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Votes

At the General Assembly

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Pedestrian Setback

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Anyone who’s spent half an hour walking through Old Town Alexandria knows how dangerous cars can be. With tons of steel behind them, motorists often feel like they own the roads — and pedestrians can easily be injured or killed. That’s why state Sen. Patsy Ticer (D-30) patroned a bill that would require motorists to stop at crosswalks.

The bill — SB233 — was an idea that was originally included in the City Council’s legislative packet. It was so important to Councilman Rob Krupicka that he traveled to Richmond last week to testify for it. But Krupicka’s testimony did little to persuade members of the Senate Transportation Committee, which killed the bill by an 8-7 vote.

“Rob did a very good job,” Ticer said. “But it did absolutely no good at all because the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee was against it. He must be in his car too much.”

State Sen. Martin Williams (R-1), chairman of the committee, voted with the majority to kill the bill. He represents Newport News.

“It’s too bad that the City Council of Newport News didn’t get involved in this,” Ticer said. “We could have had a different outcome.”

Krupicka said that all is not lost. He says a similar bill could pass the House of Delegates and come back to the Senate Transportation Committee.

“Brian Moran will be sponsoring a similar bill in the House,” said Krupicka, adding that he’s hopeful that the bill can still get through the Senate Transportation Committee this session. “We’re hoping that we can find language that Chairman Williams will agree to.”

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The Freshman Blues

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With his first General Assembly session almost half over, Del. David Englin (D-45) is learning that freshman legislators often have a hard time during their first General Assembly session. Many of his bills have been killed — including his push to get Virginia to participate in the “I-SaveRx” program, which would allow Virginia consumers to purchase prescription refills from pharmacies in Canada and the United Kingdom. Englin mentioned this initiative many times on the campaign trail, and it was the first bill he filed with the House clerks.

“The Speaker of the House doesn’t like the idea of re-importation,” Englin said. “But I’m hoping we can still get this passed through executive action, and I’ll be asking the governor’s office to take action on this.”

Meanwhile, Englin’s aide narrowly escaped being shot by Del. Jack Reid (R-72), who accidentally discharged a firearm in his office last week. Englin’s office is about 20 yards away from the scene of the gunfire.

“I didn’t hear anything,” said Stephen Davis, Englin’s aide, who was in his office when the incident happened on Thursday morning. “It was very quiet all morning. I didn’t even find out about it until late in the afternoon.”

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The (Nearly) Endless Summer

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The summer of 2007 may be the longest vacation students at T.C. Williams High School will ever have. Administrators plan to close the 2006-2007 school year early and open the 2007-2008 school year late, creating an unusually long summer break to facilitate a move into the school’s new $99-million building.

But in order to deviate from the standard school calendar, Alexandria City Public Schools needs special permission from the General Assembly. That’s why Del. Adam Ebbin (D-49) patroned HB971, which allowed the school division to lengthen the summer of 2007.

Because the bill was written to expire after one year, it did not face opposition from the tourism industry. It received unanimous approval in the House Education Committee and on the House floor. It is now headed for the Senate Committee on Education and Health, where it is expected to pass.

“This is one year in one school,” said Del. Brian Moran (D-46). “There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to do this.”