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2015 Legislative Agenda Summary

This year I was pleased to introduce 15 bills.  The following is a summary of my initiatives and how they fared in the 2015 General Assembly:

Infant Safe Sleep Education (HB1515) - This bill was a recommendation of the State Child Fatality Review Team and is aimed at ensuring that hospitals provide new parents with information on safe sleep environments.  Sleep-related fatalities are the second leading cause of infant deaths in Virginia.  The State Child Fatality Review Team found that 95% of these deaths were preventable.  This bill passed the General Assembly and has been sent to the Governor.

Affordable Housing (HB1471) - This bill provides the City of Fairfax with additional authority to adopt an affordable dwelling unit ordinance.  This bill passed the General Assembly and has been sent to the Governor.

Remote Trap-Checking Technology (HB1516) - This bill allows pest management companies to use remote trap-checking technology as opposed to the current requirement that a trap needs to be physically checked every 24 hours.  This saves the pest management company time and expense by not having to check an empty trap, and is more human for the animal since it can be removed quicker.  This bill passed the General Assembly and has been sent to the Governor.

Water Quality Improvement Act Updates (HB1535 and HB1536) -- These bills updated the Water Quality Improvement Act and also eliminated outdated and redundant reporting requirements.  These bills passed the General Assembly and have been sent to the Governor.

Homeowner Association Declarations (HB1632) -- This bill requires the Virginia Common Interest Community Board to develop best practices for the content of HOA declarations.  The goal is to create more consistency and to provide a tool for local governments to identify potential problems during the review process.  This bill passed the General Assembly and has been sent to the Governor.

Farm Wineries (HB1634) -- This bill allows Virginia farm wineries the ability to produce port wine.  Virginia's fast growing wine industry contributes over $750 million to our economy annually.  This bill passed the General Assembly and has been sent to the Governor.

Voter Photo Identification (HB1653) -- This bill adds a photo ID from a private high school in Virginia (such as Paul VI High School) to be used for voting purposes.  This bill passed the General Assembly and has been sent to the Governor.

Conflict of Interest Act (HB1667) -- Like many of my colleagues, I am committed to strengthening the ethics rules that apply to elected officials.  This bill would impose a $100 cap on all gifts, including so-called "intangible" gifts like meals and entertainment that were exempted from last year's reform package.  My bill was incorporated into HB2070, which was ultimately passed by the General Assembly and maintained the $100 cap.

Plastic Microbeads (HB1697) -- This bill would have phased out the use of synthetic plastic microbeads in common consumer products such as toothpastes and cosmetics.  These small beads are often not removed during the wastewater treatment process and are now bioaccumulating in aquatic life in the Chesapeake Bay.  This bill was referred to the Virginia Manufacturing Development Commission for further study.

Solar Power Development Authority (HB1725) -- This bill was requested by the Governor and would establish a Virginia Solar Power Development Authority to pursue opportunities to grow solar energy development in Virginia.  A similar bill was introduced by Delegate Tim Hugo.  I became chief co-patron of his bill, which passed the General Assembly and has been sent to the Governor.

Groundwater Management (HB1870 and HB1871) -- These bills were introduced at the request of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to better manage Virginia's coastal groundwater resources.  Declining groundwater levels have already resulted in saltwater intrusion and land subsidence in many areas.  HB1870, which would have tightened regulation of residential groundwater withdrawals, was tabled for further study.  HB1871, which enhances Virginia's groundwater modeling capabilities, passed the General Assembly and has been sent to the Governor.

Principal Training for Struggling Schools (HB1872) -- This bill would have established a training program aimed at developing leadership skills for principals who take on struggling schools.  The bill passed the Education Committee unanimously, but stalled in the Appropriations Committee.

Transportation Network Companies (HB2037) -- This bill would have closed loopholes in the laws governing transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft to better protect personal information and details about route and pickup and drop off locations.  The bill was sent to the Virginia Commission on Technology and Science for further study.