Danny's Desk: News from the Virginia General Assembly
Jan 27, 2015

Snow has been lightly falling most of the night here, in Richmond, and the streets are covered and slippery. Schools have closed and many schedules are delayed, but not for the General Assembly.

We move ahead with business during Legislative Session no matter the weather and we do not have holidays off. This is a busy week with several of my bills coming before committees. I have introduced 13 bills and would like to highlight a few of them.

The coal ash spill into the Dan River is ever on my mind. One bill that I have put forth is HB 1846, which has two main parts. It requires the owners or operators of electric generating facilities and landfills that manage coal combustion materials to give quick notification of spills, leakage or release.

When owners or operators have discovered a spill, they must report it within one hour to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Health and to the local coordinators of emergency services.

Within 4 hours, the owner or operator is required to report to the localities that take in the affected water and to the local media. The idea of the media report is to make the public aware.

The second part of my bill requires testing of private water wells and springs within a certain radius of the leakage.

Prevention of spills is number one priority, but if something goes wrong, early and quick reaction to stop the leakage and to notify those affected are mandatory.

Another one of my bills, HB 2352 is meant to help rural areas with internet access. It requires any company that installs pipeline that crosses more than one county or the Commonwealth's border to equip such pipeline with conduit capable of housing fiber optic cable or other wiring and equipment necessary to provide broadband service.

The bill requires the company installing such pipeline to bear the cost of installing broadband conduit and allows it to thereafter lease the conduit to broadband providers for such consideration as the State Corporation Commission deems appropriate.  

If pipeline is being laid, why not put in the conduit for broadband access to communities?

My HB 1848 deals with the sale of municipal utilities. The Danville City Council has been discussing selling the electric division of their utility and I was approached about this issue.

There are 15 localities that own and provide varying utility services, such as the City of Danville, Martinsville, Bedford and others. This bill would allow a locality, after a public hearing, to sell the utility without having to go back to the General Assembly for permission. With Virginia being a Dillon Rule state, this would give prior authorization to sell.

One other bill that I will mention involves mopeds. One way to get some extra gray hairs and make your heart skip a beat is to top a hill on a 55 mile-per-hour road after dark and be only a few feet from a moped going 25 mph. Thank goodness for good brakes! I have introduced HB 2353 which prohibits mopeds from operating on highways that have a posted speed greater than 45 miles per hour. This is a grave safety issue.

As always, I hope that my 14th District constituents will let us know how you feel about the state issues that are before us. If you want to read or keep up with Virginia legislation, you may go on line to: http://legis.virginia.gov/ 

We are currently in our office in Richmond located in Room 702 of the General Assembly Building.  You can contact us by sending an e-mail to DelDMarshall@house.virginia.gov or by sending a letter to me at PO Box 406, Richmond, VA 23218-0406, or by calling 804-698-1014. And, visit www.dannymarshall.com to complete our 2015 Survey (on lower right Homepage).