Texting while driving bill goes to governor

Legislation cracking down on texting while driving is only Gov. Bob McDonnell’s signature away from become law after passing the Senate on Tuesday.

House Bill 1907, proposed by Delegate Rich Anderson, R-Woodbridge, would change texting while driving from a secondary offense to a primary offense. (Currently, you can be charged with texting while driving only if you have been stopped for some other violation.)

Moreover, the bill, which passed the Senate on a 28-12 vote, would drastically increase the fines for texting while driving. The penalty would jump from $20 to $250 for a first offense and $50 to $500 for repeat violations.

Six other bills were incorporated into Anderson’s. HB 1907 includes proposals by Delegate Ben Cline, R-Amherst, and Delegate David Bulova, D-Fairfax, to make texting while driving punishable as reckless driving.

Anderson said a hometown tragedy prompted him to introduce the bill.

“I’m so glad that it passed. It was my signature piece of legislature this session,” he said.

“I found out while having coffee with a neighbor last spring that they had lost their brother to a texting driver, so I decided something had to be done.”

Anderson said he has received hundreds of emails this session in favor of the bill, and only one that opposed it.

The House of Delegates had approved HB 1907 by a vote of 92-4 on Feb. 5.

The bill does not prevent drivers from making cellphone calls or using GPS systems. It applies only when a motorist is using a “handheld personal communications device” to “manually enter multiple letters or text” or “read any email or text message.”

If McDonnell signs HB 1907, it would take effect July 1.

Sen. Tommy Norment, R-Williamsburg, is sponsoring companion legislation to Anderson’s – Senate Bill 1222. The bill is awaiting final approval by the House.
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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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West Broad Village’s Rock & Roll Summer outdoor concert series returns to “The Pad,” adjacent to Aloft Hotel at 3939 Duckling Dr., from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Diamond Heist, a Neil Diamond tribute band, will perform. Jeff Wicker of Mix 98.1’s live remote will precede the concert from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public. Several parking decks feature free parking. The series continues every other Friday through August. For details, visit http://www.shopwestbroadvillage.com or www.facebook.com/WestBroadVillageShopping. Full text

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