Months in advance, state Sen. William “Bill” Mims (R-33) and Del. Richard “Dick” Black (R-32) are compiling a list of the bills they want to push through the General Assembly, which convenes at noon on Jan. 8.
“Virginia is one of the 10 largest states in the nation, but our Legislature meets for less days per year for all but six other states,” said Mims, who lives in Sterling and works at a law firm in Leesburg. He was first elected in 1991 to the House of Delegates and in 1998 to the Senate in a special election. “It requires us to be very efficient and to work hard to accomplish everything within a limited amount of time,” he said.
The General Assembly will meet for 46 days during the next session, when the Senate and House of Representatives will consider 2,000 bills and resolutions, most of them routine. A few hundred of the bills may have “contested votes and significant debate,” Mims said.
MIMS, WHO is in his 12th session, generally pushes 30 to 40 bills per session. A few of the bills he has slated for the next session include:
* A bill requiring the removal of social security numbers from driver’s licenses.
“There is no justifiable purpose for putting the number on licenses. … This protects an individual’s privacy, and it also makes identity theft more difficult,” said Mims, a member of the Attorney General’s Task Force on Identity Theft.
Mim’s forwarded a bill in the early 1990s to allow residents to remove their social security numbers from driver’s licenses by paying an extra fee. If the current bill passes, the fee would be dropped and the social security number removed from any new license the Department of Motor Vehicles issues.
* A bill establishing a separate fair housing commission to address housing discrimination issues, which are currently handled by the Real Estate Board, licensing agency for Realtors.
“As such, it really does not have expertise on the prevention and sanctioning of housing discrimination,” Mims said. Mims is chairman of the Virginia Housing Study Commission.
* A bill to streamline the state’s administrative processes under the Administrative Process Act, the act that governs the formal processes for state regulatory agencies.
“Agency regulations or actions the governor declares to be noncontroversial would no longer have to go through a detailed rule-making process,” said Mims, vice chairman of the Virginia Code Commission. “This would allow routine actions to move through the rule-making process more quickly and hopefully save money for the state government.”
Mims is a member of four committees, including the Courts of Justice, Rehabilitation and Social Services, Local Government, and Transportation. He serves on several commissions and ad-hoc commissions, including the Code Commission, the Housing Commission and the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA).
BLACK, WHO has been in office since 1998, is in his third term with the House of Representatives. He said about the upcoming legislative session, “I think it’s going to be interesting. We’ve had a big debate over raising taxes. I’ve fought against raising taxes. … It’s a chance to represent working class people. That’s what I like to do.”
Black, who lives in Lowes Island, plans to push several bills next session, including:
* A bill to prevent localities from raising property taxes by more than five percent after adjustments for growth and inflation are made. “It addresses the problem we’ve had over the last several years [of] enormous tax increases because of increased assessments,” Black said. “Property taxes combine assessed values and the tax rate. … It’s just killing senior citizens who are on fixed incomes.”
* A constitutional amendment to prevent raids of the Transportation Trust Fund for the general fund and other spending. The fund is designated for transportation projects.
“We stripped over a billion out of the Transportation Fund in the past 10 years. … It will put more money into transportation than these tax increases will do,” Black said last week in reference to two proposed sales-tax referenda in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads for transportation projects. “If we pass the new sales tax, nothing prevents the governor and legislatures from spending it on something else. It doesn’t have to go to transportation even though it’s intended to go there.
* Two separate bills limiting auto safety inspections and emission tests to automobiles five years and older, now required of all automobiles.
“When the car is relatively new, there is no need for these tests,” Black said.
* A bill requiring parental consent for abortion for girls under the age of 18. “This puts the authority for medical care back into the hands of parents,” Black said.