Much ado about nothing. As of this morning there were 83 prefiled bills for the House of Delegates and 225 prefiled bills for the State Senate. With a few exceptions the House prefiles are pretty “ho hum”. I will examine the Senate prefiles in a subsequent column.
One from column A and two from column B. I use a somewhat arbitrary approach to categorizing the prefiled bills. By my analysis … governmental process (17), education (12), crime and courts (10), election reform (8), finance and taxes (7), health care (6), nonsense (6), environment (6), transportation (4), campaign reform (4) and energy (2).
Governmental process. These are the day to day clarifications, corrections and amplifications needed to make existing legislation more effective. For example, HB246 clarifies the role of the code commission in preparing legislation at the direction of the General Assembly. One of these bills will further depress Jim Bacon’s journalistic sensibilities. HB1629 eliminates the requirement that Virginia procurement contracts be reported in newspapers. Mixed in with the proposed routine legislation are some zingers. For example, there are three separate bills to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (HJ577, HJ579, HJ583). There are also four bills proposing changes to the Virginia Constitution. HJ578 would add a right to vote to the state constitution, HJ582 would establish a redistricting committee, HJ584 would allow the governor to run for a second consecutive term and HJ585 has the governor and lieutenant governor running as a single ticket instead of separate offices.
Education. The only theme in the education prefiles is an attempt to provide financial incentives for localities to rebuild the physical plant of their schools. One of the more interesting bills would allow commercial advertising on school buses (HB809) while another would guarantee that our children’s God given right to wear unscented sun block not be abridged (HB330).
Crime and courts. Bail bondsmen and bondswomen are forbidden from having sex with their clients (HB525) and shooting a police dog, or even showing a gun to a police dog, becomes a more serious crime (HB1616). Other than that, pretty mundane stuff.
Potpourri. The remaining categories contain a few interesting ideas. Del Rasoul wants to ban the use of fossil fuels in electricity generation (HB1635), Del Cole wants to give I95 some love (HJ580, HJ581) and he also has the radical idea that campaign contributions should not be for personal use (HB1617). In fact, Del Cole’s proposed legislation is putting him perilously close to making my very short list of competent Virginia legislators.
Closer to home. My delegate, Kathleen Murphy, continues to propose jaw dropping, eye popping examples of legislative uselessness. She proposes to let her pals skirt Virginia traffic laws by displaying a special sticker on their cars (HB295) and offers some odd rules on distance learning reciprocity (HB659). I guess issues like mass transportation don’t cross her mind these days.
— Don Rippert.