Bills would ban smoking in cars with kids

A bill to forbid smoking in cars carrying children is dead in the House, but a similar proposal remains alive in the Senate. House Bill 1366, sponsored by Delegate Joseph Morrissey, D-Richmond, would have made it illegal to smoke in a car if a child under 13 were in the vehicle.

The legislation would have made violations a secondary offense, meaning drivers could be cited only if pulled over for another reason. Violators could have been fined $100 under Morrissey’s bill.

A subcommittee of the House Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety deadlocked 3-3 Thursday on whether to recommend approval of HB 1366. As a result, the motion failed.

Voting in favor of the bill were Delegates James Edmunds, R-Halifax; Israel O’Quinn, R-Galax; and Alfonso Lopez, D-Arlington.

Voting against it were Republican Delegates Benjamin Cline of Amherst, Christopher Head of Roanoke, and Tony Wilt of Harrisonburg.

There is still hope for anti-smoking legislation. Sen. Ralph Northam, a Democrat who represents parts of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, has introduced Senate Bill 975. It is like Morrissey’s proposal but would ban smoking when children under 15 are in the vehicle.

SB 975 initially was referred to the Senate Transportation Committee. Last week, that panel sent it to the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.

Northam is also sponsoring SB 1253, which would allow local governments to ban smoking in public areas such as parks and beaches.

It’s not uncommon for states to ban smoking in cars carrying children. Arkansas, Louisiana, California, Maine and Puerto Rico all have such laws. The age of the minor varies from state to state.

Anti-smoking advocates would like to see Virginia join that list.

“Virginia is far behind what other states have,” said Bronson Frick, an assistant director of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, a national advocacy group.

Virginia does ban smoking in restaurants, but the state law doesn’t cover other areas. “It’d help Virginia be a part of a trend with most of the United States,” Frick said.

Most states that have outlawed smoking in the car with a child present, Frick said, usually take an educational approach, too: They have a campaign to inform the public about the health risks of second-hand smoke.

“It’s not just about passing the law but also implementing it,” Frick said.

Both of Northam’s bills will be heard this week at the General Assembly.
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State Police urge motorists to #MoveOver during Memorial Day weekend

Memorial Day signifies the official start of summer, and Virginia State Police officials are urging motorists to "do what’s right when they see lights" and move over.

The “Move Over” law is a lifesaving law intended to protect public safety professionals and highway workers who help to maintain the safety of the Commonwealth’s roads. State Police are using the #MoveOver hashtag on social media to promote the law. > Read more.

Henrico to hold June 8 open house on Route 5 Corridor/Marion Hill study

The Henrico County Planning Department will hold an open house Thursday, June 8 for residents and other members of the public to provide input for a study of the Route 5 Corridor/Marion Hill areas.

The open house will be held from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Varina Area Library, 1875 New Market Road. The meeting’s informal structure will allow the public to attend at their convenience and to ask questions and discuss the study one on one with Planning staff. > Read more.

Henrico real estate staying strong despite low inventory

The Henrico real estate market has been relatively strong for the past month, despite a lower amount of inventory, according to data from Long and Foster Real Estate.

In the past month, 408 homes have been sold in Henrico, which is 2 percent less than were sold in the same timeframe in 2016.

Last year the median sale prices for Henrico homes was $219,975, whereas this month it's up to $232,500, a 6 percent increase. Which means half of the homes in Henrico are priced above $232,500 and half are priced below. > Read more.

Smither named director of Henrico’s Department of Finance

Henrico County Manager John A. Vithoulkas has appointed Edward N. “Ned” Smither Jr. to serve as director of the Department of Finance, effective July 1.

Smither has served Henrico since 2013 as director of the Accounting Division in Finance. He will succeed Eugene H. Walter, who has delayed his retirement until June 30 to ensure an orderly transition within the department.
> Read more.

State honors EMS officials this week

There were nearly 1.5 million emergency medical services calls and 4,063 incidents per day in Virginia just last year.

This week, May 21-27, declared as National EMS week by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, recognizes the more than 34,000 EMS personnel and 631 agencies in the state and commends their efforts and commitment to Commonwealth citizens.
> Read more.

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The Latin Ballet of Virginia will present “MOMO” at 7 p.m. June 2 and at 2 p.m. June 3-4 at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. Based on the fantasy novel by Michael Ende (author of “The NeverEnding Story”), “MOMO” is about a little girl who saves the world from the time thieves by her special ability to listen. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. For details and tickets, call 356-3876 or visit http://www.latinballet.com/momo-event. Full text

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