Del. Van Yahres’ Assembly News

Every week, Mitch Van Yahres sends an update of what he’s been up to at the General Assembly. This week, his bill HB378, which allows cities to hold City Council elections in odd-numbered years, has passed the Senate, having already been approved by the House. Van Yahres also says that he’s going to start voting against all special interest license plates until “the Assembly can get a handle on the program.” Keep reading for his full update. I’d also be interested in getting comments from y’all as to whether we should continue to post his weekly updates on

Report from the General Assembly

Delegate Mitch Van Yahres

Friday, February 8, 2002

Every week during session I will send out an e-mail update of activity at

the General Assembly. I hope that this helps you understand some of what

is happening here. If you have any questions or issues that you would like

to see raised in this communication, e-mail me at Also, please forward this message to any

other interested parties.

* Well, today I had my first bill pass both the House and Senate.

HB378, which will allow cities to hold city council elections in the fall

of odd numbered years, sailed through the Senate this week. Benefits would

include having city elections concurrent with state elections rather than

national elections and a cost savings to the locality. The law goes into

effect in July 2002.

* HB154 is my favorite bill this year. I introduced this bill after a

local physician contacted me about the amount of medication that nursing

homes were forced to destroy when a patient’s status changed. He wondered

if there wasn’t a way to donate these unused drugs to free clinics. I

agreed and had legislation drafted. It didn’t take long before I was

getting wind of opposition. So I postponed the first committee hearing on

the bill in order to work out the kinks. Before I could get to work on it,

several individuals who opposed the bill, but liked the idea, came to see

me. They had already met together and developed language that they could

all agree on. By the time this bill got to committee the following

organizations were working together: The Board of Pharmacy, Department of

Health, Department of Health Professions, Department of Medical Assistance

Services, the Virginia Pharmacy Association, Virginia Health Care

Association, Virginia Association of Non-profit Homes for the Aging, and

the Virginia Free Clinic Association. These groups are often at odds, but

this time they came together and found a way to collaborate. This bill

will not change the world, but it will help out a small part of it. In

this year’s difficult political environment, this is a great example of

government that works. HB154 passed the House today by a vote of 97-2.

* Every year more and more special license plate bills are introduced.

This year, new plates you can choose from include a plate with a picture of

a Holstein cow, one celebrating the Parrothead Club, another commemorating

the 250th anniversary of the Town of Smithfield, one bearing the legend

“Fox Hunting,” and many many others. Three of my colleagues in the House

and I have decided that the proliferation of special license plates has

gone too far and have decided to vote against all of them until the

Assembly can get a handle on the program. To date, it’s only the four of

us, but maybe someday?.

* This week the Republican-led House of Delegates today refused to

consider amendments offered by Dels. Jim Shuler (D-Blacksburg) and Karen

Darner (D-Arlington) to ensure that Virginia’s public schools are first in

line for additional revenues when the state’s economy turns around and to

add school construction and renovation to bond bills now making their way

through the General Assembly. Shuler’s amendment to HB 1284 would provide

the same amount of bond funding for public school (K-12) construction,

renovation, and upgrading — $900 million over six years ? as for new

buildings on college and university campuses. Darner’s amendment to HB

1285 would earmark future surplus revenues for a new “Education First”

fund. The current bill designates those funds only for college and park

projects listed in the Republican bond package.

* If you want to know more about these or other bills before the General

Assembly this year, try the on-line Legislative Information System. The

URL is (www is not necessary). This site will provide you

a summary of the bill, the full text of the bill, its current status,

member’s votes in committee and on the floor, and other interesting

information. I encourage you to take advantage of this great resource.

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