
    • Del. Randall Minchew (R- Leesburg)
    We're going to need you to flip through your Virginia address book and ask friends who are constituents of these particular Delegates to speak up on behalf of cyclists everywhere.

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    Default Update on HB1950 (following too closely)

    Del. Alfonso Lopez's HB1950 passed out of committee and is now awaiting a vote in the full House. This bill provides that: "The driver of a vehicle shall not follow another vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to the speed of both vehicles and the traffic on, and conditions of, the highway at the time."

    As I noted above, some of the Delegates are of the curious opinion that this language would prohibit drafting/pacelines (the idea being that one cyclist following another cyclist closely is not "reasonable and prudent"). I don't think that's the case at all, but I'm up for finding out. So what we need on this is:

    1) If you live in Virginia, let your Delegate know that you need his/her vote on this, now (we don't know when it's up for a vote, but it could be most any time).

    2) If you live in Del. Lopez's district (Arlington/Alexandria), let him know you appreciate his making this happen. Feedback matters.

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    Default Various Other Bills

    There are, of course, other bills that indirectly impact cyclists (say, improved enforcement of texting laws or even the big transportation package), but I'll stay focused on the bills above. If someone identifies another bill and wants to make a case for action by fellow forum members on it, that's certainly welcome on this thread.

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    Okay, Mark, you are keeping us busy today, but I think I did what you wanted:

    -Sent an email to the three Northern Virginians on the Senate Transportation Committee (with cc to my senator) for recommended action on SB 1060 and SB 731

    -Sent an email to my own delegate for recommended action on HB 1950

    -Am awaiting further instructions on SB 959

    -SB 736 -- am I awaiting further instructions, or should I send an email to the three Northern Virginia delegates identified above now?

    Thanks.

    Liz

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    Thanks, Liz. One of the tougher things about managing advocacy campaigns is supporter burnout. Unfortunately, Virginia's compressed legislative calendar just compounds that (this isn't nearly as a big an issue when it comes to DC or Maryland).

    And yes, you're correct on everything above. There's no corresponding House Bill for SB736 yet, so best to just hold until there is (that'll happen after crossover - February 5th, I believe).

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    Glad to see HB1950 passed out of committee. Isn't that the one that died in committee last year? I reached out to some local legislators and made a non-traditional appeal on the matter that I hoped may catch their attention.

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