How Much Have We Lost?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Weekly Column: Week #3: Firearm Compromise, Equal Rights Amendment Passes, & Vulnerable Users to be Studied

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, The Mt. Vernon Voice and The Potomac-Stafford Local in the week of February 2, 2016.
Week #3: Firearm Compromise, Equal Rights Amendment Passes, & Vulnerable Users to be Studied
The third week of the General Assembly saw a major agreement emerge on firearm violence issues, and action on several of my bills.
Bills Moving Through
Three of my bills passed the full Senate this week.  My resolution ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) passed on a bipartisan 21-19 vote.  ERA remains five states short of ratification.  The Senate also passed my bill to give consumers a remedy when consumer finance companies fail to include language protecting consumers in their agreements, and prohibiting local governments from requiring homeowners or condo association approval before granting a permit or license.
As trains, buses, bicycles and walking become more popular, many states have enacted “vulnerable user” laws – making it easier to convict vehicle drivers of a serious traffic offense when collisions occur with vulnerable users who are seriously injured.  My legislation will be studied this summer.


My legislation to require the State Board of Education to redesign 11th Grade English examinations for English language learners passed subcommittee.  This will result in a fairer tests for students.  This will also result in a more accurate accreditation analysis for schools with large language learner populations such as many schools in the Route 1 Corridor.
Firearms Deal
On Friday, Governor McAuliffe announced an agreement with conservative legislators about firearms.  Last month, Attorney General Mark Herring announced that he was revoking agreements to recognize out of state concealed weapon permits (CWP) in Virginia due to other state laws lacking the same protections we use in Virginia.  The National Rifle Association reached out and offered to support prohibiting firearm possession by individuals subject to protective orders and requiring State Police presence at all gun shows to conduct voluntary background checks for firearms sellers without federal firearms licenses.
In return, the Governor agreed to sign legislation providing universal reciprocity for weapon permits between Virginia and other states.  While the agreement provides that reciprocity will not apply to Virginians whose permits have been revoked in Virginia, it is still incomplete.  If enacted, a Virginians who cannot obtain a permit in Virginia after a conviction for stalking, drunk driving, or inpatient mental health or substance abuse treatment will be able to obtain a Utah permit and legally carry a concealed gun, switchblade, machete, nun chuck, or throwing stars it in Virginia.
While I would like to see reciprocity for Virginia permit holders, our Virginians’ firearms safety rules should be up to the Virginia legislature and not delegated to the legislatures of states like Utah, Idaho or Alaska.  The agreement is not acceptable to me and I will not support the compromise without tighter firearm violence protections.
This week will be busy - I have over a dozen bills up this week.  Please complete my constituent survey at www.scottsurovell.org and email me at scott@scottsurovell.org if you have any feedback.
It is an honor to serve as your state senator.   

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