Lawmakers Discuss Defeated Bills

Lawmakers Discuss Defeated Bills

As with every session, the number of bills that individual lawmakers sponsor and pass is fewer than the number of bills they actually attempt to put through. For lawmakers, there are often bills that they hope to push through that don't make the final cut.

For more information about these bills, go to

Sen. Leslie L. Byrne (D-34th)

Sen. Leslie Byrne said the two bills she would have liked to see passed were the Telephone Privacy Protection Act (SB 918) and the bill for adequate public facilities (SB 1292).

"I continue to have a strong interest in growth and protecting people's privacy," Byrne said, when asked whether she would attempt to pass these bills in another legislative session.

Byrne explained that the defeat of her bills was due in part to special interests.

"There's a lot of hard lobbying," Byrne said.

* SB 918, Telephone Privacy Protection Act

SB 918, which was narrowly defeated by the Committee on Commerce and Labor by a vote of 7-7 with one abstaining, would have prohibited telephone solicitors from telemarketing to individuals included on a database of persons who request not to receive such calls.

This is the third time that Byrne has attempted to pass this bill through the General Assembly.

"Probably 95 percent of Virginians say they ... don't want to be bothered by telemarketers," Byrne said.

* SB 1292, Adequate Public Facilities

This bill would have allowed localities to adopt provisions in their subdivision ordinances for deferring site plans or subdivision plats if existing facilities for sewer and water, schools, roads and public safety are deemed inadequate to support the development. Byrne said she attempted to pass a similar bill in 1991, after studying the issue for two years.

"Anyone in Northern Virginia knows we have a mismatch between the amount of space we need and the growth we have," Byrne said.

The bill was passed by the Committee on Local Government by a vote of 13-2.

Byrne said that the taxpayers will suffer from the bill's defeat, as taxpayers are responsible for paying for a locality's infrastructure.

"It's not right, and it's not fair," Byrne said.

Del. J. Chapman Petersen (D-37th)

Like Byrne, the sophomore delegate attributed the defeat of some of his legislation to special interests. However, Petersen said he would consider pursuing similar legislation in future years.

"The lesson I've learned is that ... if you lose on a vote, you just shake it off and keep going," Petersen said.

* HB 1607, Thresholds for Larceny and Other Related Crimes

HB 1607, co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Ken Cucinelli, would have increased the threshold for larceny and other related crimes from $200 to $400. By raising the threshold, it would impact which criminals would be incarcerated by the state, thus affecting state costs for incarcerating the criminals. Petersen said groups like the Retail Merchants' Association opposed the bill, saying that it would be soft on crime.

Although HB 1607 failed to pass the Committee for Courts of Justice by a vote of 20-1, Petersen is hopeful that the bill may pass in a future year. Other lawmakers had told him that they were interested in the bill and thought that it could pass in another year.

"The reform on this is long overdue," Chapman said.

* HB 2025 and HB 2026, Local Cigarette Tax: Counties Use Revenues for Public Schools

These two bills, HB 2025 for the whole state and HB 2026 for Fairfax and Arlington counties, would have allowed counties to impose a tax on cigarettes at a rate not to exceed 50 cents. Revenue from the tax would go toward capital projects for public schools. The Committee on Finance failed to pass both measures by a vote of 18-3.

Petersen insisted that the bill was not a tax increase, yet he thought that the bill failed to pass because of the tobacco lobby and counties that have a large agricultural component.

"I think the tobacco companies, like Philip Morris, are very powerful in Richmond," Petersen said.

* HJ 563, General Assembly: Television Coverage of Legislative Sessions

HJ 563 would have aired on television coverage of the legislative sessions. Petersen, who said he's used to televised sessions from his time as a Fairfax City Council member, said that other older members were not so comfortable having their debates shown on the small screen. The Committee on Rules failed to pass the measure, 10-6. Petersen intends to reintroduce this bill for a third time next year.

Del. Jeannemarie Devolites (R-35th)

Unlike Byrne and Chapman, Devolites said all the legislation she wanted to pass went through to the Senate, as she carried no controversial legislation. Eighteen of her bills await decision in the Senate.

"[My bills] solved problems that needed to be solved, and I solved them in a pragmatic way," Devolites said.

Three bills that Devolites wanted to pass were HB 2287, which provides coordinated healthcare for children by creating a program incorporating both Medicaid and the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security Plan; HB 2290, an anti-Internet spam bill, which establishes an alternate method for calculating damages for a person in violation of the Computer Crimes Act; and HB 2294, which requires that remote public access to court records must by paid by subscription service through circuit court clerk's offices or designated application service providers.

"I can't complain for this session," Devolites said.