Virginia Gov. John N. Dalton vetoed a bill tonight that could have led to increased collection of District of Columbia parking fines levied against Northern Virginia residents.
The parking fine meausre was one of 26 bills vetoed by the governor on the final day for approving legislation passed during the General Assembly session that ended March 3.
Since the assembly has adjourned for the year, it will not have a chance to override any of Dalton's vetoes.
The parking measure would have given the governor authority to enter into reciprocal agreements with the District and the states bordering Virginia to collect fines for illegal parking by nonresident motorists.
Dalton vetoed the bill even though it had the backing of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and the Washington Area Council of Governments.
In a two-sentence veto message, he said such reciprocal agreements "would increase administrative costs and cause considerable public difficulty in the Northern Virginia area."
He also expressed "concern" that erroneous recordings of license plate numbers, by officers issuing tickets could lead to efforts to collect fines from innocent motorists.
The measure, sponsored by Sen. Edward M. Holland (D-Arlington), barely passed the House of Delegates, 45 to 42 after Del. Robert L. Thoburn (R-Fairfax) argued that D.C. police have a quota system for writing parking tickets and might jail Virginia parking violators.
D.C. police spokesman Bill Jepsen denied that a quota system exits. He said that an arrest for unpaid parking tickets is possible but "just doesn't happen."
Del. Robert E. Harris (R-Fairfax), another opponent of the bill, said that 85,000 Northern Virginians have one or more understanding parking tickets from the District.
Del. Elise B. Heinz (D-Arlington) argued during the House debate that the bill was needed to enforce tickets against D.C. and Maryland motorists who park illegally in Arlington. She said Arlington would "come out ahead" if a reciprocal collection agreement were enacted.
Holland said Dalton called him last weekend to tell him he would veto the parking bill and explain his reasons. "I don't think his reasons are very good," Holland said.
He added, "People who incur parking tickets should pay the fines. The governor said the ratio of outstanding D.C. tickets to outstanding Virginia tickets is 80 to 20, but I think those figures would be more nearly even if you looked at Arlington alone."
Most bills vetoed by the governor are duplicated by other measures that he signed or were rejected for what he considered to be constitutional or technical defects. None involved major issues.
As expected, he vetoed a bill that would have stripped Republican Attorney General Marshall Coleman of his power to appoint lawyers to represent the state in highway condemnation cases. Coleman angered Demo crats last year by replacing Democratic lawyers with Republicans.
Dalton rejected a bill that would have restructured the state's complex tax on wine to a single tax of $1.40 per gallon. He said the bill was legally defective because it earmarked $3.7 million for alcoholism prevention, an appropriation not included in the appropriations act.
A bill permitting special work permits for juveniles was vetoed, he said, because the permits would not be recognized by the federal government and could result in federal fines.
A bill revising procedures for filling a mayoral vacancy in Vienna was vetoed because Dalton concluded its provisions would violate the state constitution.
Today's vetoes brought to 27 the total number of bills rejected by Dalton this year. During the legislative session, he vetoed a measure that would have permitted optometrists to use certain diagnostic drugs when performing eye examinations. Use of the drugs is now limited to ophthalmologists, who are medical doctors.
The House of Delegates overrode that veto, but the Senate let it stand.