Va 2019 General Assembly session – prefiled House of Delegates bills

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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.

Finance and taxes.  Way too many people and too many companies are paying taxes (HB966) and veterinarians really need a break from those pesky sales taxes (HB747).

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.

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22 responses to “Va 2019 General Assembly session – prefiled House of Delegates bills

  1. Kathleen Murphy … proposes to let her pals skirt Virginia traffic laws by displaying a special sticker on their cars.

    Just think, though, of all the revenue you could raise if you could sell those stickers! Like to speed? Plunk down $500 for a special sticker, and you can speed all you want! Enjoy driving while under the influence? $1,000 bumps up your legal limit to 0.9%, $2,000 raises it to 1.0%!

    • Here’s what I think will be the plan. The state of Virginia has so mis-managed NoVa transportation with the excessive and unending tolls that surface roads are getting overwhelmed with people avoiding the asinine tolls. This has some well-heeled neighborhoods hopping mad. The plan is to establish traffic restrictions on those surface roads during certain times of day. For example, banning turning left from Rt 7 onto Georgetown Pike in the morning would reduce the through traffic on Georgetown Pike. But wait a minute … what about the dearies who get the time of day traffic restrictions implemented? Are they supposed to be inconvenienced? Oh my …. no! They get special vehicle stickers which identify them as “worthies” who don’t need to comply with any stinking restrictions.

      • cut through traffic can be very effectively dealt with though… all it takes is a few little curbs and round-a-bouts, etc.. and it not worth the cut.

  2. HB 295 is intended to address the massive influx of cut-through traffic through McLean and Falls Church neighborhoods from Tysons and points west that are often headed to Maryland. Waze and other navigational apps point commuters to local streets to avoid the Beltway and major arterials.

    Of course, Fairfax County officials promised that we could have all this transit oriented development and not suffer horrendous increase in traffic. And until the second river crossing is built at Cabin John, local neighborhood streets are and will be taken over by commuter traffic.

    What the stickers would do is permit VDOT to restrict usage of local streets by commuters lacking the local sticker. Residents with stickers could still use their streets. This is done in a number of areas around the United States.

    Larry, mark this down. I said positive things about a Democratic legislator. Or maybe, I just call them the way I see them.

    • Or … the dear lady could just lower the tolls. The residents of McLean didn’t build the roads in McLean and they don’t own the roads in McLean. Why should they enjoy special privileges on public roads? Why should the residents of McLean be able to force more people onto alternate congested routes? That doesn’t fix anything. It just mollifies a bunch of rich people who lack the gumption to throw useless politicians out of office.

      What’s a reasonable price for the fops and dandies of McLean and Great Falls to purchase special public street usage rights? I’d open with $10,000 per vehicle per year.

      • I’m not seeing any major improvements that could be done for traffic in NoVa. They’re basically out of places to put more asphalt but even if they did – you need to view the transportation network holistically in that even if you could add SOME lanes – all that would do is accelerate that traffic to the next bottleneck.

        This is not a unique NoVa problem. Anyone who has traveled the US knows that this is a problem in most every urbanized place in the country.

        We were in Las Vegas this summer – and then Reno and before that – Kansas City and you know what? If you didn’t pay attention to the type of vegetation – it would walk and talk just like NoVa traffic. Just horrible.

      • There are no tolls. This is traffic that is heading for the American Legion Bridge. Rather than get on the Beltway in or near Tysons, commuters head through residential streets not built for commuter traffic, often at high speeds (45 to 50 mph on a 25 to 30 foot wide road with parking on both sides). The goal is to enter the Beltway at the Georgetown Pike ramp, which is even more congested than the Beltway itself due to commuter traffic.

        Residents often cannot get out of their driveways as traffic is backed up on residential streets 20-30 cars deep. I’ve seen the photos. Langley and Cooper parents report their kids cannot attend extra curricular events because parents cannot drop them off or pick them up.

        Traffic congestion is so bad that VDOT has proposed a 4-month trial where it would shut down this ramp weekdays from1 to 7 pm. It’s also looking at imposing congestion tolls at that ramp as an alternative.

        Tysons has become a big nuisance, yet again.

        • As Steve H points out, the tolls are on the Beltway. And I66. And the Dulles Toll Rd. Etc.

          Kathleen Murphy’s legislation is typically useless. Protect her rich friends from the horror of working people driving on “their” streets while doing nothing to effect a long term fix.

          • The long-term fix is scheduled. Both Maryland and Virginia put their plans to widen the Beltway by adding Toll or Express Lanes and to expand capacity at the American Legion Bridge (with a second span) into the new Constrained Long Range Plan. This will enable access to federal transportation money. Maryland also put its plan into the 2019-2024 Transportation Improvement Plan, which essentially means MD DOT has identified money and will start the engineering and planning.

            But until the added capacity is here, cut through traffic needs to be addressed.

            And as far as access to streets is concerned, if it were unlawful to restrict access, why is VDOT proposing a 4-month trial of shutting the NB entrance ramp to the Beltway at Georgetown Pike?

    • Good Lord TMT.. what in the world are you drinking or did you go visit DJ and get a free sample of what he seems to be smoking!

      But again – there are quite a few ways to discourage cut-through traffic that are currently legal and available.

      But I’m not buying the ideas that tolls force traffic into neighborhoods when there are also untolled free lanes.

      Tolling is not to generate money per se. Tolling is to manage congestion – not to provide congestion-free nirvana but to keep a path open for those who need it and that includes the poor east coast schmucks just trying to navigate through the DC mess.

  3. A few weeks back I had to make a presentation at Mason and needed to arrive by 8:30. Left Richmond at 6:10 (with a passenger), picked up the Lexus lane at the first opportunity, and got there on time (used 123 from 95 to the campus.) I must say I was pleasantly surprised and in no way resent the $5 or so it cost me.

    As to the idea of restricting traffic on local streets to residents, interesting but I’m not sure enforceable. There are neighborhood parking stickers in the Fan, and I’ve seen signs in Northern VA neighborhoods setting certain times when cut-through driving will get you a ticket, but as to totally cutting off outsiders, I thought that’s what the cul-de-sac is for! Years ago in Roanoke when a new local mall turned one of our neighboring streets into a short cut, the City Manager (uh, I called him Dad) just had the road blocked at one end – a cul de sac! Voila!

    • I’ll go see Cole and straighten him out – your praise causes me worry, DJ. He has long shown signs of Common Sense (Navy guy, we were both on the Northrop Grumman payroll at one time.)

      A little peek behind the curtain. Many, many bills are put in because some constituent is pushing them, and the legislator can say – YES! It is already introduced! So please stop the daily calls! It is not until the session starts that they start pushing the one’s they really care about…I can see the invisible “By Request” on some of those ideas.

    • I cannot believe that DJ and TMT still suffer under this plague at the American Legion Bridge after all these years. In 1984 when my commute around the beltway from Connecticut Ave to Tyson’s went up to an hour in 1984 from 22 minute, I moved to Potomac only 3 minutes from the ramp onto Bridge on Md. side over to Virginia side. I almost moved into Virginia’s Great Falls but the Md house backed up on C&O canal a short walk from Carderock Climbing area on Potomac River. The house that I lived in with wife and 2 kids is now shared by 9 adults. The house across the street is occupied by 23 people. Most all the houses nearby appear now to be shared not by a single family by the groups of working adults. These are $million+ homes. What TMT described in N. Va. has spread across the bridge into Md. It is quite remarkable.

  4. this is but one example of the kind of thing that can be done to put the kibosh on cut-through traffic.

    however,keep in mind that some roads were originally designed to be part of the road system and not just restricted to sub-division.

    One of the advantages of a locality being responsible for their own non-Fed/non-state roads is more ability to implement traffic calming. All cities and towns and Arlington and Henrico have this additional authority.

    • Putting the kibosh on cut through traffic does nothing to solve the problem. It just pushes the cut through traffic onto overcrowded main thoroughfares.

      And please don’t bore me with the “if we build more roads they’ll just get crowded too” argument. What a croc. Yes … in a place where the population and economic activity is growing quickly you will need more public infrastructure. From power lines to roads. That’s called growth. When the population and related economy grows you need to build more and bigger and better roads.

      • VDOT’s traffic modeling suggests that the Tysons traffic will largely enter the Beltway near Tysons where it was intended to go. The modeling also shows moving the traffic back to Tysons will actually increase the throughput on the Beltway over what it is today with the heavy use of the G’Town Pike ramp.

        My mid-term solution: Impose a toll on all vehicles using the NB G’Town Pike ramp during the PM heavy period. VDOT knows the price elasticity of demand for tolling. The ramp at issue was designed for residential community use. VDOT knows what that range is. Sent the tolls at a level that would drive down usage to what it was designed for.

        • If traffic modeling worked they should have predicted this cut through traffic. If you close the ramp to the beltway from Georgetown Pike drivers will just cut through more of McLean by driving down Georgetown Pike to Rt 123 and taking the GW Parkway to the DC bridges located further south. I also take exception to the “Tysons traffic” construct. Hogwash. There hasn’t been enough completed construction in Tysons to make a drop of difference. This is Loudoun traffic trying to get into DC. Go look at Ashburn and further west along Rt 7. That’s where new development has massively increased the housing stock. I’ll grant you that the half assed way the Metro was shoe horned into Tysons made Rt 7 worse and probably causes more people to cut through on their way from Loudoun to DC.

          Making that ramp a toll road is a lousy idea but it’s better than privatizing public roads. At least it would generate some money that could be used to fix Metro, address mid-term traffic problems, etc.

          • Traffic concerns were largely ignored during the Tysons planning process because the goal was to make landowners who make big campaign contributions even wealthier. With the limited capacity of the Beltway in both states and the American Legion Bridge, Fairfax County should not have OKed as much new development in Tysons as it did.

            This is not Loudoun County traffic trying to get to the District or Maryland since the big problem is in the PM. The problem is Maryland and some D.C. residents working in Tysons or out the DTR trying to get home, while avoiding the Beltway until the last minute.

            Fairfax County has been very tight-lipped about the number of people who live and work in Tysons. There is some but if the numbers looked great, the County would be publishing them from here to Timbuktu.

            Both VDOT and FC DOT agree that the traffic is from Tysons and some from points west heading north to Maryland in the PM. They would not agree with your hogwash conclusion.

            I don’t think you would see Maryland residents driving through D.C. and working their way back to Maryland. VDOT’s modeling, which is consistent with network theory, shows most of the drivers from Tysons getting on the Beltway at the entrances near Tysons if the G’Town Pike ramp was closed or tolled. So far, no one has stepped up with any analysis to rebut VDOT.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            “With the limited capacity of the Beltway in both states and American Legion Bridge, Fairfax County should not have OKed as much new development in Tysons as it did.”

            Yes, that is great understatement, as you know. Plus the original massive traffic generator, the regional mall, should never have been built at that local with that limited access, and the rest of Tyson’s should have been mixed use like Clarendon, with heavy local housing of all sorts, on both sides of I-495, instead of jammed up against Vienna, and Dulles access road. Of course, only a true visionary could have seen that at the time. But surely it was obvious by the mid to late 1970s. The problem ignored, then greatly compounded and aggravated in the late 1970s and 1980s.

            Thus, for example, development up toll road should have been cut at least in half and been heavily mixed use, so more local in nature. Instead the toll road and its massive development greatly complicated an already obvious problem that the land speculators hid from everyone else while they steamrolled county development.

            Perhaps the biggest compounding mistake was the gross failure to think through the mixing bowl design of I-66, Dulles Toll Road, Dulles Access Road, and I-495, just down the road from the American Legion Bridge, and the thruway design of I-66 inside the beltway. That combination sealed Fairfax County’s fate around 1983.

            This marked the rebirth of Arlington’s new downtown, built on Tyson’s and toll roads growing dysfunction that now throttles function of the neighborhoods to the west beyond Ballston, and Falls Church, and other local roads that used to work but are now dead ends.

            Big question is how to you fix the problem. My sense is that Amazon’s location in Crystal City provides the key to fixing Fairfax. That is a story for another time. But how do you fix American Legion Bridge any time soon. I have no idea but suggest that the biggest problem to fixing the Bridge might be finding ways to making enlarging it work on the Maryland side. Improving the Bridge from Virginia into Maryland might end up shifting the great problem from Virginia into Maryland. A non starter for Md, if true.

      • The American Legion Bridge was widened from 6 to 10 lanes via the construction of a third span filling the median between what had been orginally two spans. The result after it completion (it took years) made little practical difference time-wise for me after a year or two, say by 1994. The general contractor on the entire job (its owner and CEO) was my climbing partner. We crossed the bridge together regularly during construction. One day on our way to Seneca Rocks, I asked Bill why he hadn’t put up any company signs announcing who was during the work. Boy, did he get a big laugh out of that stupid ass question.

  5. Maryland’s plans for more HOT lanes including American Legion bridge/I270 were in the news this week, first time I heard they were planning to take some action.

  6. Cut through traffic happens all over the Washington DC Metro area. It’s a fact of life from Oakton to Springfield, from Huntington Ave to Georgetown Pike. However, nobody has seen fit to privatize the use of public roads. If that would have already happened then Del Murphy’s legislation would be unnecessary.

    Now cut through traffic has come to McLean. Oh the horror! Non-McLean traffic on McLean roads. Poor schmucks just trying to get to work and back so they can support their families, pay their taxes, etc. How dare they?

    The Richie Riches of McLean enlist the help of limousine liberal Kathleen Murphy to get those damn non-McLean cars off McLean’s streets. The great social justice warrior apparently has no compunction about banning working men and women from driving on the gold plated streets of McLean. What a hypocritical phoney.

    And the permanent fix is a second span of the American Legion Bridge? Pardon me while I laugh my ass off. A realistic plan would be to expand Georgetown Pike or Old Dominion. Or … build cross overs along Rt 7 as was done on Rt 28. Widen Rt 66 through Arlington. All of these would be reasonable mid-term fixes.

    How many more areas of Northern Virginia will get to privatize public roads? Or is this remedy only available to the overpaid residents of McLean?

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