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Votes

Local Bills Move Forward

With the majority of non-controversial bills voted upon and swept through the General Assembly, state Sen. William "Bill" Mims (R-33) and Del. Richard "Dick" Black (R-32) had last week and early this week to focus on the major bills they wanted to pass.

The house voted favorably on Friday for Black’s House Bill (HB) 1402, which will require parental consent for abortions for girls under the age of 18.

"I’m very pleased," Black said. "Virginia is one of the most deadly states in the union for unborn children. We have fewer protections than most states. The enactment of this bill would save the lives of at least a thousand children every year."

Black said he and other pro-life legislators "have given the abortion industry a battering it hasn't received in 30 years ... since Roe versus Wade."

BLACK SUBMITTED more than 20 bills for the 2003 General Assembly session with 11 of the bills passing on to the senate and several of the bills incorporated into other bills. Black's bills that passed at the house level include:

* HJ-711 (House Joint Resolution), which was rolled into several other measures as HJ-645 and unanimously passed the house on Monday. The Constitutional amendment will bar raids on the Transportation Trust Fund, which has about $1 billion, and the Highway Maintenance and Operating Fund, which has about $1.2 billion.

"I've studied the expenditures and appropriations and realized if you only protected the Transportation Trust Fund that you could still raid those funds by transfers between that and the Highway Maintenance and Operating Fund," said Black, a member of the Transportation Committee.

* HB-1520 Hannah's Law to give the juvenile courts jurisdiction in requiring mandatory counseling for children who commit certain crimes.

* HB-2680 To give legal discretion to the superintendent of education when reporting minor assaults.

* HB-2776 To extend the Certificate of Public Need for Falcon's Landing, a retirement community in Sterling. The extension will allow the nursing home to take in private patients as long as beds are vacant.

"It helps the community and strengthens Falcon's Landing financially," Black said.

Black noted that the house defeated a bill Tuesday that would have established a two-term governor in Virginia and allow the governor to serve up to eight years instead of four.

"It was a last gasp attempt by certain industry groups to have a more favorable environment to raise taxes," Black said. "[The governor] would be able to manipulate the process, and it would wildly distort the balance of powers in Virginia."

FOR MIMS, 31 of his 36 proposed bills passed out of the senate to the house. The crossover occurs today Feb. 5 at the half-way point of the session, which is scheduled to end on Feb. 22. At crossover, the house and senate address the legislation of the opposite chamber.

Mims saw 24 of 38 bills pass through the senate last year. Mims' bills that passed at the senate level this year include:

* SB-979 to help prevent identity theft by limiting the use of Social Security numbers on identification cards, court filings and other public documents.

"With this bill, we hope to prevent open access to someone’s Social Security number and personal information," Mims said, according to a statement. "In the past, identity thieves generally had to know someone to accomplish this crime. Today, they only have to know where to look."

* SB-1019 to create mandatory fines and increase existing fines for Driving Under the Influence convictions. The bill establishes a minimum $250 fine for a first-time DUI conviction and increases the fines for second and third time convictions.

* SB-1325 to create a mandatory seat belt law, giving state law enforcement the ability to pull over and ticket drivers who fail to wear seat belts.

* SB-1004 to rename Route 28 after Darrell Green, a retired Redskins player.

* SB-987 to allow school buses to display American flag decals.

* SB-1001 to allow non-controversial rules to be fast-tracked in order to streamline the state's administrative processes.

Mims' bills that would have made it a violation to drive while distracted was killed at the senate level.