, 2014

General Assembly update:
Measure to reduce menhaden
fisheries cap reaches legislature

RICHMOND—Friday, January 18, is the final day for legislators to file bills and joint resolutions for consideration during the 2013 General Assembly session. All bills and joint resolutions must be filed by 3 p.m.

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Among bills filed last week, Del. R. Lee Ware Jr. of Powhatan filed legislation to establish a total allowable catch for menhaden landed in Virginia by the reduction and other menhaden fisheries.

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources, where it was assigned to the Chesapeake subcommittee. Del. Ware is a member of both.

According to the House Bill 1840 summary, the annual menhaden harvest cap in the Chesapeake Bay for the reduction fishery would be reduced from 109,020 to 87,216 metric tons. The reduction fishery includes those vessels that harvest menhaden for the purpose of manufacturing fertilizer, fish meal, or oil.

The bill provides that if the harvest of the reduction fishery does not reach the cap, the difference between the actual harvest and the cap would be applied as credit to the allowable harvest for the following year.

The bill establishes an annual total allowable catch for menhaden landed in Virginia at 144,272.84 metric tons, 80% of which can come from the reduction fishery with all other menhaden fisheries authorized to land 20% of the allowable catch.

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission would be authorized to adopt regulations consistent with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Compact and Amendment 2 of the Atlantic Menhaden Fishery Management Plan of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

The bill authorizes an increase in the license fee on each vessel fishing with a purse net for the harvest of menhaden to be used as bait from $3 to $5 and extends the current $5 fee that has been charged on vessels harvesting menhaden for reduction that are over 70 gross tons to all vessels harvesting for reduction purposes, regardless of size.

The bill provides that anyone who lands menhaden in Virginia after the date of closure of the fishery would be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. In addition, the bill repeals a scheduled January 1, 2014, sunset date for the establishment of a total allowable catch of menhaden and the closure date announcement process.

The committee meets at 8:30 a.m. Wednesdays in House Room C. The subcommittee meets at 5 p.m. Thursdays in the Seventh Floor West conference room.

District 99 Del. Margaret Ransone of Kinsale also is a member of both panels.

Recent bills

Among other measures filed last week, House Joint Resolution 633 commends the Special Olympics Virginia Area 28 soccer team. Area 28 of the Rappahannock Region includes Northumberland, Lancaster, Richmond and Westmoreland counties.

The resolution notes the area 28 team won the 2012 regional tournament in Fredericksburg and advanced to a 56-team state tournament in Virginia Beach, where the team won four matches to claim the tournament championship. In addition to coach Tammy Wilkins, the resolution mentions players Krystal Sisson, Ryan Cammarata, Holly Smith, Storm Rasmussen and Devon Noel and recognizes the Northumberland High School students and coaches volunteering to help the team train.

The resolution concludes, “Resolved, by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That the General Assembly hereby commend the Special Olympics Virginia Area 28 soccer team for winning the gold medal at the Special Olympics Virginia state soccer tournament; and be it Resolved Further, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates prepare a copy of this resolution for presentation to the Special Olympics Virginia area 28 soccer team as an expression of the General Assembly’s admiration for the team’s skill and best wishes for the future.”

Del. Ransone is the resolution patron. Senate patrons included District 4 Sen. Ryan T. McDougle and District 28 Sen. Richard H. Stuart. The resolution has been agreed to by a voice vote in the House and has been laid on the speaker’s table in the Senate for consideration.

Del. Ransone and Sen. Stuart also introduced bills to allow state residents ages 65 and older to purchase a lifetime saltwater recreational fishing license for $5. House Bill 1805 was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources. Sen. Bill 1213 was referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources. The Senate committee meets Thursdays a half-hour after adjournment.

Other bills of local interest

• House Bill 1390 amending the Kilmarnock Town Charter was referred to the Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns, where it was assigned to subcommittee 1, which meets Wednesdays at 7:15 a.m., 15 minutes prior to the committee meeting.

• House Bill 1400 reorganizing the oyster replenishment tax was referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources. Sen. McDougle, Sen. Richard H. Stuart and District 98 Del. M. Keith Hodges are among the co-patrons of the bill, introduced by Del. Ransone.

• House Bill 1411 increasing the penalty for hoax explosive devises from a Class 6 to a Class 5 felony was referred to the House Committee for Courts of Justice. The committee meets Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays a half-hour after adjournment. Its companion, Senate Bill 712 was referred to the Senate Committee for Courts of Justice, which meets Mondays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays a-half hour after adjournment.

• House Bill 1345 reducing the number of members on the Rappahannock River Basin Commission from 34 to 32 was referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources.

• Senate Joint Resolution 276 calling for a Constitutional amendment to allow the governor to succeed himself was referred to the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections, which meets Tuesdays at 4 p.m.

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