Public Comments for 01/20/2021 Agriculture Chesapeake and Natural Resources
HB1750 - Dairy Producer Margin Coverage Premium Assistance Program; established.
Last Name: Bayer Organization: Muhlenberg Lutheran Church Locality: Harriosnburg

As a person of Faith it is my calling to support these areas of concern and I ask you to consider how important these issues are and to vote to approve them!

Last Name: Johnson Organization: Leesburg Animal Park Locality: Leesburg

Dear Delagates, I am writing to OPPOSE HB2109. My name is Shirley Johnson and I own and operate Leesburg Animal Park in Leesburg. We are a small, privately owned zoo in Loudoun County. This bill would add a veterinarian as an "expert" regarding "companion animals". The problem is the definition of "companion animals" in the State of Virginia includes most zoo animals! How is a veterinarian trained in dogs or cats, able to competantly give expert advice on say Ring-tailed lemurs or White-handed gibbons? This is analogous to having a dentist give advice regarding heart surgery! I believe the best solution is to redefine "companion animals" to exclude exotic animals from this definition. Another solution is to have an animal advisory group to the Committee comprised of a person from various animal groups. This would give much more accurate information to the Committee. Thank you!

Last Name: Riddell Organization: Virginia Cattlemen's Association Locality: Louisa

Thank you Chairman Plum My name is Jim Riddell with the Virginia Cattlemen's Association representing thousands of cattle producers across Virginia. We ask you to support HB 1750 for our 442 dairies remaining in Va. 30 family dairies went our of business in 2020. This bill is a win-win for everyone. Its helps Va.'s dairy farmers stay in business, increases Nutrient Management plans and helps to protect our environment. Thank you for your support. Jim Riddell Virginia Cattlemen's Association * 25,000 family farms cattle operations

Last Name: Riddell Organization: Virginia Cattlemen's Association Locality: Mineral

Madame Chairwoman and members: I am Jim Riddell with the Va. Cattlemen's Association. We thank you for your support of House Bill 1750, Virginia agriculture and our dairy farmers. There are only 425 dairies remaining in Va. This is a win-win for everyone- It helps Va. dairy farmers while increasing Nutrient Management Plans, and protecting the environment. Thank you for your support. Jim Riddell Virginia Cattlemen's Association * 25,000 family farms cattle operations

Last Name: Calvert Organization: Virginia Conservation Network Locality: Charlottesville

Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) stands in support of HB 1750 & HB 2030. We hope that the subcommittee members will support each of these pieces of legislation.

HB1760 - Conservation easements; certain easements be liberally construed in favor of purpose which created.
Last Name: Strouse Organization: The Virginia Animal Control Association (VACA) Locality: Norfolk, Virginia, United States

This bill represents the effort of 1 and 1/2 years work to clean up and re-organize the dangerous dog statute. A number of loopholes are closed and processes streamlined. Using surveys, classes, and public meetings the work group actively sought input from stakeholders and victims (who had often had no voice when previous revisions were undertaken. This bill has the support of VACA, the Virginia Alliance for Animal Shelters (VAAS), the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies (VFHS) and the office of the Attorney General. This bill was unopposed on the Senate side. Kathy Strouse, Legislative Liaison Virginia Animal Control Association (VACA)

Last Name: Gibson Organization: Self Locality: Fauquier

Conservation easements have been purchased using taxpayer money and they should be protected full and without compromise for the use they were intended. HB1760 should be passed only if it does not dilute the value of our open spaces agreements.

Last Name: Morrow Locality: McLean

I SUPPORT this bill's call to more liberally construe the continued existence of easements. This is an important part of protecting wildlife and natural spaces.

Last Name: Baetis Organization: Friends of Accotink Creek Locality: Fairfax County

The Friends of Accotink Creek support HB1760. The bill provides that conservation easements will fulfill the actual purpose for which the Commonwealth makes them available - the essential necessity to protect our precious natural heritage for all generations of Virginians to come.

Last Name: Bartz Locality: Albemarle

Hello, I would like to voice my support for HB2159 banning the intentional release of balloons in the Commonwealth. I know this sounds a bit silly on the surface, but balloons can contribute to litter of our beautiful rivers, like the Rivanna, and also pose a threat to our wildlife. I would also like to support the strengthening of conservation easements through HB1760. Working with the Soil and Water Conservation District I've seen the benefits conservation easements have toward water and soil quality here in Virginia. While there is a need for development to address housing needs in the state, we shouldn't be redirecting land set aside for conservation for this purpose. Thank you, Navarre Bartz

Last Name: Brandt Organization: Weasel Creek Watershed Expeditions Locality: Arlington

Please support HB1760. Courts need to protect conservation easements when land is sold to a new owner. Our planet and human existence need wild spaces to survive.

Last Name: Staples Locality: Chesapeake

Good Day, I would like you to know that on every trip that I make to various State Forest and the George Washington National Forest. I find several ballons while hiking, hunting or fishing. On my visits to Virginia Beach they are a constant wash up item that I find and dispose of. Please put an end to this needless celebratory practice. The harm to wildlife is terrible. 40 years ago, I watched a whitetail doe pull a balloon from a Mountain Laurel and partially eat it. Imagine how many times that scene has been repeated over the decades since. Thank you.

Last Name: Huntington Organization: Clean Fairfax Locality: Fairfax County

Clean Fairfax supports HB1760. Conservation easements are a critical aspect in protecting Virginia's natural and cultural spaces. This bill ensures conservation easements are protected to fulfill their intended purpose. Zach Huntington- Clean Streams Program Manager- Clean Fairfax

Last Name: Rovner Organization: The Nature Conservancy Locality: Richmond

The purpose of this bill is for the General Assembly to give some direction to courts that may be called upon to interpret conservation easements. The bill simply provides that an easement shall be “liberally construed in favor of achieving the conservation purposes for which it was created.” We think this is the best way to effectuate the public policy the General Assembly adopted when it authorized conservation easements back in the 1960’s. Virginia has built an incredibly strong easement program since then, and this legislation ensures public confidence in those easements as land changes hands in the future.

Last Name: Calvert Organization: Virginia Conservation Network Locality: Charlottesville

Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) supports Del. Webert’s HB1760 and Del. Guy’s HB2159. We hope that is the pleasure of the subcommittee to support these bills.

Last Name: Holmes Organization: The Piedmont Environmental Council Locality: Culpeper

The Piedmont Environmental Council is fully supportive of HB 1760. Some courts have interpreted conservation easements in a way that is inconsistent with the intent of the donor of the conservation easement, leading to the erosion of protections intended by the parties to the original transaction (the donor and the easement holder). While disputes between landowners and easement holders are rare, they do sometimes occur, particularly with landowners who acquire property after an easement has been established. This legislation would provide direction to the courts, favoring neither the holder nor the landowner, instead simply ensuring the conservation purpose of the easement remains intact. It is needed to protect the intent of the easement donor and the conservation values held in trust by the Commonwealth or a private land trust.

Last Name: Kilmer Locality: City of Manassas

I support all the proposals that I have checked. Please continue to protect our fishing waters. Robert KIlmer

HB1804 - State parks; DCR to develop recommendations for funding, report.
Last Name: Staples Locality: Chesapeake

Good Day, I would like you to know that on every trip that I make to various State Forest and the George Washington National Forest. I find several ballons while hiking, hunting or fishing. On my visits to Virginia Beach they are a constant wash up item that I find and dispose of. Please put an end to this needless celebratory practice. The harm to wildlife is terrible. 40 years ago, I watched a whitetail doe pull a balloon from a Mountain Laurel and partially eat it. Imagine how many times that scene has been repeated over the decades since. Thank you.

Last Name: Sheldon Organization: The Nature Conservancy Locality: Richmond

The Nature Conservancy supports HB 1804. Land conservation in Virginia has been continually underfunded, and while the Virginia state park system is only part of that equation, we hope that this bill will advance additional discussions on the broader need for dedicated funding for Virginia's land conservation programs.

Last Name: Gillenwater Organization: The Piedmont Environmental Council Locality: Charlottesville

The Piedmont Environmental Council supports HB 1804. We believe that dedicated funding for Virginia's state park system is a good idea and hope that this bill helps to engender a broader conversation about the well-established need for dedicated funding for additional land conservation programs in the Commonwealth.

Last Name: Ware Organization: N/a Locality: Tappahannock

As a citizen who lives in the state and on the Rappahannock river and has seen the impact of poor stewardship, I ask that the General Assembly support these bills.

HB1819 - Rappahannock River; designating a 79-mile portion as a component of Va. Scenic Rivers System.
Last Name: Pien Organization: Sierra Club, Great Falls Group Locality: Leesburg

I support this bill. Please vote "yes."

Last Name: Powell Organization: Scenic Virginia Locality: City of Richmond

On behalf of Scenic Virginia's numerous supporters across our beautiful Commonwealth, we respectfully ask Committee members to support this bill to designate the Lower Rappahannock as a Virginia Scenic River. This designation process starts at the local level and does not advance without it. Savvy localities use their Virginia Scenic River designations to enhance tourism, promote economic development opportunities, and increase civic pride. We thank you for your consideration of this bill.

Last Name: Raterman Locality: Stafford

The Rappahannock River is truly a scenic waterway and one of Virginia's great rivers. Make it official. Make this 79 mile stretch part of the Virginia Scenic River System.

Last Name: Riordan Locality: Fredericksburg

I am writing to voice my support of this bill. This bill will add a 79 mile portion of the Rappahannock River as a State Scenic River. Currently the Rappahannock River is already designated as a State Scenic River from its headwaters to the Ferry Farm Bridge in Fredericksburg. This new section will continue the river's scenic designation from Fredericksburg/Stafford down to the Richmond/Lancaster and Essex/Middlesex county lines. As an avid recreational user of the Rappahannock I believe this bill is important to the preservation and protection of this important natural resource. V/r, Shane Riordan 22401

Last Name: Calvert Organization: Virginia Conservation Network Locality: Charlottesville

Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) and its 150 Partner organizations across the commonwealth SUPPORT: - HB1819 from Delegate Cole (http://www.vcnva.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/HB1819-Rappahannock-River.pdf) and - HB1928 from Delegate Aird. (http://www.vcnva.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/HB1928-broaden-historic-easements.pdf) It is our sincere hope that members of the committee will vote in support these pieces of legislation.

Last Name: Gillenwater Organization: The Piedmont Environmental Council Locality: Charlottesville

The Piedmont Environmental Council supports HB 1819. This legislation, which would designate an additional 79 miles of the Rappahannock River as state scenic, has strong local support and is in-keeping with Department of Conservation and Recreation studies that found this section of the Rappahannock River qualifies for scenic designation.

Last Name: Whitehead Locality: FREDERICKSBURG

I strongly support this bill to designate a 79-mile portion of the Rappahannock River as a State Scenic River. Anyone who has been to Caledon State Park and seen the eagles fly over the river knows why the 79 miles downstream from the Ferry Farm Bridge in Fredericksburg needs to be added to the Scenic River designation. Thank you, Delegate Cole, for supporting this bill.

Last Name: Dolby Locality: Fredericksburg

I strongly support HB1819 to designate 79 miles of the Lower Rappahannock River as a State Scenic River. This designation would draw attention to the central role that the Rappahannock plays in our region's quality of life and enhance its economic value. Thousands of Virginians and tourists from out of state take advantage of its recreational opportunities, and this designation would likely attract more visitors interested in fishing, boating, and sightseeing who would create more business for the Lower Rappahannock River's communities. Additionally, it would also most likely add to the value of properties along that section of the Rappahannock. By making the river an even more valuable asset to the region, this bill would also facilitate the long-term protection of the Rappahannock and help preserve it for future generations.

Last Name: Dickard Locality: Fredericksburg

I am very much in support of the intend of this bill, and believe it is critical for our region to expand the Rappahannock Scenic Designation. This is very important as it will add a 79 mile portion of the Rappahannock River as a State Scenic River. This new section will continue the river's scenic designation from Fredericksburg/Stafford down to the Richmond/Lancaster and Essex/Middlesex county lines.

Last Name: Holtzman Locality: Albemarle

Please support this bill. The Rappahannock is a cultural and natural treasure. The river played a major role in the development of our nation. Not to mention, one of our greatest leaders, George Washington, grew up on it’s banks. As development in the region continues the health of the Rappahannock River is threatened. The scenic designation would help protect the river. It is also supports a strong fishing industry not only in the Rappahannock but also in the Chesapeake bay.

Last Name: Hunsinger Organization: Friends of the Rappahannock Locality: Fredericksburg

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on HB 1819. Friends of the Rappahannock SUPPORTS this legislation. This bill will extend Virginia Scenic River Designation for the Rappahannock River from the Route 3 Ferry Farm Bridge in Fredericksburg to the Richmond/Lancaster and Essex/Middlesex County lines. Spotsylvania, Stafford, Caroline, King George, Westmoreland, and Essex Counties, and the City of Fredericksburg have all passed the required resolutions of support for the bill. This bill has bipartisan support amongst its patrons and copatrons. If successful this bill would make the Rappahannock River the longest designated state scenic river portion in VA with 165 river miles. Thank you for your consideration of this bill and we hope you will support it.

Last Name: Kilmer Locality: City of Manassas

I support all the proposals that I have checked. Please continue to protect our fishing waters. Robert KIlmer

Last Name: Houck Locality: Fredericksburg

Please make this happen! We are so fortunate to have this beautiful river. Let’s do all we can to protect it for future generations!

Last Name: Ware Organization: N/a Locality: Tappahannock

As a citizen who lives in the state and on the Rappahannock river and has seen the impact of poor stewardship, I ask that the General Assembly support these bills.

Last Name: Harden Locality: White Stone

Rappahannock River is a generational legacy and I support expanding a 79-mile portion as a component of Virginia Scenic River Systems. The river provides for work and much recreation for our citizens.

Last Name: Talarico Locality: Fredericksburg

Please preserve this beautiful river. It is a huge asset for recreation and tourism. It contributes to quality of life and draws businesses to this area.

Last Name: Smith Locality: Essex

As a waterfront property owner, we have been enjoying the beautiful views of the Rappahannock river, in the summer for over 4 decades. So has our many neighbors. Sunrises are awesome. Please designate the entire river "Scenic".

Last Name: Pontarelli Organization: Friends Of The Rappahannock Locality: Fredericksburg

I love the Rappahannock and I want it to be protected. I’m hopeful that in the future, caring for our environment will be a top priority, given that it provides everything we need to survive and thrive.

Last Name: Ball Locality: King George

I strongly support HB 1819, designating 79 miles of the Lower Rappahannock River as a State Scenic river. It is important to preserve this pristine environment not only as a natural habitat for wildlife of all sorts, but also as a soul-restoring resource for this and future generations.

Last Name: Gron Locality: Stafford

I am writing in support of Scenic River designation for the remaining mileage of the Rappahannock River. The Tidal Rappahannock represents more than just an ecological treasure. Those 79 miles represent the unique history of our area and provide some views largely unchanged In over 400 years. The Rappahannock River truly is a Scenic River in its entirety, and the prestigious designation as such will help highlight its attributes far and wide.

Last Name: Bergdoll Locality: Westmoreland county

As an avid Naturalist, I strongly urge the continuation of of adding more miles of Virginia rivers to the Scenic Rivers System. This is highly important not only to wildlife but to our States citizens. Thank you.

Last Name: McReynolds Locality: Washington county

Sunday hunting should be allowed on public lands! So many times after church, I want to take my kids out and enjoy small game hunting, but I am unable to because I do not own private land. Deer hunting public land should be allowed on Sunday’s as well because not everyone has the luxury to hunt private land. The working class has to work 6 days a week at times, and that makes for a very short hunting season! Support the youth, support the public land hunters, and open Sunday hunting on public lands!

Last Name: Micks Organization: Virginia Outdoor Center Locality: Fredericksburg

I am an owner of Virginia Outdoor Center (VOC). VOC provides river trips by canoe, kayak, tube and stand up paddle board. I fell in love with the Rappahannock River as a young teenager in the 1950's. George Brumble, one of my Scout leaders was an avid canoeist who taught canoe classes and the canoeing merit badge to many area scouts. Because of my early wonderful experiences on the Rappahannock I have spent the last 50 years supporting non-profits, area scout troops, churches, schools, and events to raise awareness and money to protect the river. Virginia Scenic River Designation of the lower Rappahannock will be one of the most important lasting gifts we can bestow on this river. Thank you to everyone who now and in the past have worked tirelessly for the protection of the river.

Last Name: Cusumano Roque Locality: Reston

I am writing to support passage of HB 1902 banning polystyrene and HB1819 designating a portion fo the Rappahannock River as scenic. HB1902 is critical to enhancing the public and environmental health of the citizens of Virginia. Polystyrene never degrades - it just breaks into smaller and smaller pieces, which then are in the environment, causing health issues and despoiling our soil and water. There is no need for polystyrene as there are plenty of cost-effective alternatives. You can see more information on alternatives at this link: https://documents-takomapark.s3.amazonaws.com/public-works/polystyrene-ban/PW-20150624-cost-analysis-hand-out.pdf. I am asking you to move this bill out of committee and to vote in favor of it. HB1819 is a small step in the right direction of preserving our natural resources here in the Commonwealth. Some portions of the Rappahannock River are already designated scenic, and adding this section would help enhance the health of the entire river while bringing enjoyment to everyone, tourists and residents alike. Our rivers are valuable resources. Let's preserve them. I am asking that you support passage of this bill. With thanks, Leanne

Last Name: hedrick Locality: Isle Of Wight

Its time we consider moving away from Esoteric conservation models. Please consider removing the restriction on Sunday hunting public lands. There have been reports in prior years showing the positive economic impacts. DWR offices are still working weekends even if people are not hunting public lands.

Last Name: Britton Locality: Campbell

Hunting should be allowed on public land ! After all it was your idea to allow hunting on Sunday in the frist place !

Last Name: Peterson Organization: River Rock Outfitter Locality: Fredericksburg

Thank you, Delegate J.G. Cole, for your support of HB1819 designating 79 miles of the Rappahannock River as a component of the Virginia Scenic River System.  Virginia has a growing outdoor recreational economy and the Rappahannock River provides Virginia residents and tourists an opportunity to enjoy paddling, fishing, and endless hiking opportunities along its banks.  As the owner of River Rock Outfitter, a retail and livery provider in Fredericksburg, Virginia, I expect positive outcomes for my business and those I service because of this prestigious designation.  We anticipate that there will be increased media exposure surrounding the designation as well as promotion by businesses like mine who will celebrate the newly acquired status.  We look forward to highlighting the many attributes of the Rappahannock River including its free-flowing and widely maintained natural state, available access points, and water quality.  All important attributes of a designated Virginia Scenic River System.  Public recognition will likely increase the river’s worth and attractiveness to visitors further establishing Virginia, and particularly the areas surrounding this portion of the Rappahannock River, as an outdoor recreational center.  We look forward to supporting these visitors with the gear and provisions they need to have fun and recreate responsibly on the beautiful Rappahannock River.  The Rappahannock River is a state treasure and all those who have worked hard to preserve and care for it are deserving of this designation. 

HB1833 - Conservation and Recreation, Department of; leasing of land.
Last Name: Staples Locality: Chesapeake

Good Day, I would like you to know that on every trip that I make to various State Forest and the George Washington National Forest. I find several ballons while hiking, hunting or fishing. On my visits to Virginia Beach they are a constant wash up item that I find and dispose of. Please put an end to this needless celebratory practice. The harm to wildlife is terrible. 40 years ago, I watched a whitetail doe pull a balloon from a Mountain Laurel and partially eat it. Imagine how many times that scene has been repeated over the decades since. Thank you.

HB1837 - Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board; clarifies membership.
Last Name: Harris Organization: Virginia Interfaith Power & Light Locality: Henrico

Virginia’s Permit by Rule program governs the permitting process for “small renewable energy projects.” Projects that qualify follow regulations established by the Department of Environmental Quality rather than the more cumbersome permitting process at the State Corporation Commission. The Permit by Rule regulations were developed by a working group that brought together representatives from industry, local government, and environmental organizations. The regulations require permit applicants to secure local approvals for projects. Local governing boards can, and do, reject projects for a wide range of reasons. For others, they work with the developer, landowners and the community to resolve issues together.

Last Name: Tyree Organization: Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts Locality: Henrico

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee - The Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts, representing our 47 SWCDs across the Commonwealth and over 333 unpaid volunteer Directors, SUPPORTS HB1837. The bill clarifies what had historically been the method for appointing six members to this board based on a list of nominees from the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts in consultation with Virginia Farm Bureau and Virginia Agribusiness Council and approved by the Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board. The nominees are either farmers or local SWCD district directors. The practice of these groups was to maintain a geographic representation based on the Associations Areas. Governor Northam’s Secretary of Commonwealth chose to interpret the underlying statute differently this summer. As a result of the Governor not utilizing this list of nominees, the Association's Area/Region 2 which encompasses the following Soil and Water Districts - Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, Loudoun, Northern Virginia, Prince William, Culpeper and the counties they represent - no longer has representation on the Soil and Water Conservation Board. There are also three at-large representatives to represent various other interests on this board and this legislation does not change those appointments. Delegate Plum’s bill seeks to clarify the statute based on how it had been previously interpreted and historically intended - ensuring nomination of six individuals per joint recommendation and per the substitute to be introduced now codifying the historic practice of geographic representation. We urge you to support HB1837 and its critical clarification to the appointments process. Kendall Tyree, PhD Executive Director Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts

Last Name: Ware Organization: N/a Locality: Tappahannock

As a citizen who lives in the state and on the Rappahannock river and has seen the impact of poor stewardship, I ask that the General Assembly support these bills.

HB1928 - Historic resources; acquisition and lease of land.
Last Name: Strouse Organization: Virginia Animal Control Association (VACA) Locality: Norfolk, Virginia, United States

HB 2109 was not an option to select. That is the bill I wish to comment on, and it has been recommended for report by the Ag Sub-committee. HB 2109 as amended still has problems. A veterinarian is an expert on animal medicine and not necessarily on animal shelter regulations nor animal welfare. An addition to the Board should be an animal welfare expert, and there should be criteria to be met in order to be considered so. On behalf of VACA, we urge that this bill be tabled or carried over. Thank you. O

Last Name: Witherington Locality: palmyra

Virginians deserve to breathe clean air. Unfortunately, pollution from vehicles is killing almost the same number of Virginians that die every year in traffic accidents - pollution that hits low-income neighborhoods and communities of color the hardest. While the General Assembly has prioritized acting to address climate change in recent years, cutting back power plant emissions and prioritizing clean energy, emissions from the transportation sector still make up almost half of our state's carbon footprint, with most of this coming from gas- or diesel-powered passenger vehicles. This is why the legislature must act in 2021 to protect public health and address the climate crisis by working to secure a cleaner transportation future. I urge you to support House Bill 1965 and adopt a Clean Cars Standard in Virginia as a first step toward a cleaner, more equitable transportation system in the Commonwealth. Under this program, Virginians will have more access to and greater incentive to purchase Low Emission Vehicles and Zero Emission Vehicles - vehicles that are in high demand but short supply right now as they're being sent predominately to other states with standards in place already. Over time, auto dealers will have to stock cleaner cars, which in turn will help protect public health and the environment by driving down pollution, and save Virginians thousands of dollars over the life of the vehicle. The climate crisis won't go away without years of hard work. If we fail to act now, we'll only fall further behind. I urge you to prioritize climate action in 2021 by supporting House Bill 1965. Thanks, Allen.

Last Name: schutt Locality: henrico va

We need more clean fuel vehicles in VA. Please help support them.

Last Name: Calvert Organization: Virginia Conservation Network Locality: Charlottesville

Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) and its 150 Partner organizations across the commonwealth SUPPORT: - HB1819 from Delegate Cole (http://www.vcnva.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/HB1819-Rappahannock-River.pdf) and - HB1928 from Delegate Aird. (http://www.vcnva.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/HB1928-broaden-historic-easements.pdf) It is our sincere hope that members of the committee will vote in support these pieces of legislation.

HB1958 - South River; designates segment in City of Waynesboro as part of Va. Scenic Rivers System.
Last Name: Powell Organization: Scenic Virginia Locality: City of Richmond

On behalf of Scenic Virginia's numerous supporters across our beautiful Commonwealth, we respectfully ask Committee members to support this bill to designate a section of the South River in the City of Waynesboro as a Virginia Scenic River. This designation process starts at the local level and does not advance without local support. Savvy localities use their Virginia Scenic River designations to enhance tourism, promote economic development opportunities, and increase civic pride. We thank you for your consideration of this bill.

Last Name: Ware Organization: N/a Locality: Tappahannock

As a citizen who lives in the state and on the Rappahannock river and has seen the impact of poor stewardship, I ask that the General Assembly support these bills.

HB1982 - Nutrient credits; use by facility with certain stormwater discharge permit.
No Comments Available
HB1983 - Wetland and stream mitigation banks; proximity of impacted site.
Last Name: Morrow Locality: McLean

I strongly SUPPORT this bill to make monies available for the economic revitalization of tobacco growing-dependent communities and research into cancer caused by tobacco use.

HB2030 - Neonicotinoid pesticides; application in residentially zoned outdoor areas, civil penalty.
Last Name: Reichbauer Locality: Richmond

We need to protect these precious pollinators! Local government should be able to fine people/businesses who are poisoning the bee population.

Last Name: Long Locality: Richmond

As the assembly convenes at the science museum, this seems like a poetic no-brainer. VA govt needs to do its part to reverse the cataclysmic damage done to our pollinators. Not merely for love of nature, but for the good of our own communities

Last Name: Graessle Locality: Reston

Neonicotinoids are killing bees.

Last Name: Starkey Locality: Arlington

Pollinators, and bees especially, are vital for human food production, and for a healthy and stable ecosystem. The science is undeniable, Neonicotinoid pesticides are decimating our pollinator populations. Virginia must act now to help protect our pollinators before it is too late. Stand up to industry pressure and allow local communities ban these toxic pesticides now.

Last Name: Toher Organization: Beyond Pesticides Locality: Arlington

Beyond Pesticides' Supplemental Written Comments: On behalf of members and supporters in Virginia, Beyond Pesticides urges the committee to pass a strong HB2030 that protects Virginia’s declining pollinator populations from neonicotinoids (neonics) and other bee-toxic pesticides. We encourage inclusion of the bill’s original language allowing localities to enact restrictions. This will permit localities to protect unique ecological sites, such as wetlands, pollinator gardens, and monarch waystations from toxic pesticide exposure. Dangers of Neonics to Pollinators: • Honey bees and other pollinators account for 1 in 3 bites of food, but recent science shows these beneficial species are under threat from the use of systemic, persistent neonic insecticides. • Studies show these chemicals can be taken up by flowering plants and expressed in the pollen, nectar, and dew droplets honey bees and other pollinators feed on. • Neonics have been shown, even at low levels, to impair foraging, navigation, and learning behavior in bees, as well as suppress their immune system, increasing susceptibility to pathogens and disease. • Research shows neonics can alter feeding behaviors and reduce egg development in bumblebee queens, inhibit pollination skills among bumblebee workers, and reduce overall colony size. • Beekeepers in Virginia lost a reported 41.4% of their honey bee colonies in 2018/19 and 44.2% in 2019/20. This rate is unsustainable. Beekeepers have a challenging time absorbing losses greater than 15% each year; rates in Virginia and the country have averaged over 30% for the last decade. Not Just Bumble and Honey: Systemic Pesticides Harm a Range of Wildlife • Eastern monarch populations have declined by 80% since the 1990s. Research shows neonics are contributing to this decline. • Bird populations have declined by thirty percent since 1970, with losses totaling around 3 billion birds. Studies find systemic pesticides are contributing to songbird die-offs. • White-tailed deer exposed to neonics show higher rates of birth defects and malformations in offspring. • Systemic pesticides pose significant harm to water quality and aquatic organisms. As a result, Health Canada has phased out most neonic uses. EPA Regulation has Failed Virginia’s Pollinators • Many bee-toxic pesticides were first registered by EPA under a process known as "conditional registration," which has been criticized by the GAO for its unreliability. • EPA actions aimed at protecting pollinators have not adequately addressed the pollinator crisis. While other international regulatory agencies, including Health Canada and the European Food Safety Authority, have already enacted bans on neonics, EPA’s efforts have been limited to minor changes to certain pesticide labels. Growing Reforms at the State and Local Level: • The states of Connecticut, Maryland, and Vermont have all passed laws restricting consumer use of bee-toxic neonics in favor of alternative products and practices. • Over 150 communities throughout the United States have passed policies that restrict the use of bee-toxic pesticides. • HB2030 brings Virginia in line with the latest science on pesticide hazards, and takes an important step forward in reversing pollinator declines in the state. We urge passage of a strong HB2030 and remain available for any questions on this important issue.

Last Name: Bauhan Organization: Virginia Poultry Federation Locality: Harrisonburg

Virginia Poultry Federation respectfully asks that you not move forward with HB 2030. This bill imposes certain requirements for use of a neonicotinoid pesticide. This pesticide is used in crop production and also in products to control darkling beetles in poultry houses, a pest which can create significant and costly problems for poultry farmers. While the substitute is an improvement over the introduced bill, such products are appropriately regulated at the federal level, where they can be properly vetted based on scientific protocols.

Last Name: Ferree Locality: Fairfax County

I wanted to share an experience my wife and I had encountering mosquito fogging this past summer. We were in our neighbors backyard doing maintenance to our fence when we noticed that the neighbors yard behind was being fogged (presumably for mosquitos). The gentleman was wearing a respirator, goggles, long pants, and long sleeves. As we saw the fog drift towards us we started yelling at him to stop and that there were bees behind the fence. He noticed us and quickly left. My wife and I were then immediately affected by the fog that reached us, causing us to cough and gasp for air. We then retreated back to our house and recovered. My bees survived this incident, probably due to the six foot fence not allowing most of the fog to reach them. Thank you. John E Ferree

Last Name: Coron Organization: Virginia Pest Management Association Locality: Stafford County

Virginia Pest Management Association (VPMA) Comments on HB 2030 Established in 1948, the Virginia Pest Management Association has been serving the information and business needs of Virginia's pest management professionals for over 70 years. The pest management services provided by our members in Virginia help to protect the health and property of every citizen of the Commonwealth by insuring that homes, restaurants, hospitals, office buildings, and other public spaces are pest free. The professional structural pest control industry and our certified commercial applicators and registered technicians use neonicotinoid pesticides in, on, and around structures to protect public health and property. Our industry professionally manages structural pests with neonicotinoids such as ants, bed bugs, carpenter ants, cockroaches, flies, termites, and many others. We appreciate the opportunity to share our views on HB 2030. It is known that structural pest control uses of neonicotinoid pesticides are unlikely to pose a threat to pollinators, as a recent Cornell University study on neonicotinoid pesticides illustrates: “Negligible risk to pollinators from household pest control and antiparasitic uses… Such applications are unlikely to lead to substantial exposure for insect pollinators” (1). VPMA acknowledges the importance of pollinator health, applauds Delegate Krizek for his dedication to protect pollinators, and drafting a bill that allows for the professional structural pest control industry to protect public health and property with neonicotinoids. VPMA stresses the impact that the structural pest management industry has on pollinators is nominal. The content in HB 2030 reflects this reality. Pesticide risks to pollinators are not only focused on the toxicity of a chemical, but also the potential for exposure. Structural pest control is very unlikely to lead to exposure. Similarly, exterior treatments applied to the structure and other areas around the structure are also unlikely to result in significant exposure. VPMA members support, teach, and implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) developed by the National Pest Management Association, and cited in the Virginia Pollinator Protection Plan (2). We are pleased to see that local governments do not have the ability to regulate pesticides in this amended version of the bill. Local governments regulating pesticides complicates enforcement matters for pest management professionals that operate in many local government jurisdictions and unfettered municipal pesticide bans would create an inability to control disease vector pests that pose human health threats. (3) We support strong state regulation from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), as HB 2030 in its amended form maintains this. In conclusion, we are supportive of provisions in HB 2030 that allow for the structural pest control industry to continue protecting public health and property with neonicotinoids. Sincerely, Andrea Coron Executive Director Virginia Pest Management Association 1) https://pollinator.cals.cornell.edu/pollinator-research-cornell/neonicotinoid-report/ 2) http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/plant-industry-services-pollinator-protection-plan.shtml 3) https://www.cga.ct.gov/2019/ENVdata/Tmy/2019SB-00076-R000318-Dykes,%20Katherine,%20Commissioner-Department%20of%20Energy%20and%20Environmental-TMY.PDF

Last Name: Vassey Organization: Virginia Manufacturers Association Locality: Richmond

The VMA and Virginia Chemistry Council (VCC) appreciate Delegate Krizek introducing a substitute to HB2030 that exempts wood and plastic applications. We are also appreciative of the removal of the delegation of regulatory authority to local government. With these amendments in the final bill, the VMA and VCC are neutral.

Last Name: Miller Organization: Virginia Grain Producers Association Locality: Henrico

The Virginia Grain Producers Association is opposed to Delegate Krizek’s proposed bill, HB 2030. VGPA supports the long-established, rigorous, and science-based pesticide registration review process established under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Unlike other federal environmental statutes, FIFRA requires EPA to engage in a risk-benefit analysis in its regulation of pesticides. A thorough and holistic approach that relies on sound science and robust data ensures that risk conclusions are as closely tied to real-world conditions as practicably possible. FIFRA requires that EPA ensure that pesticides registered for use in the U.S. do not pose unreasonable adverse effect on man and the environment. FIFRA requires that EPA engage in risk-benefit balancing that weighs potential risk against the economic and society benefits of pesticide use. The unreasonable adverse effects standard does not require an elimination of any and all risk, and will mean that some small fraction of non-target insects, including pollinators, may be harmed. Overall EPA’s risk assessments for neonicotinoids indicate that widespread adoption of these products do not pose a significant risk to pollinator health. In particular, EPA has not found seed treatment with neonicotinoid products of significant risk.

Last Name: Miller Locality: Clifton

The science is still conflicted. From Cornell: https://pollinator.cals.cornell.edu/threats-wild-and-managed-bees/pesticides/neonicotinoids/ "Overall, the majority of laboratory and semi-field research demonstrates neonicotinoids can be harmful to honey bees; however, the majority of field studies find only limited or no effects on honey bees." Best to leave regulation to the experts at VDACS and EPA. Local governments have no ability to scientifically make these decisions.

Last Name: Etro Organization: Turf-Vu Locality: Prince William

The well-meaning notification process will cause an expensive burden on the businesses and persons applying a neonicotinoid product and it will have no impact on the environment and pollinators that it supposes to protect. It will be a nuisance to all involved because upon receipt of the notice there are no actions that can be taken except to shelter all pollinators and restrict their access to the pollen sources inside the ½ mile danger zone for an amount of time, unspecified by HB 2030. It is an impossible set of tasks and it has no relationship to the potential dispersion of the neonicotinoid product. Businesses involved in the application of pesticides are trained and licensed in their use. Fundamental to applying any neonicotinoid product is to avoid flowering plants, apply it when pollinators are least active, and when the wind is calm so as to prevent drift. The Commonwealth of Virginia likely set the responsibility to regulate pesticides and their use in the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to prevent well-meaning persons from implementing nescience based regulations that would have no impact on the intended purpose of the regulation. Leave responsibility to regulate pesticides and their use in the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Last Name: Garland Organization: Friends of Accotink Creek Locality: Vienna

Friends of Accotink Creek supports HB 2030 regulating neonicotinoid pesticides. Landscaping companies will say their products are safe for bees and other non-mosquito insects. Science tells another story. As regards honey bees, the workers in many tests will continue to fly and forage for a while, but queen bees are devastated by neonics thiamethoxam and clothianidin. "The queen, as the sole egg-layer and the primary source of colony cohesion, is the most important individual in the colony; without her the colony will eventually fail." https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151013103118.htm Of course, neonics afffect the whole hive. They do not obliterate hive outright, but kill it over extended periods of time. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/neonicotinoid-pesticides-slowly-killing-bees Other studies have shown that queen bumble bees (non-honey bees) also fare very badly with neonic pesticides. http://cues.cfans.umn.edu/old/pollinators/pdf-BBcolony/2012Whitehorn.pdf Neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics) are less toxic to vertebrates than common older insecticides, but they are still harmful. They persist in the soil, leach into the environment, and harm pollinators, including honeybees and our native bees. This bill aims to protect pollinators in our community from outdoor spray, especially hives kept by Virginia suburban beekeepers. This bill addresses only outdoor spray, not indoor treatments for pests like bed bugs and roaches, toward which neonicotinoids are most effective. While the bill does not ban the sale, use, and distribution of neonics throughout the state, it does authorize localities to prohibit the sale of all, or certain neonics, and other pesticides deemed to be harmful to pollinators. It also allows localities to regulate or prohibit outdoor use in areas zoned for residential, business, commercial, or industrial use. This is a major progress. That means we may write to our town councils and demand an end to neonic spraying. Those of us with bee hives or pollinator/butterfly gardens will be very pleased. For jurisdictions who choose not to regulate neonics, the bill does mandate that everyone within a ½ mile of the neonic application get a 72-hour warning. This offers a form of limited protection. Homeowners with pollinator gardens or bee hives will have time to throw tarps or sheets over the area they need to shield from these poisons. Thank you, Delegate Krizek, for sponsoring this measure.

Last Name: Garland Organization: Friends of Accotink Creek Locality: vienna

Friends of Accotink Creek support HB 1902, the ban on expanded polystyrene food and drink containers. 1)EPS containers can leach harmful chemicals into food and drinks: EPS contains styrene, a lab animal carcinogen and possible human carcinogen and neurotoxin. Styrene can migrate from polystyrene containers into food and drink when heated, or in contact with fatty or acidic foods. Low-income communities often lack access to grocery stores and are forced to rely on fast food options, which are often stored in EPS containers. 2) The EPS manufacturing process can harm the health of factory workers: Workers are exposed to many toxic chemicals including Styrene, Toluene, Xylene, Acetone, Methyl Chloride, and Methyl Ketone. 3) The EPS manufacturing process pollutes the air: All blowing agents currently used in EPS manufacture pose dangers to the environment. The CFCs damage the ozone layer. The blowing agent pentane creates earth-level smog and has already been restricted in some regions for air quality reasons. 4) EPS is too expensive to recycle: The NY City Dept of Sanitation recently determined that that it is not economically viable to recycle EPS foam food containers. 5) EPS is not biodegradable, it litters our parks and streams: Polystyrene containers break into smaller pieces, creating trash that is harder to collect and remove. After the CA cities of Santa Cruz and Pacific Grove banned EPS foam food containers, EPS litter on local beaches decreased up to 71%. EPS containers are bad news, the sooner they are banned the better. Thank you, Delegate Carr, for introducing this bill.

Last Name: Curling Organization: Ordinary Citizens avoiding RoadRage Locality: HamptonRoads area

EPA & VDACS already regulate pesticide industry; Virginia localities don't have enough regulations without adding more affecting the Landscape &Turfgrass businesses? Rather, how about a bill prohibiting motorists from driving with their dog in their laps? Or a bill requiring an annual driver's test for everyone over 80 years old? Do something constructive!

Last Name: Taylor Organization: Concerned citizen Locality: Henrico

RE: HR 2030 -- relating to neonicotinoid pesticides; local regulation and notice; penalty. Date: January 19, 2021 Please vote NO on HR 2030 HR 2030 was written to protect citizens, environment and insects, especially bees from the effects of this pesticide. HR 2030 has 2 major issues 1. The ability of notify every member of the public within ½ mile of the treatment site cannot be accomplished. 2. State Law does not allow for localities to write their own regulations on this issue. Do we need HR 2030? There is a lot of regulations effecting these products from EPA. The Federal Government has invested in a lot of research as to the best way to handle the situation. I cannot tell the true reason for this bill. If it is to protect the bee population or to follow the EU’s regulation, there are a better ways. Also, is it needed? Since the requirement of certified applicators, the amount of exposure to this type of chemical is reduced despite increased use. There are better ways of approaching this issue without negative effect on another envirnomental issue

Last Name: Sheetz Organization: VA Turfgrass Council Locality: Chesterfield

Many bills brought to committee often deserve a second look. Many people in our state/country today see companies spraying an immediately think all is bad. Please ask professionals in their respected fields before making brash bill decisions because a few constituents believe in "more legislation." In our profession, we are heavily regulated by VDACS and go through licensure and recertification courses. We are NOT out just spraying without a purpose and every chemical is measured and calibrated carefully. I would like to bring up the fact that many homeowners are able to get their hands on many of these chemicals on-line. Are these homeowners trained to apply these chemicals? The answer is NO! Just like homeowners that can go to a box store an apply fertilizer at whatever rate they wish, not understanding runoff or leaching. I 100% disagree with this bill because it will jeopardize the green industry. Do you as a state representative contact every one within a 1/2 radius every time you go to work? Can these chemicals cause damaged if not used correctly? Yes, but the industry you are hurting are the people that understand chemicals, are stewarts for the enviroment, and know the risks of not applying insecticides at the right time.

Last Name: Buffey Organization: Va Turfgrass council Locality: Henrico

2030: If this passes you will cause great expense to the landscape contractors in the state and probably cause people to lose their jobs. You have regulated us enough. Please let it go and let us do our job that we have been trained for.

Last Name: Burbank Locality: Virginia beach

GET RID OF ANY/all polystyrene containers. No good for the environment on the production OR usage of said items. NEONICOTINOIDS are killing pollinators by the billions. STOP USAGE OF ALL NEONICOTINOIDS, period!! Senior citizens have been paying exorbitant fees/taxes in VB; the very least you can do is let us park for free. Nit only in parks, but all public parking facilities in Va. Beach!! BALLOONS KILL ANIMALS. Intentional balloon release is ridiculous, and should not be allowed. Proven to kill hundreds (if not thousands) of animals/sea life per year. Production of balloon is poison to our ecosystem; release of them is folly and unnecessary. They take WAYYYY TOO LONG TO DECOMPOSE. They pollute waterways and forests. Outlaw the release of ANY balloons.

Last Name: Calvert Organization: Virginia Conservation Network Locality: Charlottesville

Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) stands in support of HB 1750 & HB 2030. We hope that the subcommittee members will support each of these pieces of legislation.

Last Name: Ware Organization: N/a Locality: Tappahannock

As a citizen who lives in the state and on the Rappahannock river and has seen the impact of poor stewardship, I ask that the General Assembly support these bills.

HB2068 - Local Food and Farming Infrastructure Grant Program; established.
Last Name: Calvert Organization: Virginia Conservation Network Locality: Charlottesville

On behalf of our 150 partner organizations across the Commonwealth, Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) requests the General Assembly’s full support of Delegate Rasoul’s HB 2068. Case for SUPPORT: http://www.vcnva.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/HB2068-Food-and-Farming-Grant.pdf

Last Name: Scipio Locality: Orange County,, Locust Grove

In favor of programs to better facilitate the development and progress of my community.

Last Name: Haggard Locality: Henrico

I am in favor of Delegate Rasoul's grant bill and Delegate Filler-Corns food charity fund. These both seem great for farmers and the community as a whole.

Last Name: Costantino Organization: Virginia Foodshed Capital Locality: Richmond

My name is Francesca Costantino. I am a board member of VA Foodshed Capital, and represent a coalition of farmers, advocates, and environmentalists. I support HB 2068 (to establish a Local Food and Farming Infrastructure Grant Program) and HB 2203 (to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program). These two bills 1) address climate change, build a resilient, sustainable local food system, revitalize rural communities, and increase food access by investing in community food and farm infrastructure, and 2) help Virginia farmers provide agricultural products for food aid, while building farm livelihoods. For HB 2068, please consider amendments to: 1) remove the cap on maximum grant amount; and 2) to add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Kuhn Locality: Albemarle

Dear subcommittee members, I am a concerned citizen who believes that building a local food network based on sustainable agriculture is good for local economies, promotes healthful eating, and provides resilience when distribution chains are interrupted. Regenerative agricultural practices also help store carbon and contribute to carbon reduction goals. This year during the pandemic, the Charlottesville area was blessed with several farmers markets, operated by pre-order and drive-through pick-up, that enabled us to access farm fresh produce. I was grateful for this resource, and relied on it heavily. A non-profit organization, Local Food Hub, operated a couple of these markets, and provided “Farmacy Shares” of locally raised food to families in need. I hope you will support the growth and development of resources like these across the state. I ask you to support the following bills, which will promote local agriculture and the distribution of farm products to needy families: HB 2068 - Delegate Sam Rasoul’s bill for grants to establish a state-administered fund and grant program for community infrastructure development projects that support local food production and sustainable agriculture. Please consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. HB 2203 – Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s bill to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program for Virginia farmers and food producers to provide agriculture products to charitable food assistance organizations. Respectfully submitted Beth Kuhn Charlottesville area

Last Name: Gagnon Locality: Williamsburg

My name is Abram Gagnon, Williamsburg resident: This is to ask you to support a bill that addresses climate change, builds a resilient, sustainable local food system, revitalizes rural communities, and increases food access by investing in community food and farm infrastructure and help Virginia farmers provide agricultural products to charitable food aid organizations. Supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of strong local food systems. Local food systems of small- and mid-sized farms using regenerative agricultural practices contribute to economic development and jobs, as well as resilience and sustainability, while increasing food access for the good health and nutrition of our communities. Helping Virginia farmers provide food to people who need it during a crisis builds farm livelihoods, while increasing food access, a win-win. We are seeking your support on HB 2068 - Delegate Sam Rasoul’s bill for grants to establish a state-administered fund and grant program for community infrastructure development projects that support local food production and sustainable agriculture. We ask that you consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. Thank you for your consideration. Abram Gagnon Williamsburg

Last Name: Campblin Organization: Green New Deal VA Coalition Locality: Fairfax

The COVID-19 pandemic spotlighted the vulnerabilities in our food supply chain and demonstrated the importance of maintaining strong local food systems. We witnessed our local farmers struggle to make ends meet, while communities experience food shortages. HB2068 is intended to help address this disparity. HB2068 will help to expand community infrastructure to support more local food production, as well as sustainable agriculture. Using regenerative agricultural practices will not only promote resiliency and sustainability but will also contribute to economic development and jobs, while improving food access for our communities. Our small/ mid size farmers are extremely important to Virginia’s health, economy, and environment which is why I ask that you support this bill and vote yes.

Last Name: Mehta Locality: Arlington County

This statement is in strong support of HB2068-Local Food and Farming Infrastructure Grant Program, introduced by Chief Patron Delegate Sam Rasoul. Agriculture continues to be Virginia’s largest private industry by far, seeing an economic impact of over $70 billion annually and with jobs totaling close to 350,000. HB2068 is not just a smart agriculture bill, but also a strong labor policy. It holds the potential to strengthen thousands of local Virginia farms at a time when small businesses are fighting to compete with bloated taxpayer-subsidized corporate agro-industrial companies that participate in worker exploitation and destruction of our environment through unsustainable farming practices. Delegate Rasoul’s HB2068 would incentivize local food and farming initiatives with critical startup funds up to $25,000 needed to sustain their efforts during and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time where we are seeing Great Depression-era levels of hunger and food insecurity, this is exactly the type of legislation we need to empower local food justice efforts and prioritize small independent Virginian farms over corporate agribusiness that are destroying our planet with harmful unsustainable farming practices. On HB2068 I urge you to consider two amendments to the existing bill: 1. To remove cap on maximum grant amount and 2. Add language to secure all grant funds for small independent farming business and prohibit any grant funds from being distributed to corporate agribusinesses. I urge the subcommittee to pass these amendments and pass HB2068 to uplift Virginia’s local food and farming infrastructure for non-corporate independent farms. — Karishma Mehta Preschool teacher for VA HD-49

Last Name: Furgurson Organization: Real Local RVA Locality: Richmond

My Name is Beth Furgurson, and I am the Executive Director of Real Local RVA. Real Local is a membership organization dedicated to building a more collaborative and networked local food community in Richmond and our surrounding area. Our mission is to educate, support and raise awareness of the local food movement and choices in the Greater Richmond area. We have 118 members representing a variety of small businesses within the local food system. Our members include farmers, farmers markets, independent grocery stores, value added producers, restaurants, breweries, colleges, nonprofits and distributors. We support sustainable agriculture and sustainable communities. On behalf of our members, I urge you to support HB 2068. I am constantly hearing from our farmers and producers the challenges they face with distribution, aggregation and marketing of their products. Investing in and allocating money to our local food system is one of the most important steps we can make towards building stronger communities, something I think we learned the hard way over this past year. With agriculture situated as Virginia’s largest private industry and an economic impact of over $70 billion annually we believe it is an important sector of the economy to invest in. We request amendments to the existing bill text to: 1) remove the cap on maximum grant amount; and 2) to add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. Thank you for your consideration. Beth Furgurson beth@reallocalrva.com

Last Name: Hamilton Locality: Fairfax

I would like to express my support for both of these important bills. HB2068 and HB2203 are critical steps to both support local farms and food businesses and increase food access for thousands of Virginians.

Last Name: Kelsey Organization: Green New Deal Virginia Locality: Richmond

Thank you to the members of the committee who have co-patroned this legislation and those who supported this bill last legislative session. I would like to express our strong support for this bill. Local food systems of small- and mid-sized farms using regenerative agricultural practices contribute to economic development and jobs, as well as resilience and sustainability while increasing food access for the good health and nutrition of our communities. Helping Virginia farmers provide food to people who need it during a crisis builds farm livelihoods, while increasing food access, a win-win. Thank you.

Last Name: Bateman Organization: Virginia First Cities Coalition Locality: City of Richmond

The Virginia First Cities Coalition and our 16 member cities urge your support for Del. Rasoul's bill. Our urban, core cities have consistently supported healthy food financing and investments to ensure our cities and citizens have access to thriving, sustainable food options. In addition, we are working very hard to connect our community small businesses and infrastructure development. Delegate Rasoul's bill is a very positive step in this regard.

Last Name: Miller Locality: Richmond

As we work strongly this session to limit the contribution to the environment of transportation emissions, we must work equally hard to support those systems that can sequester carbon. That means our agricultural and forestry assets. As a member of RVALocal, a group committed to the support of local food systems and local eating, and as a supporter of Virginia Foodshed Capital, an organization also devoted to providing support to small Virginia food producers, I urge you to support Del Rasoul's bill 2068. As a physician, I routinely prescribe more fruits and vegetables and eating local and pesticide free. The citizens need you to support local food.

Last Name: Costa Organization: The Virginia Youth Climate Cooperative (VAYCC) Locality: Roanoke

Dear Delegates, My name is Tallulah Costa, I am a 17-year-old resident of Roanoke, Virginia (24015), and I am the Policy Director of the Virginia Youth Climate Cooperative - a youth-run organization committed to climate action and justice. Today, I am asking you to support two bills that address climate change, build a resilient, sustainable local food system, revitalize rural communities, and increase food access by investing in community food and farm infrastructure and help Virginia farmers provide agricultural products to charitable food aid organizations. Supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of strong local food systems. Local food systems of small- and mid-sized farms using regenerative agricultural practices contribute to economic development and jobs, as well as resilience and sustainability, while increasing food access for the good health and nutrition of our communities. Helping Virginia farmers provide food to people who need it during a crisis builds farm livelihoods, while increasing food access, a win-win. My organization and I are seeking your support for two bills: HB 2068 - Delegate Sam Rasoul’s bill for grants to establish a state-administered fund and grant program for community infrastructure development projects that support local food production and sustainable agriculture. For HB 2068, we ask that you consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. HB 2203 – Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s bill to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program for Virginia farmers and food producers to provide agriculture products to charitable food assistance organizations. Thank you so much for your consideration. Please know that when you support bills like these, you are investing in my future and the futures of all the young people across the Commonwealth. Please don't let us down. Kindly, Tallulah Costa Roanoke, Virginia 24015 540-798-7416

Last Name: Costantino Organization: Virginia Grassroots Coalition Locality: Richmond

I am working with a coalition of farmers, local food and sustainable agriculture advocates, and environmentalists to promote sustainable local food systems. Please support two bills that address climate change, build a resilient, sustainable local food system, revitalize rural communities, and increase food access by investing in community food and farm infrastructure and helping Virginia farmers provide agricultural products to charitable food aid organizations: HB 2068 to establish the Local Food and Farming Infrastructure Grant Program and HB 2203 to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program. Supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of strong local food systems. Local food systems of small- and mid-sized farms using regenerative agricultural practices contribute to economic development and jobs, as well as resilience and sustainability, while increasing food access for the good health and nutrition of our communities. Helping Virginia farmers provide food to people who need it during a crisis builds farm livelihoods, while increasing food access, a win-win. For HB 2068, please consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. Below is a summary of the changes we would like to see in the final bill for HB 2068: 1. Remove the cap on maximum grant amount (or if there must be a cap, increase it dramatically, to at least $200K) 2. Add additional language to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture, as well as to underserved communities, both rural and urban. 3. Add some definitions for clarity: - add "community" to infrastructure - add a definition of preference "given to communities where there is a general lack of such infrastructure and/or underserved communities and/or environmental justice communities" - define the terms used in this targeting language, including sustainable agriculture, community infrastructure, environmental justice community, and underserved community. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Calin Locality: Springfield

This is in support of two bills that address climate change, build a resilient, sustainable local food system, revitalize rural communities, and increase food access by investing in community food and farm infrastructure and help Virginia farmers provide agricultural products to charitable food aid organizations. Supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of strong local food systems. Local food systems of small- and mid-sized farms using regenerative agricultural practices contribute to economic development and jobs, as well as resilience and sustainability, while increasing food access for the good health and nutrition of our communities. Helping Virginia farmers provide food to people who need it during a crisis builds farm livelihoods, while increasing food access, a win-win. We are seeking your support for two bills: HB 2068 - Delegate Sam Rasoul’s bill for grants to establish a state-administered fund and grant program for community infrastructure development projects that support local food production and sustainable agriculture. For HB 2068, we ask that you consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. HB 2203 – Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s bill to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program for Virginia farmers and food producers to provide agriculture products to charitable food assistance organizations. Thank you for your consideration. Leon Calin leoncalin@hotmail.com

Last Name: Malone Locality: Blacksburg

Dear Delegates, This is to ask you to support two bills that address climate change, build a resilient, sustainable local food system, revitalize rural communities, and increase food access by investing in community food and farm infrastructure and help Virginia farmers provide agricultural products to charitable food aid organizations. I am seeking your support for two bills: HB 2068 - Delegate Sam Rasoul’s bill for grants to establish a state-administered fund and grant program for community infrastructure development projects that support local food production and sustainable agriculture. For HB 2068, we ask that you consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. HB 2203 – Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s bill to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program for Virginia farmers and food producers to provide agriculture products to charitable food assistance organizations. Thank you for your consideration. Morgan Malone morganfaemalone@gmail.com Blacksburg, VA

Last Name: Whitfield Locality: Blacksburg, VA

I am a resident of Blacksburg and writing to express my support for HB 2068 and HB 2203. Support and development of local agriculture enhances food security, builds the local economy, improves nutrient content of foods available and lessens climate impact from shipping foods long distances. All of these issues are important in our rural Montgomery County. I ask that you please vote in favor of these bills. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Last Name: Ware Organization: N/a Locality: Tappahannock

As a citizen who lives in the state and on the Rappahannock river and has seen the impact of poor stewardship, I ask that the General Assembly support these bills.

HB2078 - Industrial hemp; updates laws to address the new hemp producer license.
Last Name: Troxel Locality: Lynchburg

I was not able to hop on to join the zoom mtg in time to be able to comment, but please see the email I sent you all re the administration's support of the language in this bill on monday evening as amended previously when it passed 22-0. That language is reflected in SB 1115 which passed the Senate Ag Committee 13-0 yesterday. Thank you, Mike Troxel Old VA Hemp Co Mike@oldvirginiahempco.com

Last Name: Troxel Organization: Hemp Farmer Locality: Lynchburg

Delegate Marshall's bill is one that is sorely needed for hemp farmers. As a hemp farmer, my company grew 3000 plants for CBD this past year. We laid down over 1 mile (16,000 feet) of irrigation line. There were changing parameters on regulatory agencies between VDACS and USDA as to who was and was not going to be the agency we needed to be registered with and when - even up until a week before we were harvesting. As you ccan imagine, it's almost impossible to operate in that environment. We MUST, MUST, MUST, MUST have Delegate Marshall's bill in order to protect our hemp farmers and the entire hemp industry here in Virginia. We really need the USDA license reciprocity with VDACS to mean that VA farmers will be protected if they have a USDA license. You can't really have an industry without those protections. Additionally, maintaining a separate option for VA hemp farmers solely through VDACS is also important. That would mean farmers could choose the option that was best for them - with the set of benefits and limitations that go with the option that they choose, and that choice and flexibility will be a huge boost to the industry here in Virginia - and by extension, the local economies as well. This bill dovetails beautifully with Senator Peake's bill SB 1115, and if we want Virginia's hemp industry to reach it's potential, we need this bill - with the proposed amendments by Del. Edmunds - to pass. If this bill does not pass, the tens of millions of dollars of investment already put into the hemp industry will unnecessarily be put at risk - let alone future potential investments. Thank you for supporting this bill and our nearly 2000 hemp farmers in the Commonwealth.

Last Name: Ware Organization: N/a Locality: Tappahannock

As a citizen who lives in the state and on the Rappahannock river and has seen the impact of poor stewardship, I ask that the General Assembly support these bills.

HB2083 - Wake surfing; proximity to certain structures or other persons.
Last Name: McCord Locality: Franklin County

I support passage of HB2083. The 200’ rule you are proposing could effectively close some of the smaller creeks where most of the damage is being done while still allowing this really cool sport to thrive in the majority of the lake. The originally proposed distance of 200 feet has passed at other localities across the country. 200 feet is the distance the Water Sports Industry Association reported would be ample enough for boat waves to dissipate. My goodness folks ... even the industry that spawn this sport recommends 200 feet as a safer distance. Education has been tried for several years but unfortunately the wake surfing community at SML has not been interested in voluntarily following the recommendations so it is time to make 200’ a rule and not merely a suggestion. Tempers are running high on this issue. This bill could defuse that issue before it becomes more divisive.

Last Name: Petersen Organization: Self Locality: Chesapeake (own home in Franklin county)

I am writing to ask that you oppose the poorly conceived bill attempting to virtually eliminate wake surfing at Smith Mountain Lake. I am a homeowner at SML and yes I have experienced dock damage from an inconsiderate wake surfing boater, but the vast majority of such boaters are respectful and keep a proper distance. This bill is an overreaction to a few boaters who would best be handled individually through local enforcement for unsafe boating. Denying recreation for 99% of the boaters because of the misdeeds of 1% of inconsiderate jerks is overkill and taking away people's rights of lake enjoyment. This is classic use of a canon to do what a rifle shot could do. Simply put, 200 feet either side of a boat would nearly restrict wake surfing to the main channel, which is even more dangerous as wake surfing boats are going maybe 10 -12 mph while other boats are cruising at much higher speeds in the main channel. Having swimmers (preparing to wake surf or falling) in the middle of the main channel is a recipe for disaster. Multiplying the number of wake surfers in limited areas will not only ruin the recreation, it will make residents' investment in wake surfing boats wasted. This bill targets one lake and one recreational sport. If this was really a safety issue the bill would address all lakes with boating. My 1 and 3 year old grandchildren spent the entire summer with me at the lake, and we live on a busy cove with a number of wake surf boaters. They never were shoved into a dock or the rocks - and enjoyed the small waves. Of course we kept a watchful eye n them all the time. This is not about safety - we have rules at the lake already that would address unsafe boating. This is about a small number of residents wanting the lake to be more of a museum than a recreational lake. There are a number of other boats that cause significant and even greater wake action - is this just the beginning of more and more regulation to the detriment of those who enjoy lake recreation and to the businesses that thrive off of such local recreation? Moreover, how is a wake boat to even know for sure they are 200 feet from any structure either side and also from any swimmer? 200 feet is simply too much and too restrictive. HB 2083 is unfair to the many residents and visitors who love lake recreation or own wake surfing boats.

Last Name: Fleming Locality: Pulaski

I oppose HB2083. As a resident of Claytor Lake with over 30 years in water sports, I consider wake surfing to be a safe sport operated at low speed enjoyed by family members of all ages. As with any activity, there are irresponsible individuals. I ask that you reject this bill and do not punish the 98% responsible boaters due to the 2% of irresponsible boaters.

Last Name: Louis Locality: Moneta

Oppose this bill.

Last Name: Troy Rech Locality: Moneta, VA

It is my understanding this bill passed through committee with little to no consideration of the public comments - written & oral. This is disappointing to hear from our elected representatives. We implore this group to consider withdrawing this bill before additional study is undertaken to truly understand the impacts. We are putting forth this new law will serve to increase the danger to the entire boating community on Smith Mountain Lake in order to satiate the nimby attitude of a small group of homeowners. Pushing the slow moving wakesurfing boats to the main channels of the lake is a decision that will result in dangerous conditions occuring as boats traveling at a higher rate of speed (11 mph or faster) overtake these boats and their vulnerable surfers. Please study this further rather than hastily pass legislation in this session - we ask that simple request.

Last Name: Beamer Locality: Salem

Not against this as long as everyone is respectful of others we can all enjoy the lake together. My comment above was just experiences we have had but if we all respect property and those around us on the lake we can all enjoy these beautiful lakes together.

Last Name: Wilson Locality: Moneta, Franklin County

I am against this bill as it would significantly reduce the ability to use my wake surf boat which I have a significant amount of money invested in. My wife and I are retired and wake surfing is one of our principle recreational activities. We responsibly drive our boat where and when our surf wake will not impact others. Many other types of boats create large wakes at high speeds or deep drafts. Surf boats are being single out because it is relatively new and popular but the wakes of all boats can cause damage if not driven responsibly.

Last Name: Huff Locality: Pulaski

Not only should wakeboarding near property or dock not be allowed no should fishing or duck hunting. If you only knew how many times we have had to re ulposter our boat cushions because of some one getting fish hooks caught in them and how many times I have feared for my life living directly on the water during duck hunting season when you see guns pointed within 5 feet of your water wall then maybe you would understand. None of these things I just stated above need to happening in any cove at anytime any where in Virginia period!! My children can't even swim in the water or jump off our dock we pay taxes to live on because of so many boats coming by all the time. This should have been banned years ago.

Last Name: Andrews Locality: Wirtz

I feel that wakesurfing should continue to be allowed without restrictions on lakes, such as Smith Mountain Lake. Boat owners and those that live on the lake are usually cautious and careful in regards to other’s property and swimmers. Perhaps improved education on boat rentals that intend to wakesurf would be more beneficial.

Last Name: Barbour Locality: Roanoke county/Moneta

I oppose this bill for numerous reasons mostly due to a lack of study in to whether it will make a difference at Smith mountain lake, we shouldn't make policies based on peoples opinions it should be based on facts and a study is needed to see if in fact the facts point to one type of activity that is causing these peoples problems that Mrs Byron spoke with and decided to write legislation for, in my opinion we don't need another law especially one aimed at only one type of boat and only one lake in the entire state. I am also not happy that the author of this bill tried to sneak this in quietly last week without talking to anyone who might be opposed to this dangerous bill, safety is the other reason I am against this bill, you can read the bill and see its not safe to approve it as written, keep educating that is what is needed not Bills, Mrs Byron Please do a study and determine facts before you attempt to legislate, do not take what most that I know think are ridiculous ideas blaming one type of boat and run with it on this one, it will cause more issues than you have heard about so far and way worse issues since the legislation the way its written can actually get someone really hurt or possibly killed and you could actually end up with blood on your hands and no-one wants that. one type of boat is not the issue. do a study first, educate! not legislate!

Last Name: Meddock Organization: WSIA Locality: Florida

Want to talk to the science of wave energy

Last Name: Jones Locality: HARDY

I have lived on SML for over 30 years. My family are avid boaters, skiers, wakeboarders, and wake surfers. As lake front property owners, we understand the issues associated with wake surfing and we have addressed those concerns with our friends and family through education. We always take our surfing and wakeboarding to the main channel to reduce issues with large wakes. There needs to be more education about wake surf wakes and where and when it is appropriate to surf rather than legislation. With your proposed legislation, you will eliminate the sport for most that can only get to the lake on weekends as the 200 ft rule from boats and people would be nearly impossible with the amount of traffic on weekends. This legislation targets a single class of boat owner that is unfair considering the size of some of the larger boats on the lake that create just as large or even larger wakes as a wake surf boat. I propose that education for boaters the better solution vs legislation. SML is a beautiful lake that people come from all areas of the country to enjoy. Their experience on the lake is a big part of the economy for the lake and this legislation will only hurt that economy by driving away wake surfers.

Last Name: Meddock Organization: WSIA Locality: ORLANDO

Would like to speak to the science behind wave energy.

Last Name: Ford Locality: Dublin

I DO NOT agree with this bill. People need to just maintain courtesy while on the lakes. My family enjoys the sport. It is no different than any other sport that people may enjoy. I cannot help that my kids chose to wake surf instead of a different water sport. We should not be singled out just because of the things we like doing.

Last Name: McGuire Locality: Pulaski

As a veteran with over 10 years service in the Marine Corps, it would be nice to see the ones that need it the most compensated for their service. I honestly think that if you are over 50 percent it should be free for your lifetime. We are the Purple Heart state for a reason. In regulates to the wakesurfing there are a few things that need considered. I agree with a specified distance from docks being a homeowner myself on a lake with a lot of traffic. However, establishing a distance that I have never seen enforced does nothing. If we push all the surf boats to the main channels what are we going to do to accommodate the people that are sailing or pleasure riding? In my opinion it will cause an unsafe situation on the main lake. There is also a concern with all the tournaments that go on and bass boats crossing 4 ft waves all day. Thanks for your time.

Last Name: Beamer Locality: Salem

We have a house on Claytor Lake for 62 years and in the last few years being on the main channel we have had trouble with wake boats doing damage to our dock and when they go by our grandkids are tossed all over the place when on floats even to the point of crashing into the dock which is very dangerous. Our pontoon when tied to the dock is tossed and land sometimes on our floating dock which could damage the toons or land on whoever is standing near by. When people and us included are riding our pontoon when one of these boats goes by it rocks it so bad that if your standing it could throw you off or on top of something or someone and we have had large amounts of water come on our pontoon which scares the grandkids like we are sinking. Please listen to Claytor Lake home owners when they say we have a real problem and consider looking into this for us. Thank you very much for your help! Valerie Beamer

Last Name: Greer Locality: Roanoke

In response to proposed HB2083. We live in an area of VA where we are fortunate enough to be able to enjoy Smith Mountain Lake. An incredibly beautiful lake that I have been able to enjoy my whole life. I was sickened to read about this proposed bill. Always some new restriction coming down the pipe to destroy fun. What this bill would mean for me and my family is that we would no longer be able to surf in a perfectly large cove where it is safe and away from the heavy boat traffic that is in the main channel. I know a lot of homeowners do not like surf boats but ARE they also negative towards other boats that come into "their" cove and do 360's? Are they against a beautiful cabin cruiser coming into "their" cove going faster than 20? Come on! You are singling out one type of boater and ALL the people I know that own these boats know lake ETIQUETTE because most own lake front property on this lake. If this bill passes I will no longer surf SML on a weekend nor allow my 13 yo daughter to. That in part means I will spend most of my time on the lake during the week only which in part means my money will not be supporting local businesses on the weekend when we come down and stay for a longer period. If this bill passes watch out cabin cruiser boaters and runabout owners. You will be targeted next because your "WAKE" is too large. What's next "lake" signs that state only this type of boat can go into this cove , you can not exceed this speed, red lights and a notification when the lake has the maximum on the water on a certain day? I guess to make the ones that proposed this bill happy I should go out and buy my dinghy now. Amazing that their are so many out there that want to take away any fun that others may be having. Ridiculous.

Last Name: McClure Locality: MONETA

I am writing today in objection to this bill as it presents major safety concerns . This bill would effectively force people to participate in this sport in the most dangerous and high traffic areas of the lake. It would be wholly irresponsible to place such a high regulation on the sport and would result in a much more dangerous environment for all boaters as it would force people out of protected coves and into much rougher water where other boaters travel at high speeds and are not looking for people in the water. If any of you have been to Smith Mountain Lake, I would like you to imagine teaching a 6 year old how to surf in the main channel. There are fishing boats and speed boats racing around as well as 40 foot cabin cruisers and jet skis. the 6 yr old falls and is now in the middle of the lake that is 175 feet deep in water that is at times as rough as the ocean with other boats going past and the driver of the surfer's boat frantically trying to get back to the child. This is surely a recipe for disaster. To blame wake surfing solely for damage done to docks is simply absurd as well. I live in possibly the most popular cove for surfing and have not had to fix my dock to surfers. There are hundreds of boats that go by our dock every weekend to single out the small percentage of wake boats as the issue is the easy thing to do but not based in truth as all boats create wakes. The even bigger issue we have faced with shore erosion and dock damage this year has been the multiple floods and debris fields. This is a classic case if the squeaky wheel gets the grease. You have heard from the few people who have taken issue with people enjoying this activity but have not heard from the thousands of people who enjoy and participate in this sport at Smith Mountain Lake each year. If you actually took the time to go out and talk to people who live at the lake you would find a majority of the people are more than happy to share the lake with all including wake surfers instead of try to have major restrictions placed on all activities they do not like.

Last Name: Tinnell Locality: Wirtz

Regarding the restrictions proposed that inhibit wakesurfing within 200’ of a persons dock I would like to comment that if this passes it will cause many more accidents that could involve personal injury or worse. The vast majority of wakesurfing is done in the smaller and less trafficked tributaries to the lake to allow the larger and faster boats to drive with much more speed than is required to wakesurf in the main channel. At an average of 12 miles per hour, any wakesurfing vessel pulling a tower will be quickly overcome and possibly followed closely by boaters that wish to go much faster on the main channel. This will cause a dangerous traffic jam with the wakesurfing children and adults themselves left vulnerable to a “busy highway” of traffic, lest they fall and much worse could happen. It would be similar to suggesting that a bicyclist pedal on the interstate versus the smaller roads. It is our wish as long-standing lake residents with a dock of our own that this bill not pass.

Last Name: Hayes Locality: Pulaski

Agree that some regulations are needed, but this bill would kill the sport in the majority of Va lakes. This cannot pass as is.

Last Name: Thomas Locality: Franklin

I oppose this bill. My name is Jeff Thomas and my family and friends enjoy all kinds of activities on SML, one being wake surfing. ALL my friends and family I have on the lake, NEVER put property or any person in danger. This is the slowest most controlled sports there is. This change would limit hundreds of people living in long stretches of the lake that are not 400+ feet wide. You do realize that is TWO Boeing 777 aircraft’s, end to end? This is ridiculous. This would push boats out into the middle of the lake. Think of like this; would you go 10mph in the fast lane of the Interstate? People will get hurt! Please reconsider your thoughts on this subject.

Last Name: Warden III Locality: Dublin

Sirs and Madam, I would like to submit my opposition to the above HB2083. I understand those few that are for it and their reasoning. However, those who are proposing this Bill, are for the most part, people who do not understand or enjoy the sport. I’m sure there are a select few “Wake Surfers” that are not considerate of others who may be near by, but I truly believe that the majority of these Boat Owners, there Drivers and Surfers are very considerate of others in or on the lakes of our Commonwealth. I am a tax paying, waterfront land owner in Pulaski County (Claytor Lake) and I have no problem with these Boats and their Surfers. I think if this is regulated, it will be the first step in regulating ALL water sports on our lakes and water ways. In my Twenty Plus years living on this lake and over 45 years enjoying it, the biggest threat I see are Personal Water Craft (a.k.a. Jet skis) although I do think the mandatory Safe Boating Class being required has helped. But I ask you to reconsider and NOT pass this bill. Thank you for your time.

Last Name: Winzeler Locality: Moneta Franklin County

As a resident of Smith Mountain Lake I wish to say that I am opposed to changing any laws regarding wake surfing. It is a safe recreational sport done at a very low speed, unlike tubing or jet skiing where drivers zigzag all over creating crazy wakes and from what I see out my window on the main channel, often cutting other boats off. SAY YES TO WAKE SURFING! Do not change any laws about surfing on Smith Mountain Lake. Thank you for reading my comment. Respectfully, R. Winzeler

Last Name: Wagner Locality: Huddleston

I oppose this bill! I have lived on this lake for over 20 years. I raised my children here and have encouraged them to take part in water sports . I also build lake houses and docks on this lake. It’s has been my experience that when a shore line is protected with properly installed rip rap ( required by the counties surrounding the lake when you build) and a dock built to the current building codes . Suffer very little damage from wake conscious people that enjoy Wakesurfing. I have found 99% of people that participate in Wake sports are aware and respectful of what their sports bring. They are the safest boaters on the lake and teach their children to be responsible and safe as well. The last thing I would tell my children to do is to conduct any water sports in the main channels of this or any lake. I have personally picked up two little girls floating in the main channel mid summer. They fell off a tube and in the time it took for their boat driver to turn around to come pick them up they were in severe danger. They were invisible in the swells created by the boat traffic in the main channel. I believe an educational approach to address the few that are not being responsible for their wakes would be the best coarse of action. Let’s not punish the majority for the actions of a few. I would be very interested in being a part of finding a solution to this problem.

Last Name: Helsley Locality: Shenandoah

Having rules an guidelines in place and enforcing them will make a huge difference in my opinion if people are worried about “waves”. I see wake surfing as one of the safest water sports to participate in for all ages. Putting a stop to this will not only hurt the people that surf but the local business around. The sport is becoming very popular which brings in tons of tourist. Myself, friends an family all have a blast doing it. One of best places to learn is in a quiet cove not in the middle of the lake with high traffic volume. Even for someone that’s experienced with surfing it’s no fun to surf with choppy waves. Hoping for summer full of surfing!

Last Name: Angle Locality: Roanoke

We oppose this bill as there has never been an extensive study conducted on Smith Mountain Lake that suggests that wake surfing ALONE is detrimental to property located along the shores. How can this bill even be considered without one? There are so many factors contributing to erosion along the shores of SML that have to be taken into consideration before blaming it on wakesurfing boats alone such as; rainfall, yard slope, vegetative cover, driveway runoff, roof drainage, rip rap condition, frequency of lake flooding, etc. These factors are unique for everyone’s property so it is up to them to try and protect their property from the elements. The unwarranted regulation of wakesurfers without a study to even see if they are a contributing factor is absurd. We would find that every single wave that is produced either by strong winds or any type of motor boat is a contributing factor so if the goal is to stop contributing to erosion along the shores then we would need to ban all boats from operating at speeds over idle not just wake surfers because that is not justified. Every property owner is responsible for maintaining their docks. Yes, routine maintenance and dock repairs have to be done every so often. That is part of the privilege and responsibility of being a owner on Smith Mountain Lake. How can anyone solely blame wakesurfers for the maintenance and repairs required on a dock at SML? Wood rots over time just like the wood on a house deck. Docks are unique in that they are always on water. That means they rot faster. Yes, waves cause floating docks to flex which is why they have to be built in order to withstand the abuses they will undergo. If a dock was built 10-20-30 years ago it may need to be repaired, reinforced or even rebuilt and that is part of being on the lake. Regulation of wakesurfers isn’t going to change this fact whatsoever as there are always going to be waves from any vessel operating over idle speeds. The issue or scare of having to get your kids out of the water because of wakesurfer wakes is nonsense. When you are swimming around your boat you tell your kids to stay away from the back of the boat when waves come by. The same is said for swimming around structures, stay away from them when any waves come by. You always have to be vigilant on the water. Regulating wakesurfers isn’t going to change that. There will always be motor boats coming by and they all produce waves that can be dangerous if you are right next to a dock. Forcing wakesurfers to the congested main channels would be a life threatening result. I ask all those in favor of this bill to reconsider and turn down this bill and conduct an extensive study in order to determine what is really contributing to the damage of properties and consider whether this bill will actually decrease safety concerns of the lives of lake goers or whether it increases the likelihood of a death occurring in the main channel. Increasing education of boating etiquette and proper construction and maintenance of docks and shorelines are the steps that need to be taken to resolve this issue. Laying down regulations for wake surfing is not the answer. The lake should be a sanctuary for all. -Brian Angle

Last Name: Semones Locality: Shenandoah

I oppose this bill

Last Name: Kulis Locality: Fairfax

This bill appears to be pointing a finger at the most visible offender that could be causing shore erosion instead of all the possible contributing factors. Has a study been conducted on lakes linking excessive shore erosion solely to wake surfing? Climate change has brought more frequent and more violent rain storms to the area which has been scientifically proven to contribute to accelerated shore erosion. Additionally consider the fact that over the past year the boating market has been red hot leading to more and more people being on the water further leading to erosion/inflicting more wakes on docks. Beyond the fact this will be more dangerous to individuals in the water seeing as they would be forced into the main channels, it would also create more waves as boats would have to perform ‘power turns’ to go back to their riders to prevent them from being ran over. Language in the bill outlaws wakesurfing within 200 feet of any other person in the water. If this is for personal safety then why doesn’t it outlaw any boat from operating within 200 feet of any other person in the water instead of the slowest moving recreational water sport? Beyond the negative economical ramifications to businesses, this bill should not be passed. If shore erosion is a true concern, a study should be initiated to measure the various factors that cause it to identify the leading contributor.

Last Name: Willard Locality: Moneta

Limiting wake surfing to the main channel is unsafe for both surfers and boaters. We also have a high percentage of vacationers who aren’t as familiar with the lake and limiting wake surfing to the main channel is asking for an accident.

Last Name: Semones Locality: Edinburg

I oppose this bill.

Last Name: Ritenour Locality: Shenandoah

I oppose this bill.

Last Name: Hitt Locality: Shenandoah, Edinburg

As a avid wake surfer I would like to express the danger of wake surfing in the middle of the lake. It is dangerous for the surfer and other boaters. That is why we try to find quiet coves and also try the stay as far from docks as possible.

Last Name: Hitt Locality: Pennhook

This is a very unfair bill to single out boaters enjoying the lake. It also will promote more unsafe situations by requiring the boat and surfers to interact with fast boats in the middle of a busy lake causing much larger waves and dangerous conditions for all. The current laws on the books should be enforced first before implementing new ones.

Last Name: Dillon Locality: Moneta

As a resident of smith mountain lake and a wakeboard boat owner I strongly oppose this bill. I feel very little studies have been done to pinpoint how one group of boats/individuals has caused the issues stated. Erosion and wear/tear on docks is caused by every form of boat or activity on the lake. Forcing wakesurf boats to the main channel will cause many safety issues for other boaters along with those surfing. Education and research are important when passing such an important bill. More enforcement of the current laws will reduce the issues presented. Again, I strongly oppose this bill.

Last Name: Sherry Organization: None Locality: Penhook

Most wake surfers do this sport right in front of their own docks, therefore why would we want to be close to the docks because that would also hurt our own dock. Getting rid of or limiting wake surfing will cause a big hurting to the areas economy because many of us would move so we could continue our sport.

Last Name: Manning Locality: goodview

Good Evening, My name is Joy Manning and I am writing to you today with a concern related to the bill (HB0283) that is going to vote tomorrow 1/20/21 regarding adding a restriction to wake surfing at Smith Mountain Lake with a minimum of 200’ from a shoreline or structure. I am an 8X National and 8X World Champion amateur wakeboarder for Women over 40 and although most of my time is spent wakeboarding, my fellow wake surfers are in the same family and we use the same type of boats for our sports. I have been involved with the watersports at SML for nearly 15 years and have had close ties to many of the local watersports community. I was part of the working group several years ago when the Water Safety Council approached us with their initial concerns from the residents. Our working group included local residents and business who worked with many watersports business, national water safety groups as well as boating manufactures/representatives to develop more awareness and education to wakeboarders and wake surfers with a “Wake Responsibly” initiative and try to find compromises for everyone to enjoy the lake together at the same time. As you may or may not know, the lake is a very popular vacation destination and although we provided awareness and education to the local/full time residents, it is challenging at best to provide the same education for out of state visitors/visiting guests. I would hate to see the local community punished for visitors not knowing the rules of the water. I am not sure how much you know about the lake and/or wake surfing. The best wake surfing should be done in +20’ of water and therefore keeping the boats of the shorelines. In addition unlike wakeboarding which is best to ride in clam/flat water, wake surfing can be done when the water is choppy with boat traffic. The proposed bill unfortunately will push the surfers to the center or the lake in the widest areas of the lake, leaving the fallen rider in the middle of the lake unprotected and more exposed to a hazards. Over the many years of living on the like I have seen many different styles or boats and water enthusiast enjoying the lake. Whether it is big boats, little boats, fast boats, PWC, paddle boards, I am sure it you review the statistics of the accidents on the water, wakeboarding and wake surfing is not at the top of the list. I have seen some boats traveling at low rates of speed creating a much larger wake then a wake boat and boat traveling at very high rates of speeds resulting in serious injury/death and we do not target them with restrictions. Particular at this time in the world we are living we should be working together and not be singling out one sport or one use group, to address safety concerns as a whole on the lake. It would be great if there could be more compromises rather 100% restrictions. There must be options open to discuss certain times during the weekend that surfing should be done in certain areas and that way the local community can still use and love the lake we live at. Thank you for your time and feel free to call me if you have any questions or would like to discuss this matter further. Joy Manning 540-425-4714

Last Name: Mccreary Locality: Moneta

banishing wake activities to crowded main lake channels with this senseless legislation is not a good idea.

Last Name: Sampson Locality: Franklin County

It’s not safe to wake surf in the traffic of the main channel! Why is this law targeting the surfer and not the wake size? So I can drive my yacht, or plow through the water bow high 51 feet from a dock but can’t let my kid surf without ballast 199’ from shore?! If a rule is necessary, it should apply to wake size regardless of whether or not a person is riding the wake. There is already a law that you are responsible for your wake—why is another necessary?

Last Name: Warden Locality: Franklin County

I’m a homeowner on Smith Mountain Lake. I don’t support this bill because it will only lead to further congestion of the main body and create a dangerous surf environment. Anyone who’s ever been to SML knows it’s not safe to surf, ski, or wakeboard on the main channel. Please do not ruin my family time with my kids by creating laws that will make it unsafe for them to participate in this awesome family sport. I do support the enforcement of the current laws. There are so many other boats on this lake that throw big wakes, you can’t single out wakeboard boats. Enforce the current laws and let everyone enjoy this beautiful lake. We all need it, now more than ever. -the Warden Family Wirtz, Va

Last Name: Bergstrom Locality: Floyd County

I do agree that one should practice caution when wake surfing, this Bill will push all wake surfers into the main channels of lakes which is very dangerous. Action is needed to preserve our shorelines. However 200' is too great of a distance to be safe as we enjoy our water areas.

Last Name: Bergstrom Locality: Floyd County

I do agree that one should practice caution when wake surfing, this Bill will push all wake surfers into the main channels of lakes which is very dangerous. Action is needed to preserve our shorelines. However 200' is too great of a distance to be safe as we enjoy our water areas.

Last Name: Brooks Locality: Franklin County

We oppose this bill as being unnecessarily restrictive on Smith Mountain Lake and unduly targeting a very narrow group of recreational boaters. Additionally, we believe this legislation will result in an unfortunate rise in boating accidents involving all age groups but especially children. The wakesurfing community will be forced into the main channels / open waters of Smith Mountain Lake. These wider sections of the lake are dominated by larger, less maneuverable craft, more volumes of inexperienced & experienced boaters especially on weekends, and personal watercraft/fishing boats operating at high rates of speed. We ask the committee to reconsider passing this bill until a professional study of wave activity can be completed on Smith Mountain Lake to determine all of the underlying factors causing the reported damage to shorelines and fixed structures. We reject the premise put forth that wakesurfing alone resulted in $48,000 dollars of damage to a correctly constructed dock structure. We also ask said study includes the effects of the increased boat traffic and resulting wave traffic on Smith Mountain Lake year over year due to the current pandemic and create a forecast of future traffic to use in crafting underlying policy/legislation. Current legislation puts the onus of structural damage to a dock or shoreline on the boat operator, includes a 50' distance from all lake structures, and a myriad of safe boating regulations that are more than adequate in addressing the current growth in popularity. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Thornton Locality: Franklin county

We oppose this bill as being unnecessarily restrictive on Smith Mountain Lake and unduly targeting a very narrow group of recreational boaters. Additionally, we believe this legislation will result in an unfortunate rise in boating accidents involving all age groups but especially children.  The wakesurfing community will be forced into the main channels / open waters of Smith Mountain Lake. These wider sections of the lake are dominated by larger, less maneuverable craft, more volumes of inexperienced & experienced boaters especially on weekends, and personal watercraft/fishing boats operating at high rates of speed.   We ask the committee to reconsider passing this bill until a professional study of wave activity can be completed on Smith Mountain Lake to determine all of the underlying factors causing the reported damage to shorelines and fixed structures.  We reject the premise put forth that wakesurfing alone resulted in $48,000 dollars of damage to a correctly constructed dock structure. We also ask said study includes the effects of the increased boat traffic and resulting wave traffic on Smith Mountain Lake year over year due to the current pandemic and create a forecast of future traffic to use in crafting underlying policy/legislation. Current legislation puts the onus of structural damage to a dock or shoreline on the boat operator, includes a 50' distance from all lake structures, and a myriad of safe boating regulations that are more than adequate in addressing the current growth in popularity. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Lovette Locality: Bedord

We oppose this bill as being unnecessarily restrictive on Smith Mountain Lake and unduly targeting a very narrow group of recreational boaters. Additionally, we believe this legislation will result in an unfortunate rise in boating accidents involving all age groups but especially children. The wakesurfing community will be forced into the main channels / open waters of Smith Mountain Lake. These wider sections of the lake are dominated by larger, less maneuverable craft, more volumes of inexperienced & experienced boaters especially on weekends, and personal watercraft/fishing boats operating at high rates of speed. We ask the committee to reconsider passing this bill until a professional study of wave activity can be completed on Smith Mountain Lake to determine all of the underlying factors causing the reported damage to shorelines and fixed structures. We reject the premise put forth that wakesurfing alone resulted in $48,000 dollars of damage to a correctly constructed dock structure. We also ask said study includes the effects of the increased boat traffic and resulting wave traffic on Smith Mountain Lake year over year due to the current pandemic and create a forecast of future traffic to use in crafting underlying policy/legislation. Current legislation puts the onus of structural damage to a dock or shoreline on the boat operator, includes a 50' distance from all lake structures, and a myriad of safe boating regulations that are more than adequate in addressing the current growth in popularity. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Matherly Locality: Sandy Level

We oppose this bill as being unnecessarily restrictive on Smith Mountain Lake and unduly targeting a very narrow group of recreational boaters. Additionally, we believe this legislation will result in an unfortunate rise in boating accidents involving all age groups but especially children. The wakesurfing community will be forced into the main channels / open waters of Smith Mountain Lake. These wider sections of the lake are dominated by larger, less maneuverable craft, more volumes of inexperienced & experienced boaters especially on weekends, and personal watercraft/fishing boats operating at high rates of speed. We ask the committee to reconsider passing this bill until a professional study of wave activity can be completed on Smith Mountain Lake to determine all of the underlying factors causing the reported damage to shorelines and fixed structures. We reject the premise put forth that wakesurfing alone resulted in $48,000 dollars of damage to a correctly constructed dock structure. We also ask said study includes the effects of the increased boat traffic and resulting wave traffic on Smith Mountain Lake year over year due to the current pandemic and create a forecast of future traffic to use in crafting underlying policy/legislation. Current legislation puts the onus of structural damage to a dock or shoreline on the boat operator, includes a 50' distance from all lake structures, and a myriad of safe boating regulations that are more than adequate in addressing the current growth in popularity. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Jones Locality: Moneta

Please support this bill. As a homeowner on Smith Mountain Lake, we see first the safety issues caused by these overly large wakes. Most wake surfers we see already adhere to these guidelines, and 200' gives them plenty of room to enjoy their sport, while protecting the swimmers, kayakers, and paddle boarders who also want to enjoy the lake. This bill offers a reasonable compromise.

Last Name: Failla Locality: Fincastle

The dock and erosion problems around the lake can not be pin pointed to the wake of a boat or more specifically of just the wakeboard boats. The problem also happens when they allow the lake to be over filled multiple times a year. We who use the lake for water sports go out to be as safe as possible by not being in open water in the middle of the main channel to make sure our rider stays safe.

Last Name: Vidovich Locality: Moneta

As full time residents and homeowners at Smith Mountain Lake, we are opposed to the proposed legislation as it targets one segment of the boating community and applies only to Smith Mountain Lake. As written, the proposed bill would force wake surfers into the main channels resulting in more harm, danger and obstacles. This is not the solution for keeping our lake safe for all those who enjoy it. A study should be conducted to fully understand the impact of wake surfing and how it affects wave activity as compared to other pursuits such as wakeboarding, waterskiing, tubing and general boating. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Bagwell Organization: My entire family Locality: Huddleston

Good afternoon. I apologize for not giving my remarks virtually, but I am unable to be in attendance. I not only urge you to listen to my reservations of the bill, but I beg you to hear me. A family friend of mine contacted me about the bill and quite frankly I am outraged. The biggest concern that should stop this bill immediately is safety. I have witnessed on this lake countless occurrences of boaters driving too close behind riders, especially surfers since they are harder to see. This is deadly. You do not know fear until you are watching your cousin surf with no rope or lifeline and a boater coming right up behind him able to kill him with one false move at any second. This is dramatically different when surfing in creeks and less congested areas of the lake for the safety of everyone on the lake. I beg you to consider which circumstances you would like to see your child enjoying a sport he/she loves. You can choose either main lake which is chaotic enough without surfers or creeks where there is fewer traffic and fewer dangers. Another big part of this debate is traffic in general. With surf boats more prevalent on the lake this will undoubtedly result in more congestion on the lake and more risk of boating accidents. This is not about surfing, that is not going anywhere anytime soon, this is about the safety of the riders. With too much congestion on the lake, I am personally willing to bet you each that if this bill shall pass, a rider WILL be killed in summer 2021. I guarantee you it will happen so please vote consciously for children, teens, and adults of Smith Mountain Lake.

Last Name: Morris Locality: Christiansburg

It will cause congestion to the main part of the lake

Last Name: Jackson Locality: Montgomery County

Wake surfing is a completely safe and positive sport when done in a correct manner. From my experience more dangers occurred in the main body of the lake. My father was almost run over by a jet ski in the main body of the lake as the jet ski was jumping our boats waves. This change would in turn promote more dangerous habits and result in greater injury.

Last Name: Machac Locality: Union Hall

I strongly oppose this bill for reasons formerly stated, “this bill unfairly singles out one segment of the recreational boating population on the lake.” I have been a resident of SML for over 40 years. My husband and I were among some of the early adopters of wakeboarding and wake surfing. Over the years, we have supported numerous wakeboarding and surfing events at the lake. In recent years, we’ve experienced the great joy of teaching our daughter and her friends to wake board and wake surf. These activities get them off their phones and on the lake, exercising! You are targeting a specific audience versus identifying the root cause of the problem, which is irresponsible boating. The issues are not isolated to people who own wakeboard boats. Your stated issues could apply to anyone who operates a boat at a slow speed in close proximity to a dock (tubers, fisherman, skiers, owners of large cabin cruisers). To single out one audience, wake surfers, is biased and unfair. Bills like this will encourage life long residents such as ourselves to sell our residence on SML and look for a new lake in a different state. We’ll be taking our expensive wakeboard boat, for which the county charges a premium for personal property tax, with us.

Last Name: Girouard Locality: Stafford

Just here to oppose you wake surfing bill. Different boats put out different size wakes. People wake surf all sizes of wakes. How can you classify them all the same. Just because we are wake surfing doesn’t mean my wave is bigger then a passing by boat. Why would you want to force me to take my children out into the main channel people use to navigate the lake and now having me constantly making turns to go back and pick up a fallen rider? That would be like trying to skateboard on a major interstate. Doesn’t make much sense. Hope you take time to educate yourself on the activity before making decisions.

Last Name: Jackson Locality: Radford

I live on Claytor Lake and do not believe there is a problem that requires a law to prohibit / restrict boaters. I feel that the overwhelming majority of boaters across the board respect property owners. We also have a great team of people from the state park and game wardens.

Last Name: Garrett Locality: Dublin

I am completely against this bill. This will further push more traffic into main bodies on all lakes leaving those that do enjoy the sport to only partake in it in highly congested/trafficked areas. This is very unsafe not only for the people who are actually surfing, but also for those in the boat that has to stop and turn around to pick a rider up when they fall, as well as other boaters who may have trouble seeing the downed rider or the other boat turning around. FYI, I own waterfront property on such a lake so I do understand the concerns from those who own or enjoy the shoreline. However I feel the best course of action is to further educate boaters safety and etiquette. More research and discussion definitely needs to take place before such a bill is passed.

Last Name: McClure Locality: Moneta

My name is Rachel McClure. I live directly on Smith Mountain Lake and our house has a dock that is daily hit by waves from every type of boat. I have never seen any dock damaged as a result of a boat, regardless of size or type. It appears to me that this bill is being passed because of an isolated incident that probably has nothing to do with a wakeboard boat. After reading the proposed bill, there are many things about it that do not make any sense. By requiring wakeboard boats to be 200 feet from the shoreline, you’re basically asking for more accidents to happen. It doesn’t seem like the people voting on the bill are very familiar with lake, especially the main channel that they are encouraging the wake boats to move to. The main channel, specifically on the weekends, is incredibly dangerous for any tow sports. Tubing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, wake surfing, etc. are all very unsafe to do in the main channel or wider areas of the lake. Those area are very busy with boat traffic. Visitors are allowed to rent boats and jet skis with zero experience and whip around the lake however they please. Now, imagine you own a boat designed for wakesurfing and you decide to take your child out on the lake to learn how to get up behind the boat. Imagine you work a 9-5 job and can only do this on the weekends. You finally have some time to go out to teach your child how to do this and your only option is now to go out to the dead center of the lake, surrounded by dozens of boats driven by renters and unexperienced drivers. What happens when the child falls? What happens if someone doesn’t see the child fall before its too late? We all know what the result would be. Now, imagine you have literally any other boat that isn’t specifically designed for wakesurfing. You’re allowed to teach your children to waterski ski or tube safely in a more isolated part of the lake? Also, by taking away the ability to wakesurf on the lake, you will be negatively impacting the economy of the lake. The boat dealerships that sell wakeboard boats will be hurt. The shops on the lake that sell wakesurf boards will be hurt. The places that hire summer employees to work there and to give wakesurf lessons will be hurt. Last year was rough on enough people, so why are you trying to cause more negative impacts in our area? In addition to all that, there is absolutely no way that anyone could put sole blame on wakeboard boats. The lake has hundreds of large yachts and cabin cruisers that put out wakes larger than that in the wakeboard boats in question. There are also pontoon boats, deck boats, fishing boats, jet skis, and many many other boats that combine to make nonstop wakes during the summer. You cannot blame one specific style of boat. This year, the lake experienced three pretty intense floods that caused water to go above and stay over most docks for several days. These floods caused damage to docks. These floods are more responsible for damaging shorelines and property than any boats I have ever seen. I would strongly encourage you to do more research before passing this bill. Thank you, Rachel McClure

Last Name: Ramsberger Locality: Franklin county

I adamantly oppose hb2083. Being a Smith mountain lake resident and business owner for over 15 years I have seen the positive financial impact water sports which includes the rising popularity of wake surfing has brought to the lake. Wake surfing is a true family sport that all ages can enjoy. Smith mountain lake is very popular with young professionals who came to this lake to enjoy sports such as wake surfing. The economic impact is immeasurable. Banning such sports will drive them away. As a property owner who purchased property on the lake knowing how busy the lake is I feel it is my responsibility to build my dock and other structures to withstand the wakes. Wake surfing has an entire industry built around the sport. Effectively banning it would destroy this.

Last Name: Carey Locality: Franklin County

Respectfully, I oppose HB 2083. My property is at the point of one of the coves in question. I never witnessed or experienced any of the allegations asserted. I have never witnessed a safety issue for swimmers. I have children and have never feared their safety. I have not experienced any shoreline damage that could be attributed solely to these boats. I would argue that the cabin cruisers and cigar boats going 100 miles (literally the speed they travel) an hour should be regulated before these boats. Either way, people of invested 100’s of thousands of dollars in these boats and to implement restrictions such as these with no study seems to be not responsible. I would also argue that a number of property owners that are arguing for this bill don’t have docks that are compliant with AEP’s shore line management nor is their shore line properly maintained with rip rap. In addition, these people also have beaches which are no longer permitted by AEP. If these individuals maintained their property consistent with AEP requirement, this bill would not be necessary. I should not be penalized because I have invested properly in my property which is compliant. Respectfully, I request that this bill not be enacted. I request that a study be conducted regarding boat traffic, the affects of the pandemic and the affects of wake surfing on the shore line. I appreciate your consideration in delaying enacting this very harmful bill. I make this request as a land owner at Smith Mountain Lake. I make this request as an owner of property that is has been impacted by massive flooding this year as well as one that experiences the affects of ALL types of boats on his shoreline.

Last Name: mai Locality: Franklin

Ms. Kathy Byron, We are the Mais family and just literally closed less than an hour ago on a property at SML. We joined the SML FB community and shocked to learn about HB 2083 being introduced without much fact-finding. The only reason we invested in this property and wonderful place is so we can use our boat and new home for recreational uses and enjoying the Vistas. The arguments against a small, targeted type of boat owners is completely unfounded and wrong. Like everything, including guns.. it's how and when we use these tools. We have been boaters for 20+ years and our children enjoy water sports of all kind including wakesurfing at Lake Anna Virginia without a single incident or complaints. Some facts to bring forward. 1. Wakeboard boats are for the most part same as any other boats but with a tower and balast bags to add weight, thus producing a larger wave. But we ONLY do this when we arrive to a location suitable for surfing . While in transit we "dump" the blasts or not fill it until we get to the designated area. Thus the boat creates no larger wakes than any other boats of the same size. 2. Wakesurf boats do not go near shore as claimed, waves cannot form well in those conditions near shore. 3. By design and characteristics of wave shaping and hydro dynamics, the optimum speed for surfing is only 10.5-10.7 MPH! that's it. So claims of people speeding is outrageously false. 4. If anything, by being slower on the lake with a rider in the back and forced out to open water will inevitably pose a very dangerous situation for riders. Especially with high volume of fast running boats in the main channels. Imagine pulling little ones on tubes at 10MP on a busy channel and not being able to use the safer lanes for pulling them. It's the same concept. I see significant risks and lawsuits 5. There are 40+ foot boats, barges, and commercial boats on the water that's causing much more damages and safety hazards. Those types of boats should be addressed first if we are concerned about dock damages? 6. Personally, it all comes down to the captain and personal responsibilities and common sense + etiquette like all the boats on the lake. Please consider not punishing these boats or the families but rather treat them as equal like the rest of the vehicles on the water. Sincerely, The Mais family Lakeside Farms, Wirtz, VA

Last Name: Swart Locality: Altavista

Urge passage of this bill. Wake boats are a menace to property , other boaters and cause shoreline erosion. Surf boards are appropriate on the ocean, not an inland lake.

Last Name: Toth Locality: Wirtz

Hi I'm writing to express my huge concern over the bill regarding wake surfing, specifically at Smith Mountain Lake Virginia. I live here full time and the main reason we left Northern Virginia to live down here was the lake. We participate in many water sports with our young children including wake surfing and I can tell you wake surfers do the least amount of damage to people's property compared to other water sports (ie tubing and fishermen). In order to to the sport you have to be going 9-11 mph otherwise it won't work. I don't see how damage would be done to anyones property going that speed. Especially when people already illegally place red buoys in the water that they think are 50 feet from their dock but are in fact more like 100-150 feet from their dock. I live here all year and I see damage done from tubers going a million miles an hour and doing circles creating much larger wakes than anyone else, zig zagging and endangering everyone, from AEP not controlling the water as they should or storms, and fishermen who leave hooks in my boat seats, dock, and pop $300 plus dollar multiperson floats in one weekend. Additionally they fish right next to my dock but then threaten to shoot my dog when she is barking at him and leave hooks on my shoreline that thankfully my child hasn't stepped on yet but my dog has and it resulted in a trip to the vet. I'm not mentioning these things to complain but I see it as part of living here. I chose to live on the lake and like anywhere there are down sides. I think if this bill is approved it will be a slippery slope. The majority of people here want to live here because it's a laid back fun lifestyle and a great place to raise kids. There is a small group of retirees who like to complain about literally everything here and wake surfers are just the first target. If it were up to them I'm sure everything would be outlawed and no one would ever be able to disturb the water. The whole point is to share the lake and I believe some people think they own it. I know if this passes we will probably move to Charlotte because my 5 year old loves surfing with her whole heart and it's the first water sport she was able to do since she could ride with us and it's done at such a slow speed. I believe others will follow which will hurt the economy here in an area that is just starting to recover from the market crash several years ago. I also own a business here and I know it will hurt me on that side as well because alot of people own a second house and vacation here for the watersports. There are also wake boat suppliers here that would get crushed if this bill passes destroying our small job market. Please don't let this bill pass. It will be devastating on many different levels and would just be the beginning of many more regulations from a group of people that are bitter and unhappy. If you have any questions about living here full time or wake surfing please let me know I'd be happy to answer them. Thanks for your time. Kristen Toth 703-403-0168

Last Name: Lawson Locality: Wirtz

I am writing to oppose this bill as it will do more harm to the SML community than benefit. This bill would unfairly single out one segment of the recreational boating population on the lake. There are many boaters who don't take others into consideration and operate to closely to docks and swimmers. We are lake front property owners and routinely have boats come inside of 40 feet of our dock and in one instance had a PWC hit our dock. Large center console fishing boats and cuddy cabin cruisers throw wakes just as large as wake surf boats. Restricting wake surfing to 200’ of docks will result in everyone wake surfing in the middle of the main channel. This will create congestion, and a safety issue as you concentrate a large number of boaters into one area. I own property at SML and a wakeboard boat. This group contributes significantly to the local economy, spending 150-200k on their boats and supporting local business through fuel, services, equipment, dining etc. Wake surfing is a safe and growing sport on the lake. I ask that you not single out one recreational boating segment when other boats cause many of the same issues.

Last Name: Greer Organization: Myself and other individuals who wake surf Locality: Roanoke City

I am writing today to ask you to withdraw House Bill 2083 and will provide my justification. My greatest concern is the consequences of Bill 2083 being implemented has to do with overall boater safety. Smith mountain lake is fed by primarily three bodies of water with short coves off the main body of water. Unfortunately, these rivers can be narrow the further away from the damn you travel. Under Bill 2083 while surfing, boats will have to travel closer down the middle of the narrower bodies of water, this sounds like a win for everyone. But if a boat is anchored anywhere along that body of water with swimmers in the water, the Surf boat would have to come off plain to avoid breaking the 200’ rule. Now this could effectively close the narrower water ways because they are not 400’ across with other boats and swimmers present. This would push surfing to the main channel. You might wonder why Surfers stay off the larger and busier sections off the lake. There are one primary reasons and let me explain. Surfing is done at speeds between 10-12mph. On the main channel speeds are from 20-55mph+. One question I hear is why do surfers stay closer to shore than other boats? The reason is we are following basic boating etiquette, it has nothing to do with improving the size of the wake. Boats when traveling in the same direction follow basic traffic rules. Slower traffic stays to the right allowing faster boats to pass more to the center of the lake. This is for the safety of the surfers and for other boats on the lake. Smith Mountains Lake is very busy and can get very crowded on the weekends along the main areas of the lake. Now if surfers have to move 200’ from shore, this would be equivalent to a vehicle going 40mph on interstate 64 or 95 with 4-5 lanes of traffic. This would put all boats at risk, especially the surfer when they fall and the boat has to turn around and pick them up. Now you would have boats traveling in the wrong direction on a busy body of water. Another consequence with Surf boats being further away from shore, is it would have a negative result in faster boats being forced to pass on the right side closer to shore. It appears to me that this Bill is to address a problem of inconsiderate boaters who don’t follow basic boater etiquette. This bill might help a few property owners but at what cost. I’ve been surfing for almost 10yrs and its irresponsible boaters that are the cause of this problem. It’s not unreasonable to see how someone could get severely injured or killed with the implementation of this bill. The pushing of very slow-moving boats onto an already busy body of water with much faster traffic is a recipe for disaster. We wouldn’t legislate someone drive a moped in the middle of interstate 581. We shouldn’t do the same with boats There has got to be a better way. Thank you for your time and consideration Jereme Greer

Last Name: Ferguson Locality: Shenandoah County

I am in opposition of HB 2083. - a 200ft minimum Law forces Wake Surfing out to the main channel where a lot of inexperienced boaters are (much more dangerous!) These inexperienced boaters now have to deal with all the boat traffic in a main channel and also dodging fallen surfers. - Determent of tourist to the lake hurting the tourism industry that is already hurting because of the COVID-19 pandemic - Potential tax loss from citizens and boat dealers deterring people from buying wake surf boats that are not cheap! - NOTE: A 50ft law already exist, just needs to be enforced. Janet Ferguson. 540 984 8777. Edinburg, VA 22824

Last Name: Warden Locality: Franklin county

I encourage that this bill not be passed. My family enjoys water sports on Smith mountain lake. We have lives here for over 20 years. We own a lot and house on the lake. We bought the lot and built the house because it was located in a creek that we enjoy. I built my dock and shoreline to withstand wakes from boats. This is a public lake and Its my responsibility to build a structure that will with stand boat wakes. If this rule passes it will eliminate about 5 miles of creek that we will not be able to use. There are enough current regulations in place. They just need to be enforced. If the 200 feet from a dock or person rule is implemented the only body of water left to wake surf will be the main body. The main body of the lake is so busy that I will not be able safely pull my 6 and 9 year old safely. This will likely result in more accidents and deaths at the lake. I encourage you to look at the true injury numbers. Many more people are hurt each year tubing or riding a jet ski than from wakes or wake surfing.Also many large boats that are non surf or wakeboard boats produce the same wake. Will these be banned? Many young professionals now live at the lake full time. This is one of our sports of choice. If this regulation passes I plan on moving away from smith mountain to another lake that does not have these regulation. If this bill is passed it will have a significant impact on our economy around the lake. This will also impact my voting decision and many of the young professionals that i wake surf with. The average wake surfing boat costs around $150,000. People that can afford these boats are individuals that have significant disposable income and are professionals. Why would you encourage you them to move away ? Please vote no on this bill! Sincerely Thomas Warden

Last Name: Farrington Locality: Penhook VA

We oppose this bill as being unnecessarily restrictive on Smith Mountain Lake and unduly targeting a very narrow group of recreational boaters. Additionally, we believe this legislation will result in an unfortunate rise in boating accidents involving all age groups but especially children. The wakesurfing community will be forced into the main channels / open waters of Smith Mountain Lake. These wider sections of the lake are dominated by larger, less maneuverable craft, more volumes of inexperienced & experienced boaters especially on weekends, and personal watercraft/fishing boats operating at high rates of speed. We ask the committee to reconsider passing this bill until a professional study of wave activity can be completed on Smith Mountain Lake to determine all of the underlying factors causing the reported damage to shorelines and fixed structures. We reject the premise put forth that wakesurfing alone resulted in $48,000 dollars of damage to a correctly constructed dock structure. We also ask said study includes the effects of the increased boat traffic and resulting wave traffic on Smith Mountain Lake year over year due to the current pandemic and create a forecast of future traffic to use in crafting underlying policy/legislation. Current legislation puts the onus of structural damage to a dock or shoreline on the boat operator, includes a 50' distance from all lake structures, and a myriad of safe boating regulations that are more than adequate in addressing the current growth in popularity. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Rech Locality: Roanoke City & Franklin County (Moneta)

We oppose this bill as being unnecessarily restrictive on Smith Mountain Lake and unduly targeting a very narrow group of recreational boaters. Additionally, we believe this legislation will result in an unfortunate rise in boating accidents involving all age groups but especially children. The wakesurfing community will be forced into the main channels / open waters of Smith Mountain Lake. These wider sections of the lake are dominated by larger, less maneuverable craft, more volumes of inexperienced & experienced boaters especially on weekends, and personal watercraft/fishing boats capable of operating at very high rates of speed. We ask the committee to reconsider passing this bill until a professional study of wave activity can be completed on Smith Mountain Lake to determine all of the underlying factors causing the reported damage to shorelines and fixed structures. We reject the premise put forth that wakesurfing alone resulted in $48,000 dollars of damage to a correctly constructed dock structure. We also ask that said study includes the effects of the increased boat traffic and resulting wave traffic on Smith Mountain Lake year over year due to the current pandemic and create a forecast of future traffic to use in crafting underlying policy/legislation. Current legislation puts the onus of structural damage to a dock or shoreline on the boat operator, includes a 50' distance from all lake structures, and a myriad of safe boating regulations that are more than adequate in addressing the current growth in popularity. Thank you for your consideration. Troy & Kim Rech

Last Name: Hitt Locality: Shenandoah

Dear Agriculture Chesapeake and Natural Resources Member, My name is Wyatt Hitt and I am writing today as a wake surf boat owner and property owner at Smith Mountain Lake in opposition to the Wake Surf bill being introduced at Smith Mountain Lake. Please take into consideration what this will do to tourism at Smith Mountain as wake surfing has become a very safe, popular, and family friendly sport around the world. Another point that should be taken into consideration is the fact that there is already a 50ft law that a boat must be from a dock when traveling in the water. I believe this law is great it just need to be enforced more to unexperienced boaters that may not know the law. Pushing the law to 200ft actually becomes much more dangerous as it will force us to do wake surfing in the main channel of the lake where you get a lot of your unexperienced boaters or boat renters that have never driven a boat and are in the main channel to site see. These unexperienced boaters now have to deal with dodging fallen surfers and the fallen surfers boat circling around to fetch the rider that has fallen. Outlined below are my main points as to why I am writing in opposition to the Wake Surf Bill: -Will hurt the tourism industry that is already hurting from the COVID-19 pandemic -Law forces Wake Surfing out to the main channel where a lot of unexperienced boaters are (much more dangerous!) -Potential tax loss from citizens and boat dealers deterring people from buying wake surf boats that are not cheap! Feel free to contact me with any questions. Thank you for your time and service to Virginia Wyatt Hitt 540-325-8873 wyatthitt@gmail.com

Last Name: Carty Locality: Bedford County

Please support bill to reduce impact of wakeboating. Our dock has been subject to large waves and swimming has become dangerous, particularly for young children. We want to protect shoreline, property, and - most importantly- human life and safety, and hope to restrict those making huge waves to enjoy their activity on a larger area of the lake than in our narrow cove. Thank you for your support.

Last Name: Chrisley Locality: Hardy, VA

This bill will do more harm to the SML community than benefit. Yes, there are those who don't take others into consideration and wake surf too close to others and cause damage however this is the minority. Restricting wake surfing to only areas that are at a minimum of 400' across will result in everyone wake surfing in the middle of the main channel. While wake surfing the boat travels at 10-11 mph, all other boats in the main channel are traveling 3-4 times that speed, it will be like driving down the interstate at 20 mph. Accidents will happen, congestion in the main channel will happen, confrontations will happen. I own property at SML and own a wakeboard boat, I am part of a community that spend 150-200k on their boats and support local business with hundreds to thousands weekly in boards, lifejackets, boat service, fuel... this restriction will virtually eliminate a sport from SML along with the positive economic impact. Unfortunately docks are not meant to last forever. Wakes from all types of boats overtime will damage every dock and every dock will eventually need to be serviced or replaced. We all sign up for that when we purchase a home on SML. If we restrict wakeboard boats today what will be next? Cabin cruising leave just as big of a wake, renters cause more damage than virtually anyone else, bass fisherman go up and down the lake at 60-70 mph at all hours of the night... We have a great place, lets not ruin it with more laws and restrictions.

Last Name: Kazmer Locality: Union Hall

Speaking on behalf for all wake surfers, this is very outrageous. This is a sport that brings families together and is a fun activity to do with groups of people. We need to be close to shoreline. We can't do this fun sport 200 feet away. This is very risky because surfing out in the open is very dangerous. It also causes the likely hood of getting run over by another boat. On a summer day there is boat traffic and can't hold any room for surfers out in the open. We need to be in coves to keep us safe. If you want to ban this sport you are a bunch of Karen's that have nothing better to do. Keep the sport on the lake or you are going to find that we are going to bring this sport somewhere else and there is going to be less business on the lake. It's not me that will be ticked off, but the whole water sports community. Thank you for the consideration. # bringbacksurfing2021

Last Name: Corliss Locality: Bedford

HB 2083 is over reaching and creating rules and regulations to only one group identified on smith mountain lake. 1. 99% of wake boaters limit surfing to lake areas that will not damage property or the shoreline. 2. Wake surfing is a significant contributor to the SML economy. 3. Limiting wake surfing will impact real estate prices and lake commerce.

Last Name: Erler Locality: Huddleston

The damage the wake surfing boats have done to Smith Mountain Lake's shoreline is significant. Our personal shoreline was undamaged for 50 years with no rip-rap. Within two years of the wake surfing boats being introduced to the lake, we lost 6 - 10 feet of our shoreline. The erosion was so great, the ramp to the dock was about to collapse. It cost us $25,000 to protect the shore with rip-rap. Islands on the lake are disappearing due to the erosion caused by these boats' enormous wake. Along the mountain, the trees near the water are being undercut and are starting to fall. The mountain is literally being eaten away. The floating dock at a rental property near the dam taht my husband manages was destroyed by 3-foot waves battering it. This is just one example of property damage. Many other Smith Mountain Lake homeowners have their own horror stories to tell. These boats cause severe damage to the environment and to personal property, and are dangerous when operated too close to swimmers, water skiers, and other people in the water. Thank you, Catriona and Jim Erler 109 Bay Terrace Huddleston, VA 24104

Last Name: Ware Organization: N/a Locality: Tappahannock

As a citizen who lives in the state and on the Rappahannock river and has seen the impact of poor stewardship, I ask that the General Assembly support these bills.

HB2109 - Agriculture and Consumer Services, Board of; expands membership.
Last Name: Hazard Organization: Humane Dominion Locality: FALLS CHURCH

On behalf of Humane Dominion, we strongly support the bill as originally written so as to provide one voice on this Board with expertise in animal welfare. We oppose the legislation as amended to provide for a veterinarian to fulfill this role as this is unnecessary as the Department is filled with veterinarians and this special expertise is not needed. The profession of animal welfare professional is one taught at the university level. It involves expertise much broader than that of a veterinarian and includes expertise on behavior, logistics, housing, training, interacting with the public and much more. Shelters are regulated by the department and should have one representative on a Board dominated by farmers. Farmers certainly understand animal welfare but large animal expertise is a different science than companion animal expertise. We urge a "no" vote as the legislation s amended but are hopeful the bill will be amended back to its original language.

Last Name: Armus Organization: The Humane Society of the United States Locality: Richmond

My name is Molly Armus and I am the Virginia State Director for the Humane Society of the United States. We supported the bill as originally filed given the board’s mandate, as well as the regulations and directives that come before them. We felt that an individual with companion animal expertise would ultimately benefit the Department as well as the board. However, as it is now amended, this bill is no longer aligned with the purpose for which it was introduced: to give animal welfare professionals a stronger voice on the VDACS Board that oversees more than 400 Virginia releasing agencies. We thank Delegate Fariss for introducing this bill, but respectfully request a motion to table or pass by this bill indefinitely. We would only be in favor of reporting the bill if reverted to its original language. Thank you.

Last Name: Harrington Organization: Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders Locality: Arlington

1-27-21 - Alice Harrington for VA Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders. We still OPPOSE HB 2109. While HB 2109 has been amended the changes do not significantly improve the bill nor do they add any additional expertise to the Board or VDACS. There are many veterinarians in VDACS and they are well connected to the Vet community. Have the Board and/or VDACS asked for any changes to the membership of the Board? Have they expressed a specific need that should be addressed? Perhaps it would be best to lay this bill on the table. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Meinzer Organization: Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and Homeward Trails Animal Rescue Locality: Alexandria City

I respectfully ask you to vote NO to HB2109 as amended. I support the bill in its original language adding a spot for a companion animal welfare advocate from a releasing agency regulated by VDACS. However, I am opposed to the amendment, which would do nothing to guarantee a member of the Board with expertise in overall welfare of companion animals. VDACS regulates all shelters and rescues, and inspects shelters annually. It is vital to have someone with expertise regarding these issues to have a voice on the Board.

Last Name: strickland Organization: animals unlimited llc Locality: hanover montpelier

fyi code of VA 3.2-6500  definition " Companion animal" excluded  livestock, agricultural animals, game species and research animals regulated under federal law.

Last Name: strickland Organization: animals unlimited llc Locality: hanover montpelier

To whom this may concern, I oppose this bill as written to include within the definition of companion animal the following - non human primate, exotic or native animal, reptile, and exotic or native bird . Obviously these are not companion animals. That is why they are already regulated within the State of Virginia. By several agencies. 1-The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries , In Virginia they are not permitted to be kept within the state without a permit to include regulations. This is the law in Virginia in which all of these animals are already governed under. Because they are not companion animals. 2-USDA animal care by regulation and licensing to possess . Because they are not companion animals. 3-Many Counties within the state of Virginia also govern and regulate these animals thru permit. Clearly these animals are not companion animals by definition and should never be within a "companion animal" definition or category as is livestock is not. Jana Strickland Animals Unlimited LLC

Last Name: Griggs Organization: Virginia Federation of Humane Societies Locality: Norfolk

We supported HB 2109 as filed, which would have added a companion animal welfare expert employed by a releasing agency to the VDACS Board. The VDACS Board regulates animal shelters but there is no companion animal welfare expert on the Board, so adding an employee of a releasing agency is vital to the Board doing its best work in creating animal shelter regulations and policies. I OPPOSE the HB2109 SUBSTITUTE. There is no reason to add a veterinarian to the Board. Veterinarians are not expert in shelter operations and management. Furthermore, when policies regarding shelters are considered by the VDACS Board, the Department presents the proposed policies and the Department presenters are themselves veterinarians. Adding a veterinarian to the VDACS Board is redundant and not in keeping with the original intent of the bill. I urge you to oppose the HB 2109 substitute, insist that it be amended to its original form and passed as originally presented. Thank you.

Last Name: Treloar Organization: Richmond SPCA Director of Communications Locality: Richmond

My name is Tabitha Treloar. I live in the City of Richmond and represent the Richmond SPCA. While the Richmond SPCA was initially prepared to support HB 2109 as it was introduced, last week the patron, Delegate Fariss, introduced a substitute before this subcommitee. As amended, this bill is no longer aligned with the purpose for which the bill was introduced: to give animal welfare professionals a stronger voice on the VDACS Board that oversees more than 400 Virginia releasing agencies. The welfare of companion animals goes beyond their medical health as addressed by the practice of veterinary medicine – it is about housing thousands of homeless animals, the operation of releasing agencies large and small, the logistics of rescuing and moving animals from a place of harm to a place of safety, training of animal control officers and much more. While we thank the delegate for having introduced this legislation, as it is now amended, we respectfully request a motion to table or pass by this bill indefinitely. We would only be in favor of reporting the bill if reverted to its original language.

Last Name: Meinzer Organization: Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and Homeward Trails Animal Rescue Locality: Alexandria City

My name is Heidi Meinzer and I am President of the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies Board, representing well over 100 shelters, rescues, animal control and advocates. I am also President of the Board for Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, a private animal shelter in Fairfax County that is regulated and inspected by VDACS. We support this bill as originally worded, and oppose the amendment. We believe that adding a companion animal welfare expert to the Board of Agriculture is vital. The amendment does not guarantee that the veterinarian will have dealt specifically with companion animals, or with the many releasing agencies who are regulated and inspected by VDACS. There are over 400 shelters and rescues in Virginia who report annually to VDACS. All are regulated by VDACS. Public and private shelters like HT are also inspected annually by VDACS. The Board and VDACS set policy and regulations for these organizations, but there is no companion animal welfare expert on the Board. You may hear the opposition say that an appointee may come from a releasing agency not inspected by VDACS. Although rescues are not inspected by VDACS, they are still subject to regulations like proper transportation of companion animals. Moreover, the over 250 rescues work hand in hand with the 111 public and 50 private animal shelters to produce life-saving outcomes for Virginia animals, and any suggestion that they are inferior is unwarranted. The opposition may also suggest that a representative of breeders should be added to the Board. However, the bill does not aim to place someone from a constituency – rather it is to appoint an individual with particular and broad expertise in companion animal welfare. There has also been a suggestion that the appointee would not represent the entire scope of animal welfare. That is hardly the point, and an impossible ask for any appointee to any Board or Commission. Just like other Boards and members, the Secretary of the Commonwealth will follow the same trusted vetting process by selecting a qualified individual from a list of applicants. Thank you for your time, and we respectfully ask that you oppose the amendment, or if put back to its original wording, we ask that you vote yes.

Last Name: reitman Locality: Springfield

thank you for bringing this bill forward. hope it passes.

Last Name: Wiley Locality: Suffolk

. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.”

Last Name: Devine Locality: Accomack

My name is Jennifer Devine, and I live in Accomack County. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.” Thank you for your time!

Last Name: Harris Locality: Leesburg

“My name is _____diane harris__________, and I live in _____leesburg/loudoun_________ City/County. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.”

Last Name: Johnson Organization: Leesburg Animal Park Locality: Leesburg

Dear Delagates, I am writing to OPPOSE HB2109. My name is Shirley Johnson and I own and operate Leesburg Animal Park in Leesburg. We are a small, privately owned zoo in Loudoun County. This bill would add a veterinarian as an "expert" regarding "companion animals". The problem is the definition of "companion animals" in the State of Virginia includes most zoo animals! How is a veterinarian trained in dogs or cats, able to competantly give expert advice on say Ring-tailed lemurs or White-handed gibbons? This is analogous to having a dentist give advice regarding heart surgery! I believe the best solution is to redefine "companion animals" to exclude exotic animals from this definition. Another solution is to have an animal advisory group to the Committee comprised of a person from various animal groups. This would give much more accurate information to the Committee. Thank you!

Last Name: Pearson Organization: Commonwealth's 26 Mounted Fox Hunts Locality: Hume

we support HB 2109 as amended

Last Name: Crosky Organization: Virginia Animal Owners Alliance Locality: wythe county

Mr. Chair and Members of the Committee, My name is Heidi Crosky and I represent the Virginia Animal Owners Alliance. We are a group of animal owners from across the Commonwealth. Our members are zoo owners, farm owners, and pet owners. We are asking that you please OPPOSE HB 2109, because one individual CANNOT have the knowledge and experience to define the care of all the different species of animals that are defined as companion animals under the code. Cats and dogs are one thing--tigers and cassowaries are quite another. Although the subcommittee accepted an amendment to require the expert to be a veterinarian, this still does not solve the issue. Like doctors, veterinarians have a certain expertise and our membership still has serious concerns that one individual cannot be qualified to define the care for all the different types of zoo animals in the Commonwealth. The following animals are ALL defined as "companion animals" under § 3.2-6500: " 'Companion animal" means any domestic or feral dog, domestic or feral cat, nonhuman primate, guinea pig, hamster, rabbit not raised for human food or fiber, exotic or native animal, reptile, exotic or native bird, or any feral animal or any animal under the care, custody, or ownership of a person or any animal that is bought, sold, traded, or bartered by any person. No agricultural animal, game species, or animal regulated under federal law as a research animal shall be considered a companion animal for the purposes of this chapter." If you look at the current wording of § 3.2-109, it involves many people and looks to those with practical experience. It states, "The Board shall consist of (i) one member from each congressional district, at least eight of whom shall be currently practicing farmers..." The two at-large members work with pesticides. If the state is seeking to add expertise to the Board it needs to be done the right way. It will require more than one individual and the appointees need to be those with practical animal experience, including zoo owners/managers, pet store owners, etc. We need people in the business who actually know the animals and how to care for them. Our legislators showed thoughtfulness and foresight in choosing members in the past. We ask that you do the same. Please OPPOSE HB 2109 in its current form. Sincerely, Heidi Crosky Virginia Animal Owners Alliance 276-637-6754 www.virginiaanimalownersalliance.com

Last Name: Meinzer Organization: Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and Homeward Trails Animal Rescue Locality: Alexandria City

As to HB 2109: This is written testimony to OPPOSE the amended version of HB 2109. We support the original wording of HB 2109. My name is Heidi Meinzer and I am President of the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies Board, representing well over 100 shelters, rescues, animal control and advocates. I am also President of Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, a private animal shelter in Fairfax regulated and inspected by VDACS. We support this bill as originally worded, and oppose the amendment. We believe that adding a companion animal welfare expert to the Board of Agriculture is vital. With the amendment, there is no guarantee that the veterinarian deals specifically with companion animals, or with the hundreds of rescues and shelters who are regulated by the Board. There are over 400 shelters and rescues in Virginia who report annually to VDACS. All are regulated by VDACS. Public and private shelters like Homeward Trails are also inspected annually by VDACS. The Board and VDACS set policy and regulations for these organizations, but there is no companion animal welfare expert on the Board. You may hear the opposition say that an appointee may come from a releasing agency not inspected by VDACS. Although rescues are not inspected by VDACS, they are still subject to regulations like proper transportation of companion animals. Moreover, the over 250 rescues work hand in hand with the 111 public and 50 private animal shelters to produce life-saving outcomes for Virginia animals, and any suggestion that they are inferior is unwarranted. The opposition may also suggest that a representative of breeders should be added to the Board. However, the bill does not aim to place someone from a constituency – rather it is to appoint an individual with particular and broad expertise in companion animal welfare. There has also been a suggestion that the appointee would not represent the entire scope of animal welfare. That is hardly the point, and an impossible ask for any appointee to any Board or Commission. Just like other Boards and members, the Secretary of the Commonwealth will follow the same trusted vetting process by selecting a qualified individual from a list of applicants. Thank you for your time, and we respectfully ask that you vote no on this bill as amended. If brought back in its original language, we ask that you vote yes.

Last Name: Harrington Organization: Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders Locality: Arlington

1-20-21, 12:30 pm - - After we are able to see what the substitute for HB2109, Delegate Fariss' bill on membership to the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services, says we will provide comments. Thank you. Alice Harrington, Legislative Liaison, Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders

Last Name: Sharon Adams Organization: Virginia Alliance for Animal Shelters Locality: Virginia Beach

The Virginia Alliance for Animal Shelters (VAAS) has some significant concerns with HB2109: 1. While we considered the possibility of adding an animal welfare representative a few years ago, in discussion with VDACS staff and members of the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services, we were persuaded that given the tension within the animal welfare community, this could exacerbate the conflict. 2. There are many variations on the definition of “releasing agency” with no one overarching type. Should it be a public agency funded by taxpayers, or a private shelter primarily funded by donations or a rescue agency which is not even inspected within the regulations? What would be the prohibition against a representative whose agency has been found in violation of VDACS regulation? 3. Our experience with the Board has been one where there seemed to be a unanimity of purpose and goals. Without deep preparation and care, that consensus could be up-ended by a divisive appointee. 4. The current members of the Board reflect a wide array of agricultural and other interests across Virginia. This one representative could have an enormous amount of influence on issues related to hundreds of “releasing agencies” whose interests are not represented. Before any action is taken, we would urge there be a study which, at a minimum, develops responsible criteria for such a representative.

Last Name: Strouse Organization: Virginia Animal Control Association (VACA) Locality: Norfolk

While this bill is well intentioned, our organization, (VACA) has real concerns that there are no qualifications to be considered an animal welfare expert for appointment to the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The bill contains no requirement that a person appointed even have any familiarity with or understanding of animal shelter regulations. It also does not require any tenure for such person to have been employed by a releasing agency. One could have conceivably been employed as an entry level staff member for two days, and as written such person would qualify as an animal welfare expert. This then paves the way for this to be a mere political appointment subject to being filled by unqualified individuals. On behalf of VACA we urge that this bill be laid on the table or carried over. If carried over, VACA pledges to work with the patron on crafting necessary safeguards. Thank you for your consideration. Kathy Strouse, Legislative Liaison Virginia Animal Control Association (VACA)

Last Name: Agrios Locality: Chesapeake

As a long time citizen of Virginia I am concerned about about the on going legislation that only consists of agricultural farmers and hunters. It is imperative that as a community that we seek a just system that fights for the rights conditions of all animals domestic and agricultural as well as wildlife. I am concerned of the biased approach and would like to be apart of these ongoing decisions. Thank you in advance for your efforts to make our cities and the whole state what it is.

Last Name: Meinzer Organization: Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and Homeward Trails Animal Rescue Locality: Alexandria City

My name is Heidi Meinzer and I am President of the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies Board, with membership from well over 100 shelters, rescues, animal control and advocates. I am also the President of the Board for Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, a private animal shelter in Fairfax County that is regulated and inspected by VDACS. We support this bill, and believe that adding a companion animal welfare expert to the Board of Agriculture is vital. There are over 400 shelters and rescues in Virginia who report annually to VDACS. All are regulated by VDACS. Public and private shelters like Homeward Trails are also inspected annually by VDACS. The Board and VDACS set policy and regulations on all of these organizations, but there is no companion animal welfare expert on the Board. You may hear the opposition say that an appointee may come from a releasing agency not inspected by VDACS. Although rescues are not inspected by VDACS, they are still subject to regulations like proper transportation of companion animals. Moreover, rescues work hand in hand with shelters to produce life-saving outcomes for Virginia animals, and any suggestion that they are inferior is unwarranted. The opposition may also suggest that a representative of breeders should be added to the Board. However, the bill does not aim to place someone from a constituency – rather it is to appoint an individual with particular and broad expertise in companion animal welfare. There has also been a suggestion that the appointee would not represent the entire scope of animal welfare. That is hardly the point, and an impossible ask for any appointee to any Board or Commission. Just like other Boards and members, the Secretary of the Commonwealth will follow the same trusted vetting process by selecting a qualified individual from a list of applicants. Thank you for your time, and we respectfully ask that you vote yes on this bill.

Last Name: Armus Organization: The Humane Society of the United States Locality: Richmond

My name is Molly Armus and I am the Virginia State Director for the Humane Society of the United States. We urge you to support SB 2109. SB 2109 adds a requirement that one of the at-large positions be filled by a companion animal expert working in a Virginia releasing agency, which includes both public and private animal shelters. Like other members of the VDACS board, this position will be filled by appointment of the Governor and confirmation of the General Assembly after vetting of qualifications. Given the board’s mandate, as well as the regulations and directives that come before them, we believe an individual with companion animal expertise will ultimately benefit the Department as well as the board.

Last Name: Griggs Organization: Debra Griggs Locality: Norfolk

I urge the subcommittee to report HB2109. The VDACS Board regulates animal shelters in Virginia but there is no companion animal welfare professional on the VDACS Board. Currently, the VDACS Board includes farmers and pesticide experts. Appointing a companion animal welfare expert is vital to the mandate of the VDACS Board and will increase the effectiveness of that regulatory body in creating policies and standards for Virginia's animal shelters. Thank you.

Last Name: Saveland Locality: Loudoun, Hamilton

I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.”

Last Name: Lamartin Locality: Fairfax County

My name is Sita Lamartin and I live in Alexandria VA. I am 11 years old and we have many companion animals and I volunteer with the sanctuaries which have farm animals. I think the Releasing agency should represent the farm animals, The Animals deserve better, and are just our companions and based on their health it affects people who eat them, That's why I think the Releasing agency should represent farm animals for the agricultural department so they can at least be treated better. I suppose based on common sense, it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 21094 wherein “Releasing agency” means (i) a public animal shelter or (ii) a private animal shelter, humane society, animal welfare organization, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or other similar entity or home-based rescue that releases companion animals for adoption.

Last Name: Fields Locality: Smyth County

I believe it is very important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you please vote in favor of HB 2109. Thank you for your time! Suzanne Fields Atkins VA Smyth County

Last Name: Mishra Locality: Alexandria

Thank you for taking your time to hear this important piece of bill. My name is Richa Mishra, and I live in Fairfax County. As an animal lover, my husband and I have worked with many individuals who had pigs, and they got overpopulated. Alongside with sanctuaries, we worked with VA155 to have the pig adoptions. Being a dogs and cats owner, we know they are no less than companion animals. The one thing we are asking for them is being represented by a "releasing agency" member to get a fair treatment in their life. It's been known the poor treatment of animals can be unhealthy for humans and the environment. Further it would aid the pet owners by giving them representation. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109

Last Name: Fowler Organization: Va. Federation of Humane Societies Locality: Vienna (Fairfax Co)

I strongly recommend that you please speak on behalf of and support HB 2109 to add a Companion Animal Welfare expert to the Va. Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Especially in the current era, pets are very important to me and many other Va. voters. They need advocacy in our legislative process.

Last Name: Sonifrank Locality: Alexandria

I appreciate Fariss raising this important issue and seeking to amend the existing code to include an expert in animal welfare. As an animal lover, I feel like this amendment is long overdue. I've worked with my wife and daughter on bulk spay and neutering projects for potbelly pigs which had overpopulated in people's backyards and started wandering and expanding off property. In multiple cases we've seen this over population spreading into nearby farms and property. It was concerning to us to discover such scenarios and issues would be outside the expertise of Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Amending the board here needs to be done and I support HB2109.

Last Name: Knecht Organization: Smyth County Humane Society and Smyth Animal Rescue Locality: Smyth

My name is _____Jennifer Knecht__________, and I live in _____Smyth County_________ City/County. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.” Thank you for your time!

Last Name: Hopkins Organization: Virginia Federation of Humane Societies Locality: Vienna VA

I wish to strongly support HB 2109 to expand membership in the Virginia Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services to add a Companion Animal Welfare Expert. As a Virginia Citizen and voter, this is extremely important to me and many others.

Last Name: Howard Locality: Suffolk

My name is Mercedes Howard, I live in Suffolk and wish to see HB2109 supported. Having a board member to focus on companion animals is essential. It better represents voters in a state where so many people are working for the good of companion animals and so many people care about their protection and interests.

Last Name: Zimmerman Locality: Warren

“My name is Kim Zimmerman, and I live in Warren County. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.”

Last Name: AKAR Locality: Fredericksburg

Hello, my name is Katarzyna Akar and I'm from Fredericksburg VA, Spotsylvania County. I strongly believe that having an expert present is a necessity. Please support HB2109. Thank you

Last Name: Brown Locality: Roanoke

My name is Matthew Brown, and I live in Roanoke County. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.

Last Name: Brown Locality: Winchester

My name is Sara Brown and I live in Winchester, VA. I believe it is important for the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, considering its role in matters such as regulations over the operation of animal shelters, animal control training, and companion animal transportation. Therefore I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.” Thank you for your consideration of my request.

Last Name: Bove Organization: Loudoun Community Cat Coalition Locality: Leesburg

My name is Tom Bove and I live in Loudoun County. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.

Last Name: Bradley Locality: Scott

We strongly oppose this Bill in it entirety. No one “expert” should define all care for different species.

Last Name: Hall Organization: American Kennel Club Locality: Lycoming

On behalf of our over 100 affiliated clubs in Virginia, the American Kennel Club (AKC) provides the following written testimony on HB 2109. The Virginia Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services oversees a very broad base of issues, related to companion animals. However, the current structure of the Board does not provide for a member with expertise in companion animals. This bill seeks to correct this omission by expanding the membership to add an individual with expertise in this area. While we agree that an expert in companion animal welfare is important, we also believe that it is essential that the board provide a balanced and broad perspective. Unfortunately, this bill limits the appointment to just one expert on companion animal welfare and further limits perspective by limiting that expert to an individual who is employed by a releasing agency in the Commonwealth. As defined By Virginia law, a releasing agency is a public animal shelter or a private animal shelter, humane society, animal welfare organization, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or other similar entity or home-based rescue that releases companion animals for adoption. Animal welfare is much broader than rescuing and placing animals for adoption, a policy-setting board needs to be informed of and consider viewpoints from a broader spectrum of knowledge in animal welfare issues. As such, AKC recommends that should a member from a releasing agency be added, the Board should also include an additional at-large member who is licensed as a breeder in the Commonwealth, or a member of the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders. Such an addition would provide the Board with an at-large member with knowledge and understanding in animal breeding, service animals, search and rescue animals, security dogs, hunting and field trial sports. AKC clubs in Virginia area are comprised of a network of numerous responsible dog owners and breeders, many of whom have decades of expertise in proper dog care and animal husbandry. We believe that the wealth of knowledge and experience possessed by these experts would be of tremendous value to the Board and working in concert with an at-large member who is employed by a releasing agency would truly ensure that the Board has the necessary balance and broad perspective needed to truly benefit the welfare of companion animals in the Commonwealth.

Last Name: Mooney Locality: Fairfax County

My name is Aileen Mooney and I live in Springfield, VA. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109. Thank you for your time! V/r, Aileen

Last Name: Treloar Organization: Richmond SPCA Locality: Richmond

Madam Chair, members of the committee, my name is Tabitha Treloar and on behalf of the Richmond SPCA, I ask that you report Delegate Fariss's bill. Our agency is one of more than 400 organizations sheltering companion animals in the Commonwealth that are regulated by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. While existing code mandates that at least eight members of the VDACS Board be currently practicing farmers, presently there is no representation in matters of companion animal welfare. HB 2109 adds a requirement that one of the at-large positions be filled by a companion animal expert working in a Virginia releasing agency, which includes both public and private animal shelters. Like other members of the VDACS board, this position will be filled by appointment of the Governor and confirmation of the General Assembly. As is no doubt true among practicing farmers, professional viewpoints do vary among those working in the field of animal welfare, and it is the duty of the Secretary of the Commonwealth to vet applicants for service. Employment at a Virginia releasing agency ensures experience within a sector that has more than 400 sheltering organizations overseen by VDACS and is thus deserving of representation on the governing board.

Last Name: McVoy Locality: Richmond

My name is Robin, and I live in the City of Richmond. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.

Last Name: Steere Organization: Friends of Infinity Acres Ranch Locality: Ridgeway

please strike this text from the proposal: , and one of whom shall be an expert in companion animal welfare employed by a releasing agency in the Commonwealth; all members to be appointed by the Governor for a term of four years and confirmed by the General Assembly

Last Name: Crosky Organization: Virginia Animal Owners Alliance Locality: Wythe

Madam Chair and Members of the Committee, My name is Heidi Crosky and I represent the Virginia Animal Owners Alliance. We are a group of animal owners from across the Commonwealth. Our members are zoo owners, farm owners, and pet owners. We are asking that you please OPPOSE HB 2109, because one individual CANNOT have the knowledge and experience to define the care of all the different species of animals that are defined as companion animals under the code. Cats and dogs are one thing--tigers and cassowaries are quite another. The following animals are ALL defined as "companion animals" under § 3.2-6500: " 'Companion animal" means any domestic or feral dog, domestic or feral cat, nonhuman primate, guinea pig, hamster, rabbit not raised for human food or fiber, exotic or native animal, reptile, exotic or native bird, or any feral animal or any animal under the care, custody, or ownership of a person or any animal that is bought, sold, traded, or bartered by any person. No agricultural animal, game species, or animal regulated under federal law as a research animal shall be considered a companion animal for the purposes of this chapter." If you look at the current wording of § 3.2-109, it involves many people and looks to those with practical experience. It states, "The Board shall consist of (i) one member from each congressional district, at least eight of whom shall be currently practicing farmers..." The two at-large members work with pesticides. If the state is seeking to add expertise to the Board it needs to be done the right way. It will require more than one individual and the appointees need to be those with practical animal experience, including zoo owners/managers, pet store owners, etc. We need people in the business who actually know the animals and how to care for them. Our legislators showed thoughtfulness and foresight in choosing members in the past. We ask that you do the same. Please OPPOSE HB 2109 in its current form. Sincerely, Heidi Crosky Virginia Animal Owners Alliance 276-637-6754 www.virginiaanimalownersalliance.com

Last Name: Nedelcovic Locality: Reston

Good morning, “ My name is Ines Nedelcovic and I live in Reston. I would very much like for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues. I respectfully request that you vote in favor of HB 2109.”

Last Name: Blevins Organization: Smyth County Humane Society Locality: Smyth County VA

My name is Madelyn Blevins and I live in Smyth County Virginia. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.” Thank you for your time!

Last Name: Miletta Organization: Animal Allies Inc. and Pets Ltd. Inc. Locality: Fairfax

“My name is Elaine Miletta and I live in Fairfax County. I am president of two animal welfare organizations... Animal Allies Inc. and Pets Ltd Inc.. We have many supporting members, all of whom are greatly concerned with the welfare of animals, as are the individuals with whom we deal on a daily basis. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.” This is very important to me and to the members of these organizations who have contributed much time, effort and funds to improve the welfare of companion animals in Virginia. Thank you for your time! Elaine Miletta

Last Name: Carlson Locality: Arlington

My name is Ingrid Carlson. I live in Arlington County. In my opinion the Board should have a member who is an expert in companion animal issues. I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109. Thank you.

Last Name: Counts Organization: Madison Community Cats Locality: Culpeper

My name is Laurie Counts and I live in Culpeper County. Our organization, Madison Community Cats, works in Madison and Culpeper Counties, serving the community by providing low cost spay/neuter for companion cats. We believe it would be good to have a Board member with expertise in companion animal issues and ask that you vote in favor of HB2109.

Last Name: Scott Locality: Marion, Virginia

My name is Emi Scott and I live in Marion/Smyth County, VA. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.

Last Name: Farthing Organization: Friends of Russell County Animals Locality: Lebanon

Hello please vote “yes” for HB 2109. I live in Rosedale of Russell County, VA. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109. Thank you- Charlene Farthing, PA-C President/Founder of Friends of Russell County Animals (267)294-7727

Last Name: McPhee Locality: Arlington

My name is Gillian McPhee, and I live in Arlington County. Due to the nature of the Board's role and responsibilities, I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues. I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109. Thank you.

Last Name: Robinson Organization: Virginia Federation of Humane Societies Locality: Abingdon, VA (Washington County)

My name is Debbie Robinson and I live in Abingdon, VA/Washington County. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109. Thank you for your time! Debbie

Last Name: Tinney Locality: Alexandria

My name is Glenna Tinney, and I live in Alexandria. I believe it is important for the Virginia Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109. Thank you for your time!

Last Name: Schmidt Locality: Norfolk

My name is Melissa (Missy) Schmidt, and I live in Norfolk City/County. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109. I’ve spent thousands of dollars of my own money to support nonprofit cat rescues and shelters —not to mention our municipal shelter in Norfolk. I’m a volunteer providing a foster home to cats and kittens.

Last Name: Parmly Organization: Dominion Equine Welfare Locality: City of Fairfax

I support HB2109. Placing a companion animal expert on the board is essential.

Last Name: Hanrahan Locality: Lorton; Fairfax County

Good afternoon. My name is Eileen Hanrahan and I reside at 8585 Enochs Dr., Lorton, VA 22079. I am wrting in support of HB2109, which would add, to the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services, one member who must be an expert in companion welfare employed by a releasing agency in Virginia. I have been a volunteer with two releasing agencies in the Commonwealth, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington and the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, together for over 30 years. I have had a number of companion animals from rescue organizations and am very familiar with the issues facing consumers in the acquisition and care of their companion animals. While the Board is charged, in part, with oversight of animals, it currently has no member who ensures that expertise on animal welfare is represented in the Board's deliberations and decisions. This is unreasonable and unacceptable. I urge to include the additional member to close this gap in the Board's expertise. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Odham Organization: Alleghany Humane Society Locality: Covington

“My name is Marya Odham, and I live in the City of Covington. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.”

Last Name: Chiles Organization: Fredericksburg SPCA Locality: Spotsylvania

My name is Sarah Chiles, and I live in Spotsylvania County. I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.

Last Name: Hurley Locality: Suffolk

I am writing to support HB 2109. It is time for an animal welfare advocate to serve on this board that has so much to do with animal and consumer welfare. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Peaks Locality: Rockingham

My name is Carolyn Peake and I live in Rockingham County. I believe it is very important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.

Last Name: Nathan Locality: Clifton, VA

My name is Richard Nathan, and I live in Clifton, VA. As a long time advocate for animals and an active rescuer, I believe it is important for the Board to have a member with expertise in companion animal issues, and I ask that you vote in favor of HB 2109.

Last Name: Harrington Organization: Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders Locality: Arlington

1-19-21 I, Alice Harrington, represent the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders. We have been in existence since 1971 and are affiliated with the American Kennel Club. We OPPOSE HB 2109. HB 2109 - sponsor Delegate Fariss - This bill seeks to add a 3rd at-large seat to the Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services and directs that the seat be filled by "one of whom shall be an expert in companion animal welfare employed by a releasing agency in the Commonwealth." There are many animal welfare experts besides "releasing agencies" which are defined in law 3.2- 6500 Definitions as - - "Releasing agency" means (i) a public animal shelter or (ii) a private animal shelter, humane society, animal welfare organization, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or other similar entity or home-based rescue that releases companion animals for adoption." Such a narrowly defined selection criteria for a new Board member ignores animal welfare experts in multiple disciplines such as purebred dog breeding, organizations that breed and train service animals, search and rescue animals, security dogs, exotic animals including birds, hunting and field trial sports to name just a few. A policy setting Board needs to be informed of viewpoints from multiple constituents. Animal welfare is much broader than just placing animals for adoption. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Meinzer Organization: Virginia Federation of Humane Societies Locality: Alexandria City

Dear Subcommittee Members: The Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and I submit this written testimony in support of HB 2109's passage. The Federation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization representing well over one hundred public and private animal shelters, foster-based rescues, animal control agencies, and advocates in the Commonwealth. The Virginia Board of Agriculture and Consumer Services oversees a very broad base of issues, which includes regulations that govern public and private animal shelters, training for animal control officers, and the transportation of companion animals. Currently, there is no Board member who has expertise in companion animals. This bill would expand the membership of the Board to add an individual with expertise in this area. Thank you for your consideration of these comments. The Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and I respectfully ask you to vote in favor of HB 2109. Heidi Meinzer, President

HB2159 - Balloons; release of nonbiodegradable balloons outdoors prohibited, civil penalty.
Last Name: Caywood Locality: Virginia Beach

I support HB2159 because what goes up inevitably comes down and creates litter and hazards to wildlife. Balloons snagged in trees can end in bird nests strangling nestlings. Deflated balloons washed out to sea choke sea turtles. And helium is not a renewable resource, but it has far more important uses. There are many other symbolic ways to honor life's milestones. Balloon releases are a totally unnecessary hazard.

Last Name: Jones Locality: McLean

I urge you to pass the ban on the intentional release of balloons into the sky. These balloons must all come down somewhere, rarely where they were released and could potentially be picked up. They are eaten by our animals and litter our landscape and there is absolutely no reason to do this. Please ban the intentional release of balloons! Thank you.

Last Name: Spanoulis Organization: Virginia Aquarium Locality: Virginia Beach

As the CEO of the Virginia Aquarium, I ask that you pass this bill to prohibit the intentional release of balloons. Balloons are the most common piece of litter found on our beaches, and have a devastating impact on our wildlife. Many of the animals the Virginia Aquarium removes from our beaches have balloon debris in their stomachs, not to mention the numerous other animals like birds that become entangled in them and suffer devastating consequences. This bill does not prevent you from purchasing a balloon, rather it correctly classifies the INTENTIONAL release of a balloon as liter. Please support this bill and protect our wildlife and their habitats.

Last Name: Marquez Locality: Fairfax

Please ban the release of balloons. When people release them, they do not think about where they end up, which is often in natural areas and waterways. Birds and mammals mistake the colorful balloons for food, and end up dying from malnutrition and obstruction. They also can be strangled with strings.

Last Name: Haluska Organization: Self Locality: Chesapeake

I am in complete support of this bill. I find mylar balloons in the Indian River when I go canoeing. These don't break down and continue to be a detriment to the ecological health of the waterway for many years. Releasing balloons outside should not be allowed. Dr. James Haluska Chesapeake, VA

Last Name: Newberry Locality: Oakton

As both a professional and amateur naturalist and native Virginian, I have covered much of this wonderful state pursuing its special flora and fauna. In many of the places I have visited, I have found balloons and their associated ribbon. I have discovered dozens of balloons in otherwise protected and trash free nature preserves, including several on the shores of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Each balloon I find I make a point of collecting to dispose of properly, however I am certain that there are far more lost and abandoned balloons out there harming our treasured wildlife than I am ever able to collect. Balloon litter must be stopped at the source. I urge you to support this bill to ban intentional balloon releases.

Last Name: Pavis-Shroeder Locality: Fairfax County

I was probably eight or nine when I first saw the campaign to recycle the plastic rings for six-pack beverages. The images on the campaign were terrible; wrapped around the necks of ducks, around turtle's shells and bellies, restricting their growth, around dolphin fins. I have not oncer - literally not ONCE - seen a six-pack plastic ring without cutting it. Friends' house, school event, my own house. It's a compulsion. I can't NOT do it. I also cannot release a balloon into the air, knowing where it ends up once it pops. In the stomachs of Canadian Geese. Inside the fish we eat. The ribbons wrapped around the necks of wildlife. Please support the ban on knowingly releasing balloons. Please also support a recycling campaign that will show how caring for our environment makes a positive difference. Thank you.

Last Name: Hindle Locality: Suffolk

Wholeheartedly support banning balloon releases!

Last Name: Thompson Locality: Virginia Beach

This important bill will have a positive impact on our wildlife. Please support this endeavor.

Last Name: Boehmer Organization: Environment Virginia Locality: Richmond

Support HB 2159- banning the intentional release of balloons. While it may not seem like balloons are a big issue when it comes to the plastic pollution crisis, evidence says otherwise. A study by the Virginia Aquarium found balloons to be one of the most harmful and frequently occurring form of debris on beaches across the Virginia coastline. According to a study done by the Ocean Conservancy balloons are found to pose some of the greatest risks to wildlife including adverse effects from entanglement and ingestion. Wildlife affected in the study included seabirds, sea turtles, and marine mammals. There are many other ways to celebrate or remember that do not normalize and encourage plastic pollution and threaten our wildlife. Balloon releases are organized litter events and they should be treated as such. And it is important to remember that we already have existing laws on littering. Concerns that enforcement of this law would target children or teenagers is inconsistent with how litter laws are enforced right now and should be addressed when looking at our broader litter laws which have a higher penalty. Oppose HB 2173- “Advanced” Recycling definition. While we appreciate Del Plum's commitment to addressing our plastic pollution crisis, I am afraid this is not the solution. Despite claims to create like-new plastic products, the industry has almost exclusively employed technologies to convert or “downcycle” plastics into fossil fuels. Processes include pyrolysis, hydropyrolysis, and gasification. Of the dozens of facilities that have been proposed in the U.S., only 3 are currently operational and none have been proven to successfully recover plastic to make new plastics on a commercial scale. Recent investigative reports from Greenpeace and GAIA have further exposed these truths. Chemical “recycling” does not recycle. This bill would open Virginia up to industry that is not beneficial to the environment while other states are actively trying to eliminate new facilities. There are things Virginia needs to do to reduce waste and increase recycling of what is left. Bottle bills/deposit programs are a great example of just one solution. Chemical recycling is not.

Last Name: Gregoty Locality: Chesapeake

Ban balloon releases. Save an animal’s life. Reduce needless litter. Please, support the ban on balloon releases.

Last Name: Huntington Organization: Clean Fairfax Locality: Fairfax County

Clean Fairfax strongly opposed HB2173 to define advanced recycling as a manufacturing process. The Oregon Agilyx facility is often highlighted as a successful advanced recycling facility. In 2018, only around one-tenth of the expanded polystyrene Agilyx processed was actually turned into styrene and a similar amount was burned in cement kilns which are usually used to burn hazardous waste. This tells us the fuel produced by Agilyx was too contaminated or too low quality to use as fuel. In 2019, Agilyx processed only 641 tons of polystyrene - a miniscule portion of the 560,000 tons of container and packaging waste generated in the US every year. This facility received $25 million in private investments and a half million dollars in tax credits- to create of a known carcinogen. These are not the polices we want to bring to Virginia. Advanced recycling, pyrolysis and gasification, in particular, release toxic substances such as bisphenol-A, cadmium, benzene, brominated compounds, phthalates, lead, tin, antimony, and volatile organic compounds. Advanced recycling can’t handle mixed plastic polymers or black plastic and is also unable to recycle expanded polystyrene food and beverage containers. Advanced recycling is being sold by polluting corporations as a means to ensure their harmful products remain a fixture in our communities and waterways. The answer to the plastic pollution crises is reducing waste at its source. The answer is not succumbing to powerful corporations and building harmful facilities around our most vulnerable communities. Human health and economic development are not mutually exclusive, we should not be putting communities in the impossible situation to choose their personal and environmental health over having a job. Clean Fairfax supports HB 2159 to ban the intentional release of balloons Zach Huntington- Clean Streams Program Manager- Clean Fairfax

Last Name: Bort Locality: Norfolk

I would like to add my support to a complete ban of intentional balloon releases. As a marine biologist with 20 years of experience working with marine mammals (10 of them here in Virginia), I cannot stress enough the importance of reducing sources of marine debris. I've lived and worked in several areas along the coast and have not seen the levels of balloon litter in local waterways as I have here in Virginia and have been helping with the effort to collect data on the issue. This is a simple thing we can put into law to help stop this source of marine debris, and likely save protected and endangered marine species.

Last Name: Haycox Locality: Virginia Beach

Our marine life desperately needs HB2159 to be passed. There’s already so much they have to fight. This is such a no brainer, super easy fix!

Last Name: Robinson Locality: Norfolk

I am writing in support of HB2159. As a professional who has worked with wildlife and conservation, I can tell you firsthand the damage balloons have done to the local flora and fauna. The Virginia coast is a major tourist destination and people find garbage on our beaches and in our water, we need to take action. Balloons travel miles and fall into our oceans, tangle in our tress and livestock consumes them in fields. Banning balloon releases has no negative economic impact, only positive by sending a message that Virginia cares about the environment. Balloons are not a necessity, they are a frivolous party favor. We have seen the positive effects of banning littering, balloon releases are littering events. Why are we condoning releasing garbage into the air?! I have faith our government sees the reason behind banning balloon releases and the citizens of Virginia support the ban as well. Thank you.

Last Name: MacDonald Locality: Leesburg

Legislation prohibiting the release of balloons is long overdue in Virginia. Volunteers participating in the International Coastal Cleanup over the past 20 years report that balloons are the 12th most frequently collected items from our shorelines. We know that helium filled balloons are a major source of airborne pollution into our waterways. With more than 7,200 miles of shoreline in Virginia, these balloons have an impact on wildlife, ecosystems, coastal economies and, ultimately, on humans. We've all see the photo of the turtle about to eat the plastic in the water. Let's remove help remove these balloons from our waterways.

Last Name: Hammerquist Locality: Chesapeake

I am expressing my support of this bill. In addition to posing a hazard to wildlife and domestic animals, at times lethal, released balloons are unsightly and a nuisance, often ending up stuck in trees, ponds, and roadside ditches. Property owners are then tasked with retrieving and disposing of them. I can't think of any reason to allow this to continue.

Last Name: Bartz Locality: Albemarle

Hello, I would like to voice my support for HB2159 banning the intentional release of balloons in the Commonwealth. I know this sounds a bit silly on the surface, but balloons can contribute to litter of our beautiful rivers, like the Rivanna, and also pose a threat to our wildlife. I would also like to support the strengthening of conservation easements through HB1760. Working with the Soil and Water Conservation District I've seen the benefits conservation easements have toward water and soil quality here in Virginia. While there is a need for development to address housing needs in the state, we shouldn't be redirecting land set aside for conservation for this purpose. Thank you, Navarre Bartz

Last Name: Holtz Locality: OAKTON

I support HB 2159 to Ban Intentional Balloon Releases. I regularly pick up pieces of balloons and strings while doing trash clean ups on land and in water in northern Virginia. They are a huge danger to wildlife that eat them or get entangled in them. Allowing balloon releases is no different than allowing people to launch trash in the air & watch if fall to the ground or in the water. We can do better for Virginia wildlife.

Last Name: OHara Locality: Virginia Beach

Dear Delegates, As a marine scientist with 35 years of research experience on the problems caused by manmade debris in the marine environment, I am writing in support of HB2159 to stop the intentional releasing of helium-filled balloons into the environment. During an ongoing study of Virginia’s most remote beaches we have documented more than 11,000 balloons and balloon related litter items. During our most recent survey we found more than 200 balloon litter items on just 1/2 mile of Fishermen Island National Wildlife Refuge on Virginia’s remote eastern shore. Balloons are more than a litter problem. As a member of the Virginia Aquarium’s Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Team, I have witnessed first-hand the danger balloon litter poses to wildlife including endangered sea turtles and marine mammals. Thirty years ago, I worked to help pass Virginia’s current law which makes it illegal to release more than 49 balloons of any type within a one hour period (Virginia State Code: 29.1-101.1). As the first state to pass legislation addressing the intentional release of balloons, Virginia became a leader and many states and localities have also enacted balloon laws. At that time, however, we did not know the full extent of the balloon problem on Virginia’s wildlife and beaches. We now have solid research. It is my hope that Virginia can once again be a leader on this important issue by passing HB-2159. Thank you for considering this important bill.

Last Name: Weber Locality: Chesapeake

Please support Delegate Guy's bill HB2159 that will ban the intentional release of balloons in Virginia. As an environmental volunteer in Chesapeake, I participate in several community cleanups throughout the year. Balloon litter accounts for a significant part of our collections along roadsides and in our parks. In addition to contributing to litter, balloons and the attached string can have a devastating, often deadly effect on wildlife when it becomes entangled in the balloon debris. Floating balloon debris can appear as food to marine wildlife and when consumed, can have the same devastating effect. Please support this bill and stop allowing litter in the form of intentional balloon releases! Amy Weber, Chesapeake

Last Name: Vehrs Locality: Prince William

I am writing in favor of HB 2159 to Ban Intentional Balloon Releases. Balloons do not just float "away." There is no magical "away." They eventually fall to Earth and become unsightly litter. They are dangerous to wildlife because they may appear as food (especially in water) and be ingested to fatal consequences. Ribbons and strings can wrap around appendages and necks of animals. Please vote in favor of HB 2159. Nancy Vehrs Manassas, Virginia

Last Name: Coyne Locality: Virginia Beach

I am in support of the HB2159 Bill, to ban the release of non biodegradable balloons. As a naturalist, avid surfer, and Virginia Beach resident for over 56 years I have encountered wildlife entanglements from both the balloon and the string. I would suggest adding to that description of the Bill to include “and any non biodegradable string” the affixed string poses as much if not more of the concern for wildlife entanglement which may lead to death.

Last Name: Brandt Organization: Weasel Creek Watershed Expeditions Locality: Arlington

Latex and Mylar balloons are deadly to wildlife and do not biodegrade. Please ban intentional balloon releases.

Last Name: Bushnell Locality: Virginia Beach

Please support HB 2159 which prohibits the intentional release of any non-biodegradable balloon outdoors. I live in the Thalia neighborhood of Virginia Beach and I am an avid kayaker. Every time I go out I bring two large trash bags to pick up all the trash that I find in the creek. Balloons are among the trash I find. My husband recently went offshore on a boat and they counted 7 sea turtles and 8 helium balloons in the water. Animals and birds can ingest bits of balloons and die. Children love balloons and they are a part of party decorations. This bill does not outlaw balloons, only releasing them outdoors where they can cause harm. We can make a minor sacrifice to have a healthier environment and save our wildlife. Please take a leadership position on this and support HB 2159. Thank you.

Last Name: Putnam Locality: Albemarle County

Please support HB2159 and ban the intentional release of nonbiodegradable balloons. Keep Virginia roadsides and streams beautiful by preventing this form of litter. The balloons eventually come back down to earth to become litter or worse to strangle marine life. Every day I see plastic bags or balloons caught up in the branches of trees and there they remain for weeks, months, and even years. They never go away! We must take action to stop plastic pollution. This is a simple action that everyone should be able to support. It is easy to find non-polluting alternatives to mark our celebrations.

Last Name: Smith Locality: Chesapeake

I support this bill. Seems like someone is always releasing balloons for all sorts of occasions and people don't think about what goes up must come down.

Last Name: Staples Locality: Chesapeake

Good Day, I would like you to know that on every trip that I make to various State Forest and the George Washington National Forest. I find several ballons while hiking, hunting or fishing. On my visits to Virginia Beach they are a constant wash up item that I find and dispose of. Please put an end to this needless celebratory practice. The harm to wildlife is terrible. 40 years ago, I watched a whitetail doe pull a balloon from a Mountain Laurel and partially eat it. Imagine how many times that scene has been repeated over the decades since. Thank you.

Last Name: Racette Locality: Charlottesville

I very much support a ban on the intentional release of balloons. Balloons are mistaken for food by wildlife and ingestion causes death. We can find appropriate ways to celebrate and ban balloon releases.

Last Name: Killius Organization: James River Association Locality: Richmond

The James River Association appreciates the opportunity to register our support for HB2159, a bill that will ban intentional balloon releases and reduce the amount of plastic pollution harming our coastal and marine habitats and wildlife . We thank the patron for dedication to this issue, and we urge the Committee to support the bill.

Last Name: Boehmer Organization: Environment Virginia Locality: Richmond

On behalf of Environment Virginia, I strongly urge you to support HB2159 and ban intentional balloon releases. Balloons are litter and should be treated as such. While it may not seem like balloons are a big issue when it comes to the plastic pollution crisis, evidence says otherwise. A study by Longwood University showed that balloon debris not including some balloon ribbons makes up 6.5% of all litter found on some of the most remote beaches along Virginia’s coastline. A similar study by the Virginia Aquarium found balloons to be one of the most harmful and frequently occurring form of debris on beaches across the Virginia coastline. According to a study done by the Ocean Conservancy balloons are found to pose some of the greatest risks to wildlife including adverse effects from entanglement and ingestion. Wildlife affected in the study included seabirds, sea turtles, and marine mammals. There are many other ways to celebrate or remember that do not normalize and encourage plastic pollution and threaten our wildlife. Balloon releases are organized litter events and they should be treated as such. Please vote in favor of this bill.

Last Name: Burke Locality: Chesapeake

Releasing balloons is littering. What goes up, must come down. This is bad for wildlife, especially sea turtles that eat them, thinking they are jellyfish. Balloons released inland can travel 200s of miles. Mylar balloons conduct electricity and are a potential electrocution hazard. Please report this bill.

Last Name: Wood Organization: Oceana Locality: Washington, DC

Oceana Comments HB 2159 - Balloons; release of nonbiodegradable balloons outdoors prohibited, civil penalty January 19, 2021 Thank you for the opportunity to testify on behalf of HB 2159, prohibiting the intentional release or discarding of nonbiodegradable balloons. Oceana works to advance science-based policies that will restore the ocean’s abundance and biodiversity. We represent 24,630 Oceana supporters across Virginia, and we stand in strong support of HB 2159 and urge the Virginia General Assembly to pass this important legislation. Balloons, which can travel hundreds of miles after they’re released, must land somewhere. Those released anywhere in the state could end up in the Chesapeake Bay, which is home to hundreds of bird species, including many that are threatened with extinction. A 2019 scientific report found that among the marine debris items ingested by seabirds, balloons were the most likely to result in death. Plastic pollution like balloons can affect other types of marine life in addition to seabirds. After surveying dozens of government agencies, organizations, and institutions that collect data on the impact of plastic on marine animals, Oceana found evidence of nearly 1,800 animals from 40 different species swallowing or becoming entangled in plastic since 2009. Of those animals, a staggering 88% were from species listed as endangered or threatened with extinction under the Endangered Species Act. Scientists have found plastic floating on the surface of the ocean, washing up on the world’s most remote coastlines, melting in Arctic sea ice, raining onto the Rocky Mountains, and even sitting at the deepest part of the ocean floor. Plastic pollution is everywhere, including off the coast of Virginia and in the Chesapeake Bay. According to a 2014 study, microplastics were found in 59 out of 60 water samples from the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Passing HB 2159 and prohibiting the intentional release of balloons in Virginia would go far in protecting our marine life, coastal ecosystems, and coastal communities from the impact of discarded balloons and preventing one source of dangerous plastic pollution. We thank you for the opportunity to provide comments and urge you to pass this important legislation. Thank you for your time and consideration. Caroline Wood Field Campaigns Manager, Mid-Atlantic Region

Last Name: Dannenberg Organization: N/A Locality: Charlottesville

Please support a ban on the intentional release of balloons HB2159. What goes up does come down again & creates litter in water, on the land, on roadways, etc. It harms wildlife that ingest it by mistake or get tangled up in it. They die. All for a few moments of visual pleasure? That's selfish. Selfishness ends at noon on Jan 20th.

Last Name: Deppe Organization: Virginia Coastal Alliance Locality: Virginia Beach

The Virginia Coastal Alliance, a coalition of seventeen environmentally focused organizations and businesses in Coastal Virginia, voices strong support for Delegate Guy’s bill HB 2159 which bans intentional outdoor balloon releases in Virginia. Currently, the balloon litter problem is among the Commonwealth’s top four priorities according to the Virginia Marine Debris Reduction Plan. Balloon debris is pervasive throughout Coastal Virginia and the various components of balloons, ranging from ribbons, to balloons, to fasteners, all fall into the category of single-use plastics. Single-use Plastics never leave the marine environment and only break down into smaller and smaller pieces, which eventually add to our growing micro-plastics problem. Please ban balloon releases now, so that we can stop adding to Coastal Virginia’s plague of plastic debris in our Ocean, Bays and Rivers.

Last Name: Forget Organization: Lynnhaven River NOW Locality: Norfolk

Lynnhaven River NOW strongly supports Delegate Guy’s bill HB 2159 which bans intentional outdoor balloon releases in Virginia. All eight watersheds encompassed by the City of Virginia Beach are plagued by balloon litter in our waterways, trees, landscapes, and powerlines. In fact, balloon debris is among the top three forms of litter observed in surveys of our remote beaches. In addition to the nuisance of balloon debris and its persistent nature as a single use plastic, it kills and injures wildlife, both terrestrial and marine, as well as domestic livestock. Balloons are particularly harmful to sea turtles, marine mammals, and birds, all of whom see this debris as a potential food item. Now is the time to ban balloon releases and move on to more environmentally friendly ways to celebrate special occasions.

Last Name: Sheldon Organization: The Nature Conservancy Locality: Richmond

The Nature Conservancy supports HB 2159. Marine debris is a globally recognized issue and balloons are part of the problem. Released balloons kill wildlife and harm marine environments. The Nature Conservancy stewards 14 barrier islands on the Eastern Shore, which shelter more than 250 species of raptors, songbirds, and shorebirds which find food in the adjacent bays and salt marshes. Additionally, we have helped restore 9,000 acres of eelgrass meadows on the Shore, which serves as habitat for threatened and endangered sea turtles. Marine debris, including balloons which can mimic food sources, pose threats to these species. Banning the intentional release of balloons is a simple step that can have an immense positive impact on these species.

Last Name: Register Organization: Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University Locality: Prince Edward County

Dear Delegates, Based on 26 years of statewide data collected by volunteers during litter cleanups, I am writing in support of HB2159 and other efforts to stop the intentional releasing of helium-filled balloons into the environment. Alternative methods to celebrate and have memorial services are available, acceptable and affordable. DATA DRIVEN DECISION: Volunteers during the annual International Coastal Cleanup in Virginia (organized by Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University) not only remove trash from Virginia’s environment, but they also collect data. Data show that balloons (foil and latex) as well as plastic ribbons accumulate on Virginia beaches—In fact, balloon-related litter items are often the #1 most frequently found type of debris on our beaches! While balloons can be found littered anywhere, our research shows that they accumulate in coastal environments between the high tide line and the dune vegetation, which is critical habitat for nesting shorebirds, sea turtles, and diamondback terrapins. Balloons and plastic ribbons are among the deadliest types of ocean trash to all kinds of wildlife including sea turtles and birds. The amount of balloon litter that can be found on a small stretch of remote beach is quite alarming. In November 2020, a total of 212 pieces of balloon-related litter were documented—and removed—from just one-half mile of shoreline Clean Virginia Waterway recently released a report (Deadly Litter: Balloons and Plastic Ribbons on Virginia’s Coastal Beaches) that points out helium is an exhaustible natural resource that cannot be produced economically or efficiently, and the biggest consumer use of helium is in party balloons. It also points out that balloons contacting power lines are a major source of electrical power outages. Download (free) all of CVW’s reports on marine debris and litter in Virginia from: http://www.longwood.edu/cleanva/publications.html Every released balloon becomes litter and can be harmful. So passing this common-sense bill will prevent a deadly form of litter from Virginia’s waterways, coastal waters, and beaches. I can be reached at registerkm@longwood.edu or 434-395-2602 if your committee would like more details on the 26-years of data collected by Virginia’s volunteers about Virginia’s litter problems. Regards, Katie Register, Executive Director Clean Virginia Waterways of Longwood University registerkm@longwood.edu

Last Name: Huntington Organization: Clean Fairfax Locality: Fairfax County

Clean Fairfax supports Delegate Guy's HB 2159 to ban intentional balloon releases. When balloons are released they may be out of sight, but they are definitely do not disappear. Balloons are regularly found during clean ups and known to harm more than 30 animal species. Even the Balloon Council recommends against releasing balloons because they acknowledge the hazards of their product. The current Virginia law which allows the release of 49 balloons every hour needs to be fixed. We hope the committee takes advantage of this important opportunity. Zach Huntington- Clean Streams Program Manager- Clean Fairfax

Last Name: Monroe Locality: Virginia Beach

I live on Chic's Beach and while enjoying our shore, I am constantly finding plastic (to include balloons). I pick up what I can, and I often see other people with trash bags doing the same, but it's impossible to keep up with. Please pass this bill, so not only people who release balloons can be educated, but also reprimanded for doing so. Our shores hold vital and fragile ecosystems, and stopping balloon releases will be a small, but important step to protecting them.

Last Name: Hobgood Locality: Suffolk

Please be sure that this important bill is passed and becomes part of our reality. Littering is illegal and this is littering - it's truly as simple as that. Balloons (and all plastics) never breakdown. Once manufactured, they will persist in the environment forever. We are wreaking havoc on this beautiful planet. You cannot drive down a road in this country or walk through a parking lot without seeing litter: plastic bags strung from trees, bottles stuck along riverbanks, fast food packaging blowing in the wind - and in the age of COVID - masks and gloves littering the pavement for as far as the eye can see. We have done so many horrible things to this planet that gives us so much; we have been so incredibly selfish. Times change, minds change, we should learn and grow in all areas of our lives. We should learn, as a species, to be more accepting, more loving, more compassionate, and to be more green should be chief among those goals. We should not continue to harm our planet because it is meaningful to small group or because we didn't know better before, or even because we are still ignorant to the true harm we are causing. None of this is an excuse for inaction. Let's start here, with small changes like this, to make our plant a healthier, kinder, more beautiful place for all creatures great and small and for future generations.

Last Name: Rogard Ross Locality: Chesapeake

Please approve HB2159 to prohibit the outdoor release of balloons. What goes up, does come down. Releasing balloons is littering and puts harmful balloons and any attached strings into natural areas, waterways, and the ocean. At a minimum they are unsightly garbage. At worse they are hazards that can choke wildlife including dolphins, whales, and turtles. This one is easy. Approve HB2159. Thank you for your consideration. Rogard Ross Chesapeake, VA

Last Name: Moore Organization: Residents of Virginia Beach Oceanfront Residents Locality: Virginia Beach

I have lived in Virginia Beach since 2004 and have been an oceanfront resident since 2005. I received my education at CNU in 2002 and completed my Thesis in the Outer Banks specifically on the benefits of vegetation for wildlife on barrier islands. Since then I have worked primarily and exclusively in the environmental field at some capacity involving wildlife preservation of some sort. Since my time, as a professional, working within the coastal environment I have seen how destructive balloons are to the wildlife, especially marine life. Balloon releases should be made illegal as they are detrimental to the environment. "If the environment isn't your bottom line, you are either an Economist or an idiot" - Yvonne Chiounard

Last Name: Burbank Locality: Virginia beach

GET RID OF ANY/all polystyrene containers. No good for the environment on the production OR usage of said items. NEONICOTINOIDS are killing pollinators by the billions. STOP USAGE OF ALL NEONICOTINOIDS, period!! Senior citizens have been paying exorbitant fees/taxes in VB; the very least you can do is let us park for free. Nit only in parks, but all public parking facilities in Va. Beach!! BALLOONS KILL ANIMALS. Intentional balloon release is ridiculous, and should not be allowed. Proven to kill hundreds (if not thousands) of animals/sea life per year. Production of balloon is poison to our ecosystem; release of them is folly and unnecessary. They take WAYYYY TOO LONG TO DECOMPOSE. They pollute waterways and forests. Outlaw the release of ANY balloons.

Last Name: Klotz Locality: Virginia Beach

In no way should this bill have needed another submission. The damage loose balloons cause to the environment is crystal clear by now. Aside from a 5min moment of happiness at release, nothing good comes from it. Please, please, please use common sense & pass this ban overwhelmingly.

Last Name: Wheeler Locality: Virginia Beach

As a resident of Virginia Beach I see first hand what balloon release can do to the local marine wildlife, it's terrible seeing poor animals and birds tangled, struggling, injured, and killed by balloons. Its a simple process to deflate them and discard them properly to protect wildlife and keep their habitats safe. I support this bill!

Last Name: Armus Organization: The Humane Society of the United States Locality: Richmond

My name is Molly Armus and I am the Virginia State Director for the Humane Society of the United States. Representing our members and supporters across Virginia, the Humane Society of the United States strongly supports HB 2159. This legislation is aimed at ending environmentally unsound balloon releases in Virginia. While releasing a helium balloon into the atmosphere during a celebratory event or a solemn memorial may be visually pleasing, it is extremely detrimental to the environment and the pain and suffering experienced by animals as a result of these releases is staggering. Discarding a balloon into the atmosphere is simply littering. Once released, balloons can travel for hundreds of miles before they burst or deflate and become litter. Seabirds, sea turtles, seals and other marine mammals are injured or killed after ingesting or becoming entangled in balloons and their strings. Animals on land such as horses, cows, and other farm animals are also at risk. Balloons are commonly made of latex or mylar materials and present a danger to animals who perceive them as food, or they may get caught in the ribbons attached to them, hindering their ability to move around and feed. For example, when balloons burst, they resemble jellyfish, the natural prey of sea turtles, and subsequently block their digestive tract when ingested. Seabirds are at particular risk, as a recent study found that balloons are the leading marine debris risk of mortality for seabirds. Both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warn against the practice. Even so-called ‘biodegradable’ balloons take years to break down in the environment. Therefore, wildlife and marine animals will continue to ingest them. A study found more than 18,000 balloons, strings, and other pieces were picked up along the Great Lakes shorelines in Detroit from 2016 to 2018. Virginia’s beaches, mountains, and fields are resources worthy of the greatest standards of protection. There are eco-friendly alternatives to balloon releases that are appropriate for celebratory or solemn events including lighting a candle, creating a charity fundraiser, planting a tree, or organizing a service day. As we become aware of the harmful implications of balloon releases, we need to change our behavior accordingly and ensure we are compassionate not only towards humans, but toward all living beings. Thank you for your consideration of this important legislation. We respectfully urge a favorable report on HB 2159.

Last Name: Smith Organization: Rudee Tours and Eco Maniac Company Locality: Virginia Beach

The release of any type of balloon is uncalled for and kills way to many wildlife we need a much bigger fine for those that intend to kill those wildlife with the balloons

Last Name: Culver Organization: Virginia Beach City Public Schools Locality: Virginia Beach

My name is Marie T. Culver and I am a Gifted Resource Teacher at Seatack Elementary An Achievable Dream Academy and I am a strong supporter of sustainability and environmental education. I am asking for your support of Delegate Nancy Guy's bill HB2159 that will ban the intentional release of balloons in Virginia. As a teacher, I teach our students and teachers in Virginia Beach City Public Schools about the importance of celebrating with other ways besides balloons and the importance of this bill on our oceans and wildlife. Our students have written letters in support and have shared many ways that they have planted trees and used bubbles etc to honor their loved ones and special days. They have participated in mock turtle stranding and even created trash talking turtles, octopus, and jellyfish with the importance of balloons and trash to teach others We have a Solution 2 Ocean Pollution Summit each year with our students leading the discussion and pledge to ban using balloons at these events . It is so essential for all of us to embrace this initiate. Thank you for all that you do to to support our oceans and wildlife in our communities like Virginia Beach and other coastal communities.

Last Name: Shirey Locality: Chesapeake, VA

My name is Lacy Shirey and I reside and work in the city of Chesapeake, VA. Please support Delegate Guy's bill HB2159 that will ban the intentional release of balloons in Virginia. I participate in several community cleanups throughout the year and balloon litter is often a significant part of our collection. I work in animal welfare and some of my colleagues are wildlife rehabilitators. Over the past twelve years, I've seen first-hand the harm that balloons and balloon string can have on wildlife if consumed or entangled in balloon debris. Sadly, it can often be fatal. There are many great alternatives and ways to honor a loved one so we need to stop allowing litter in the form of balloon releases!

Last Name: Trapani Locality: Virginia Beach

My name is Christina Trapani and I am a marine debris researcher as well as a small business owner in Virginia Beach. I am asking for your support of Delegate Nancy Guy's bill HB2159 that will ban the intentional release of balloons in Virginia. Balloons that are released will come back to earth and turn into dangerous litter. Balloons and their ribbons have been documented to have harmed marine wildlife, terrestrial wildlife and livestock. These balloons can also land on farmland causing fouling issues with crops such as cotton and hay. As a researcher of plastic pollution in Virginia, I have witnessed balloons and their ribbons littering our remote beaches, often being recorded as one of the most common types of litter. We recently recorded and removed more than 200 balloons and ribbons in about a 1/2 mile portion of a protected beach on Virginia's Eastern Shore. Though sometimes marketed as “biodegradable”, latex balloons released into the environment act just like other plastic waste – they can persist for years, fouling habitats and threatening wildlife. There is no such as thing as a harmless biodegradable balloon. It is time to change this law and I hope that you all will support this bill going forward. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Rhodes Organization: Virginia Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation Locality: Virginia Beach

The Virginia Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation supports bill HB2159, which prohibits the intentional release of balloons. Many people do not realize that balloons are released purposely at special events like: weddings, funerals, graduations, and sports games. Releasing a balloon is no different than littering, as the balloon eventually comes back down, often times in the ocean. Once there, many types of sea life can be negatively affected by the balloon itself, or the ribbon. Additionally, mylar balloons in particular are commonly responsible for electricity outages. We request that any language referring to “biodegradable” balloons be stricken from the bill, as this will only cause confusion. Yes, latex balloons are technically biodegradable, but the amount of time it takes for a latex balloon to biodegrade in the environment makes this point moot, as animals can still swallow and choke on them in the meantime. It will also cause confusion for the consumer, implying to them that it is fine to release certain types of balloons. Thank you for taking our comments. Aimee Rhodes, Chair Virginia Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation

Last Name: DeHart Locality: Hampton

Virginia state is blessed with a variety of habitats. There are also many endangered animals in and around Virgina state. Balloons pose a great risk to terrestrial and aquatic wildlife. Even the latex versions take several years before they decompose. This leaves more than ample time for wildlife to ingest or become tangled in balloons that have been released and fallen. If I were to empty a bag of deflated balloons on the ground this would be littering. I don't see how releasing balloons into the air, that later fall to the Earth is not seen as the same. There are several grassroots movements that have tried to encourage people to stop releasing balloons. This has not been enough and it is time for lawmakers to step in and for there to be real consequences for those that continue to pollute our lands and waters .

Last Name: Swingle Organization: Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Locality: Virginia Beach

I am Mark Swingle, Chief of Research & Conservation at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, and am writing in support of Delegate Guy's bill HB-2159 to ban the outdoor release of balloons. We have extensive data documenting the prevalence of balloon litter on Virginia’s coastal beaches and in ocean, bay and inland waterways. There is substantial evidence of the dangers posed by balloon litter to wildlife, livestock, agricultural operations, and even power lines. During a four year, state-wide study of marine debris on coastal beaches of Virginia, balloons were in the top-five most common items recorded on three of the four beaches studied. Surveys on Virginia’s remote, uninhabited barrier islands documented more than 11,000 balloons and balloon related litter items. During some of these surveys, more than 150 balloons and balloon parts were recorded per mile of beach. In addition, balloons can travel great distances and impact even remote areas. We have documented balloons on coastal beaches from as far away as Northern Virginia and even other states. This is not a small problem. Balloon litter injures and kills wildlife and livestock. More than thirty animal species are known to be impacted by balloons. The Virginia Aquarium’s nationally recognized marine animal stranding response team has documented numerous balloons ingested by endangered sea turtles and marine mammals. The extent of the harm to wildlife including birds is widespread, well documented, and can be lethal. Though sometimes marketed as “biodegradable”, balloons released into the environment, even latex balloons, act just like other plastic waste – they can persist for years, fouling habitats and threatening wildlife. Even The Balloon Council trade association, through its Smart Balloon Practices program, advocates that balloons should not be intentionally released. Currently in Virginia it is legal to release up to 49 balloons of any type within a one hour period (Virginia State Code: 29.1-101.1). Delegate Guy’s bill does not ban balloons or the sale of balloons. It simply prevents the intentional outdoor release of balloons into the environment and imposes a reasonable civil penalty of $25 per balloon for violations. In summary, we believe that Virginia’s current law regarding balloon releases is outdated and needs to be changed to prevent further environmental impacts. Virginia was one of the first states to introduce legislation prohibiting mass balloon releases in 1991. We now have the documentation and knowledge to know that any balloon releases can pose significant harm to coastal habitats and dangers to wildlife. Virginia can once again be a leader on this important issue by passing HB-2159. Thank you for considering this important bill for Virginia's wildlife and habitats.

Last Name: Calvert Organization: Virginia Conservation Network Locality: Charlottesville

Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) supports Del. Webert’s HB1760 and Del. Guy’s HB2159. We hope that is the pleasure of the subcommittee to support these bills.

Last Name: Thereault Locality: Virginia Beach

I am so very alarmed by all the litter that is in our environment, including balloons. I pick of trash on a regular basis wherever I walk and happen to be near the ocean, bay, and various waterways quite a lot. It is truly unsustainable what we are doing by way of littering. As to balloons—Both today and yesterday, while going about my business, I watched as balloons floated out over the ocean and bay. I could do nothing but pray that they do know harm to unsuspecting/undeserving animal(s). Let’s just get something done in this regard. It’s the LEAST that can be done. We also need to do something about all the plastic bags blowing around and into waterways AND cigarette butts by the millions, if not billions, that are pure poison. Thank you for your time. I pray for a good outcome on this bill.

Last Name: Sherry Molina Organization: Trashy gals keep it clean Locality: Virginia Beach Virginia

We are a volunteer environmental awareness group that clean the beaches, Cape Henry trail and most of Hampton roads! And teach Environmental awareness. I have seen firsthand the devastation that these balloons cause. I would like to see the Stop there are better alternatives

Last Name: Copenhaver Organization: Wahine Surf Club Locality: Virginia Beach

We are 100 members strong & are asking intentional balloon release be banned. Our fragile environment needs our assistance. Unfortunately people are often ignorant to the effects of balloons & strings in our environment. There is absolutely NO NEED to release balloons intentionally. We have many alternatives to celebrate or memorialize our loved ones. PLEASE be the voice for our sea turtles, whales, dolphins & our ocean. We know unequivocally the effects of balloons on our environment & as our legislators you have the power & the moral obligation to protect our ocean, our bay, and our marine life. Thank you for banning the intentional release of balloons.

Last Name: Carter Locality: Newport News

I spend 300 days per year on the coastal, and tidal tributary waters of the state of Virginia. I have personally witnessed a drastic increase in the amount of Mylar, and latex balloons littering the surface of my area of operation. Over my career on the water I have personally witnessed multiple accounts of affected sea life from these balloons. I have witnessed balloon pieces in the stomach cavities of fish I was cleaning. I have witnessed sea turtles entangled in balloon ribbon, and have seen turtles fighting for their lives with balloons halfway swallowed. It is a sickening sight to see the affects of balloon pollution. To watch a turtle fighting for its dying breath. I have witnessed bottlenose dolphins with balloon ribbon entangled around their fins, preventing the full development and growth of their flippers. It is not uncommon after a holiday weekend to see hundreds of balloons floating in the lower chesapeake bay and coastal Virginia waters. Please take action on this bill. It is necessary for the continued protection of our valuable marine ecosystem. Regards, Capt. Jonathan C. Carter

Last Name: Feller Organization: Rudee Tours Locality: Virginia Beach

I manage a fleet of head boats out of the Virginia Beach Fishing Center over the past 40 years I have seen balloons floating anywhere from right here on the oceanfront to 70 or 80 miles offshore it’s always been a huge problem and they kill hundreds if not thousands of animals that live in the ocean every year! Releasing balloons needs to be stopped thank you Capt Skip Feller

Last Name: Cassady Locality: Lynchburg

I encourage the Commonwealth of Virginia to join others who have banned the release of non-biodegradable helium balloons into the environment The documented harm to animals and the environment is huge. The balloons drop into mountains streams and the ocean, onto roadsides and cities, heavily contributing to plastic litter (note that the "biodegradable" version - latex - has a six month to four year decomposition rate - a fact to consider as you address this bill). Animals ingest them and die, sea creatures including dolphins, seals and sea turtles become entrapped in the strings an drown. The helium used on balloons is a relatively rare element on earth, and it is needed for fiber optics, welding, MRI scanners, breathing ventilators for infants. cooling nuclear reactors, lasers, LCDs, cryogenics, and rare document preservation, not flying harmful balloons. There are many eco-friendly options to replace the balloons, so don't think that banning their release will take away color and joy from the world. It will simply help Virginia step forward in environmental protection.

HB2173 - Advanced recycling; not considered solid waste management, definitions.
Last Name: Marquez Locality: Mclean

I strongly oppose SB 1164 because it will enable dangerous, polluting fossil fuel facilities to proliferate across Virginia. This bill does not and will not remove plastic pollution from waterways and communities, it actually increases plastic production and creates more waste. It enables harmful, polluting facilities to expand across Virginia with the most severe impacts placed on vulnerable populations with fewer restrictions and reporting requirements of a Landfill for similar. Thank you to Delegate Plum for striking HB 2173 from the docket and we hope it is the will of the committee to oppose this bill as well. Thank you. Danielle Marquez

Last Name: Swingle Organization: Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Locality: Virginia Beach

My name is Mark Swingle and I am Chief of Research & Conservation at Virginia’s Aquarium, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach. I am reaching out today about one of the most important issues impacting Virginia and our planet, plastic pollution. I, our thousands of members and supporters, and our many partners in the Virginia Conservation Network are urging you to to oppose House Bill 2173. As an aquarium leader and scientist for nearly 40 years, I have seen the significant threat that plastic pollution poses for marine ecosystems and the communities dependent on healthy shorelines. Research conducted by the Virginia Aquarium has documented the impacts of plastic pollution on our coastal habitats and wildlife. That is why I am reaching out to you today to take action to stem the flood of plastic pollution. We are opposing HB-2173, which would exempt ill-conceived and dangerous plans to promote chemical conversion plants, misleadingly labelled as "advanced recycling", from critically important permit regulations intended to protect waterways. These plants are ineffective in addressing plastic waste production and pollution, and produce harmful wastes and greenhouse gas emissions. The most effective way to prevent plastic pollution from littering our beaches and harming sea turtles, birds, dolphins, and other marine life is to reduce plastic production and use, and we have many other key opportunities to do just that. Please help address this plastic crisis in appropriate ways and protect Virginia’s coast, waterways, and communities from plastic pollution by voting NO on HB-2173. Sincerely, Mark Swingle W. Mark Swingle Chief of Research & Conservation P: (757) 385-0326 C: (757) 615-6337 MSwingle@VirginiaAquarium.com Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center 717 General Booth Blvd. Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451

Last Name: Robert Melvin Organization: Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association Locality: Richmond

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I would like to share the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association's support for HB2173. Recyclable material is essential to manufacturing new products under environmental sustainability goals and regulations. Advanced Recycling technology reduces plastic waste and fulfills “plastics packaging circular economy industry standards” identified in VA Code § 2.2-2699.8 - Plastic Waste Prevention Advisory Council. This will help move Virginia towards having the ability to recycle all types of food service containers including polystyrene.

Last Name: Smith Organization: Science amd Environment Locality: Reston

I agree with the respected voices of leading environmental organizations and scientists who are opposed to this legislation. Their concerns are based on scientific and policy expertise - and its way past time for government to listen to science. One voice - Sierra Club Virginia says: “Polluters have created the phrase "chemical recycling" to mislead the public about the practice of burning plastic and other waste material in order to create oil used for energy. As you can imagine, the facilities that employ chemical recycling do demonstrable damage to our climate and the air of the surrounding communities. The General Assembly is currently considering two bills that could expand the chemical recycling industry in our commonwealth by relaxing environmental protections related to burning plastic. “ Please Vote NO

Last Name: Najarian Organization: VA Grassroots Coalition and VA Democracy Forward (VADF) Locality: McLean

I urge you to oppose this bill. 1) The solution coming from the plastics industry is of great concern.  What the industry is labeling ‘advanced recycling’ is largely incineration. Despite five decades of attempted effort, there are currently no operational plants of significant scale available to recycle plastic to new plastic (EU report). 2) If enacted, HB2173 would allow industry to treat plastic as non-solid waste and thus avoid significant environmental oversight and enjoy lower costs. Vulnerable Environmental Justice communities typically end up host to this industry. Please promote legislation to that bans on straws, bags, and polystyrene, in line with federal efforts such as the ‘Break Free from Plastic Act of 2020.

Last Name: Pien Organization: Earth Rise Indivisible, Loudoun Climate Project, Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun Earth Justice Team Locality: Leesburg

Plastics is polluting our environment. Now that fossil fuels are being phased out as a source of energy, the fossil fuel industry is looking towards a new use, namely plastics. Plastics pollution, especially in our oceans, is a huge problem. The solution, however, is not the mis-named “Advanced Recycling” program is not the answer. It proposes incinerating plastics and creates new problems: • Burning one ton of plastics emits 3 tons of carbon dioxide, exacerbating climate change. https://materialeconomics.com/publications/the-circular-economy-a-powerful-force-for-climate-mitigation-1 • Toxins are emitted, including: cancer-causing, endocrine- and immune- disrupting dioxins & furans; heavy metals like mercury, cadmium & lead; particulate matter. https://www.no-burn.org/fact-sheet-incineration-and-health/ • Facilities are disproportionately sited in low-income & marginalized communities. https://www.no-burn.org/failingincineratorsreport/ My Ask: For these reasons, I urge you to oppose SB 1164. Please let me know if you have any questions. My affiliated organizations and I count on your support.

Last Name: Pien Organization: Earth Rise Indivisible, Loudoun Climate Project, Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun Earth Justice Team Locality: Leesburg

Please oppose this bill. It is deceptive to call incinerating plastic. Harmful toxins will be emitted, frequently impacting marginalized communities. Plastic pollution is a problem that must be addressed, but not by this air polluting method. My faith calls me to recognize the interdependent web of life and to protect our air resources for all communities.

Last Name: Fox Organization: VA Grassroots Coalition, Clean Fairfax Locality: Alexandria

Please vote NO on HB2173. Far from offering "advanced" "solutions' if this bill's wording were accurate it would be called "backward" or even "chicanery" This proposal is the opposite of clean energy - it would actually bring more pollution. This is not what we want to see in our neighborhoods.

Last Name: Kraus Locality: Virginia Beach

As a person of faith and conscience I urge you to oppose HB 2173. This bill would enable harmful, polluting facilities to expand across Virginia with the most severe impacts placed on vulnerable populations. Chemical conversion is not economically or environmentally sustainable and is undermining efforts to decrease Styrofoam use. The solution to the plastic crisis is reducing waste at its source, not dangerous approaches that add to toxic air pollution.

Last Name: Erwin Locality: Charlottesville

As you know, passing this bill will cause more toxic air pollution. Plastic pollution is a major problem around the world and needs to be addressed at its source. This bill is not a solution. It’s a new major problem.

Last Name: Callahan Organization: Year Locality: Triangle

Please consider the effect this will have on all humans.

Last Name: Kasprowicz Locality: Reston

Hi Ken, I want you to know that I think your bill HB 2173 is NOT the answer!! Please withdraw it! There is no clean way to "burn plastics". It releases toxic materials into the air harming all of us in the process. And it AVOIDS dealing with the source of the problem . It attempts to solve one problem but causes another. Styrofoam should be banned altogether. Period. Food establishments USED TO wrap our food in papers and other materials. Companies use to use other materials to keep their products safe in transport and in many cases are returning to compostable formed cardboard type products, compostable "packaging peanuts", etc. Styrofoam is a "forever product". Your bill HB 2173 is trying to do away with the bill making styrofoam illegal. Many companies are finding good ways to take plastics out of the waste stream. They are "spinning" shredded plastics into thread and making clothing, tablecloths and other products. Look at the success of Trex and similar products that use post consumer waste plastics to make their products! There is a huge movement underway to reduce and ultimately eliminate single use plastics. Burning Plastics IS NOT the answer!! It is a practice that will be welcomed by the plastic (oil) industry only. Please don't provide an easy and dirty way out for the plastic industry!!! Thank you, Joan Kasprowicz, Reston VA

Last Name: Schwartz Locality: Albemarle

I am adamantly to opposed to HB 2173. Our state should run as fast as possible away from this terrible idea which doesn't solve a problem, it creates one. Plastic should not be burned as a means of disposal, which will release toxins into the air which will impact health outcomes in neighboring communities. This bill would enable harmful, polluting facilities to expand across Virginia with the most severe impacts placed on vulnerable populations. Chemical conversion is not economically or environmentally sustainable and is undermining efforts to decrease Styrofoam use. The solution to the plastic crisis is reducing waste at its source, not dangerous approaches that add to toxic air pollution."

Last Name: Zehr Locality: Harrisonbug

I am your constituent and a person of faith and conscience. I urge you to oppose HB 2173. This bill would enable harmful, polluting facilities to expand across Virginia with the most severe impacts placed on vulnerable populations. Chemical conversion is not economically or environmentally sustainable and is undermining efforts to decrease Styrofoam use. The solution to the plastic crisis is reducing waste at its source, not dangerous approaches that add to toxic air pollution.

Last Name: Rabie Locality: Harrisonburg

"I am your constituent and a person of faith and conscience. I urge you to oppose HB 2173. Chemical conversion is not economically or environmentally sustainable and is undermining efforts to decrease Styrofoam use. The solution to the plastic crisis is reducing waste at its source, not dangerous approaches that add to toxic air pollution."

Last Name: Thompson Locality: Harrisonburg

I am your constituent and a person of faith and conscience. I urge you to oppose HB 2173. This bill would enable harmful, polluting facilities to expand across Virginia with the most severe impacts placed on vulnerable populations. Chemical conversion is not economically or environmentally sustainable and is undermining efforts to decrease Styrofoam use. The solution to the plastic crisis is reducing waste at its source, not dangerous approaches that add to toxic air pollution.

Last Name: Burtner Locality: Richmond

“Recycling” chemicals would have a devastating impact on our environment and public health. Please vote no on HB 2173! Thank you, Your constituent, Caryl Burtner 3228 Patterson RVA 23221

Last Name: Sawyer Locality: Palmyra

am your constituent and a person of faith and conscience. I urge you to oppose HB 2173. This bill would enable harmful, polluting facilities to expand across Virginia with the most severe impacts placed on vulnerable populations. Chemical conversion is not economically or environmentally sustainable and is undermining efforts to decrease Styrofoam use. The solution to the plastic crisis is reducing waste at its source, not dangerous approaches that add to toxic air pollution.

Last Name: Land Locality: Vienna

As your constituent,. I urge you to oppose HB 2173. This bill would enable harmful, polluting facilities to expand across Virginia with the most severe impacts placed on vulnerable populations. Chemical conversion is not economically or environmentally sustainable and is undermining efforts to decrease Styrofoam use. The solution to the plastic crisis is reducing waste at its source, not dangerous approaches that add to toxic air pollution.

Last Name: Ross Organization: Virginia Interfaith Center Locality: Springfield

As climate change wreaks havoc on our world, it is increasingly obvious that our own actions and lifestyles have highly impacted and worsened the natural phenomenon of climate shifting. As a citizen of Springfield, it is utterly imperative that we seek alternate sources of energy, continue recycling, and provide healthy climate actions for future generations of all economic, racial, and other marginalized communities. The churches of Virginia have joined to raise our prayers and our voices to see that we treat our planet with the respect it deserves, and ensure a healthy life for all those to come. Please vote YES on HB 2074 and other initiatives that work to preserve our community so that many may enjoy it for decades of our future. Dixie Ross 7704C Lexton Place Springfield, VA 22152

Last Name: Dyson-Cobb Locality: Lexington

I am a Virginian deeply concerned about the mess we're making of this planet, and a person of faith and conscience. I urge you to oppose HB 2173. This bill would enable harmful, polluting facilities to expand across Virginia with the most severe impacts placed on vulnerable populations. Chemical conversion is not economically or environmentally sustainable and is undermining efforts to decrease Styrofoam use. The solution to the plastic crisis is reducing waste at its source, not dangerous approaches that add to toxic air pollution. This is not "Advanced recycling" - it is advanced environmental and health degradation. Advanced recycling would be finding ways to send plastic containers back to their manufacturers to either re-use if safe, or to bring pressure on them to develop truly sustainable and non-polluting recyclable plastics OR move to other actually recyclable materials.

Last Name: Weber Locality: Richmond

I am your constituent and a person of faith and conscience. I urge you to oppose HB 2173. This bill would enable harmful, polluting facilities to expand across Virginia with the most severe impacts placed on vulnerable populations. Chemical conversion is not economically or environmentally sustainable and is undermining efforts to decrease Styrofoam use. The solution to the plastic crisis is reducing waste at its source, not dangerous approaches that add to toxic air pollution.

Last Name: Petersen Locality: Virginia Beach

I am your constituent and a person of faith and conscience. I urge you to oppose HB 2173. This bill would enable harmful, polluting facilities to expand across Virginia with the most severe impacts placed on vulnerable populations. Chemical conversion is not economically or environmentally sustainable and is undermining efforts to decrease Styrofoam use. The solution to the plastic crisis is reducing waste at its source, not dangerous approaches that add to toxic air pollution.

Last Name: Siegel Locality: Fairfax County

I write to encourage a vote against this Bill, which is scheduled for consideration in the House tomorrow. A vast array of substances is encompassed by the terms “post-use polymers and recovered feedstocks”, which are the core of the proposed definition. All of these “plastics” are removed from regulation as “solid waste” by this Bill, with no environmentally driven regulation put in its place. The move is too sweeping and, its environmental impact has not been the subject of the serious review it deserves. Since the array of substances is so vast, there obviously needs to be a mechanism to examine the effects plastic by plastic.

Last Name: Boehmer Organization: Environment Virginia Locality: Richmond

Support HB 2159- banning the intentional release of balloons. While it may not seem like balloons are a big issue when it comes to the plastic pollution crisis, evidence says otherwise. A study by the Virginia Aquarium found balloons to be one of the most harmful and frequently occurring form of debris on beaches across the Virginia coastline. According to a study done by the Ocean Conservancy balloons are found to pose some of the greatest risks to wildlife including adverse effects from entanglement and ingestion. Wildlife affected in the study included seabirds, sea turtles, and marine mammals. There are many other ways to celebrate or remember that do not normalize and encourage plastic pollution and threaten our wildlife. Balloon releases are organized litter events and they should be treated as such. And it is important to remember that we already have existing laws on littering. Concerns that enforcement of this law would target children or teenagers is inconsistent with how litter laws are enforced right now and should be addressed when looking at our broader litter laws which have a higher penalty. Oppose HB 2173- “Advanced” Recycling definition. While we appreciate Del Plum's commitment to addressing our plastic pollution crisis, I am afraid this is not the solution. Despite claims to create like-new plastic products, the industry has almost exclusively employed technologies to convert or “downcycle” plastics into fossil fuels. Processes include pyrolysis, hydropyrolysis, and gasification. Of the dozens of facilities that have been proposed in the U.S., only 3 are currently operational and none have been proven to successfully recover plastic to make new plastics on a commercial scale. Recent investigative reports from Greenpeace and GAIA have further exposed these truths. Chemical “recycling” does not recycle. This bill would open Virginia up to industry that is not beneficial to the environment while other states are actively trying to eliminate new facilities. There are things Virginia needs to do to reduce waste and increase recycling of what is left. Bottle bills/deposit programs are a great example of just one solution. Chemical recycling is not.

Last Name: Huntington Organization: Clean Fairfax Locality: Fairfax County

Clean Fairfax strongly opposed HB2173 to define advanced recycling as a manufacturing process. The Oregon Agilyx facility is often highlighted as a successful advanced recycling facility. In 2018, only around one-tenth of the expanded polystyrene Agilyx processed was actually turned into styrene and a similar amount was burned in cement kilns which are usually used to burn hazardous waste. This tells us the fuel produced by Agilyx was too contaminated or too low quality to use as fuel. In 2019, Agilyx processed only 641 tons of polystyrene - a miniscule portion of the 560,000 tons of container and packaging waste generated in the US every year. This facility received $25 million in private investments and a half million dollars in tax credits- to create of a known carcinogen. These are not the polices we want to bring to Virginia. Advanced recycling, pyrolysis and gasification, in particular, release toxic substances such as bisphenol-A, cadmium, benzene, brominated compounds, phthalates, lead, tin, antimony, and volatile organic compounds. Advanced recycling can’t handle mixed plastic polymers or black plastic and is also unable to recycle expanded polystyrene food and beverage containers. Advanced recycling is being sold by polluting corporations as a means to ensure their harmful products remain a fixture in our communities and waterways. The answer to the plastic pollution crises is reducing waste at its source. The answer is not succumbing to powerful corporations and building harmful facilities around our most vulnerable communities. Human health and economic development are not mutually exclusive, we should not be putting communities in the impossible situation to choose their personal and environmental health over having a job. Clean Fairfax supports HB 2159 to ban the intentional release of balloons Zach Huntington- Clean Streams Program Manager- Clean Fairfax

Last Name: Pedowitz Organization: Arlington Chamber of Commerce Locality: Arlington

The Arlington Chamber of Commerce supports HB 2173, a bill to promote advanced plastics recycling. Advanced plastics recycling complements traditional recycling to reduce plastic waste and promotes environmental innovation in the Commonwealth. We thus encourage the committee to report this bill.

Last Name: Sweeney Organization: Virginia Recycling Association Locality: Floyd

It is the policy of the Virginia Recycling Association (VRA) to recognize that the plastic, metal, paper, glass, textiles, electronics and rubber materials generated through curbside and drop-off recycling are commodities that can be bought and sold in an active, and sometimes volatile, international marketplace, and are subject to the same laws of supply and demand that govern the value of any and all other tradable commodities. We support the definition of recycling and advanced recycling as manufacturing and not a waste facility. Manufacturers rely on this feedstock to produce their products. The recycling industry contributes over $1.7 billion to Virginia’s economy. The VRA supports the manufacturing industry by understanding the value of recyclables as a valuable feedstock and commodity. Recycling facilities throughout the state strive to produce quality materials for those manufacturers using their products.

Last Name: MacDonald Locality: Leesburg

Be careful with this one . . . advanced recycling or chemical recycling as it is sometimes called is a term used by the petrochemical industry that promotes the idea of plastic-to-plastic and plastic-to-fuel technologies as a form of recycling. I think it is a good idea not to include advanced recycling as a part of solid waste management, but we want to be careful about legitimizing this industry which is being promoted as a solution for hard-to-recycle plastics. According to a recent report by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives who looked at 37 plastic advanced recycling' facilities proposed since the early 2000’s. Of these 37, only three are currently operational and none are successfully recovering plastic to produce new plastic.

Last Name: Medford Organization: Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce Locality: Tysons

I am writing to you on behalf of the 700 members of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce to express our support for HB2173. The private sector is ready to offer an innovative solution to specific kinds of waste and we ask that you support this bill. Thank you, Clayton Medford cmedford@novachamber.org

Last Name: Staples Locality: Chesapeake

Good Day, I would like you to know that on every trip that I make to various State Forest and the George Washington National Forest. I find several ballons while hiking, hunting or fishing. On my visits to Virginia Beach they are a constant wash up item that I find and dispose of. Please put an end to this needless celebratory practice. The harm to wildlife is terrible. 40 years ago, I watched a whitetail doe pull a balloon from a Mountain Laurel and partially eat it. Imagine how many times that scene has been repeated over the decades since. Thank you.

Last Name: Ware Organization: N/a Locality: Tappahannock

As a citizen who lives in the state and on the Rappahannock river and has seen the impact of poor stewardship, I ask that the General Assembly support these bills.

HB2187 - Recurrent Flooding Resiliency, Commonwealth Center; study topics to manage water quality, etc.
Last Name: Ross Organization: Virginia Interfaith Center Locality: Springfield

As climate change wreaks havoc on our world, it is increasingly obvious that our own actions and lifestyles have highly impacted and worsened the natural phenomenon of climate shifting. As a citizen of Springfield, it is utterly imperative that we seek alternate sources of energy, continue recycling, and provide healthy climate actions for future generations of all economic, racial, and other marginalized communities. The churches of Virginia have joined to raise our prayers and our voices to see that we treat our planet with the respect it deserves, and ensure a healthy life for all those to come. Please vote YES on HB 2074 and other initiatives that work to preserve our community so that many may enjoy it for decades of our future. Dixie Ross 7704C Lexton Place Springfield, VA 22152

Last Name: Scipio Locality: Orange County,, Locust Grove

In favor of programs to better facilitate the development and progress of my community.

HB2188 - Engineered septic systems; Department of Health, et al., to initiate a 3-yr. pilot program to study.
Last Name: Scipio Locality: Orange County,, Locust Grove

In favor of programs to better facilitate the development and progress of my community.

Last Name: Hunsinger Organization: Friends of the Rappahannock Locality: Fredericksburg

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on HB 2188. Friends of the Rappahannock SUPPORTS this legislation. This bill requires the Department of Health and Department of Environmental Quality, in partnership with the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission and a participating institution of Virginia Sea Grant, to initiate a three-year pilot program designed to study the use of engineered septic systems that house and treat sewage effluent in an elevated, self-contained unit suitable for areas with high water tables and susceptible to flooding in Coastal Virginia. The pilot study septic unit will be installed in an upland location outside of any designated RPA or floodplain. The unit will be designed to meet pollution removal standards of the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Quality. Thank you for your consideration of this bill and we hope you will support it.

HB2203 - Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program and Fund; established and created.
Last Name: Ross Organization: Virginia Interfaith Center Locality: Springfield

As climate change wreaks havoc on our world, it is increasingly obvious that our own actions and lifestyles have highly impacted and worsened the natural phenomenon of climate shifting. As a citizen of Springfield, it is utterly imperative that we seek alternate sources of energy, continue recycling, and provide healthy climate actions for future generations of all economic, racial, and other marginalized communities. The churches of Virginia have joined to raise our prayers and our voices to see that we treat our planet with the respect it deserves, and ensure a healthy life for all those to come. Please vote YES on HB 2074 and other initiatives that work to preserve our community so that many may enjoy it for decades of our future. Dixie Ross 7704C Lexton Place Springfield, VA 22152

Last Name: McDonald Organization: Virginia Association of Counties Locality: Richmond

VACo is proud to support this bill. It will provide greater food access to our local communities while directly assisting our local/regional foodbanks and local farmers.

Last Name: Ellis Organization: The Greater Good Initiative Locality: Fairfax

My name is Jacob Ellis, and I am the Co-Director of Economic Policy at the The Greater Good Initiative, a youth-led policy think tank that writes and advocates for research-driven policies across the nation and Commonwealth and we do support the bill. When our organization was founded nearly one year ago in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we devised a policy plan called the Tax Relief for Agriculture Industries in Need Act, or TRAIN as we called it. Our focus was directed towards the supply and demand issues between food banks and farmers, respectively. What we were witnessing at the beginning of the pandemic, and what we have still witnessed even 10 months later, is that farmers were dumping excess supply while food banks were being overrun by newfound demand. This was especially apparent in population centers like Hampton Roads. H.B. 2203 offers an immediate and feasible solution to the problem we were originally investigating months ago. Aside from the overwhelming support of the farming community and food banks, another notable point of this bill is that the funding is supported by $600,000 already allocated in this year’s budget bill. Per the Fiscal Impact Sheet, the Fund’s administration costs will be absorbed in current resources, making financial burden a non-issue. Senator Hashmi and her staff, the patrons of [the companion of this bill] S.B. 1188, have been incredibly supportive of our organization and policies, and we sincerely appreciate it. The Greater Good Initiative, representing many of the Commonwealth’s youth, fully support this bill and hopes that it is the pleasure of this committee and the body at-large to pass this bill. Thank you for your time.

Last Name: Scipio Locality: Orange County,, Locust Grove

In favor of programs to better facilitate the development and progress of my community.

Last Name: Calvert Organization: Virginia Conservation Network Locality: Charlottesville

Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) is proud to support HB2203.

Last Name: McDonald Organization: Virginia Association of Counties Locality: Richmond

VACo is proud to support HB 2203.

Last Name: Haggard Locality: Henrico

I am in favor of Delegate Rasoul's grant bill and Delegate Filler-Corns food charity fund. These both seem great for farmers and the community as a whole.

Last Name: McPhatter Organization: Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Locality: Amherst

Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments. I am a registered dietitian with the Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I manage a group of 13 renal dietitians for the University of Virginia where we care for over 900 people who are on dialysis in 13 facilities around Central Va. Food insecurity in the Commonwealth is a growing concern. In 2020 foodbanks experienced 41% increase in pounds of food served over 2019, just one year prior. One in ten people and 1 in 8 CHILDREN in VA face food insecurity. The problem is real and growing at an alarming rate. Ironically at the University of VA Dialysis program, we began a Food Pharmacy specifically for our dialysis patients in March 2020 with the help and support of the Blueridge Area Foodbank and a grant from Sentara health. While we knew the need was significant, we never imagined that we would send home over 600 bags of food to patients in our facility that is housed at the medical Center in the first 9 months. This month, we began our second site in Orange, Va and over 50% of those patients have needed and received help. Based on current usage, we will run out of funding by July 2021. HB2203 offers a reasonable opportunity for us to use the resources rich around the Commonwealth to potentially help extend this and similar program for its current users and expand to other centers and areas where the needs are just as great. There are many more examples and I am happy to provide more information if you have questions but I am sure we all agree that Nutrition in the cornerstone of treatment to many illnesses and to our overall wellbeing. An opportunity to help the growers who provide the most HEALTHY AND NUTRITIOUS fresh foods to our food banks and therefore helping our citizens improve the nutrition quality of their diet, is one we should not miss. Thank you. My cell phone is 434.485.1608 if you have questions or would like more information. Lesley McPhatter, MS, RDN, CSR

Last Name: McDonald Organization: Virginia Association of Counties Locality: Richmond

VACo is pleased to support HB 2203. This legislation is a simple, effective way to aid our local communities, further empower local and regional foodbanks, improve food access infrastructure, and assist our local farmers. This is especially true as the Commonwealth continues to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This initiative is truly win-win in numerous ways, as is evidenced by the broad and diverse array of stakeholders in support of the bill. We are proud to support HB 2203, and we hope you vote in favor of this important legislation.

Last Name: Kuhn Locality: Albemarle

Dear subcommittee members, I am a concerned citizen who believes that building a local food network based on sustainable agriculture is good for local economies, promotes healthful eating, and provides resilience when distribution chains are interrupted. Regenerative agricultural practices also help store carbon and contribute to carbon reduction goals. This year during the pandemic, the Charlottesville area was blessed with several farmers markets, operated by pre-order and drive-through pick-up, that enabled us to access farm fresh produce. I was grateful for this resource, and relied on it heavily. A non-profit organization, Local Food Hub, operated a couple of these markets, and provided “Farmacy Shares” of locally raised food to families in need. I hope you will support the growth and development of resources like these across the state. I ask you to support the following bills, which will promote local agriculture and the distribution of farm products to needy families: HB 2068 - Delegate Sam Rasoul’s bill for grants to establish a state-administered fund and grant program for community infrastructure development projects that support local food production and sustainable agriculture. Please consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. HB 2203 – Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s bill to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program for Virginia farmers and food producers to provide agriculture products to charitable food assistance organizations. Respectfully submitted Beth Kuhn Charlottesville area

Last Name: Coyle Organization: The Piedmont Environmental Council Locality: Warrenton

The Piedmont Environmental Council supports HB 2203. Over the past year, the pandemic has exposed significant vulnerabilities in our local food supply chain. Prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, approximately 843,000 Virginians lacked access to affordable, healthy food. The pandemic has added an estimated 447,000 Virginians to that number. At the same time, small, family-owned farms are already operating on the edge of survival due to falling prices for their products, inability to access processing, and the continued growth of commercial-scale operations. Since March, with the help of private partners and community supporters, The Piedmont Environmental Council has provided 25,000 pounds of vegetables, over 30,000 gallons of fresh milk from local dairy farmers, and more than 11,000 pounds of local beef and pork to the food-insecure in our nine-county region in the Virginia Piedmont. That's more than 250,000 pounds of locally sourced products for local food banks, which has a very different impact on the local economy than shipping in 250,000 of food from somewhere else. We've been able to support tens of thousands of families in need at 24 food pantries in 9 counties as the demand on our food banks has never been higher. It is imperative that we improve our food supply infrastructure in the Commonwealth, and in doing so there is a need for flexible and rapid response to changing circumstances, whether the need for cold storage, processing packaging distribution, or planned expansion of farming. We believe that HB 2203 is a good first step to creating a food rescue infrastructure for Virginia’s farmers and food insecure residents, and we hope that it engenders a broader discussion regarding further necessary steps to address local food supply and food insecurity issues.

Last Name: Hamilton Locality: Fairfax

I would like to express my support for both of these important bills. HB2068 and HB2203 are critical steps to both support local farms and food businesses and increase food access for thousands of Virginians.

Last Name: Miller Locality: Richmond

As a many year supporter of FeedMore, I am aware of the pressing needs of our community to fight hunger this year. As a physician, I am concerned that much of what we provide does not meet current nutritional guidelines for fresh fruits and vegetables. I urge you to support HB 2203 to connect and support local food producers to those that are distributing food to our communities.

Last Name: Costa Organization: The Virginia Youth Climate Cooperative (VAYCC) Locality: Roanoke

Dear Delegates, My name is Tallulah Costa, I am a 17-year-old resident of Roanoke, Virginia (24015), and I am the Policy Director of the Virginia Youth Climate Cooperative - a youth-run organization committed to climate action and justice. Today, I am asking you to support two bills that address climate change, build a resilient, sustainable local food system, revitalize rural communities, and increase food access by investing in community food and farm infrastructure and help Virginia farmers provide agricultural products to charitable food aid organizations. Supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of strong local food systems. Local food systems of small- and mid-sized farms using regenerative agricultural practices contribute to economic development and jobs, as well as resilience and sustainability, while increasing food access for the good health and nutrition of our communities. Helping Virginia farmers provide food to people who need it during a crisis builds farm livelihoods, while increasing food access, a win-win. My organization and I are seeking your support for two bills: HB 2068 - Delegate Sam Rasoul’s bill for grants to establish a state-administered fund and grant program for community infrastructure development projects that support local food production and sustainable agriculture. For HB 2068, we ask that you consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. HB 2203 – Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s bill to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program for Virginia farmers and food producers to provide agriculture products to charitable food assistance organizations. Thank you so much for your consideration. Please know that when you support bills like these, you are investing in my future and the futures of all the young people across the Commonwealth. Please don't let us down. Kindly, Tallulah Costa Roanoke, Virginia 24015 540-798-7416

Last Name: Costantino Organization: Virginia Grassroots Coalition Locality: Richmond

I am working with a coalition of farmers, local food and sustainable agriculture advocates, and environmentalists to promote sustainable local food systems. Please support two bills that address climate change, build a resilient, sustainable local food system, revitalize rural communities, and increase food access by investing in community food and farm infrastructure and helping Virginia farmers provide agricultural products to charitable food aid organizations: HB 2068 to establish the Local Food and Farming Infrastructure Grant Program and HB 2203 to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program. Supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of strong local food systems. Local food systems of small- and mid-sized farms using regenerative agricultural practices contribute to economic development and jobs, as well as resilience and sustainability, while increasing food access for the good health and nutrition of our communities. Helping Virginia farmers provide food to people who need it during a crisis builds farm livelihoods, while increasing food access, a win-win. For HB 2068, please consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. Below is a summary of the changes we would like to see in the final bill for HB 2068: 1. Remove the cap on maximum grant amount (or if there must be a cap, increase it dramatically, to at least $200K) 2. Add additional language to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture, as well as to underserved communities, both rural and urban. 3. Add some definitions for clarity: - add "community" to infrastructure - add a definition of preference "given to communities where there is a general lack of such infrastructure and/or underserved communities and/or environmental justice communities" - define the terms used in this targeting language, including sustainable agriculture, community infrastructure, environmental justice community, and underserved community. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Calin Locality: Springfield

This is in support of two bills that address climate change, build a resilient, sustainable local food system, revitalize rural communities, and increase food access by investing in community food and farm infrastructure and help Virginia farmers provide agricultural products to charitable food aid organizations. Supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of strong local food systems. Local food systems of small- and mid-sized farms using regenerative agricultural practices contribute to economic development and jobs, as well as resilience and sustainability, while increasing food access for the good health and nutrition of our communities. Helping Virginia farmers provide food to people who need it during a crisis builds farm livelihoods, while increasing food access, a win-win. We are seeking your support for two bills: HB 2068 - Delegate Sam Rasoul’s bill for grants to establish a state-administered fund and grant program for community infrastructure development projects that support local food production and sustainable agriculture. For HB 2068, we ask that you consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. HB 2203 – Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s bill to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program for Virginia farmers and food producers to provide agriculture products to charitable food assistance organizations. Thank you for your consideration. Leon Calin leoncalin@hotmail.com

Last Name: Malone Locality: Blacksburg

Dear Delegates, This is to ask you to support two bills that address climate change, build a resilient, sustainable local food system, revitalize rural communities, and increase food access by investing in community food and farm infrastructure and help Virginia farmers provide agricultural products to charitable food aid organizations. I am seeking your support for two bills: HB 2068 - Delegate Sam Rasoul’s bill for grants to establish a state-administered fund and grant program for community infrastructure development projects that support local food production and sustainable agriculture. For HB 2068, we ask that you consider amendments to the existing bill text to remove the cap on maximum grant amount and add additional language and definitions to establish criteria to target the grants to community infrastructure and sustainable agriculture. HB 2203 – Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn’s bill to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program for Virginia farmers and food producers to provide agriculture products to charitable food assistance organizations. Thank you for your consideration. Morgan Malone morganfaemalone@gmail.com Blacksburg, VA

Last Name: Whitfield Locality: Blacksburg, VA

I am a resident of Blacksburg and writing to express my support for HB 2068 and HB 2203. Support and development of local agriculture enhances food security, builds the local economy, improves nutrient content of foods available and lessens climate impact from shipping foods long distances. All of these issues are important in our rural Montgomery County. I ask that you please vote in favor of these bills. Thank you for your time and consideration.

End of Comments