Delegates’ bills hit range of topics

The region’s state delegates filed dozens of bills in the Virginia General Assembly that tackle topics from senior-citizen protection and professional sports teams to distracted driving and swearing.

Del. Christopher E. Collins, R-Winchester, represents the 29th District covering Winchester and parts of Frederick and Warren counties. A bill Collins filed would expand the prohibition on “texting” while driving to also bar manually selecting icons and reading any information on the device with the exception of information displayed through the use of a global positioning system for navigation. The bill also would eliminate the exemption that allows a person to use a handheld communications device while driving when the vehicle is stopped or not moving. A related bill also would include use of a handheld personal communications device that substantially diverts the driver’s attention as a reason for finding the vehicle operator guilty of improper driving.

Other bills filed by Collins:

• Make it a crime for the subject of a protective order to use an unmanned aircraft, also known as a drone, to follow, contact or take images of someone who petitioned for the protective order or the petitioner’s family members.

• Require health insurers, health care subscription plans and health management organizations to provide cover for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders of any age. The provision would apply to policies that take effect Jan. 1, 2019. The current law requires coverage for individuals ages 2 through 10.

• Add abduction to the list of offenses reported to school-division superintendents by a juvenile intake officer when a petition alleges a student committed such an offense. The bill adds abduction and acts of violence by mobs to the list of offenses reported to superintendents by a law-enforcement officer when a student 18 years or older is arrested for committing such offense.

Del. C. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock, represents the 15th District covering Shenandoah and Page counties and parts of Rockingham and Warren counties. Gilbert filed a bill that would make it a crime punishable as a Class 6 felony to create a video or still image of a non-consenting adult that exposes the genitals, pubic area, buttocks, female breast or if the recording device is placed directly beneath or between the person’s legs. A person who maliciously disseminates or sells such a video or still image with the intent to coerce, harass or intimidate would be guilty of a Class 6 felony if convicted.

“The bill ensures that the elderly are protected from people taking their picture or disseminating such pictures while in compromising or embarrassing states of undress,” Gilbert stated in an email Friday about the legislation.

Other bills filed by Gilbert:

• In  placing children outside their homes, local social services officials would be required  to disclose to prospective foster or adoptive parents or to child placing agencies any information indicating the child has been a victim or perpetrator of sexual abuse. A knowing failure to do so would be a Class 1 misdemeanor.

• Prohibit school boards from employing any individual convicted of a felony or crime of moral turpitude unless that person was previously employed in good standing by any school board, has been granted a simple pardon by the governor and, in the case of a felon, has had his civil rights restored or is employed in good standing by the school board on July 1. The bill states that in no case shall a school board employ an individual convicted of a felony involving the manufacturing, sale, distribution or possession with the intent to sell any controlled substance, imitation controlled substance or marijuana on certain school property; any felony offense against a child; a certain act of violence or violent felony; or any offense requiring the registration on the Sex Offenders and Crimes Against Minors Registry.

• Prohibit operating a vehicle in the left-most lane of a highway divided into at least two lanes in each direction that impedes other vehicles using that lane except when passing other vehicles or in preparation for a left exit.

Del. Gwendolyn W. “Wendy” Gooditis, D-Boyce, represents the 10th District covering parts of the counties of Clarke, Frederick and Loudoun. Gooditis filed a bill that would extend the closing time for polls on Election Day from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. This change would align with the filing and party-nomination deadlines with the closing of the polls.

Gooditis filed a bill that would impose a three-year moratorium on the installation of synthetic turf containing recycled crumb rubber from waste tires at schools and recreational parks. The bill requires that the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Virginia Department of Education study the potential, adverse health effects of synthetic turf containing recycled crumb rubber and to report the findings to the General Assembly by July 1, 2019.

Other bills filed by Gooditis:

• Direct the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to set up a Virginia Grown Label program and to design logos for use by any business or individual doing business in the Commonwealth.

• Authorize the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to set up agriculture enterprise facilities in rural areas that would include a commercial kitchen, packaging and labeling facility and an animal slaughtering facility located within 50 miles of every agricultural producer.

Del. Michael J. Webert, R-Marshall, represents the 18th District covering Rappahannock County and parts of Culpeper, Fauquier and Warren counties. Webert has filed a bill seeking to eliminate the crime of  swearing or cursing in public, currently punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor.

Webert also filed a bill that would prohibit the spending of public funds to provide incentives for professional sports teams beginning Jan. 1, 2019. Expenditures would include appropriations, grants, loans or tax incentives used to fund facilities or infrastructure improvements for teams. Another bill would establish an interstate compact among Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., that prohibits parties from providing incentives for a Washington-area professional football team franchise facility. The compact would not take effect unless all parties enact concurring legislation before Jan. 1, 2019.

Webert filed bills seeking to:

• Make it legal for anyone with a valid, concealed handgun permit to carry a switchblade when such knife is carried for engaging in a lawful profession or recreational activity aided by the use of the device.

• Repeal the licensing requirement for people manufacturing, renovating, reupholstering or importing any bedding or upholstered furniture, or processing or selling any filling material for use in bedding or furniture.

• Abolish the Board for Barbers and Cosmetology and deregulate the practices of barbering, cosmetology, nail care, waxing, tattooing, body piercing and aesthetics.

• Require the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, state and local law enforcement agencies, emergency medical services agencies and hospitals to report information about overdoses of controlled substances within 120 hours of receiving such information to the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Resources and for the secretary to make such information available to public health, law enforcement and emergency medical services agencies and fire departments.

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