Wilt, Landes Meet Constituents
Delegates Hold Final Prep For GA Session
Posted: January 7, 2013
Del. Steve Landes, R-Weyers Cave, holds a town hall meeting with Del. Tony Wilt, R- Broadway, on Saturday at the Rockingham County Administration Center. (Photo by Holly Marcus / Special to the DN-R)
Del. Tony Wilt, R-Broadway, holds a joint town hall meeting with Del. Steve Landes, R-Weyers Cave, on Saturday at the Rockingham County Administration Center. Wilt is sponsoring a bill in the General Assembly this year with Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge, that makes texting while driving a primary offense.
Roughly 25 people attended the meeting at the Rockingham County Administration Center in Harrisonburg. Wilt and Landes — Republicans whose districts include different portions of the central Valley — discussed uranium mining, school safety and a handful of other topics brought up by residents.
The delegates also briefly reviewed bills they will carry this year.
Both said legislation in the Senate calling for an end to Virginia’s longtime moratorium on uranium mining needs further study and additional scientific data. Landes, of Weyers Cave, said economic factors also must be kept in mind.
“It’s a tough sell to get out of the Senate,” said Wilt, of Broadway, whose 26th district includes Harrisonburg.
Response To Newtown
In the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., Landes wants the General Assembly to find ways to provide additional resources for localities to place school resource officers on every campus.
Also, he wants all schools to review their layout and how they could be better secured.
Still, the problem runs deeper, Landes adds.
“There’s no way to stop a person who has a mental illness … and wants to intentionally go out and hurt people,” he said.
Wilt said the state must be careful about mandating school safety measures and instead give localities the freedom to address the unique needs of their communities.
Gov’t Oversight, Texting
Landes said his primary legislation for the 2013 session is a bill that was left at the committee level last year. It establishes a federal oversight commission that gives state lawmakers more “muscle” to interact with Virginia’s congressional representatives, he said.
The state lacks a formal mechanism for General Assembly members to meet with federal lawmakers to discuss the issues affecting constituents, Landes said.
“I don’t know why our federal [government] would be opposed to that,” he said.
Wilt’s marquee legislation is one he is sponsoring with Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge. It makes texting while driving a primary offense, meaning police can pull someone over specifically if a driver is texting.
Current law says texting is a secondary offense that needs a primary one, such as speeding, before a motorist can be pulled over and ticketed.
Wilt thinks existing reckless driving laws cover texting, in that any act performed by a driver who is not actually driving is reckless, and therefore criminal.
However, the judicial system “waters down” and “melts away” charges too often, he said. A reckless driving law specifically governing texting, Wilt said, should lead to proper punishment for those in violation: a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $2,500, a jail sentence of up to a year, or both.
Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or firstname.lastname@example.org