We are coming up to the closing gavel of 2015 session of the General Assembly. Many important bills have made their way through the Senate and the House of Delegates. They will now head to Governor McAuliffe’s desk for his consideration. The final version of the budget is still being worked out and I will share more details of the conference report with you next week. Here are some highlights from this week.
Governor’s Energy Fund: This year, I introduced legislation (SB 1449) to establish the the Governor’s Energy Fund. This will allow the Governor to incentivize economic development by offering reduced electricity rates to qualifying entities. It is another tool to attract businesses to Virginia and is the type of thing we need to be doing in order to build a new Virginia economy capable of adding good-paying jobs. This bill has bipartisan support; it passed in the Senate last week and is now under consideration by the House of Delegates.
Brass Knuckles: Last week, in a shocking display, Senate Republicans on a party line vote passed legislation to legalize the sale of switchblades, brass knuckles, and throwing stars in Virginia. This week, cooler heads prevailed and the measure was reconsidered in the House of Delegates and soundly defeated. This was a welcome about-face and a victory for public safety— there is no need to bring these dangerous weapons to the streets of Virginia.
Update On Uber and Lyft Legislation: This week Governor McAuliffe signed a bill into law to put in place new rules for the ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft. A compromise was reached with all of the stakeholders that will protect consumers and allow Virginians to take advantage of this new technology.
Safe Reporting: The General Assembly passed legislation (HB 1500) to protect individuals acting in good faith to help someone at the scene of an overdose. All too often in these situations people are afraid to alert the police or first responders for fear of retribution. This measure will shield good samaritans from prosecution for possession of a controlled substance, public intoxication, and underage drinking. It is a commonsense effort to save lives and encourage individuals to do the right thing.
New Happy Hour Rules: This week the Senate passed HB 1439 to allow Virginia establishments to advertise happy hour drink specials. I supported this common sense move to help local Virginia bars and restaurants.
Protecting Virginia Kids: One of the highlights of this week was the defeat of misguided legislation (HB 1309) to allow local school districts to allow school security guards to carry batons, tasers, and pepper spray. To me this proposal is over the top and is not something we need in our public schools. We don’t need people playing cops in our schools.
State Song: The Senate passed legislation to designate two songs as the official song of the Commonwealth: “Sweet Virginia Breeze” and “Our Great Virginia.”
You can listen to both of them here:
Sweet Virginia Breeze
Our Great virginia