General Assembly Update – Week Four

This has been a big week for conservation in the Virginia General Assembly. Bills on coal ash, fracking, and renewable energy were all up, in addition to a bill on redistricting reform. Virginia Conservation Network took positions on three new bills and eight new budget items. As we approach crossover next week, it’s critical that Virginia’s conservation community is putting as much pressure on legislators as possible to continue pushing good bills forward and to kill the bills that threaten our health, communities, and natural resources.


General Assembly Updates

Bill to Strengthen Coal Ash Pond Closure Requirements Passes Committee

We’re happy to report that on Thursday, February 2nd, SB1398 reported out of the Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Committee with a 9-5 vote. This bill states that before any draft permit is issued for the closure of any electric utility-owned coal ash impoundment, the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Conservation and Recreation are to receive an assessment of closure options available to the owner or operator of such impoundment. This bill would give our agencies the tool they need to make the best choice for the environment during coal ash closure.

A big shoutout and thank you goes to Senator Surovell for carrying this important bill! All clean water supporters should give him a call (804-698-7536) or send him an email (district36@senate.virginia.gov) to thank him for his support of long-term solutions for coal ash in Virginia.

The following committee members voted in favor of SB1398 — if you are a constituent of one of these nine Senators, please also thank them for their support:

Senator Stuart: (804) 698-7528 / district28@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Petersen: (804) 698-7534 / district34@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Marsden: (804) 698-7537 / district37@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Stanley: (804) 698-7520 / district20@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Ebbin: (804) 698-7530 / district30@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Lewis: (804) 698-7506 / district06@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Dance: (804) 698-7516 / district16@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Mason: (804) 698-7501 / district01@senate.virginia.gov
Senator McClellan: (804) 698-7509 / district09@senate.virginia.gov

Senate Bills To Exempt Oil & Gas Industry From Reporting Chemicals Used Die

On Thursday, February 2nd, two of the four bills that would exempt fracking chemicals from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) were killed in the Senate Finance Committee in a 8-8 tie vote: SB1291 and SB1292. The following individuals rightly voted against the bills (and in favor of transparency):

Senator Hanger: (804) 698-7524 / district24@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Stuart: (804) 698-7528 / district28@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Norment: (804) 698-7503 / district03@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Howell: (804) 698-7532 / district32@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Saslaw: (804) 698-7535 / district35@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Lucas: (804) 698-7518 / district18@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Barker: (804) 698-7539 / district39@senate.virginia.gov
Senator Dance: (804) 698-7516 / district16@senate.virginia.gov

The House versions of the bills will be crossing over to the Senate, so the Senators will need to vote a second time on these exact same bills. They need to hear from constituents and organizations that they did the right thing! If you are a constituent of one of the eight Senators listed above, please call and thank them for their NO vote last night on the Fracking FOIA bills.

Community Solar Bill Moving Forward; Other Renewable Energy Bills Killed

On Monday, January 30th, the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee voted to send SB1393 — a VCN-supported bill which will expand access to solar power in Virginia — to the Senate floor. We are excited to announce that today, Friday, February 3rd, this bill unanimously passed the Senate. Please call your Senator today and thank them for their support of SB1393! If you don’t know who your Senator is, you can find out by clicking here.

Background On Community Solar (SB1393)

Across the Commonwealth, many individuals and families are expressing an interest in local, clean power sources. However, not all Virginians are able to install a solar system at their homes for various reasons (cost, physical characteristics of their property, renting a home, etc.). These barriers prevent a large segment of Virginians from taking advantage of solar energy.

Community solar is a solution to this problem. By developing a solar energy project that serves a number of households or businesses, community solar projects reduce the price of renewable energy for participating customers. These solar projects are normally located close to the communities they serve, allowing Virginians access to the benefits of solar even if they are unable to install solar systems on their own homes. A good example of this concept would be a church with a solar installation dispatching clean energy to its congregants.

 Redistricting Reform Bill Dies With No Vote

On Monday, January 30th, four Delegates on the House Constitutional Subcommittee voted to table all redistricting reform bills in the House. Delegate Randy Minchew, Delegate Mark Cole, Delegate Tim Hugo, and Delegate Jackson Miller all voted against proposals to reform our rigged redistricting process.

One of the bills, HJ763, carried by Delegate Steve Landes, would have prohibited the wide-spread practice of politicians carving out their political opponents. Contrary to comments by some members of the subcommittee, it does not include a redistricting commission, but just a simple one-line addition to the Virginia Constitution:

No electoral district shall be drawn for the purpose of favoring or disfavoring any political party, incumbent legislator, member of Congress, or other individual or entity.

“This amendment represents the core component of redistricting reform. It is simple: If you think politicians should be able to carve out their political opponents, then you are for gerrymandering and the elimination of competition in our elections,” said Brian Cannon, Executive Director of OneVirginia2021.

The hope was that other members of the House of Delegates would bring the redistricting bills beyond the House Constitutional Subcommittee for a full vote on the floor. On Friday, February 3rd, the House Privileges & Elections Committee refused to recognize legislators supporting redistricting reform who were trying to make a motion, and instead adjourned. With over 100 people in the audience, the shouts were not polite. More to come on this soon. We aren’t finished for this session — good bills are still coming from the Senate. Stay tuned.


Bill Tracker

Issue AreaBill NumberPatronDescriptionPosition
Budget91GN/AFunds to the Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund are proposed to be cut from $1,000,000 to $250,000 in the second year.OPPOSE
Budget365D.1N/AFunds to the Virginia Land Conservation Fund are proposed to be cut from $8,000,000 to $4,500,000 in the second year. OPPOSE
Budget367HN/AFunds to the Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund are proposed to be cut from $1,000,000 to $676,528 in the second year.OPPOSE
WaterHB1678RobinsonVirginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); trade secrets submitted to the Department of Mines.OPPOSE
WaterHB1679RobinsonWell permit applications; disclosure of trade secrets.OPPOSE
WaterHB1573HelselMarine Resources Commission; licenses; revocation.OPPOSE
WaterHB1575HelselMarine Resources Commission; oyster dredge; sanctuary area.OPPOSE
WaterHB1619BulovaWatershed discharge permits; review of allocations.SUPPORT
Land Use & TransportationHB1635SullivanHistoric rehabilitation tax credit.OPPOSE
Land Use & TransportationSB1034HowellHistoric rehabilitation tax credit.OPPOSE
EnergyHB1636SullivanEnergy efficiency programs; total resource cost test.SUPPORT
EnergyHB1703SullivanElectric and natural gas utilities; energy efficiency goals.SUPPORT
Land Use & TransportationHB1766HabeebUtility Facilities Act; associated facilities of an electrical transmission line. OPPOSE
Land Use & TransportationSB1110StanleyUtility Facilities Act; associated facilities of an electrical transmission line. OPPOSE
Land Use & TransportationSB887ChafinPrioritization of statewide transportation projects; exceptions.OPPOSE
WaterHB2008HodgesStormwater; erosion and sediment control, 10,000 square foot minimum disturbance.OPPOSE
WaterHB2089KorySchool boards, local; lead testing of potable water in schools.SUPPORT
WaterSB1359McPikeSchool boards, local; lead testing of potable water in schools.SUPPORT
Land Use & TransportationHB2136LeMunyonWashington Metrorail Safety Commission Interstate Compact.SUPPORT
Land Use & TransportationHB2136LeMunyonWashington Metrorail Safety Commission Interestate CompactSUPPORT
EnergyHB2198KilgoreCoal tax; limits aggregate amount of credits that may be allocated or claimed for employment, etcOPPOSE
Land Use & TransportationHB2244JonesPublic-Private Transportation Act of 1995; changes name of Advisory Committee.SUPPORT
Land Use & TransportationSB1322CarricoPublic-Private Transportation Act of 1995; changes name of Advisory Committee.SUPPORT
EnergySB1471LockeVirginia Alternative Energy and Coastal Protection Act; established, report.SUPPORT
WaterHJ572KnightStudy; regulation of menhaden fishing; report.SUPPORT
Land Use & TransportationSB806StanleyInterstate 73 Corridor Development Fund and Program.OPPOSE
WaterSB898StuartDEQ; combined sewer overflow (CSO) outfalls; Potomac River Watershed.SUPPORT
WaterSB910StuartVirginia Oil and Gas Act; sampling and replacing contaminated wells.SUPPORT
WaterSB911StuartOrphaned Well Fund; surcharge.SUPPORT
EnergyHB2112KeamElectric utilities; community renewable projects.SUPPORT
EnergySB1208WextonElectric utilities; community renewable projects.SUPPORT
WaterHB1423AlboPotomac River Watershed; DEQ to identify owner of any combined sewer overflow outfall, etc.SUPPORT
WaterHB1454AustinJames River; designation as component of Virginia Scenic Rivers System.SUPPORT
AntiRegHB1566WebertProfessions and occupations; active supervision of regulatory boards.OPPOSE
AntiRegHB1654LoupassiExamining and approving a statement in lieu of the settlement of accounts; fee for commissioner.OPPOSE
WaterHB1870LopezDeleterious substances; discharge into state waters.SUPPORT
EnergyHB1974O'QuinnClean Power Plan; state implementation plan; General Assembly approval.OPPOSE
EnergyHB2018VillanuevaVirginia Alternative Energy and Coastal Protection Act, established, report.SUPPORT
Land Use & TransportationHB2023VillanuevaHighway maintenance payments; bicycle lanes.SUPPORT
OtherHB2182SicklesVoter registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles; opt-out voter registration.SUPPORT
AntiRegHJ545HeadConstitutional amendment; powers of General Assembly, etc.OPPOSE
OtherHJ704BulovaStudy; Secretary of Natural Resources and Secretary of Education; environmental education; report.SUPPORT
OtherHJ763LandesConstitutional amendment (first resolution); apportionment; political considerations prohibited.SUPPORT
OtherSB1051EbbinAutomatic Voter RegSUPPORT
Land Use & TransportationSB1251BarkerWashington Metrorail Safety Commission Interstate Compact; Virginia authorized to become signatory.SUPPORT
WaterSB1383SurovellCoal ash; treatment by utilities; recycling.SUPPORT
WaterSB1398SurovellCoal combustion residuals unit; closure permit; assessments required.SUPPORT
WaterSB1399SurovellCoal combustion by-product impoundments; closure requirements.SUPPORT
EnergySB1496LewisVirginia Alternative Energy and Coastal Protection Act; established, reportSUPPORT
OtherSJ290HowellConstitutional amendment; criteria for electoral districts (first reference).SUPPORT
AntiRegSJ295VogelConstitutional amendment (first resolution); legislative review of administrative rules.OPPOSE
AntiRegSJ311CarricoConstitutional amendment; legislative review of administrative rules (first reference)OPPOSE
Budget448#1hLeMunyonWMATA Compact Revisions Required OPPOSE
Budget4-5.03#3hLaRockNo DRPT Funding Unless Conditions Related to WMATA Enacted OPPOSE
BudgetC-48.10#1sHangerStormwater Local Assistance FundSUPPORT
Budget370#1hLandesStormwater Local Assistance FundSUPPORT
Budget370#2hLingamfelterStormwater Local Assistance FundSUPPORT
BudgetC-48.10#6hYanceyStormwater Local Assistance FundSUPPORT
Budget364#2sHangerWater Quality Improvement FundSUPPORT
Budget364#6hLandesWater Quality Improvement FundSUPPORT
Budget364#5hO'BannonWater Quality Improvement FundSUPPORT
Budget364#6sRuffDept of Conservation RecreationSUPPORT
Budget3-6.01#1sRuffRecordation Tax FeeSUPPORT
Budget364#4hRuffRecordation Tax FeeSUPPORT
Budget364#10hLingamfelterReflect Increased Dedication of Recordation Fee to NRCFSUPPORT
Budget3-6.01#1hLingamfelterDirect Recordation Filing Fee to NRCFSUPPORT
Budget364#1sLewisWater Quality Improvement FundSUPPORT
Budget364#3hWebertFully Fund Ag BMP RequirementsSUPPORT
EnergyHB2390KilgoreRenewable energy power purchase agreements; expands pilot program.OPPOSE
EnergySB1393WagnerElectric utilities; community solar pilot programs.SUPPORT
EnergySB918EdwardsRenewable energy; third-party power purchase agreements.SUPPORT
Land Use & TransportationSB1423WagnerElectric utilities; viewshed mitigation payments.OPPOSE
Land Use & TransportationSB1282McDougleWireless communications infrastructure; procedure for approved by localities.OPPOSE
Land Use & TransportationHB2196KilgoreWireless communications infrastructure; procedure for approved by localities.OPPOSE
WaterHB2383LingamfelterCombined sewer overflow outfalls; DEQ to identify owner that discharges into Chesapeake Bay.SUPPORT

 


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