General Assembly crossed over! What survived?

General Assembly crossed over! What survived?
General Assembly crossed over! What survived?
General Assembly crossed over!
Virginia Progressive Legislative Alert Newsletter
February 14, 2020

The last day to vote on bills originating in their own chamber was Wednesday. Because the House mostly discusses bills on their second reading, while the Senate discusses them on their third, it was a LONG night in the Senate, completing at 12:45 AM.

824 bills crossed over to the Senate, and 662 to the House, including some of these:

Legislative Update

Transportation omnibus bill
  • This is priority legislation from Governor Northam, carried by Majority Leader Saslaw in the Senate (SB890) and Speaker Filler-Corn in the House (HB1414), to finally properly fund desperately needed transportation infrastructure investments.
  • The bill creates the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority to “promote, sustain, and expand the availability of passenger and commuter rail service in the Commonwealth and to increase ridership of such service by connecting population centers in Virginia with passenger and commuter rail service and increasing availability of such service.”
  • The bill adds new safety rules, including: (i) making it illegal to possess an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle, (ii) requiring all passengers in a vehicle to wear safety belts, (iii) prohibiting the use of handheld personal communication devices, (iv) establishing a speed photo monitoring program in highway safety corridors, and (v) allowing localities to lower the speed limit below 25 miles per hour in business and residential districts.
  • The bill increases the state gasoline tax, phased in. In the Senate version, the tax is 20.2 cents/gallon July 1, 2020 and 24.2 after July 1, 2021, indexing to CPI-U after 2022. The House version has an additional tax increase to 28.2 July 22, and indexes to CPI after 2023.
Virginia Fairness in Lending Act
  • This bill to rein in out of control payday lenders is patroned in the House (HB789) by Delegate Bagby, who is also chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, and in the Senate (SB421) by Democratic Caucus Chair Senator Locke.
  • Currently, only payday loans and car-title loans are monitored by the State Corporation Commission, while open-end lines of credit and installment loans made online are not.
  • As a result, Virginians pay up to three times as much as borrowers in other states for the same types of loans. The legislation proposed has been passed in states like Ohio and Colorado in recent years. 
  • The bill would require all lenders be licensed in Virginia and registered with the State Corporation Commission, which would track how many loans are made and many other details about the transactions
  • The bill would require that all loans have affordable payments (maximum interest rate of 36%, and limits amount of fees and charges), and enough time to repay (minimum four months repayment, maximum of 24 months).
  • Closes loophole where Virginia lenders partner with out-of-state banks to get around Virginia’s lending laws.
…and more bills to watch
  • Gun violence prevention crossover: A handful of gun violence prevention bills crossed over from the House that the Senate has not yet passed versions of. One is HB1083 (Hayes-HD77) increasing the age and penalty for recklessly leaving a firearm where a minor can access. A similar bill died in the Senate earlier, when Peterson (SD-34) and Deeds (SD-25) voted no with Republicans. Additionally, HB961 (Levine-HD45) banning sale and transfer of assault weapons and restricting high-capacity magazines passed the House, but has not yet been considered this year in the Senate. Lastly, SB67 (McClellan-SD9) to require reporting lost/stolen firearms within 24 hours died in the Senate after Peterson (SD-34) and Lewis (SD-6) while the same bill HB9 (Bourne-HD71) passed the House and is headed over the Senate now. Get on those phones, people!
  • Virginia Clean Economy Act: This sprawling environmental bill passed out of both House (HB1526 Sullivan-HD48) and Senate (SB851 McClellan-SD9), however numerous last-minute amendments were made in the House to ensure enough votes to pass, including pushing back the date for reaching 100% carbon-free retail electric to 2045 from 2050, and a moratorium on fossil fuel projects after 2030 if the utilities fail to achieve their targets by 2028. It will be interesting to follow how those amendments are taken in the Senate.
  • Minimum wage: Another bill that left the Senate and House in very different forms is the minimum wage bill. A last-minute floor substitute to SB7 (Saslaw-SD35) by Senator Surovell (SD36) to address the concerns of senators from rural districts would increase the minimum statewide to $11.50 over the next two years and then adjust thereafter indexed by a “minimum wage region” that takes into account cost of living and unemployment differences. The version that passed the House (HB395 Ward-HD92) has no such regional differentials.
  • Three strikes petit larceny: SB807 (Morrissey-SD16) to remove the three strikes law making a third petit larceny automatically a felony passed the Senate, but no version had been through the House (and the House criminal justice subcommittee has been surprisingly less progressive than the usually conservative Senate Judiciary)
  • National Popular Vote Compact: HB177 (Levine-HD45, Price-HD95 rolled in) to have Virginia join the compact passed out of the House, but has not been heard in the Senate. A similar bill SB399 by Senator Ebbin (SD-30) was stricken at his request.

If any of the above bills are important to you, now is the time to contact your legislators and tell them how this bill affects you and your family. Contact information for Delegates and Senators can be found HERE; if you aren’t sure who represents you, put your address in HERE to find out.

Virginia Progressive Legislative Alert Network

PO Box 2612, Merrifield
Virginia 22116-2612 United States

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