Sunday, April 14, 2013
"No officer, I was just typing directions into my GPS…"
Texting while driving is dangerous, but some people do it anyway. This year, Virginia's General Assembly passed a measure that increased the fine to $125 (it was $20) for the first infraction and $250 for the second. But Virginia legislators did not pass a hands-free measure like they have in the District, and as such enforcing the law could prove difficult. The problem: Using cell phones to dial a number or setting the phone GPS is legal. “Distracted driving is a big problem, but it’s bigger than just phone use,” said Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, to the Washington Post. “Even if a law were successful in stopping phone use and texting, it wouldn’t eliminate distracted driving.” Northern Virginia Del. Scott …
Saturday, April 6, 2013
The Virginia Senate voted 20 - 19 in favor of an amendment that will prohibit certain health insurance companies in Virginia from providing coverage for women seeking an abortion.
Saturday, April 6
By Mark Robinson Capital News Service The General Assembly on Wednesday narrowly approved an amendment by Gov. Bob McDonnell that will prohibit certain health insurance companies in Virginia from providing coverage for women seeking an abortion. McDonnell added the anti-abortion amendment to House Bill 1900, sponsored by Delegate Thomas Davis Rust (R-Herndon). McLean-area Sens. Janet Howell and Barbara Favola both voted against the amendment. The assembly passed the bill in February to comply with the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Under the system, Virginians who cannot afford health insurance will participate in a federally operated health insurance exchange. McDonnell’s amendment will prohibit insurers …
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Terry McAuliffe said he disagreed with parts of bill but thought supporting the compromise that passed the Senate on Saturday was crucial.
The former chairman of the Democratic National Committee on Tuesday praised the work of Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell. Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat hoping to succeed McDonnell, said he spent hours on the phone calling members of both parties urging them to support a transportation compromise, which ultimately passed this weekend in the hours before the 2013 General Assembly session ended. "When you work on these major projects, it's not about a partisan agenda," McAuliffe told about a half-dozen reporters at a news conference in Northern Virginia. "This was a big deal. Was this a legacy item for Governor McDonnell? You bet it was." The event was designed to paint Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli — McAuliffe's likely rival for …
Monday, February 25, 2013
Final budget amendments includes $3.4 million to add 1,700 in-state undergraduate seats at Virginia universities.
Monday, February 25
By Jessica Dahlberg, Capital News Service As the 2013 legislative session came to a close, the Virginia General Assembly approved amendments to the state’s two-year budget Saturday that included expanding Medicaid and spending more money on education. The amendments were passed by both the House (on an 83-17 vote) and the Senate (31-8) after tense discussions over Medicaid, which provides medical care for low-income residents. Legislators agreed to expand the program if certain reforms are made. Del. Barbara Comstock (R-McLean) was the only Tysons-area legislator to vote against the budget. See vote tally below. The reforms will make Medicaid look similar to non-government health insurance policies, according to legislators. Under the …
Friday, February 22, 2013
Bill aiming to build consensus around Bob McDonnell's plan to bring $3 billion to transportation projects met with mixed reviews.
Friday, February 22
By Whitney Spicer, Capital News Service Critics of the transportation funding compromise reached by legislative negotiators say the plan would place a huge burden on Virginia taxpayers. The Virginia House of Delegates Friday passed House Bill 2313, which would raise about $900 million a year for transportation and transit projects. The 98-page compromise must win approval the Senate before it can be signed into law by the governor. The legislative session ends Saturday. The new plan, which was hammered out by a 10-member conference committee over the past week, would potentially raise close to $900 million a year in transportation revenue. It could be the first transportation funding overhaul in Virginia since 1986 if it passes this week…
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Plan reduces state gas tax and could raise nearly $900 million a year in transportation funds.
Thursday, February 21
By Whitney Spicer Capital News Service RICHMOND – Negotiators from both the House and Senate came to an agreement Wednesday on a transportation plan that, if passed, would be the first transportation funding overhaul in Virginia since 1986. “This is a huge moment for Virginia,” said Sen. Frank W. Wagner (R-Virginia Beach) a member of the conference committee. “We are on the cusp of bringing home real and lasting transportation solutions that will move Virginia forward now and in the future.” The transportation compromise, which was hammered out by a 10-member conference committee over the past week, would potentially raise nearly $900 million a year in transportation revenue. The plan reduces the state’s gasoline tax by replacing the …
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Bill would impose harsher penalties, make texting while driving a primary offense.
A bill that would impose tougher penalties on those convicted of texting while driving cleared the state Senate on Tuesday and now heads to the desk of Gov. Bob McDonnell. The bill increases the fine to $250 — up from $20 — for the first texting-while-driving offense and $500 for each subsequent conviction. It also makes texting while driving an aggravating circumstance to reckless driving, and so anyone convicted of such would face a mandatory minimum $500 penalty if they were texting while they were driving recklessly. Texting while driving would also become a primary offense, which means police can stop someone on the suspicion that a driver is texting; current law allows police to charge someone with texting while driving only if they'…
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
McLean resident Anne C. Gruner supports legislation prohibiting disclosure of handgun permit owners' personal information.
Tuesday, February 19
To the Editor: In her recent Patch blog post, Kathleen Murphy chastised Del. Barbara Comstock for supporting a bill that prohibits the clerk of the Circuit Court from disclosing the personal, identifying information of handgun permit holders. But the bill sailed through both houses on a broad bi-partisan basis, passing 76-23 in the House and 32-8 in the Senate. It was widely supported by Democrats in Northern Virginia, including Sens. Barbara Favola, Adam Ebbin, Dave Marsden and Chap Petersen and Dels. David Bulova and Rob Krupicka. Other Democrats who supported it include Luke Torian, Onzlee Ware, Lynwood Lewis, Algie Howell, Joe Johnson, Jeoin Ward and Johnny Joannou. Ralph Northam, who is running for the Democrat nomination for …
Sunday, February 17, 2013
The bill that would make texting while driving a primary offense with a fine of $250 has received wide bipartisan support, and several other bills are under consideration.
The Virginia Legislature is vetting a number of bills that would implement harsher texting while driving laws. Last week, the house passed a bill (HB 1907) that increases the fine for the first texting-while-driving offense to $250 upon conviction, and $500 for each subsequent conviction. The current fine is $20. The bill passed the House in a 92-4 vote, and was unanimously supported by the Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday. Del. Barbara Comstock, who represents part of Tysons, is a patron. The bill is currently being vetted by the Senate Courts of Justice Committee. The legislation would make texting while driving a primary offense, which means police can stop someone just on the suspicion that a driver may be texting at the …
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Virginia voters wishing to cast an absentee ballot would still be required to give a reason.
A bill designed to alleviate privacy concerns about the absentee voting process could be heard by the full House of Delegates as early as Tuesday. The legislation would still require a person to give a valid reason to vote absentee, though certain personal information would no longer be required on the application. "It's important that we not set up artificial roadblocks to voting absentee," said Democratic Sen. Adam Ebbin, the hill's sponsor. "While some of my colleagues seem to not want to make it easier to vote, I was happy that we are removing an unnecessary roadblock — or, an unnecessary invasion of privacy." The bill is a far cry from no-excuse absentee voting, sometimes called early voting, which would give any registered voter the …