Update from the General Assembly

We are almost to the half-way point and here is where we stand. Both HB 122 and SB 383 are crossing the hallway to the other chamber respectively and are on fast track for passage. These two bills are identical and will create a class of motor vehicle called an autocycle. Autocycles will cover three wheeled motor vehicles which, while currently classified as motorcycles, have more in common with cars in that the operator sits in a seat and uses a steering wheel. The Virginia Coalition of Motorcyclists has worked with several state agencies for the past two years in order to bring this legislation before the General Assembly. Motorcyclists do not want crash data for these three wheeled cars lumped into our statistical data. That would skew our data negatively by making it appear that there are more motorcycle crashes, injuries and fatalities. It is important to note that trikes will continue to be classified as motorcycles under these bills.

HB 542 is our bill to clarify that Virginia’s prohibition against wearing masks in public only applies when the offender has the intent to conceal his or her identity, not when the wearer is trying to stay warm or keep dust out of his or her face. It came out of the House Courts of Justice Committee unanimously. It will now go on the uncontested House calendar and should move over to the Senate with relative ease. Of course, we never take anything for granted in the General Assembly.

We experienced great disappointment yesterday when HB 1215 failed to pass the House Courts of Justice Committee by a 9-13 vote. This was our bill to increase penalties for those who kill or seriously injure others in right of way violations. We knew that we had opposition to this bill in the legislature but had expected it to pass the House Courts of Justice Committee. Our patron, who is the vice chair of the committee, had informed us that we should be good with his committee and that we needed to start working the Senate. He was as surprised as we were by the strength of the opposition in the full committee. He called immediately after to express his disappointment. We assured him that we appreciated all of his help.

The greatest disappointment was in Delegate Loupassi, who had specifically told us that he would support the bill. He was the one who led the charge against the bill in committee. I will be speaking to him next week.

For your information the breakdown of the vote was as follows: YEAS–Bell, Robert B., Cline, Gilbert, Miller, Minchew, Morris, Leftwich, Watts, Mason. NAYS–Albo, Kilgore, Loupassi, Villanueva, Habeeb, Chafin, Adams, Campbell, Toscano, Herring, McClellan, Hope, Keam.

If anyone intends to email any of the no votes to express your disappointment please do so politely and civilly. We will have to continue to work with these legislators in the future. However, it is by no means out of line to express your disappointment in a civil manner.

Thank you to all who have worked to move all of the legislation through the General Assembly. While VCOM is disappointed that HB 1215 will not pass this year we still have work to do on the remaining bills and will continue our efforts at the capitol.

As always, if anyone has any questions or comments about anything that I have written please do not hesitate to contact VCOM.