Crossing over: What’s still alive as bills switch from House to Senate

Wednesday marked the midpoint of the General Assembly’s session – colloquially referred to as “crossover day.” It’s a good time to take stock of what bills are still alive and what measures are dead for the session.

Photo by: Ivan Constantin

By Sarah King | Capital News Service

Wednesday marked the midpoint of the General Assembly’s session–colloquially referred to as “crossover day.” From this day forward, the House can consider only bills passed by the Senate, and the Senate can consider only bills passed by the House.

This midpoint is the reason for the lawmakers’ frenzy through Tuesday, trying to get their bills through their chamber of origin. Now is a good time to take stock of what measures have “crossed over” and are still alive–and what proposals are dead for the session.

Still alive: These bills may become law

Passed in the House

Of the 1,391 House bills introduced at the start of the session, 575 have passed the House. Here is a sampling.

Home Schooling: HB 131 would allow home-schooled students to participate in afterschool activities–including sports–as long as they qualify academically and live in the school district where they are participating.

Aircraft Regulation: HB 412 would prevent Virginia localities from creating laws to regulate drones unless explicitly given that power by the General Assembly.

International Trade: HB 858 would create the Virginia International Trade Authority to promote trade with other nations. Officials hope it would lead to an increase in Virginia exports.

Corkage Law: HB 706 would allow customers bring their own beer or cider to a restaurant and drink it there; the restaurant could charge the customers a corkage fee. The existing corkage law applies only to wine.

Government Nondiscrimination Act: HB 773 would prohibit government agencies from taking “any discriminatory action” against someone who has “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction” opposing same-sex marriage.

Freedom of Information Act: HB 220 states any resumes or applications submitted by people appointed by the governor should be available to the public upon request.

Passed in the Senate

Of the 781 Senate bills introduced at the start of the session, 383 have passed the Senate. They include:

Alcohol at Restaurants: SB 488 would change the rules on how restaurants calculate the percentage of alcohol-to-food sale requirement. Currently, restaurants must make 55 percent or more of their sales from food products and a maximum of 45 percent of sales from liquor and mixed drinks. SB 488 would let restaurants calculate the percentages based on the costs they pay for food and alcohol, instead of on the sales.

Loyalty Oaths: SB 686 would prohibit political parties from requiring loyalty oaths as a requirement to vote in Virginia’s traditionally open presidential primary.

Drug Offenses / Suspended Licenses: SB 327 would change the existing law that motorists lose their driver’s license for six months when convicted of a drug offense. Under the bill, the law would no longer apply to simple possession of marijuana.

Unmanned Aircraft Regulation: SB 729 would make it a Class 1 misdemeanor to knowingly use a drone to commit a crime or interfere with police or emergency medical personnel.

Spirit Consumption / Licensure: SB 536 would increase from 1.5 ounces to 4.5 ounces the quantity of spirits a licensed distiller may serve a consumer at a tasting event.

Sex Offender Registry: SB 11 would remove the name and address of the employer of a sex offender from the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry that the Virginia State Police post on the Internet.

Dead for this year: These bills stalled in their house of origin

Most of these bills never made it out of committee; some were defeated on floor votes.

Same-Sex Marriage: Democrats were pushing for HB 5 and SB 10, as well as Senate Joint Resolutions 2, 9 and 32. These bills and resolutions proposed constitutional amendments sought to remove the prohibitions in state law and the Virginia Constitution against same-sex marriage.

School Calendar: HB 93 would have allowed local school board to start classes before Labor Day. Under current law, schools must open after Labor Day unless state officials grant the local district a waiver.

Voting Rights/Nonviolent Felons: HB 107 would have provided the automatic restoration of voting eligibility for felons convicted of nonviolent crimes, with the exception of drug offenses and election fraud.

Abortion: HB 43 would have removed the requirement for women to undergo fetal transabdominal ultrasounds before getting an abortion.

Conceal Carry: HB 443 would have allowed anyone to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.

Cigarette Taxes: HB 419 would have allowed all counties to impose a cigarette tax; currently only Fairfax and Arlington counties can do so.

Texting While Driving: HB 73 would have increased the fines for texting while driving from $125 to $250 for the first offense and $250 to $500 for subsequent offenses.

Fireworks: SB 208 would have legalized the sale and use of fireworks in Virginia.

Marijuana: SB 104 sought to decriminalize simple marijuana possession and instead provide a civil penalty of no more than $100 for a first violation, $250 for a second violation and $500 for a third or subsequent violation. Currently, first offenders face up to a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.

Casinos: SB 32, 33 and 34 would have legalized casino gambling in localities where at least 40 percent of the land is government-owned and exempt from local property taxes.

License Plates/Sons of Confederate Veterans: SB 45 would have allowed the Sons of Confederate Veterans to use its logo on specialty license plates.

Hate Crimes: SB 82 would have expanded the definition of hate crimes to include criminal acts committed because of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Handguns: SB 97 would have prohibited anyone who is not a licensed firearms dealer from purchasing more than one handgun in a 30-day period.

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