Thursday, February 28, 2008
A bill that would have required drivers to “stop and remain stopped” for pedestrians in crosswalks died in a Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee, Monday.
“It died on a three–three vote,” according to the office of Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Del. Charles “Bill” Carrico. Del. Carrico (R-5th) represents Galax City and surrounding areas in southwestern Virginia near the North Carolina border.
The bill that died Monday originated in the Senate, with Arlington’s Sen. Patricia Ticer (D-30th) as the chief patron. It passed the full Senate on Feb. 9, and “crossed-over” to the House the following week. An identical bill, sponsored by Arlington/Alexandria’s Del. Adam Ebbin (D-49th), narrowly died on the House floor, Feb. 11. The House bill had squeaked out of the same subcommittee that later killed the Senate bill.
This is at least the third time that a bill of this sort has failed in the Virginia Legislature. Democrats and at least one Republican have cited the problem as downstate representatives who have not understood the heavy congestion, and need for more regulation, in northern Virginia. However, Republican legislators have said that the language will not stand up in court. The bill had a lot of support of northern Virginia lawmakers from both parties.
The law currently states that drivers must "yield" for pedestrians. The vague nature of "yield," proponents of the new language have said, makes conviction nearly impossible. Any driver who does not hit a pedestrian has yielded to that pedestrian, proponents, including some police officers, have said.
A representative for Sen. Ticer said she saw this bill as a “very important” piece of legislation.
“She [Sen. Ticer] said she always will try, every year” to bring this bill to law, said Larin Brink, a legislative aid to Sen. Ticer. “I don’t anticipate that the departments we’re working with in northern Virginia would let go of the issue.”