Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Punch Drunk

The 2013 Virginia Legislative Session (AKA: Law-Makin’ in the Cap City).

Posted By on Tue, Jan 22, 2013 at 4:00 AM

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The 2013 Virginia legislative session has commenced with a spate of proposed laws, some of which are finely crafted and full of grand intentions. Others, not so much.

House Bill 1805, for example, would allow senior citizens to purchase a lifetime saltwater recreational fishing license. Unfortunately — should this time-killing waste of space pass the House and Senate — those of us younger than 65, like me, still must purchase our saltwater recreational fishing licenses on a year-to-year basis. A blatant display of reverse ageism, but hopefully we'll be able to pick up the pieces and carry on.

And yes, even after the nationwide embarrassment that Virginia suffered in 2012 from our state GOP's need to take complete control over a women's uterus, there are more backward abortion-related laws set to be voted upon. The writers at "The Daily Show" are salivating. But aside from those, and ignoring the hot-button gun issues, I've taken the liberty of wading through the mumbo jumbo for a few choice proposals. Enjoy:

HB2037: Makes it lawful to hunt or kill nuisance species on Sundays. But wait, Sunday is the lawwwd's day. It is also the day that we go to the Sizzler in our finest. Do not bats, opossums, voles and snakes deserve a day of rest too? Is this bill a waste of time? Or an incredible waste of time?

HB1381: Imposes a 5-cent-per-bag tax on plastic bags used at retail stores. Now regardless of what I told that girl at Fat Dragon last week, I am not a professional environmental scientist, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that cutting a few plastic bags out of the mix is the lowest of low-impact when it comes to conservation. Real talk alert: Plastic bags are stronger and have the ability to hold more groceries. I'll be damned if I'm going to make extra trips to the car when taking my groceries inside. Damned, I say!

HB1366: Makes smoking in a motor vehicle in the presence of a child younger than 13 a civil offense, punishable by a $100 fine. OK, I get that, but once they turn 14 it's cool, right? I mean, it's still illegal for them to smoke at that age, but when they're in the back seat while you're driving to 7-Eleven to buy them beer, it's sort of a wash at that point anyways.

HB1601: Increases the penalties on prostitutes for soliciting customers 18 years old and younger. This gentleman from the South Side rises in strong opposition to the proposed legislation. Like my father and his father before him, losing one's virginity to a gentle and understanding hooker with a heart of gold in a creepy La Quinta Inn on Midlothian Turnpike at the age of 11 is a rite of passage. It made a man out of me, and it sure as hell will make a man out of the child that I eventually get limited custody over.

HB1463: Makes possession of tramadol — which apparently is an opiate painkiller — a schedule-four controlled substance. I've never heard of tramadol, but if they're going to make it tougher to get, then I want it. I need it. Now.

HB1811: Allows for enhanced penalties for gang activities or drug manufacture, distribution or possession with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of multifamily housing for older persons, which otherwise are known as "drug and gang-free zones." Seems reasonable, but it fails to address the increased level of punkage and old-fashioned beat downs one is entitled to should they violate one of the state's many "sucka-free zones." Another example of lawmakers' being shortsighted or "busta-ass bitches."

HB1816: Makes the penalties much harsher should a minor be found in your meth lab. I'm serious, this is a proposed law. My first thought is, if you get caught with a meth lab, I doubt an extra 10 years in prison because you have your kid in there helping you is something you worry about. My second thought is, there are many hard-to-reach areas and intricate chemical processes that come with meth lab ownership — things that a child's small hands are perfect for.

SB746: This makes the failure to report a missing child illegal. Makes sense, right? But let me ask you this: If you steal a loaf of bread, would you call the cops and tell them about it? No one likes a snitch.

HB1367: Makes cigarette-butt littering punishable by a $100 fine. Do we really need our underpaid and overworked police officers looking for people snuffing out their smokes on sidewalks or tossing butts out of their motor vehicles? Get real. This is 2013. My car doesn't even have an ashtray.

Listen, I smoke and it's gross, meanwhile littering is abominable, but this proposal is asinine. There are bigger fish to fry out there — fish that I will catch illegally when I refuse to renew my saltwater recreational fishing license next year. Gotta fight the system!

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Reach Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback at bartender@styleweekly.com. Lauterback also serves as co-host of 103.7-FM's "River Mornings with Melissa and Jack," weekdays from 6-9 a.m.

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