GA bills of local interest remain afloat

RICHMOND—As anticipated, District 4 Sen. Ryan T. McDougle on January 18 introduced Senate Bill 888 authorizing the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to convey to Dominion Energy an easement and rights-of-way to construct and maintain a transmission line under the Rappahannock River.

Meanwhile, according to Virginia’s Legislative Information System, lis.virginia.gov, District 99 Del. Margaret B. Ransone on January 18 introduced similar legislation, House Bill 1491.

Senate Bill 888 was referred to the Senate committee for courts of justice and House Bill 1491 was referred to the House committee on agriculture, Chesapeake and natural resources.

Also of local interest, House Bill 1094 introduced by District 98 Del. M. Keith Hodges was referred on January 10 to the House committee on agriculture, conservation and natural resources.

This bill would direct the Virginia State Water Control Board to adopt regulations for use by local governments in granting, denying or modifying requests by a landowner within a Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area to raise the base elevation of his land for the purpose of mitigating the effects of flooding.

House Bill 575 introduced by District 100 Del. Robert S. Bloxom Jr. was assigned on January 15 to an agriculture, conservation and natural resources subcommittee.

This bill would establish the Virginia Waterway Maintenance Grant Program and Fund. The bill would direct the Virginia Port Authority to develop guidelines and procedures for awarding grants to localities for certain dredging projects.

However, as the proposed bill is worded, grants would not be awarded to support dredging for a privately owned marina or dock, or any federally designated waterway projects where funding is the responsibility of the federal government.

House Bill 1567 introduced by Del. Hodges was referred on January 19 to the House committee on finance.

This bill would authorize counties to adopt an annual watercraft fee for privately owned recreational watercraft and boats operated, docked, stored, or kept within county limits for more than 180 days per year.

As proposed, fees would be calculated by length—less than 16 feet, $20; 16 to 20 feet, $40; 20 feet to 40 feet, $75; and 40 feet or more, $150.

As of January 22:

• House Bill 822, reducing the total allowable landings of menhaden, remained before the House committee on agriculture, Chesapeake and natural resources, pending consideration.

• House Bill 577, removing the prohibition on the possession of hard crabs while having a crab scrape on board a vessel, was recommended by a subcommittee to the agriculture, Chesapeake and natural resources, for adoption, 9-0.

• House Bill 56, removing prohibitions against the possession of hard crabs while having a crab scrape on board a vessel and against the use of a mechanical scrape, while increasing the maximum allowed length of the mouth of a crab scrape from four feet to five feet, was stricken from the docket by the same subcommittee, 9-0.

• Senate Bill 552, requiring crab pots and peeler pots to have marine-biodegradable escape panels, was reported on January 18 from the agriculture, conservation and natural resources committee with amendments, 10-4. On Monday, the bill advanced in the Senate, 39-0.

• House Bill 264 and 487, allowing the transfer or assignment of oyster-planting ground leases to localities, remained before an agriculture, Chesapeake and natural resources subcommittee, pending consideration.

• House Bill 684, increasing from 55 to 60 miles per hour the maximum speed limit on Route 3 between Warsaw and Emmerton, remained before a transportation subcommittee, pending consideration.

• Senate Bill 206, increasing from 55 to 60 miles per hour the maximum speed limit on Route 301, the entirety of Routes 17, 3 and 207, remained before the committee on transportation, pending consideration.

• Senate Bill 567, regarding agricultural operations as a nuisance, was reported on January 18 from the agriculture, conservation and natural resources committee with amendments, 12-0. On Monday, the bill advanced in the Senate, 39-0.