January 11, 2018
Fauquier delegation files 82 bills in state legislature
Virginia’s 140 legislators have filed more than 2,000 bills and resolutions for the legislative session that began Wednesday. The 60-day session will adjourn Saturday, March 10.
By Logan Bogert
One of Sen. Jill Vogel’s bills would provide “an affirmative defense to possession of marijuana” for certified treatment of specific medical conditions.
Del. Michael Webert for the third consecutive year filed a bill to decriminalize public cursing.
Freshman Del. Elizabeth Guzman filed a bill that would require each public high school to employ at least one mental health counselor for every 250 students.
Del. Mark Cole proposes legislation to tighten the leash on ownership of a dog that has been deemed dangerous or vicious.
Capital News Service
RICHMOND – Cursing in public. Your car’s inspection sticker. Dangerous and vicious dogs.
These are just some of the topics addressed in the bills filed for the General Assembly’s 2018 session by legislators representing Fauquier County.
Seventy bills and resolutions have been introduced by the three delegates whose districts include parts of Fauquier County: Republicans Mark Cole of Spotsylvania and Michael Webert of Marshall and Democrat Elizabeth Guzman of Woodbridge.
Republican Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel of Upperville, who also represents Fauquier County, has filed 12 bills.
All told, the 100 House members and 40 senators have introduced more than 2,000 bills and resolutions for the legislative session that began Wednesday. The deadline to file proposals is Friday, Jan. 19.
Some bills submitted by Fauquier-area lawmakers address critical issues such as criminal justice, mental health and education; others deal with issues that are less pressing and sometimes humorous.
Del. Michael Webert
Mr. Webert is a farmer and business owner. He began managing his family’s Locust Hill Farm in 2007. The delegate also co-owns Black Locust Livestock Marketing and Consulting with his wife, Rebecca.
Webert has filed 18 bills and one resolution. They include:
• House Bill 114 – It proposes the “authorized use of golf carts and utility vehicles to cross a highway from one portion of a venue hosting an equine event to another portion, provided that such crossing occurs on the same day as the equine event, in a temporary traffic control zone with a speed limit of no more than 35 mph and is monitored and controlled by a uniformed law-enforcement officer.”
• HB 890 – This bill would authorize anyone with a valid concealed handgun permit to also carry a concealed switchblade knife.
• HB 31 – Under HB 31, profanely swearing or cursing in public would no longer be a crime in Virginia. Profanely swearing or cursing in public is currently punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor.
• HB 242 – This bill would prohibit the commonwealth and any of its political subdivisions from spending public funds to provide incentives for professional sports teams including appropriations, grants, loans or tax incentives.
“This isn’t about sports, this is about the proper use of taxpayer money,” Del. Webert said of HB 242 in a Facebook post. “Corporate welfare is Robin Hood in reverse – taking money from everyday Virginians to give to the powerful and well-connected.”
Del. Elizabeth Guzman
As a public administrator, social worker and mother of four children who have gone through public schools in Prince William County, Ms. Guzman stresses the importance of education.
“She has seen firsthand what happens if special education cases are not adequately given the staff support, so that’s one reason for a huge focus on special education and high school mental health counselors,” said Megan Harris, Ms. Guzman’s legislative assistant.
Ms. Guzman has introduced 23 bills and two resolutions. They include:
• HB 252 – It would require each high school to employ at least one mental health counselor for every 250 students.
• HB 253 – This bill states that the maximum caseload for each full-time special education aide would be five students.
• HB 419 – It increases the minimum age that a juvenile can be tried as an adult for a felony in circuit court from 14 years of age to 16. However, the bill would still allow 14-year-olds to be tried as adults for capital or first-degree murder.
• HJ 95 – This resolution would designate the last full week on June as Pollinator Awareness Week – an effort to recognize the importance of honey bees.
Del. Mark Cole
Mr. Cole, who has served in the Virginia House since 2002, works as a deputy county administrator for Spotsylvania County. He has introduced 24 bills and two resolutions. They include:
• HB 271 – This bill would alter the requirements of someone who owns a dog that has been deemed dangerous or vicious. The bill sets conditions on the ownership of a dangerous dog, including “requiring the owner to obtain a registration certificate prior to the return of the animal, raising the registration renewal fee from $85 to $150 and removing the option of the owner to show that the dog is muzzled and confined in a fenced yard until the proper enclosure is constructed.”
• HB 144 – It would allow a person registered on the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry for a misdemeanor to petition the removal of their name after seven years. Currently, a person must wait 15 years to petition.
• HB 27 – This bill would change the location of a vehicle’s inspection sticker from the windshield to the lower corner of the rear window on the driver’s side of the vehicle.
• HJ 30 – It would designate Nov. 7 as Victims of Communism Memorial Day in Virginia.
Sen. Jill Vogel
Sen. Vogel, who lost her bid for lieutenant governor last fall, is a wife, mother, business owner and attorney. She has been honored as “top lawyer in her field” by Washingtonian Magazine, “champion of justice” by the Virginia Association of Commonwealth Attorneys and a “catalyst for change” by the Arc of Virginia.
She has introduced 12 bills. They include:
• Senate Bill 594 – This bill would allow the Middleburg Town Council to levy a tax on business personal property.
• SB 599 – It would require the commissioner of agriculture and consumer services to create a license to grow industrial hemp outside of an industrial hemp research program.
• SB 597 — It would provide “an affirmative defense to possession of marijuana if a person has a valid written certification issued by a practitioner for cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil” for an array of diseases including cancer, Crohn’s disease and Alzheimer’s. Currently in Virginia, only the treatment of intractable epilepsy is covered by the affirmative defense.
• SB 593 – This bill would require health insurers, health care subscription plans and health maintenance organizations to provide coverage for those diagnosed and undergoing treatment for autism spectrum disorder at any age. Currently in Virginia, coverage is required for individuals ages 2 through 10.
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martinkus · January 15, 2018 at 2:26 pm
Concur with "citizen observer" and "Jim Griffin" regarding distracted driving and cell phone usage. Those damn cell phones ARE a nuisance and danger while driving, period! Maryland has a good law...Virginia, not so much. I would also go as far as to condemn the automobile industry for developing increasing complex "infotainment" systems (formerly known to us old folks as a "radio") for adding, significantly, to distracted driving. Consumers just love all of the new "high-tech" crap contained in their "infotainment" systems and often forget to pay attention to the road! I've seen this first-hand as a passenger in many cars. Not good and very disturbing! Whatever happened to the simple-to-use good old "radio," push buttons at all?! Also, keep in mind that cell phones are also a real hazard/threat for those "dufus" pedestrians who do not pay attention while crossing the street, usually unlawfully! Playing on their phones is much more important then their own safety! Go figure!
BJ · January 13, 2018 at 7:23 pm
• HJ 30 – It would designate Nov. 7 as Victims of Communism Memorial Day in Virginia. Huh??
Jim Griffin · January 13, 2018 at 3:11 pm
I am in complete agreement with citizen observer. While I support freedom, distracted driving is criminally dangerous and unacceptable. Anything that distracts from driving or the vehicle must be minimized, gadgets, food, pets, whatever.
Some gadgets contribute to driving, make it easier, clearer. I support those like GPS, enhanced vehicle instrumentation, and so on.
Cellular devices should be used in voice-only mode or otherwise integrated into the vehicle itself, which should be the primary focus of the driver.
This includes law enforcement and first-responders. A family friend was killed by a distracted sheriff's deputy in California a few years ago. The county involved paid a very significant sum to address the liability.
citizen observer · January 13, 2018 at 9:57 am
Yet not a single bill to get phones completely out of driver's hands, despite the problem becoming as bad as drunk drivers. Even Maryland and West Virginia realized the problem and fixed their inefficient laws.
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