Senator wants abusive-driver fees scrapped

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 21, 2007

FRANKLIN—Few, it seems, like the state’s new abusive driver fees, and State Sen. L. Louise Lucas says she’s ready to lead the fight in the General Assembly to repeal the unpopular fines.

There are Virginia legislators waiting with bills at the ready to reverse action taken at last year’s General Session in Richmond, said the Democrat from the 18th District.

&uot;We don’t know whose bill will make it to the floor,&uot; Lucas said yesterday, but any proposed bill will do as long as the law providing for the new fines &uot;goes away.&uot;

Lucas made those comments Tuesday at an Eggs & Issues Breakfast at the Franklin Baptist Church fellowship hall. The event was sponsored by The Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce, the Franklin Kiwanis Club and the Franklin Rotary Club.

The event allowed the region’s four state representatives to speak and address issues likely to come before the General Assembly, which convenes next month.

Lucas and Delegate William K. Barlow were the only who attended. Sen. Fred Quayle, a Republican from the 13th District, accepted an invitation when it first went out, but later canceled, citing a conflict. Delegate Roslyn Tyler, Democrat from the 75th District, was home, recuperating from surgery.

That left the podium pretty much to Lucas and Barlow. Lucas read comments written by Tyler, in which she, too, disagreed with the abusive driver laws, as well as the placement of an outlying airfield in an area where it isn’t wanted.

Barlow, too, addressed the issue of the Navy wanting to build a landing strip in a rural setting to practice take-offs and landings, an idea that has been blasted by the public and local officials alike.

&uot;It’s very clear,&uot; Barlow said, &uot;That everyone’s against it.&uot;

Still, said the Smithfield resident, &uot;What’s going to happen is anybody’s guess. It’s really a federal issue.&uot;

Barlow also raised the question whether plastic shopping bags should be outlawed. The Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors is leading that charge, but Barlow warned that while

&uot;it’s a major problem&uot; for farmers and to the environment, &uot;We don’t know what’s going to happen.&uot;

Plastic bags, Barlow said, are &uot;much, much cheaper&uot; than any alterative currently available, but suggested some step be taken 0n the issue, &uot;even if it’s just a study.&uot;

Lucas and Barlow each spoke of the proposed budget made public by Gov. Tom Kaine on Monday, and the battles expected during the review process.

One key element of the budget includes more money for improvements in the mental health system in light of the shooting spree at Virginia Tech on April 16. Both representatives spoke of the Virginia Tech &uot;tragedy&uot; in which a lone gunman with a history of mental illness went on a campus rampage, killing 32 people before killing himself. There has been widespread public support for programs that might have identified the gunman as a possible threat before he acted.

Another component of Kaine’s proposed budget increases funding for pre-kindergarten programs. That drew a question of concern from Southampton County School Supt. Charles E. Turner, who asked Lucas to be mindful of funding for other mandated programs.