Here is the latest movement on state legislation of interest to the local area:
• The Senate counterpart to House Bill 1173, or Senate Bill 423, introduced by Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-24) passed the Senate 38-2. Like HB 1173 which was introduced by Del. Keith Hodges (R-98), SB 423 would make stormwater management programs optional for some localities and require the Dept. of Environmental Quality to establish a Virginia Stormwater Management Program for any locality that neither opts to establish its own program nor operates a municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4). HB 1173 and SB 423 will be considered in the Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources, Committees in the Senate and House, respectively.
• Senate Bill 48, introduced by Sen. Richard Stuart (R-28) had passed the Senate 28-12. The bill would prohibit the drilling for oil and gas in the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area as well as apply to groundwater and the associated aquifers in the coastal plain of Virginia. The bill would also require the Dept. of Environmental Quality to adopt regulations protecting surface and ground water resources before the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy issues a drilling permit in those areas of Tidewater where such activity is allowed. As of press time, it has been referred to the Commerce and Labor Committee in the House.
• Senate Bill 260, introduced by Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-25), passed the Senate 38-0 on Feb. 10. The bill would direct the Dept. of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to establish an acute pshychiatric bed registry that would provide real-time information on the availability of beds in public and private psychiatric facilities and residential crisis stabilization units for individuals who meet criteria for temporary detention. The bill would also extend the time that a person may be held pursuant to an emergency custody order to 24 hours.
• It is anticipated that HB 1237 and SB 154, both of which would allow hunting on Sundays under certain circustances, will be considered this week in the Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources committees of the Senate and House, respectively.