Another week in the books. As crossover approaches on February 7, my team and I are working hard.
This week was dominated by spirited debate on issues ranging from EVs in Virginia to what our children can or cannot read in schools.
On Wednesday, I spoke on the House floor against HB1378, which would repeal the clean car EV provisions that I teamed with Delegate Lamont Bagby on just two years ago. To repeal it now would set Virginia back. Critics of the Clean Cars initiative, including the Governor and my friends on the other side of the aisle, have often argued that getting to higher levels of electric vehicles in Virginia is just too hard. I disagree. There is nothing Virginians cannot accomplish if we put our minds to it. The bill to repeal passed the House on a party line vote, but fortunately the Senate has already defeated several Clean Cars repeal bills. I am confident HB1378 will meet the same fate in the Senate.
To see my remarks on why we should not repeal the Clean Cars law, please click the picture below.
I had better luck with HB1588, which is an updated version of a bill I introduced last year. It creates the Electric Vehicle Rural Infrastructure Program (the “EVRI Program”) to incentivize private developers to install EV charging stations in rural Virginia. The federal dollars coming to Virginia to build out charging infrastructure are focused on the interstate highway corridors and urban/suburban parts of Virginia. My bill would make sure that every part of Virginia takes part in our electric vehicle transition. I was pleased that HB1588 passed unanimously out of an Agriculture subcommittee and will be heard in full committee next week.
I am disappointed to report that two of my bills did not fare as well. HB1589 is a bill I brought on behalf of the cycling community. It would allow cyclists to follow the pedestrian “walk” sign at an intersection. With increasing frequency, intersections are controlled by Leading Pedestrian Intervals, meaning the “walk” signal appears before the light turns green, giving pedestrians a chance to get across more safely. My bill would allow cyclists to do the same. The committee was not convinced. The good news is that the Senate version, patroned by Senator Barbara Favola, made it out of committee there. We may yet be able to get this idea passed into law. Stay tuned.
My HB1579 would bar anyone convicted of a DUI twice within a 5-year period from being allowed to purchase or transport firearms for 5 years. I implored the committee to heed the well-settled research showing that the links between alcohol and gun violence—particularly domestic violence—are clear. The research demonstrates that alcohol misuse is a strong predictor of gun violence, including suicide. By the way, this is already the law if someone is convicted of two misdemeanor drug convictions within three years. So I was disappointed that on Thursday the bill was voted down in the public safety subcommittee on a party line vote. This is why God invented next session. I’ll keep trying until we pass this important bill. To see my presentation of HB1579, please click the picture below.
On Thursday I was pleased to speak at the Day of Action for Affordable Energy, hosted by the Virginia Energy Burden Coalition. I discussed HB1604, the Affordable Energy Act, which will re-empower the State Corporation Commission to lower Virginians’ electric bills. I can report that negotiations are still underway as HB1604 is working its way through the process. I am hopeful that we’ll find a solution.
And finally, I am also disappointed to report that Friday the Criminal Law subcommittee voted down HB1585, my bill which would make it a misdemeanor for someone to wear heavy body armor (think military-grade, SWAT team body armor) in public. This bill is a law enforcement protection bill and will keep Virginians safe. I will try again next year. To see my presentation of the bill yesterday, please click the picture below.
There were lots more visits with constituents, including with the Northern Virginia Realtors and the Virginia Dental Hygienists.
One more week to crossover. Come down and say hello if you can, and if my office or I can be of any help to you, please be in touch at 804-698-1048 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.