The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Gazette, The Mt. Vernon Voice, and the Potomac and Stafford Locals in the week of January 24, 2017.
Week #3: Town Halls, Cycling Safety and Tuition TransparencyWeek three saw our General Assembly in full swing and movement on many bills.First, over 100 residents came out for my two Town Halls in Prince William County. There were many questions about my “hand’s free” legislation, coal ash legislation, increasing teacher salaries, tuition affordability, predatory lending, and other issues.Thirteen of my bills have either passed or are poised for passage out of the Senate this week, ten bills were rejected, and sixteen are still awaiting action in committee. One day, I had to defend eleven different bills in committee in addition to attending a floor session and two committees.Two cycling safety bills passed this week. First, one bill clarifies that no motor vehicle can use a bicycle lane to pass another vehicle on the right. More bike lanes are being constructed across Virginia and our traffic code does not clearly prohibit the interplay between these lanes and passing on the right using pavement. Cutting into a bike lane to pass on the right can be deadly and needs to be illegal.
The Senate Transportation Committee passed legislation modeled on “vulnerable user” bills passed in 19 other states. The legislation creates a traffic offense if careless or inattentive driver causes a serious injury to a lawfully present cyclist, pedestrian, or other non-motor vehicle user. Today, these types of victims are at a significant disadvantage after collisions due to concussions, massive injuries, and little forensic evidence to help reconstruct collisions. This legislation will allows pedestrian and cyclist victims to receive justice.My legislation to require 30-days notice and a public comment period before any tuition increase can be discussed passed the Senate Education Committee and should pass the Senate this week. Students, parents and the public deserve as much notice of a tuition increase as they get for a tax increase. Also, my legislation to require the Rector and Vice-Rector of a state-supported university’s governing board to be an in-state resident appears ready to pass as well.This week, my legislation to expand Virginia’s pre-school sales tax holiday to computers will be heard. This legislation would save Virginians up to $40 per computer. Also, my legislation to prohibit schools from using electronic textbooks unless all students are given computers should considered as well.Finally, my legislation regarding coal ash will be heard on Thursday. I introduced three separate bills requiring clean closure, more robust studies an assessment, and recycling of coal ash. Each is important to ensure protection of our groundwater and the Potomac River. Although Dominion’s waste permit for closing its coal ash pond at Possum Point is pending, my legislation could still require regulators to revisit pending decisions.Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. Make sure you “like” my facebook page (www.facebook.com/surovell), watch two 30-minute interviews of me on my online newsletter (scottsurovell.blogspot.com) or follow me on Twitter (/ssurovell). It is an honor to serve as your state senator.