General Assembly to convene Wednesday

RICHMOND—The 2017 Virginia General Assembly will convene at noon Wednesday, January 11, at the State Capitol.

The legislative session will adjourn on February 25 and reconvene on April 5 to consider the governor’s recommendations and vetoed legislation.

In addition to the governor’s proposed biennium budget amendments, several bills have been pre-filed by legislators, including at least five of local interest related to the Chesapeake Bay, according to Virginia’s Legislative Information System, lis.virginia.gov.

Local waters
House Bill 1496, introduced by Del. Gordon C. Helsel Jr. of Poquoson, would change notification requirements for oyster planting grounds lease applications.

The legislation would require the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) to post notice of an application to lease oyster planting grounds for 30 days on its website and to notify by mail the county or city in which the grounds are located, any current holders of adjoining leases, and riparian owners within 200 feet of the selected grounds. Current law requires posting of notice at the local courthouse for 60 days.

The bill also reduces from four weeks to two weeks the period during which the VMRC is required to publish weekly notice of the application in a newspaper and requires all forms of notice to invite written comments. The bill also provides that the applicant shall bear the cost of notice.

House Bill 1496 has been referred to the committee on agriculture, Chesapeake and natural resources.

Senate Bill 820, introduced by Sen. John A. Cosgrove Jr. of Chesapeake, would require the VMRC to adopt regulations for managing the Commonwealth’s menhaden fishery.

The legislation would require VMRC to adopt regulations to implement the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic menhaden and authorize the VMRC to adopt regulations for managing the Commonwealth’s menhaden fishery. The bill also requires that any moratorium on the fishery be subject to legislative review. Several existing codified provisions relating quotas, allocation of allowable landings and administrative procedures would be repealed and then be included in a regulatory framework for managing the fishery.

Senate Bill 820 has been referred to the committee on agriculture, conservation and natural resources.

Senate Bill 866, introduced by Sen. Richard H. Stuart of Montross, would require the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) to create a database listing operators who have completed a boating safety course.

The legislation would direct DGIF to create a database listing the name and date of birth of every person who has at any time passed an approved boating safety course. The bill requires a law-enforcement officer to search the database for the identity of a motorboat operator if the operator states that he has complied with the requirements for boating safety education by passing the boating safety course.

Senate Bill 866 has been referred to the committee on agriculture, conservation and natural resources.

Senate Bill 906, introduced by Sen. Scott A. Surovell of Mount Vernon, would change the Commonwealth’s prohibition on snakehead fish.

The legislation would prohibit the introduction of snakehead fish from any location into state waters. Current law only prohibits the introduction of snakehead fish from outside the Commonwealth.

Senate Bill 906 has been referred to the committee on agriculture, conservation and natural resources.

Senate Bill 909, introduced by Sen. Stuart, would increase the total allowable menhaden landings.

As introduced, the legislation would raise the annual total of allowable landings for menhaden from 158,700.12 metric tons to 168,937.75 metric tons.

Senate Bill 909 has been referred to the committee on agriculture, conservation and natural resources.

Budget bills
House Bill 1500, introduced by Del. S. Chris Jones of Suffolk, and Sen. Bill 900, introduced by Sen. Thomas K. Norment of Williamsburg and Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr. of Mount Solon, represent Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s proposed budget amendments. Del. Jones chairs the House committee on appropriations; Sen. Norment and Sen. Hanger co-chair the Senate committee on finance.

The legislation would amend the 2016-18 biennium budget. Proposed changes for fiscal year 2017 would increase the operating expenditures from $51.8 billion to $52.1 billion and capital project expenditures from $506 million to $536 million. Proposed changes for fiscal year 2018 would increase operating expenditures from $51.7 billion to $51.8 billion and capital project expenditures from $151 million to $551 million.


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