General Assembly briefs

Rumor mill claims Fairfax senator may resign, join Warner commission

Unconfirmed reports have circulated since the first week of the General Assembly session that Sen. Warren E. Barry, R-37th, could resign his seat this spring to take an appointment by Gov. Mark R. Warner as chairman of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.

Barry would not comment, but major newspapers have already reported the deal.

Last year, Barry endorsed Warner for governor and had flirted with becoming an independent in 1999. Republican operatives have said they will not let him win his seat in 2003.

The chairmanship of the commission comes with an annual salary of nearly $100,000.

Proposal to ban open containers still alive

A House bill that would ban open containers of alcohol in vehicles on the road died in committee on a 9-9 vote Jan. 18, but it was resurrected Friday when the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee reconsidered the bill and voted 12-10 to send the bill to the full House.

Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-31st, voted against it the first time, but like Delegate Robert S. Bloxom, R-100th, he changed his mind and supported it Friday.

Four members of the committee originally did not vote Jan. 18.

Lingamfelter said that the bill’s patron, Delegate Harry R. Purkey, R-82nd, allayed his original concerns.

“I know I’m going to take heat for this … but the great thing about having a brain, you can reconsider these things,” Lingamfelter said.

The ban does not apply to vehicles in parking lots, nor containers in the trunk/rear section of a vehicle, motor-home living quarters or passenger areas of a bus, taxi or limousine.

Welcome to Longwood — University

Longwood College will become Longwood University because its level of degree granting has increased in recent years to university status, according to its officials speaking before the House Education Committee last week.

The House approved the status change Monday. Longwood, ranked as the 10th top public institution of higher learning in the South by U.S. News and World Report, deliberated for more than a year and in December approved changing its status to university, based on its granting of more than 100 majors/minors and at least 100 graduate degrees each year, officials said.

Marshall again pushes for ‘Parrothead’ plates

The House approved a vanity license plate for the Parrothead Club proposed by Delegate Robert G. Marshall, R-13th, on Monday. The plate passed the House Transportation Committee on a 13-8 vote and preliminary approval by the House on a 60-31 vote.

In committee, Marshall was asked why he wants to recognize a singer who penned a song that goes, “Let’s get drunk and screw.”

Marshall said that the plates are not to commemorate the singer, Jimmy Buffett, but the service organization Parrothead Club that “just so happens” to like the singer.

Marshall wanted this license plate passed last year.

He also fought unsuccessfully last year against the Nissan Pavilion expanding its alcohol license to include the sale of liquor in private parties and controlled areas. The venue had sought the change after repeated requests for mixed drinks, including tequila-based margaritas when Buffett was in concert.

Also Monday, the House passed Marshall’s license plates “God Bless America,” “Proud to be an American,” “United We Stand,” and “Education Begins at Home.”

Transportation contraption wins initial House OK

Virginia would allow the use of the two-wheeled personal mover Segway on residential streets where the speed limit is 25 mph or less, under House Bill 905 sponsored by John A. “Jack” Rollison, R-52nd, which the House gave preliminary approval Monday.

The device was widely anticipated by the public before inventor Dean Kamen demonstrated his invention, previously just code-named “Ginger,” last year.

“I have been on one,” Rollison said in endorsing the device. “The vehicle is very intuitive. It will go at different speeds it goes backwards if you lean backwards.”

The Segway will retail for approximately $3,000, has no emissions, goes 15 mph, and is already being used for mail delivery, Rollison said.

The legislation does not require the use of a helmet, but calls for using the sidewalk where available.

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