It’s February 13, and while love is in the air, so is everyone else’s favorite holiday, Crossover! Well, maybe not everyone’s favorite holiday, but for those of us fortunate enough to work with the General Assembly, Crossover, or the day in the legislative session bills must pass by in their respective chambers, represents the halfway point in the legislative session. The hard work of the months leading up to the session is now coming to fruition, and with crossover looming it seems as apt a time as any to provide a brief update on the bills JRA’s Advocacy team has been working on.

In both the House and Senate, JRA has worked with legislators on both sides of the aisles, representing areas throughout both the James River Watershed and the greater Commonwealth. We are proud to note that many of our high-priority bills have either crossed over or are anticipated to crossover today, including:

  • HB949, Aboveground Storage Tank Regulations, Del. Lopez
  • HB496, Waste Tire Disposal Regulations, Del. Garrett
  • HB1135/SB402, Blue Catfish Workgroup Establishment, Del. Hodges/Sen. Stuart
  • HB1100, Locality Option for Conservation of Tree Canopy, Del. Carr
  • HB1088, Instructional Material related to Environmental Literacy, Del. Carr
  • HB199, Virginia Brownfield and Coal Mine Renewable Energy Grant Fund and Program, Del. Krizek
  • HB985, Ban on Sale of Toxic Asphalt Sealant, Del. Tran
  • SB581, Relating to Water Withdrawal Permit Decision Making by DEQ, Sen. Stuart
  • SB455, Establishment of Wildlife Corridor Grant Fund, Sen. Marsden
  • HB85, Prohibition on the use of Cyanide in Mining, Del. Simonds

In addition to the work being conducted in support of these bills, JRA is also taking an active role in the budget process. In December, the Advocacy Team was encouraged by many of the priorities put forward in the Governor’s proposed budget including full funding of Agricultural Best Management Practices, further support for the Richmond Combined Sewer Overflow, and an investment in freshwater mussel restoration.

To that end, JRA has continued to work to secure additional budgetary priorities and is leading the charge on three specific budget amendments regarding the James River Buffer Program, the restoration of American Shad, and further infrastructure improvements for Richmond’s Combined Sewer System. For more information about these three amendments and an opportunity to contact your legislators in support, please follow this link to our action center. In addition to the aforementioned items, JRA is also supporting amendments related to increased investment in stormwater, wastewater, and land conservation.

At the General Assembly, each day brings new challenges and opportunities. While there are many competing priorities in the building, JRA’s conservation goals are fortunate enough to be supported by forward-thinking legislators, committed members, and like-minded stakeholder groups. Together, we can continue to create a legacy of stewardship and sustainability for our watershed and our state.