Virginia General Assembly – Week Two

Finishing out the second week of the 2017 Virginia General Assembly, Virginia Conservation Network has taken 39 new bill positions, totaling 59 so far.

Updates from the General Assembly

Good news: Bill to cut Virginia land conservation funding tabled in subcommittee!

Yes, you read that right—HB1470 was tabled in subcommittee! This bill that would have cut the Land Preservation Tax Credit—Virginia’s single most effective tool to protect farm and forest land, historic and scenic landscapes, and important natural communities and ecosystems.

A big thank you to the delegates who serve on Finance Subcommittee #2 for voting unanimously to table the legislation, including Delegates Cline, Orrock, Cole, Marshall, Pogge, Head, Fowler, Filler-Corn, Kory, Sullivan, and Heretick. If you have a minute, please let them know you appreciate their vote.

Vote on bill to strip citizens’ right to know about oil & gas chemicals expected next week.

Four bills have been introduced in the Virginia General Assembly that hide fracking chemicals from the public. These bills—HB1678, HB1679, SB1291, and SB1292—create a wholesale exemption from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for “trade secret” chemicals pumped into the ground by the oil and gas industry. Across the country, there have long been concerns about the chemicals injected underground in fracking operations. These four bills allow for an overly-broad definition of trade secrets—not only is the “recipe” for fracking fluids exempt from FOIA, but each and every ingredient used in the recipe would be exempt from FOIA as well.

This means:
Localities, those responsible for emergency preparedness, and first responders could not access the information needed to prepare an emergency response – they must wait until the emergency is happening before knowing what chemicals are in use.
Property owners concerned about the chemicals used in fracking operations near their drinking water wells could not access the information. Even the homeowner who owns the land in which the chemicals are being pumped would not have access to the information!

These bills will likely come up in three Committees next week. If your Delegate or Senator sits on one or more of these committees, please contact him/her today to say you oppose FOIA exemptions for fracking chemicals and want them to vote no.

Upcoming Committees

Tuesday, January 24—House General Laws (ask to OPPOSE HB1678): Gilbert (Chairman), Peace (Vice Chair), Albo, Wright, Anderson, Greason, Knight, LeMunyon, Helsel, Robinson, Yost, Hodges, Bell, Richard P., Minchew, Leftwich, Ward, Bulova, Carr, Torian, McQuinn, Hester, Aird

Wednesday, January 25—House Agriculture (ask to OPPOSE HB1679): Marshall, D.W. (Chairman), Poindexter (Vice Chair), Ware, Wright, Orrock, Pogge, Knight, Edmunds, Wilt, Morefield, Webert, Ransone, Fariss, Miller, Bloxom, Plum, Bulova, James, Torian, Keam, Lopez, Sullivan

Wednesday, January 25—Senate General Laws, Subcommittee #1 (ask to OPPOSE HB1292 and HB1291): Locke (Chairman), Black, DeSteph, Dunnavant, Sturtevant, Surovell, McPike, Vogel, Ruff

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

Mark your calendars!

Conservation Lobby Day | January 23 | Richmond, VA

We’re thrilled to say that we have completely sold out of Conservation Lobby Day! On Monday, January 23rd, activists from across the Commonwealth will join together in Richmond to urge their state legislators to support environmental policy advancements. The Honorable Lieutenant Governor Ralph S. Northam, the Honorable L. Scott Lingamfelter, and the Honorable Frank W. Wagner will be in attendance and will give their remarks promptly at 8:00 a.m.

Ditch Dirty Fuels! Rally | January 23 | Richmond, VA

Held in conjunction with Conservation Lobby Day, the Ditch Dirty Fuels! Rally will highlight public demand for clean energy and concerns about the fossil fuel industry’s attacks on the freedom of information about their operations in Virginia. The rally will highlight local voices from residents across the state on the dangers of fossil fuels and benefits of a clean energy-powered economy.

In this year’s General Assembly session, we’re expecting various pieces of legislation that will leave us exposed to the dangerous environmental and health impacts of fracking. Join a chorus of voices asking our legislators to strengthen Virginia’s standards on fracking and to transition our Commonwealth to a sustainable renewable energy-based economy.

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