Good environmental bills die, bad transportation bills wounded in Virginia House
The Virginia House killed bills to establish a fee for disposable bags and 3-foot bicycle passing this week. While one bad transportation bill is going strong, legislators sent the other two down a road that makes passage unlikely.
The House tabled one bill to ban disposable plastic bags last week, then did the same for a 5¢ fee proposal similar to DC's from Arlington's Adam Ebbin and a similar one from Charles City's Joe Morrissey to impose a 20¢ fee.
Bills to require passing cyclists with 3 feet of space, which would match one passed last year in Maryland, also died in the House this week, though one is still alive in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The House did pass the bill letting bike and motorcycle riders go through stoplights if they've waited 2 minutes or 2 light cycles, and another clarifying that injuring someone after driving through a stop or yield sign or traffic light counts as reckless driving is still alive.
Two bad transportation bills suffered some likely-fatal wounds. HB2016, to consolidate three Northern Virginia transportation agencies and which was strongly opposed by most Northern Virginia representatives in both parties, was referred to the Joint Transportation Accountability Commission where it's expected to die. That's because one problem with consolidating these agencies is that each has taken on debt for various projects under various terms, and consolidating could create substantial legal headaches.
HB1999, perhaps the worst of all, would require that transportation spending follow the anti-livability "congestion" standard. The Transportation Committee referred it to Appropriations with no endorsement, which is tantamount to disapproving and makes it unlikely Appropriations will pass it. Its companion, HB1998, is the one that did pass in committee earlier in the week. 1998 forces VDOT to create lists of projects based on auto-centric "congestion" priorities, while 1999 forces spending to follow those lists.
The biggest fight will come over Governor McDonnell's "borrow money for roads" transportation plan. Smart growth and environmental groups came out against the plan, but powerful business groups are pushing it.
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