Fairfax County’s state lawmakers file bills on rent gouging, speed cameras and more

A speed camera on Kirby Road outside Chesterbrook Elementary School (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

As the Virginia General Assembly reaches its deadline for legislators to file bills for the 2024 session, Fairfax County’s representatives hope to pass bills on rent gouging, campaign finance reform and opioid prevention in schools.

The General Assembly convened in Richmond last Wednesday (Jan. 10) for a 60-day session ending March 9. With Democrats controlling the House of Delegates and the Senate, lawmakers could see at least some of their proposals become law. Here are some notable measures put forward:

Local anti-rent gouging authority: SB 366 would allow any locality to adopt provisions that prevent landlords from significantly raising rents and require them to notify tenants two months before an increase. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D-33), would require notice and a public hearing prior to adopting any legislation.

Transportation

  • Expanding the use of speed cameras: The identical bills HB 20 and HB 905 would allow local governments to install speed cameras in “any location deemed necessary.” Introduced by Del. Mike Jones (D-77) and Irene Shin (D-8), the legislation would allow for penalties up to $100.
  • Funding for electric vehicle charging stations: Introduced by Sen. David Marsden (D-37), SB 457 would create a Driving Decarbonization Program and Fund to help developers cover some costs associated with installing electric vehicle charging stations.
  • Towing fee regulations: SB 450, also from Marsden, tells the State Corporation Commission to analyze current regulations of towing fees “and identify policy options for the commission to assume all or part of such regulation.” The proposal requires the SCC to report its findings to the General Assembly by Nov. 30, 2024.

Special grand juries: Sponsored by Del. Karen Keys-Gamarra (D-7), HB 167 requires a circuit court to impanel a special grand jury when a law enforcement or correctional officer kills an unarmed person. The bill also directs the court to appoint a special prosecutor who can be present during an investigation and interrogate witnesses if requested by the special grand jury. Last year, a special grand jury indicted the Fairfax County police officer who fatally shot Timothy Johnson in Tysons.

Prohibited personal use of campaign funds: HB 40 “prohibits any person from converting contributions to a candidate or his campaign committee to personal use.” The bill from Del. Marcus Simon (D-53) lets any individual subject to the ban request an advisory opinion from the State Board of Elections. It advanced out of a subcommittee on Wednesday (Jan. 17) with amendments.

Education 

  • Tax to support schools: Sponsored by Sen. Jeremy McPike (D-29), SB 14 would authorize all counties and cities to impose an additional local sales and use tax of no more than 1% to fund the construction and renovations of schools.
  • Naloxone policies and requirements: SB 387, sponsored by Sen. Stella Pekarsky (D-36), requires each local school board to develop plans and policies for every public elementary and secondary school relating to opioid overdose prevention and reversal.

Invasive plants: HB 47 would require all retail sellers to provide signage identifying invasive plant species. The bill, sponsored by Del. Holly Seibold (D-35), would require the signs to say, “Plant with caution: invasive plant species. May cause environmental harm. Ask about alternatives.”

The deadline for state legislators to file bills with the clerk is 3 p.m. today (Friday).

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