HB1211 (Tran-HD42) to remove the citizenship requirement for the issuance of a driver’s license was heard in House Transportation subcommittees and committees. The bill is now in a House Appropriations subcommittee, due to be heard today.
One woman heart-breakingly testified that in 2014, she went into labor and couldn’t drive to the hospital because she and her ex-husband didn’t have driver’s licenses, and by the time she found someone to take her to the hospital hours later, she lost her baby.
In the Senate, there was some reluctance in the Transportation Committee to pass a true driver’s license for all bill, SB643 (Boysko-SD33), with some Senators only willing to support a driver’s privilege card, which is a more temporary form of identification for driving, requires proof of Virginia income taxes paid, and which is differentiable from a license. This was the option in SB34 (Surovell-SD36)
In a deft maneuver, Senators Boysko and Surovell agreed to incorporate Boysko’s bill into Surovell’s as a substitute, so that the Finance Committee it would be sent to next would be able to vote first on whether to accept the substitute (driver’s license instead of privilege card) and then whether to report a bill. That way, the bill wouldn’t die just because the patrons gambled on the more progressive version.
The Senate Finance Committee voted to report the driver’s license version of the bill to the floor. The room, completely filled with advocates from CASA in Action and VACOLAO, erupted into tears of joy. This is truly impactful legislation that has failed year after year under the Republican majority, and seems on its way to passage now.
Democrats take on climate change
The process has been a little murky, but some fairly substantive bills to move Virginia off fossil fuels and switch to clean power and to reduce energy consumption, are finally sailing through the House and the Senate.
The Solar Freedom bill to remove certain obstacles to the adoption of rooftop solar projects, which died last year in both chambers on party-line votes, has now passed out of Labor/Commerce committees in both chambers and is on the floor for a vote soon. (HB572 Keam-HD35, with Simon-HD53 rolled in; and SB710 McClellan-SD9)
HD77 the Virginia Green New Deal (Rasoul-HD11) to halt all future fossil fuel projects, and to replace 80% of retail electric with renewables by 2028, reported out of the House Labor and Commerce committee on a party-line vote, and is next to be voted on in House Appropriations.
The Virginia Clean Economy Act (HB1526 Sullivan-HD48; and SB851 McClellan-SD9) is a sweeping plan to create a mandatory renewables portfolio standard that requires all retail electric to come from renewables by 2045, creates an efficiency standard reducing demand by up to 2% each year, declares a substantial offshore wind investment to be in the public interest, and requires the SCC to consider the carbon effects of any future energy projects.
Amendments and substitutions were forthcoming up to the 11th hour, while negotiations continued behind the scenes between the various stakeholders (i.e. renewables industry leaders, industrial utility consumers, Dominion and Appalachian utilities, and environmental organizations).
Finally, a version reported out of the House Labor and Commerce committee. In the Senate, there was some frustration from Senator Spruill that the bill was reported out of the Energy Subcommittee he chaired, but changed again before the full committee met. The bill is expected to be taken up in full committee on a Sunday afternoon special extra meeting.