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July 30, 2017

Ron’s Report: Week 2

Dear Friends,

We have just concluded our first full week of session. The 100 member House has introduced over 1,000 bills, and the 40 member Senate has introduced over 700 bills. Over the next two weeks the 14 House committees will be doing a lot of the heavy lifting to hear the bills before action could be taken on the House floor.

My office and I are hard at work preparing our legislation for this upcoming week. I have a total of 15 bills this session which is the max you can have on the House side in a short session.

One of my bills HB1606 is a bill to add to the code of Virginia to make it unlawful to text or use a handheld communication device while driving through work zones. I believe it is important to keep our roads safe and making sure that we are also helping keep our citizens who work on our roads safe as well.

Another bill that I have offered for consideration this session is HB 2016 which looks allow electronic delivery devices on our states sidewalks to deliver groceries and other goods to people’s homes. These autonomous vehicles, the robots have cameras, GPS, sensors and other obstacle-detection features so they don’t bump into anything. But there is human oversight that can make decisions if the little robot gets into a pickle. The autonomous craze has taken over, Just like Uber’s self-driving cars, these electric personal delivery devices will be a part of our future. Sidewalks are either the most highly utilized or underutilized assets in our cities, depending on the area. Downtown Norfolk and Virginia Beach Town Center sidewalks are busier at lunch. Neighborhoods and sidewalks along arterial roads may be less busy. I want this law to be on the books to continue making Virginia a forward-thinking state.

As the chair of Transportation I have focused a lot on Transportation legislation continuing to my bill HB 2023. Under current law, when a city or town converts existing pavement into a bike lane, they lose money. This is because annual maintenance payments to localities that own their roads is calculated by “moving-lane-miles” for cars, not people. So when a city converts a travel lane to a bike lane the state maintenance dollars are reduced. HB 2023 removes this financial disincentive by declaring that bike lanes qualify for annual maintenance funds provided that no more than 50 moving-lane-miles (or three percent, whichever is less) of the locality’s total number of moving-lane-miles are converted.

Lastly I want to discuss HB 2019 which the repeals the vehicle registration requirement that is part of the Transportation Networking Companies. This bill also looks to allow for a vehicle to comply with the law if it has a state inspection conducted by another state for which the Virginia State Police has determined is adequate.

This week we also held the Tourism caucus which I am the chair of. We met and discussed the progress of tourism in Virginia and how we could better work together. So that we can better promote legislation that supports expanding tourism in Virginia to increase our economy and push the commonwealth forward.

I have enjoyed meeting with a number of constituent groups this week, including the 66 Alliance, The Speech Language Hearing Association of Virginia, Moms Demanding Action, VCDL, the Virginia Economic Development Association, ODU Nursing Students, National Coalition of Public Safety Officers, South Eastern Alzheimer’s Association, Virginia Credit Union, and the American Heart Association. A big thank you to all who have taken the time to call, write, and come by my office to share their needs and opinions with me.

Please don’t hesitate to contact my office at any time for your insight and feedback on proposed legislation. Your thoughts and opinions are important to me, and enable me to better represent you. For the duration of legislative session, I can be found in Room 503 of the General Assembly Building. As always, I can be reached at (804) 698-1021 or delrvillanueva@house.virginia.gov.

I also encourage you to take a moment to share your thoughts by completing the 2017 Session survey now up on my website.