Herndon's Legislative Agenda Passes House, Senate

posted Mar 20, 2010, 12:38 PM by Jacob Hutchinson
Mar 19, 2010 | The Observer Newspapers

The three items on Herndon’s 2010 legislative agenda are all waiting for Gov. Bob McDonnell’s approval after all passed through the Virginia House and Senate.

“I was really happy to see that,” Mayor Steve DeBenedittis said. “It couldn’t have been better, getting all our bills passed this year.” He said the Town Council’s persistence with its legislative agenda paid off, after working on the three items for consecutive sessions.

 

Herndon’s bills included House Bill 350, which provides municipalities the ability to regulate the solicitation of the sale of goods and services in public streets and right of ways. House Bill 972 provides that any new transient occupancy tax imposed by Fairfax County does not affect the town unless the council consents to it.

House Bill 513 allows for the administrative impoundment of a vehicle for three days when a driver is caught for a second or subsequent time driving with no operator’s license. The bill includes safeguards. For example it does not apply to those who have had a license that has been expired less than one year, and those under 18.

Del. Tom Rust (R-86) was the chief patron for the three bills, with Sen. Janet Howell (D-32) putting forth a senate version of HB 972. DeBenedittis said he is thankful for Rust and Howell’s support at the 2010 General Assembly.

“I think that really proves it was worthwhile to have a lobbyist,” DeBenedittis said. He said all three bills put together were worth the amount of money the town spent on them. He said the council was persistent and kept working to improve the bills and for the first time the town’s entire legislative agenda passed.

DeBenedittis said he was pleased that HB 350 passed because there are safety risks posed by selling goods and services from the side of the road. Virginia code already made the sale of goods illegal, but the bill added the sale of services to the scope of the code. “I don’t think it’ll end people standing on the street, but it gives us another tool to look at some of those things,” he said.

Rust said he thinks a number of factors added to helping pass the solicitation bill. He said each year another Virginia municipality has come forward asking about similar legislation and this year the bill was changed to include the whole state. “It’s become a statewide issue,” he said.

DeBenedittis said the transient lodging tax bill was important for preserving Herndon’s government and will allow Herndon to work with the county in the future. “It preserves the town’s authority,” he said.

The transient lodging tax bill passed this year because in previous years the bill was retroactive, repealing part of Fairfax County’s current transient lodging tax in Herndon, Rust said. This year it was changed to only impact future transient lodging tax rate increases.

The bill relating to the administrative impoundment of vehicles will help make Herndon’s streets safer as well and keep more unlicensed drivers off the road, DeBenedittis said. He said he does wish that it were stricter.

Rust said he was also pleased that the no operator’s license bill passed with strong support in both the House and the Senate. The biggest change to the bill was that the days impounded was changed from 30 to three, he said. “I think it’ll be very beneficial to Herndon,” he said.

Once signed by the governor, any municipality that wants to apply the legislation can, but it is not mandatory for any municipality. Counties, cities and towns must write their own ordinances to apply the legislation, Rust said. He said one of the biggest concerns with the legislation was how it would impact groups that do fundraising.

Town Attorney Richard Kaufman said as a town staff member he is pleased he was able to support the mayor and council’s legislative program. “From a staff perspective I was favorably impressed with the lobbyist’s work,” he said. He said every day they were on the ground in Richmond talking to staff and legislature about Herndon’s bills.

Kaufman said the bills will now go to the governor for review. “I believe the governor will sigh all the bills, but that’s not a given,” he said. He said he does not anticipate any problems with the bills and believes they will be signed. He said his office will also review other legislation that passed this session to analyze how it might benefit the town. The report will be made public and will be given to the Town Council.

 

Leslie Perales