Public Comments for 02/11/2021 General Laws
SB1215 - Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; tenant remedies for exclusion from dwelling unit.
SB1254 - Sports betting; clarifies certain procedures.
SB1287 - Charitable Gaming Board; regulations, electronic pull tabs.
SB1299 - Alcoholic beverage control; sale and delivery of mixed beverages and pre-mixed wine.
The Arlington Chamber of Commerce urges your support for SB 1299, identical to the House-passed HB 1879, continuing for another year the sale of mixed beverages for takeaway service. Restaurants are now approaching a year of severely limited, if any, in-person service on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. Takeaway beverage service has cut into some of the losses sustained during this time. Continuing this service for another year will support restaurants as they work to return to full service. Moreover, customers have come to enjoy takeaway beverage service safely and our neighbors in the District of Columbia have made it permanent. As such, we believe that continuing this service will serve Virginia restaurants and patrons well and encourage support of this bill.
SB1327 - Homeowners and tenants of manufactured home parks; housing protections, foreclosures, etc.
I support the Preserving the American Dream Act (SB1327 Homeowners and tenants of manufactured home parks; housing protections, foreclosures, etc.) because this bill would provide new protections and support for homeowners and tenants that might face foreclosure. The COVID-19 pandemic led to an increase of people who were laid off or lost their jobs. Statistics show that this pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color. Furthermore, a significant wealth gap already exists in the state of Virginia, and a lower percentage of families of color own their homes compacted to white households. The mortgage relief that this bill would provide these hard-working families would mean that they can remain in their homes. This bill plans to change the 14-day notice and increase it to a 60-day notice that would be required prior to beginning the foreclosure process. The details on legal assistance, information on how much money the homeowner owes, and how much money they are behind will be very beneficial because it can protect them from losing their home.
As you may know, the city of Richmond has one of the highest eviction rates in U.S. This is due to a diverse set of reasons, however, some of these can be changed. This bill encourages various protections to mobile home homeowners and tenants. By requiring an explanation, in plain language, of the rights and responsibilities of tenants under the Virginia Manufactured Home Lot Rental Act, tenants are able to help themselves. It gives them the tools needed to encourage self-advocacy. It's helping them help themselves. Usually, individuals bury their face when facing foreclosure. Through an extended notice for foreclosure sale and requiring the landlord to provide tenants with information about housing assistance and legal aid organizations, it encourages utilizing services there for us to use, while also giving a greater amount of time to process what is happening. All of this combines to giving a fair chance to comprehend and take action.
SB 1327 strikes the appropriate balance between providing access to resources borrowers without putting unnecessary strain on the foreclosure process. This bill prioritizes the needs of VA’s homeowners and tenants, who are forging through the challenges the pandemic continues to bring. Homeowners should be adequately notified in advance of a foreclosure auction sale and understand what options are available for assistance.
I am writing in support of this bill, SB1327, for the following reasons. I believe that this bill should protect tenants' rights. Providing information concerning their rights as a tenant is crucial to the successful relationship between a tenant and a landlord. In many cases, tenants won't know their rights and can be exploited or taken advantage of because they don't have the resources or the information concerning their rights. For these reasons, I support the addition of a statement of tenants' rights and responsibilities in plain language to the Director of the Department of Housing and Community Development's responsibilities. I also support the extension of the notice time of foreclosure sale from 14 to 60 days. Given that many homeowners may not be aware of their rights or resources, giving them 60 days can provide them with enough time to become educated or sort out their next steps. For many people, the future is uncertain, especially during a pandemic, so having more time could help secure financial assistance or a new place of residence.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, the VBA appreciates the work of the patron and the Virginia Poverty Law Center and their collective willingness to work with lenders in constructing this bill. Virginia banks understand the importance of encouraging stable housing, no more so than during this ongoing public health crisis. Lenders don’t make home loans with the expectation that the borrower will not be able to repay their debt. Unfortunately, there are times when that occurs and foreclosure is the lenders’ last means of collecting on the debt. It is important that when those circumstances arise, the process is efficient to enable borrowers to move forward with securing other housing options and the overall housing market remains stable and accessible for all borrowers. This proposal adds clarity to the foreclosure process, ensures transparency and access to information, and protects homeowners from having their homes being forced to sale for small amounts of unsecured debt. We believe it strikes the appropriate balance of strengthening consumer’s ability and time to fully understand the process and their options prior to a foreclosure sale without significantly complicating or unnecessarily extending the process to the determinant of the secured lender. We are pleased that much of the input the VBA provided throughout the process is incorporated in the bill. In acknowledgement of the productive negotiations with the stakeholders resulting in the bill before you, we are pleased to support the bill as presented and encourage its passage.
SB1389 - Real property; required disclosures for buyer to exercise due diligence, flood risk report.
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SB1406 - Marijuana; legalization of simple possession, etc.
Legalize Cannabis for the Common Good of the Commonwealth I know this wont get read, but I am going to give this a shot. This legislation is life and death for me. I’m writing to urge you to reach a speedy compromise and present the conference report for SB1406 and HB2312. I greatly appreciate your many, many hours of work dedicated to equitable cannabis legalization this session. However, it should be PROHIBITED FOR YOU to criminalize what can be for some, a means of life and death. I am a medical marijuana patient and without cannabis, I could not function. At all. In 2015, I was diagnosed with severe chronic hemiplegic migraine, a debilitating neurological disorder that effects every part of my body, every day for the rest of my life. Constant pain, seeing spots, muscle twitches, paralysis, aphasia, extreme light sensitivity, seizures, unconsciousness, headache, vomiting, you name it. I was bed ridden, unable to work or do the simplest things. After contemplating suicide, and before acting on those thoughts, I found cannabis. Cannabis did not cure my disability, however, it makes life with my disability possible. My neurologist cannot explain it and is the one that sent me to get the medical card after trying so many medicines that didn't work. I know without cannabis I would be dead, if not by my own hand, by this disability that steals my quality of life. The scary thing is... I know I am not the only one who this plant is the only thing that works for them. Because of this, and really so much more, WE MUST END CANNABIS PROHIBITION. Not only are you prohibiting medicine from your constituents, you are withholding a sustainable future from them. I don't need to inform you of Virginia's history with hemp, you have done your research. You KNOW this, but I will remind you that you are withholding sustainable and affordable food, fiber, building materials, beauty products, animal feed/bedding, fuel, clothing, PLASTIC REPLACEMENT & PAPER REPLACEMENT. Why?? Getting high is NOT a good enough reason for prohibition. Especially when you have legalized atrocious alcohols and opiates which effect a person so much worse than cannabis ever has. LEGALIZE CANNABIS. LEGALIZE HOME GROW. NO CORPORATE CANNABIS. We don't want the government growing for us, they have failed in enough areas. Virginians should be allowed to cultivate at their home, as much cannabis as they want, however they want, whenever they want, without fear of persecution or inspection. If they want 1% THC or 40% THC is up to them and is their business. HANDS OFF OUR HEMP! Do Not Put Your Unwarranted Restrictions Upon It. This Plant Is Just As Harmful As a Tomato Plant. Please use state resources and time for real crime, with real victims. Your Prohibition on Cannabis created the crime. Sick and Tired of your BS, CShell
Free the non violent prisoners and end the cruel prohibition.
This bill is following a great trend set by other states to legalize and decriminalize marijuana. The harm to several communities as a result of a minor drug conviction is irreparable. This bill allows the mending of communities and livelihoods for people of color, through the expungement of these misdemeanors. This, although it does not solve all problems, begins to address the issue of black and brown communities being over-policed for drug-related crimes. With this said, I believe there is still the need to address what will be done once marijuana is legalized? How will we work to ensure that black and brown communities are not disproportionately targeted and fined? How can we ensure that the cycle will not continue?
Firstly, I would like to comment that this bill is a monumental step in the right direction. For so long, communities in the commonwealth have long been affected by unjust marijuana laws. The actions from this bill will expunge a huge weight off the shoulders of every community in the commonwealth. However, one community still is in a tremendous amount of pain from these laws - this community is the inmates held in captivity. The bill explains the implications for those who have been imprisoned by marijuana laws. However, many inmates have been charged with marijuana-related charges in addition to other violent crimes. Would the years of imprisonment be altered to ensure that the years that are intended to be served for the marijuana charges that are expunged are not counted with the years already served? For example, if someone has been sentenced to 13 years in prison - three of which are for marijuana charges and the other ten for something else. And this prisoner has served seven years, meaning they would have six years remaining. Would the three years be removed to lower the number of years needed to be served to 3 or would it be counted to the years already served?
I have been a physician for 33 years. I am a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, and board certified in both Family Medicine and Preventive Medicine. I am working full-time addressing the public health impacts of COVID-19. During my day off, I have come to understand that legalization of marijuana is being considered by the Commonwealth of Virginia. There is a serious knowledge gap between popular belief and scientific reality. While the public view of marijuana has become more benign over the last 10 years, the medical and scientific literature tell a much different story, especially when it comes to teens and young people, with addiction, dependence, gateway drug to opioids, mental disease, respiratory condition, motor vehicle accidents and risky behaviors being just a few of the negative effects. There is NO time is right to legalize marijuana. The cost of weed is TOO HIGH. According to Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee, setting up the infrastructure to facilitate the legal sale of marijuana would cost Virginia from $8 million to $20 million upfront. With nearly 800,000 Virginians filing unemployment in just four months during the pandemic in 2020, this kind of tax spending is irresponsible. Virginia has already cut mental healthcare funding since the beginning of the pandemic, though mental health issues are expected to rise as the pandemic continues. Marijuana is known to make users more susceptible to increased schizophrenia, psychosis, depression and suicide. Marijuana use can contribute to respiratory complications such as bronchitis, which would make COVID-19 more dangerous for those who smoke marijuana. Marijuana legalization is known to cause increases in motor vehicle accidents and traffic fatalities, which would extract emergency medical resources away from COVID-19 victims. The socioeconomically disadvantaged were already at an increased risk for psychiatric disorders before the pandemic, and they have been the most affected by it. Just like with alcohol and gambling, it is the poor who will suffer disproportionately.  Key Considerations for Marijuana Legalization (p. 5, Rep.). (2020). VA: Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee. doi:http://jlarc.virginia.gov/pdfs/presentations/Rpt542Pres.pdf  COVID-19 IN VIRGINIA: ECONOMIC IMPACT ASSESSMENT (p. 13, Rep.). (2020). VA: Virginia Economic Development Partnership. doi:https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.goveda.org/resource/resmgr/covid-190/C19_Impact_Briefing_-06-08_V.pdf  Magoon, C., MD, Lieberman, J. A., MD, & Rosenberg, L., MSW. (2020, November 16). Preparing for the Mental Health Repercussions of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Retrieved November 17, 2020, from https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/preparing-mental-health-repercussions-covid19-pandemic  Avery, J. A. (2020). Marijuana: An honest look at the world's most misunderstood weed. Bristol, Tennessee: Christian Medical & Dental Associations.  Ibid.  Ibid.  Magoon, C., MD, Lieberman, J. A., MD, & Rosenberg, L., MSW. (2020, November 16). Preparing for the Mental Health Repercussions of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Retrieved November 17, 2020, from https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/preparing-mental-health-repercussions-covid19-pandemic
This bill provides a much needed step in the right direction for the decriminalization of marijuana, but there does seem to be an issue with the charing of 18-21 year olds with an ounce or less of cannabis. Previously, there was a $25 civil fine but there has been discussion of increasing that to a criminal charge, including rehab. What is the logic or need to increase the penalty from a fine to a criminal charge? Also, seeing how previous cannabis laws disproportionately harm communities of color, the possibility of youth who live in marginalized communities before over-policed will not be out of the question. This could lead to an increase of criminal cases against people of color, circling right back to the issue we have at hand where laws are being unequally enforced. Will this bill hold law enforcement accountable so that similar trends do not repeat themselves? Are there other options for penalties that wouldn't include criminal charges?
I’m concerned that the General Assembly is moving too quickly to pass legislation to legalize the commercial marijuana industry. SB1406, if passed, will have a huge negative impact on Virginia Beach tourism and quality of life. Some negative consequences for property owners, rental agents and the hotel/motel industry are: impact on property values, guest misbehavior because of mind altering effects of cannabis may endanger others and create a negative atmosphere for other guests/tourists, marijuana smoking in units may generate noxious odors causing complaints, hash oil explosions/fires may cause property damage and risks to guest safety, odor permeates drywall requiring expensive renovation/remediation between long term renters/guests, the need for policy/protocol changes and staff training, and illegal marijuana growers may rent housing causing numerous problems for owners such as property damage, neighbor trafficking, and stealing electricity from the power company by bypassing meters all of which may leave owners liable. The big marijuana corporations’ profit by increasing use of the drug, driving up THC (the main psychoactive ingredient) potency and marketing its products in kid-friendly ways on billboards and social media advertisements and in stores (like those in hash-derived CBD stores that are prolific in Virginia Beach). Although marijuana may seem like a low risk, accepted drug, it’s actually risky with many unintended consequences. Here’s a quick list of issues regarding marijuana: • Smoking & vaping marijuana increases risk for negative outcomes from Covid-19. • If adult use is legalized, marijuana availability and access will expand, increasing youth & adult use. • Only 15 states plus Washington, DC have legalized adult use and “medical” marijuana; not the majority of states. • The most abused legal drugs by youth and adults, alcohol & tobacco, are state controlled. • Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug by youth; the pandemic has led to even greater use of marijuana. • Research based federal guidelines list marijuana as a DEA, Schedule 1 drug. • Marijuana’s THC potency has drastically increased over the decades. • Negative risks include: cognitive & motor impairment, poor decision making, academic underachievement, heart & lung problems, exposure to contaminants when vaped, pediatric poisonings & deaths, car crashes, workplace accidents, gateway behavior, continued illicit trafficking, dependence, & addiction. • Any state revenue from legalized marijuana sales will be outweighed by the cost from its negative impact on public and highway safety, the workplace, law enforcement, the health care system, and natural resources. The result of this will be increased youth and young adult use, increased exposure to minors and subsequent hospitalizations, more issues with substance abuse and mental illness, and more impaired drivers on our roads causing fatal car crashes. We need to prevent the marijuana industry and Altria lobbyists from steamrolling Virginia; vote no on SB1406. Thank you.
This bill highlights the fact that the actions mentioned will go into effect as soon as the bill has passed, including working towards freeing those incarcerated for marijuana charges. This is very impactful and has great potential. However, the longer this bill takes to pass, the more low income communities are targeted, resulting in more disproportionate arrests and prison sentences. What time line can the committee provide in terms of how quickly those imprisoned will be freed? In theory it sounds great to free everyone once this bill is passed, but what does this process really look like? Who will be freed first, how quickly does the committee truly expect these pardons to happen, and is there any expected resistance towards these people being freed?
MARIJUANA PSYCHOSIS Coming to Virginia. At 21 years old my son smoked pot with a friend. Immediately following this he was found running in the middle Chippenham Parkway. Not understanding what had happened to him, two days later he tried marijuana again. This time he was hit by a car going 45 miles an hour. After being in the ICU, on a ventilator and having a tear in his aorta, he recovered and came home. The psychosis continued. Eventually he was arrested in GA going 140 mph and eluding police under a state of delayed psychosis from smoking pot. After NUMEROUS failed attempts to find him help, we found a rehab over 1000 miles away that would treat him for marijuana addiction and psychosis. He was diagnosed with pot psychosis, the pot had affected his brain. . A wise pediatrician once told us the brain develops into our twenties. You may be saying to yourself you’ve never heard of pot psychosis, I understand. Most people I talk to in Virginia say the same thing. BUT DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU CAN GET HELP FOR MARIJUANA ADDICTION, Colorado California and Oregon. That’s where you’ll find addiction support and Maranon meetings to help those affected by a love ones marijuana use. Marijuana use that often results in suicide and traffic fatalities. Please don’t let it be your child, your grandchildren or your niece and nephew that becomes a statistic of the commercial marijuana industry. Statistics that are growing exponentially in states that have legalized marijuana. KEEP YOUR LOVED ONES SAFE. Read the real outcomes coming out of places like Colorado. Listen to the doctors. Get the facts before it’s too late and your loved one is sitting in a rehab over 1000 miles away. At the least build the rehabs that treat marijuana addiction before you build the addicts. They’re going to need help. SCIENCE and FACTS ... FOLLOW THEM FYI currently my Son is off marijuana, Off all medication and doing well.
As a person who served an eight year sentence for felony possession of marijuana, equity in legalization is at the forefront of my priorities. Directly impacted people should be given preferential access to the legal market and given access to assistance through tax revenue, as no reparations can truly heal or remove the trauma and suffering I like so many others have endured due to unjust laws, thousands of days spent in misery and isolation with limited opportunity for growth. We must use this opportunity to not just prevent future harm but to repair some harm caused in the past. Prohibition should end immediately before legal markets are set up, so that no more people suffer the trauma of being caged for possession of a plant.
Thank you for taking the time to consider my thoughts on the subject of cannabis legalization in our wonderful state. I applaud the progressive thought and attention that went into this bill especially considering the emphasis on restorative justice for those long affected by the discriminatory war on drugs. I write to you today to ask your consideration when moving forward with rules and laws on the personal home cultivation of cannabis. Firstly a consideration of the wonderful climate we have in VA that would allow I think for world quality cannabis to be grown here and put VA on the top of the east coast in terms of quality and esteem. Notably the house bill on this subject would restrict growing to indoors only which not only is incredibly capital intensive but cannot create the same quality of full term cannabis grown outdoors. Virginia was once the greatest producer of quality tobacco in the world and can, based on your influence, do the same for cannabis. Secondly I wish to address the issue of counting plants as a means of restricting the home grower as ineffectual and manipulates what could otherwise be as simple as planting tomatoes. The allowance of two mature and two immature cannabis plants does not acknowledge that cannabis is an annual crop when grown naturally. When these restrictions are placed on cannabis it forces those that choose to grow it to pursue other methods like indoor growing with energy inefficient lights in order to comply with the law while still producing cannabis for personal use. I ask today that you adjust the scope of the bill to allow up to four plants regardless of maturity and to reject the idea that cannabis would only be allowed legally to grow indoors. Thank you for your help in bringing the wonderful "terrior" of this wonderful state to the cannabis world and bring the state fully into the green revolution.
On the subject of Home Cultivation, as a horticulturist I find some issues with the definition of "immature plant" when it comes to cannabis. Cannabis grows mainly as a male plant or a female plant, with the former being mostly useless when it comes CBD and THC production. The issue here is that while a cannabis plant is "immature," it is impossible to determine the sex of the plant. For that reason, I believe that the number of immature plants should be increased, or have it's definition modified to remove the under eight inches in height requirement, while adding a requirement that the plant doesn't yet show any signs of it's sex.
In favor of SB1406. This is long overdue. Respectfully. 25 Year retired Virginia Law Enforcement Officer.
I am here today on behalf of the members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), Local 400. We represent over 10,000 members in Virginia who work in retail food, food service, food processing and healthcare. Nationally, UFCW represents over 1.3 million hard-working men and women who work in highly regulated industries including the emerging legal cannabis industry. Our cannabis members work in multiple states in growing and cultivating facilities, manufacturing, and processing facilities, and in laboratories and dispensaries, including in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Wherever cannabis is legalized, the UFCW is committed to building family sustaining jobs and a strong, diverse, and skilled workforce. We support the legalization of cannabis for adult use in Virginia with the addition of labor peace agreements as a condition of licensure and renewal along with language adopted in the House version of the bill by your ABC/Gaming Subcommittee. We hope that you will work with us to make sure the language your subcommittee added to the House bill to protect the voice of workers in this industry will stay in the final version that goes to the Governor. The change we recommend is: Add to 4.1-606B a new 18 between line 6489 and 6490: 18. Establish requirements for all license applicants to submit an attestation signed by a bona fide labor organization stating that the applicant has entered into a labor peace agreement with such bona fide labor organization. The maintenance of a labor peace agreement with a bona fide labor organization shall be an ongoing material condition of maintaining a marijuana cultivation, marijuana manufacturing, marijuana testing, marijuana wholesaler, or marijuana retail store license. In reviewing initial license applications, the commission shall give priority to the following: (i) Applicants that are party to a collective bargaining agreement with a labor organization that currently represents, or is actively seeking to represent, cannabis workers in Virginia. (ii) Applicants that are party to a collective bargaining agreement with a labor organization that currently represents cannabis workers in another state. (iii) Applicants that include a significantly involved person or persons lawfully residing in Virginia for at least two year as of the date of the application. (iv) Applicants that submit an attestation affirming that they will use best efforts to utilize union building trades labor organizations in the construction or retrofit of the facilities associated with the permitted entity. (v) Applicants that submit an attestation affirming they have a project labor agreement, or will utilize a project labor agreement, which is a form of pre-hire collective bargaining agreement covering the terms and conditions of a specific project, including labor issues and worker grievances associated with any construction or retrofit of facilities, or other applicable project, associated with the licensed entity. Add to 4.1-900 under 1 a new p between line 7287 and 7288: p. Has refused to (i) remain neutral regarding any union organizing efforts by employees, including card check recognition and union access to employees; (ii) ay employees prevailing wages as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor; (iii) classify no more than 10 percent of its workers as independent contractors; or (iv) failing to maintain a labor peace agreement with a bona fide labor organization.
SB1183 - Property Owners' Association Act/Condominium Act; use of electronic means for meetings and voting.