Del. Scott Surovell (D-44th) and State Senators Adam Ebbin (D-30th) and Toddy Puller (D-36th) relayed the progress of their bills to constituents on Saturday at the Mount Vernon Governmental Center, and briefly discussed pending legislation before the 2013 session comes to a close Feb. 23.
Surovell has been working to get a statewide ban on texting while driving. "Personally, I don't think the bill goes far enough," he said. "Right now, if the bill carries, you're still allowed to browse the Internet while driving, play music and look at your phone and play 'Angry Birds' while driving. It's also a lot harder to enforce, I think. I think it ought to be hands-free….But at least it's the first step."
For the latest on bills in the 2013 General Assembly session, go to the Richmond Sunlight.
One resident said that potential Medicaid expansion is as important as the transportation issue for the State. "A lot of people do not realize this is a prime opportunity to bring Virginia up to the level that other states are already at. It's a start, and 30,000-40,000 people in Fairfax County would become eligible for Medicaid, and that will improve the costs of their medical care, improve the mental health system and it would affect close to a half million people statewide, and this is our one chance," he said. "If the State legislature succeeds in putting in all of these things to delay implementation, it's between 2014-2016 that we get full money for the whole thing from the federal government."
Puller said that the struggle over the issue lies with the House. "I would encourage anyone to send an email if you know someone on the House Conference Committee," she said. "The governor has not been for the expansion. The House is adamantly against the expansion, and the Senate embraced it in our budget."
Surovell's Bills This SessionBill No. What It Would Do Status HB 1908 Double Northern Virginia's representation on the board by basing it on current Congressional District boundaries. Pending in Transportation Committee HB 1909 Streamline rules of evidence to prove blood or breath alcohol in civil action in cases regarding a drunk driving collision. Pending in Courts of Justice Committee HB 1910 Once an address has been changed through the DMV, that information would be electronically forwarded to the State Board of Elections. Passed through Privileges and Elections Committee HB 1911 Requires the Judiciary to report the number of law clerks and responsibilities for Circuit Court judges in Virginia. Pending in Appropriations Committee HB 1912 Streamlines petitioning process to gain child custody in cases with multiple children. Passed HB 1914 Creates a cause of action for selling or publishing information relating to an expunged criminal offense. Pending in Courts of Justice Committee HB 1915 Prohibits school systems from using electronic textbooks until all children in the school system have access to a computer and/or broadband internet service. Pending in Science and Technology Committee HB 1916 Creates a tax credit for solar energy systems, which would equal 35 percent of the installed cost of the system. Awaiting House vote HB 1917 Allows a utility to claim a renewable energy credit for energy bought from systems located in the Commonwealth. Awaiting House vote HB 1973 Clarifies the eligiblilty of people to be able to run a real estate brokerage in the event of the death of the broker. Passed HB 2011 Allows the county to charge a property owner with removal costs if the property is abandoned. Tabled in Counties, Cities and Towns Committee HB 2321 Subjects the State Corporation Commission to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act Pending in General Laws Committee HB 2322 Would require Virginia community colleges to designate a mental health point of contact to provide services to students why may have urgent mental health needs. Pending in Courts of Justice Committee HB 2323 Allows localities to limit the number of title loan businesses, payday lenders or precious metal dealers. Left in Commerce and Labor Committee HJ 655 Repeals the 2006 Marshall-Newman Amendment, which prohibits the State from giving legal recognition to a same sex relationship. Left in Privileges and Elections Committee HJ 667 Ratifies the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment. Tabled in Rules Committee HJ 668 Amends the state Constitution to remove the requirement that voters provide their full social security number in order to register to vote. Incorporated by Privileges and Elections by voice vote HB 1360 Would make it illegal to use cell phone - for any other purpose than a call - while driving. Incorporated by Courts of Justice Committee by voice vote HB 2090 Adds energy generated by solar hot water systems to the state's renewable energy portfolio. Left in Commerce and Labor Committee HB 1695 Allows for a group of homeowners to build solar panels on a thir party's property and net the energy against the electricity bill on their own homes. Passed
Puller sponsored a number of veterans bills this session.
"Their number one priority this year was to have the ability to electronically return absentee ballots. I joined with Sen. McWaters (Republican from Virginia Beach), and we got a bill, which was sent to the House and it was carried over to next year," she said. "I've forgotten how many thousands of military voters on active duty are serving overseas. They got their ballots and mailed them in and they all came in too late to be counted. And it was like 30,000 of them, maybe more. Veterans groups wanted to electronically return those ballots by the next federal election. Veterans have real problems, and I've gotten several letters from people overseas telling me how tough it is for them to vote."
Puller's Bills This SessionBill No. What It Would Do Status SB 730 Adds organizations supporting military families to the list of non-profits that are exempt from sales tax. Left in Finance Committee SB 829 Creates "Virginia Values Veterans" pilot program, which provides incentives for businesses to hire, train and retain veterans. Passed SB 830 Creates a pilot program for electronic absentee voting for veterans. Pending in Elections Subcommittee SB 831 Creates a tax credit for businesses to hire returning and disabled vets. Referred to Appropriations Committee SB 945 Would require certain covered individuals to pay for their health plans in 12 equal alottments a year. Passed Senate/ Tabled in House SB 947 Restricts ability for health insurers to alter prescription drug coverage. Incorporated by Commerce and Labor Committee SB 1298 Exempts military license plates from minimum prepaid order requirements that must be made to be available. Passed Transportation Committee SJ 279 Resolution honoring the life of Col. John Robertson Byers. Passed SJ 351 Resolution commending the Marine Corps Association's 100th Anniversary. Passed
What are both houses doing about the issue of gun control?
"Not much," said Ebbin. "Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49th) had a bill to prohibit the sale of high capacity magazines.
"We initially passed the gunshow loophole bill, only to have it reconsidered 10 minutes later and then it came back the next day and it died. I thought that this would be the year that it would happen, but it didn't happen. -Puller
Ebbin - Even on a voluntary basis so that if you were at a gun show and wanted to do a background check, that bill failed in the Senate," said Ebbin.
Ebbin's Bills This SessionBill No. What It Would Do Status SB 1012 Helps law enforcement track lost or stolen firearms. Failed in Committee SB 1109 Restricts sales of firearms to those judged mentally incapacitated. Failed in Committee SB 1232 Requires a criminal background check for all firearms purchases. Failed in Committee SB 962 Allows 17-year-olds to serve as election officers. Failed in Committee SB 963 Permits election officers at different precincts to share staff. Failed in Committee SB 964 Extends polling place hours from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Failed in Committee
SB 967 Eliminated requirement that certain designations be disclosed on absentee ballot applications. Passed in Senate and House Privileges and Elections Subcommittee SB 968 Says that leaving out a middle name while filling out an absentee ballot form is not grounds for the ballot to be disqualified. Failed in Committee SB 1233 Allows students approved for deferred action status to qualify for in-state tuition. Failed in Committee SB 1354 Gathers information on virtual school applications. Failed in Committee SB 701 Prohibits discrimination in state employment, including on the basis for sexual orientation. Passed Senate/Defeated in House General Laws Subcommittee SB 966 Provides that assault or battery of a magistrate is an equal offense to assaulting a judge. Passed Senate Courts and Justice Commitee SB 969 Repeals the plaw against cohabitation between married adults. Passed Senate Courts and Justice Commitee SB 1273 Vacates records of victims of human trafficking who were forced into prostitution. Referred to State Crime Commission SB 970 Enacts a five cent fee for throwaway plastic and paper bags. Failed SB 1102 Fixes a loophole in emissions inspections in regard to the 2008-2009 Ford Prius Passed Senate and House Transportation Committee SB 871 Requires safety information be given to asbestos workers, and prevents a contractor who lost his license from resuming business. Passed Senate/Defeated in House General Laws Committee