Saturday, March 10, 2012

2012 Session Legislative Wrap Up (Minus a Budget)

You would never think that two seats in the State Senate would mean so much, but we had an incredibly contentious session with some unprecedented national attention.  Here are some of the highlights of the 2,000 votes I took this session. 

We still do not have a budget yet.  I will cover the budget in a separate post once we have an actual budget.

Here is a key:

PASSED - Means it is on the Governor's Desk.
FAILED - Means it did not clear both House & Senate.
CARRIED OVER - Means legislation was continued to 2013 General Assembly Session.
ENACTED - The Governor has already signed into law.

I have indicated my vote or position on the final bill in parentheses. 
Reproductive Choice and Women's Health
HB 462 Mandatory Abortion Ultrasound (Surovell - No) ENACTED - The legislation that we ultimately passed requires a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound procedure within twenty four hours of an abortion.  If only a transvaginal ultrasound will suffice, then it is optional.  The legislation still requires a woman previously diagnosed with an anecephelatic fetus (forming without a brain), fetus with no heartbeat or fetus with birth defect to undergo a second ultrasound, print a picture of the fetus and place it in her medical records for a minimum of seven years.

HB 1 "Personhood" Bill (Surovell - No) CARRIED OVER - This legislation would defined a "person" as beginning at conception for all 25,000 references in the Code of Virginia.  Many believe it would outlaw most forms of contraception.  An amendment to except contraception from the bill was rejected by the entire House.  The legislation passed the House but was continued to the 2013 Session in the State Senate. 

HB 62 Repeal Abortion Funding for Fetus with Grossly Incapacitating Defects (Surovell - No) -FAILED This legislation passed the House of Delegates but was tabled in a State Senate committee. 

SB 674 Fetal Death by Wrongful Act (Surovell - No) - FAILED - This legislation creates a new cause of action for anyone causing a "fetal act" by any intentional or negligent act.  For example, if a woman were to suffer a miscarriage caused by a car accident, then the negligent driver could be sued for causing the "death" of the fetus.

HB1285 VA Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act - (Surovell - Opposed) - CARRIED OVER - Prohibits abortion after 20-weeks unless anethesia provided to fetus.  Bill was continued to next session for consideration.

HB 1112 Repeal HPV Vaccine Requirement  (Surovell - No) - FAILED - Repeals the requirement that children be offered a vaccine for the human pampilloma virus with an opt-out.  The HPV virus causes cervical cancer which kills approximately 5,000 women per year.

HJ115/SJ130 Equal Rights Amendment - (Surovell - Yes) - FAILED - Legislation that would ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.  I introduced the amendment in the House.  The Committee Chairman refused to schedule it for a hearing.  The Senate passed the legislation and the Committee Chairman likewise refused to schedule the Senate version for a hearing. 

HB659/HB864/HB262/SB392/SB161 - Reorganization of Commonwealth Transportation Board - (Surovell - Yes) - CARRIED OVER - Legislation reorganize transportation districts based upon 1930's congressional district lines.  Currently, 65% of the state including Northern Virginia is represented by 33% of regional votes on the Board and 33% of the state has 66% of the regional votes.  Legislation passed House of Delegates but was continued to 2012 by State Senate. 

HB1248/SB639 Governor's Transportation Bill - (Surovell - No) - PASSED - Legislation originally transfered increasing percentage of existing sales tax revenue to Transportation Trust Fund, allowed Commonwealth to sell naming rights to bridges, and required localities to pay for roads.  Senate version replaced sales tax diversion with gas tax indexed to inflation.  Legislation went through multiple amendments.  Final bill contained naming rights for bridges, required more local planning, dedicated .16% more the annual surplus to transportation, and adopted a new formula directing more money to public-private partnerships, and had virtually no new funding.

HB85/SB209 HOV Lane Grandfathering Extension(Surovell - R69) - PASSED - Extends the right of certain hybrid vehicles to use certain HOV lanes.  I own a hybrid car so I abstained. 

HB805 Emissions Inspections - (Surovell - Yes) - PASSED - Authorizes roadside, automated emimissions checks by third party contractors.  Consumers approval would be based upon drive-by emissions checks verified against license plate numbers. 

HB97 Permission for Motorcycles to Ride Two Abreast In Lane - (Surovell - Yes) - PASSED - Brings Virginia into line with other states by allowing motorcycles to ride two abreast in same lane.

HB321/SB 131/SB241 - Private School Tax Credits - (Surovell - No) - PASSED - Provides $25 million of tax credits to individuals and businesses who contribute monies to fund scholarships to private schools for children of families earning less than $80,000 per year.  Amendments have been suggested to the Governor. 
HB1173 Charter Schools - (Surovell - No) - PASSED - Provides for additional procedure remedies for denied charter school applications, requires local school systems to lease public property to charter schools, and sets standards for charter school funding.

HB947 Homeschooled Athletics/"Tim Tebow" Bill - (Surovell - No) - PASSED - Legislation would require local school systems to accept home schooled children in school athletic program subject to certain requirements, but not identical requirements for public school students.  Legislation passed the House and was killed in the State Senate.

HB1107 Administration of Epinephrine Shots - (Surovell - No) - PASSED - Legislation allows local schools to administer epinephrine shots to children suffering from allergic reaction.  I supported the concept, but opposed a grant of blanket civil immunity to school employees who are already partly covered by sovereign immunity.

HB577 Online Courses - (Surovell - Yes) - ENACTED - As part of Virginia's foray into virtual schools, requires teachers of online courses to be licensed, trained, and undergo background checks.

Voting Rights and Elections
HB9/SB1 Require Voter Identification (Surovell - No) -  PASSED - This will would require that all voters present some form of identification in order to cast a ballot in all Virginia elections.  Voters without identification would be required to provide identification within a specified timeframe.

HB63 Only Authorize Voter and Candidates at Post-Election Canvass (Surovell - No) - FAILED - This legislation would have excluded most party volunteers, attorneys and other advocates when contested provisional ballots are counted.  The legislation was killed in the State Senate.

HB669 Allow Voters Over Age 65 to Vote Absentee (Surovell - Yes) - FAILED- This legislation would create "no excuse" absentee voting for seniors over the age of 65.  The bill was killed in committee.

Energy and Environment
HB1102/SB413 Renewable Energy Credits for Research and Development and Animal Waste (Surovell - No) - PASSED - This legislation allows investor-owned utilities to receive credit under the Virginia's renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS) for research & development expenses relating to renewable energy.  The Senate version of the bill added language to give renewable energy created by animal waste in 10 states the same enhanced credit as wind and solar energy.  My floor amendment stripped that language out, but it was added in conference committee, but limited to animal waste ventures in Virginia. 

HB657 Renewable Energy Credit for Virginia-Only Projects (Surovell - Supported) - FAILED - This legislation would give utilities credit only for renewable energy projects in Virginia and put in service after July 1, 2007 when the state's renewable energy standard was adopted.  The bill was withdrawn. 

HB433 Renewable Energy Training for Appraisers (Surovell - Yes) - PASSED - This legislation requires all Virginia-licensed appraisers to receive training in the proper valuation techniques for solar, geothermal, and other renewable energy improvements so that properties will be correctly valued. 

SB627 Prohibits Homeowners Associations from Banning Solar Panels (Surovell - Yes) - PASSED - This legislation prohibits Virginia homeowners associations from banning solar panels but allows them to regulate size, place, and manner.

HB672 Community Solar Gardens - (Surovell - Yes) - FAILED - Would allow groups of people to construct solar panels and collectively net energy produced against their home electricity bill.  Would benefit businesses, communities with heavy tree canopies, apartments and condominiums.  Bill failed in House Committee.

HB869/SB274 Repeal of Urban Development Areas - (Surovell - No) - PASSED - Repeals requirement that localities use urban development areas (UDA) to concentrate development and reduce transportation demands and makes UDA's optional.  Legislation was originally adopted as part of 2007 transportation compromise and repeal was advocated by the Tea Party. 

Civil Justice and Consumer Protection
SB163 Prohibits Use of False Record in Foreclosure (Surovell - Supported) - FAILED - Bill would ban use of false documents in foreclosure proceedings and create a cause of action for aggreived homeowner. Bill passed Senate but was killed in a House Subcommittee.

HB246 Winter Sports Safety Act - (Surovell - No) - PASSED -  Bill limits liability of skiing and winter sports facilities if participants are advised of risks in advance of participation and injuries are caused by risks inherent to the activity. 
HB14/SB4 Castle Doctrine (Civil)(Surovell - No) - FAILED -Legislation would have codified common law civil action murder defense if person in "unlawfully in dwelling" makes and "overt act" towards civil defendant.  Legislation passed both bodies but was struck by both patrons at their request due to questions raised by gun rights groups.

Criminal Justice
HB279/SB378 DWI Ignition Interlock Mandate - (Surovell - No) - PASSED -  Legislation removes discretion of judge to place interlock on vehicle of first-offense DWI convictions when breath/blood alcohol concentration is 0.14% or lower , drug-related DWI, or other DWI's and mandates installation for all convictions.  Studies conflict as to whether ignition interlock requirement is effective, installation costs hundreds of dollars, and was advanced by ignition interlock companies.

HB48 Codifies "Castle" Doctrine - (Surovell - No) FAILED -  Legislation would have codified common law criminal murder defense if person in "unlawfully in dwelling" makes and "overt act" towards criminal defendant.  Legislation passed the House and was killed in the State Senate. 

HB973 Mandatory Life Sentence for Certain Rapes  (Surovell - No) - PASSED - Removes jury's discretion to sentence 18 year-old plus defendant convicted of raping child under the age of 13 to a sentence less than life imprisonment. Currently, judge can sentence 40 years to life and judge may suspend appropriate portion of sentence. 

HB968 Mandatory Three Year Sentence for Second Offense Drug Dealing - (Surovell - No) - PASSED - Removes jury's discretion to sentence individual convicted of second offense drug dealing to less than three years in jail.  Currently, jury has discretion to sentence between 5-10 years and judge may suspend appropriate portion of sentence.

HB 624 - Requirement to List Juveniles on Sex Offender Registry - (Surovell - No) FAILED - Would require all juveniles over age 13 convicted of certain sex offenses to be listed on state sex offender registry.  Currently, prosecutor has discretion to request listing and judge has discretion to grant listing if appropriate.  Legislation originally required retroactive registration and was amended serveral times. 
HB394/HB415/SB219 Texting While Driving (Surovell - Opposed) FAILED - Various versions of legislation to prohibit texting while driving were introduced and killed for various reasons - difficulty to verify texting versus dialing, comparable distractions (radios, GPS, dropped cigarettes, children), and other concerns.  There is some discussion about repeal of the existing civil infraction with admonition that behavior constitutes reckless driving.  All bills were killed in House subcommittee and never reached floor for a vote.

Employee Benefits and Retirement
HB1129 Adjustment to Virginia Retirement System Benefits - (Surovell - No) PASSED -Adjusts Virginia Retirement System (VRS) benefit formulas to high-five years instead of high-three, reduces COLA, and adjusts salary multipliers.  Basically cuts benefits of new and future workers.  Will hurt efforts to recruit new teachers in Fairfax County versus Montgomery County.  I do not see a problem with the existing state pension plan benefits except for the General Assembly's refusal to fund it properly. 

HB1130 Creation of Hybrid Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution State Retirement Plan - (Surovell - No) PASSED - Would create a new state retirement plan that was part defined benefit and part defined contribution (401(k)-like plan).  I do not support plans to shift the risk of a stock market crash to employees. 

HB1228 Legislator Salaries and Benefits(Surovell - Yes) FAILED - Tie Legislator Salary, Benefits to State Employee Salary, Benefits - This legislation would tie the salaries and benefits of state legislators to state employees.  Currently, legislator salaries and benefits are voted separately and have not been significantly adjusted in over 20 years.  Legislation passed House of Delegates but was killed on the Senate floor.

Healthcare and Social Services
HB663 Prohibition on Childcare Subsidy Limits - (Surovell - Yes) FAILED - Legislation would prohibit Governor from limiting childcare subsidies to five years per family.  Fairfax County currently provides benefits for unlimited period of time.  Legislation failed in committee.

HB402 Health Insurance Exchange - (Surovell - Yes) FAILED - Legislation would create state healthcare exchange as required by federal Healthcare Affordability and Patient Protection Act.  Legislation was killed in committee. 

HB1273 Oral Chemotherapy - (Surovell - Yes) PASSED - Requires state health insurance plans and plans regulated by Commonwealth to provide oral chemotherapy drugs at a reasonable price instead the current practice of passing a large portion of the cost onto patients.

Gun Control
HB940 Repeal of One Gun a Month - (Surovell - No) PASSED - Repeals the state's one-handgun-a-month rule adopted in 1990 to stem illegal gun-running. 

HB22 Prohibits Localities from Destroying Guns Purchased in Buy-Back Programs - (Surovell - No) PASSED - Title is self-explanatory.  Requires localities to sell guns to licensed gun dealers.

HB375 Prohibits Localities from Banning Store Guns in Employee Parking - (Surovell - No) PASSED - Title is self-explanatory. 

HB25 Confidentiality of Concealed Weapon Permit Applications - (Surovell - No) FAILED - Legislation would prohibit public inspection of concealed weapon permit applications.  Some newspapers had printed names of applicants in newspaper.  Passed the House and was killed in Senate committee.

HB754 Prohibits Localities from Requesting Fingerprints - (Surovell - No) ENACTED - Prohibits localities from requesting fingerprints as part of concealed weapon permit applications.  Fingerprints can return broader array of background information. 

Undocumented Aliens
HB1060 - Citizenship of Arrested Persons - (Surovell - No) FAILED - Requires the arresting law enforcement officer to make a query into legal presence when a person has been lawfully arrested and taken into custody.  I opposed because immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility and our law enforcement resources are already stretched thin.  Passed the House and was killed in a State Senate committee. 

HB1001 State Police Immigration Enforcement - (Surovell - No) FAILED - Requires Virginia State Police to enter into "280(g) Agreement" with Federal Government to enforce immigration laws.  I opposed for similar reasons.  Passed the House and was killed in a State Senate committee.

HB958 Sheriff Sheriffs to Enforce Immigration Laws - (Surovell - No) FAILED - Requires that an arresting officer inquire of every arrestee not committed to jail, prior to release, as to whether the arrestee (i) was born in a country other than the United States and (ii) is a citizen of a country other than the United States.  I opposed for similar reasons.  Passed House.  Amended version passed Senate but was ruled not germane by Speaker and killed in the House. 

Government Reform and Transparency
I introduced multiple pieces of legislation relating to government reform and transparency including:
  • HB664 - Publication of identifying information for taxpayers claiming tax credits
  • HB666 - Legislators required to disclose tax credits
  • HB665 - Legislators required to report most gifts before election and all major contributions received prior to legislative session
  • HR4 - Audio recording and publication of committee and subcommittee meetings
  • HB667 - Prohibition on localities receiving contributions from bidders during consideration of local government procurements.
All bills were killed in subcommittee. 
HB831 Nonpartisan Redistricting - (Surovell - Support) FAILED - Would create a nonpartisan redistricting commission.  Was killed in subcommittee. 

SB597 Amazon Sales Tax Deal - (Surovell - Yes) PASSED -  All purchases made on Amazon will now carry Virginia sales taxes resulting in $23 million for the General Fund and local schools. 
Constitutional Amendments
HJ3/SJ3/HB1035/SB437 Prohibiting Eminent Domain for Non-Public Use (Surovell - No) - PASSED - Submitted in response to Kelo v. City of New London.  Submits a constitutional amendment to the voters to revise Virginia Declaration of Rights drafted by George Mason and place previously-enacted statutory ban on use of condemnation for non-public uses and expand damages available in condemnation action to damages for lost profits and lost access not presently available.  Estimated to cost Virginia taxpayers billions of dollars for future transporation projects.

1 comment:

  1. I just happened upon your Blog Mr. Surovell, I applaud your work fighting for our district down here on the Highway.

    I am particularly interested in the states transportation funding fiasco. NOVA is going to need a lot of money for projects in the next coming decades. Not to mention Hampton Roads also trying to move forward on transit issues. I hope we can right the ship in the future.

    Also I found an interesting post on revitalizing the Route 1 corridor on the transit/planning site Greater Greater Washington. It was written by the the executive director of the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation.

    It was very enlightening. If I may provide some input. My mother constantly asks "When are they going to extend the Yellow Line". (We live in Mount Vernon not far from Huntley Meadows Park).

    I think a Light Rail or Bus Rapid Transit is the easier option as I don't see how we could fit Metrorail further down from Huntington.

    Just wanted to leave a comment. Thank you for your time.