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This week from Charleston

By Staff | Mar 28, 2013

This week two of my bills passed out of the Judiciary Committee, hopefully towards passage in the full House.The first bill is the Internet Privacy Protection Act (HB 2966) which prohibits employers in most circumstances from asking for an employee’s Facebook or other password to personal online accounts. That’s just wrong, and the Judiciary Committee agreed. The other bill, HB 2946, expands a restaurant’s ability to serve alcohol on Sundays. Right now, a restaurant cannot serve a bloody mary or mimosa at brunch on Sundays before p1 p.m. This bill would change the service time to start at 10 a.m This has a huge impact on our hospitality and tourism industry in Jefferson County. Just this one change to existing law could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars of new revenue just in Jefferson County. The other feature of the bill is that it would let any county require its bars to close at 2am rather than 3 a.m. This is important to some people in Berkeley County who perceive a real problem with their bars staying open late.

One additional bill that I co-sponsored was HB 2996 which raises penalties for landlords who fail to have operating smoke detectors. This bill was a direct reaction to the death of Jessica Cave and her son Dominic in Shenandoah Junction last year. This bill gives some real teeth to the law and calls for several levels of serious penalties. I cannot help but think that if this had been law before, Jessica and Dominic might still be alive. Delegate Lawrence and I worked on this bill together.

This week also saw my first six and half hour committee meeting. The Monday meeting began at 1 p.m. and ended at 7:15 p.m. without any breaks. Although there are points where one can leave the room for comfort breaks, the length of meeting time takes some getting used to. On the upside, we reviewed dozens of bills that day I am told that six and a half hours is nothing. I am trying to eat better and get more exercise in preparation for the next few weeks which I know will require stamina.