General Assembly Update – Week Three

This past Monday, January 23rd, over 200 conservation organizations and activists joined together in Richmond to participate in Virginia Conservation Network’s largest Conservation Lobby Day in recent history. Nearly 100 meetings were held with state legislators and aides urging them to support environmental policy advancements. Priority issues that participants brought up with their legislators included:

  • Keeping our drinking water and rivers clean by updating storage for toxic coal ash and preventing the oil and gas industry from hiding what chemicals they use.
  • Cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay watershed by fighting for full funding for critical land and water programs and preventing rollbacks to the Chesapeake Bay Act.
  • Working to harness the power of the sun through community solar programs.
  • Protecting our landscapes by fully funding programs, such as the Land Preservation and Historic Tax Credits.
  • Ensuring development of new roads doesn’t skirt environmental and planning reviews.
  • Reforming our redistricting process by working to ensure voters pick their legislators — not the other way around.

For a full summary of Conservation Lobby Day, click here.

General Assembly Updates

Protecting Local Authority

We’ve learned about two pieces of legislation tied to telecommunications that are likely to come up for a vote in the General Assembly next week, potentially as early as Monday or Tuesday. Both are American Legislation Exchange Council (ALEC)-drafted bills recommended by Verizon and other major telecom companies that remove local government’s ability to provide oversight or engage in constructive solutions. Both bills instead give greater control to the major telecommunication corporations.

Oppose HB2196/SB1282
Removing Consideration of Historic Districts or Entrance Corridors

HB2196/SB1282 would remove local government consideration of historic districts and entrance corridors as they relate to wireless communication facilities, clearing the way for the construction of intrusive facilities in sensitive landscapes without features designed to conceal the structures.

Some believe the legislation might bring coverage to underserved areas. But that belief has little validity, as population and profitability are the main factors in determining where companies choose to build towers. It is an industry give-away, not an attempt to address the real issues facing rural communities of the Commonwealth. Take action here.

Oppose HB2108
Preventing Local Investment in Broadband

HB2108 would prevent localities from building their own infrastructure. The effect of which would be to stop municipal government from providing broadband in areas where the utility companies are unwilling to make the investment. The bill would be bad for residents and bad for businesses (except the telecommunications giants).

Just yesterday, the patron introduced a substitute to the original language. However, from what we’re hearing from those close to the issue, the substitute bill doesn’t address the fundamental flaw in the concept. Take action here.

Expanding Solar Power in Virginia

Yesterday, a special Senate Subcommittee on Renewable Energy took action on expanding access to solar power in Virginia. The four members of this subcommittee (Chafin, Sturtevant, Dance, and Wagner) unanimously voted to send SB1393 to the full Commerce & Labor Committee. The full committee will consider the bill on the afternoon of Monday, January 30th. If your legislator is on the list below, please call them NOW and ask them to support SB1393, which will expand access to solar power in Virginia.

Wagner (804) 698-7507
Saslaw (804) 698-7535
Norment (804) 698-7503
Newman (804) 698-7523
Obenshain (804) 698-7526
Stuart (804) 698-7528
Stanley (804) 698-7520
Cosgrove (804) 698-7514
Chafin (804) 698-7538
Dance (804) 698-7516
Lucas (804) 698-7518
McDougle (804) 698-7504
Black (804) 698-7513
Sturtevant (804) 698-7510
Spruill (804) 698-7505

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.

Coal Ash Bills Coming Up Next Week

Responsible coal ash cleanup has been a top line priority for many Virginians over the past year. This upcoming Thursday, February 2nd, the Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources (ACNR) Committee will hear three strong coal ash bills carried by Senator Surovell: SB1383, SB1398, and SB1399.

SB1383: Requires a certain amount of coal ash to be treated so that it can be recycled in a responsible manner.

SB1398: Requires a comprehensive assessment and evaluation of coal ash sites, long-term safety, and water pollution.

SB1399: Requires clean and safe closure by removing coal ash waste and storing it in synthetically-lined landfills.

We need everyone to show support for these bills. Contact the following ACNR Committee members today and ask for their support on SB1383, SB1398, and SB1399:

Senator Stuart (804) 698-7528
Senator Hanger (804) 698-7524
Senator Ruff (804) 698-7515
Senator Obenshain (804) 698-7526
Senator Petersen (804) 698-7534
Senator Marsden (804) 698-7537
Senator Stanley (804) 698-7520
Senator Black (804) 698-7513  
Senator Ebbin (804) 698-7530
Senator Lewis (804) 698-7506
Senator Chafin (804) 698-7538
Senator Dance (804) 698-7516
Senator Suetterlien (804) 698-7519

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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