The 1985 Virginia General Assembly, in a frantic 46-day session, ordered sweeping new mandates on a broad spectrum of issues ranging from how the state hands out coveted highway money to raising the legal drinking age to 21.
Dozens of the issues signal historic shifts in the way the state government does business, and many will have a direct impact on the daily lives of Virginians.
Beyond these issues was yet another category of bills: those that were defeated.
Here is a look at some of the new laws that will take effect July 1 if they are signed by Gov. Charles S. Robb, along with an outline of proposals that were left in the legislators' wastebaskets, starting with transportation issues:
Highway money. In a major victory for Northern Virginia and other urban areas, the General Assembly approved a sweeping proposal to divert millions in highway money from the once politically powerful rural areas of the state. The bill would increase the amount of highway money going to the Washington suburbs from $41.4 million to $45.5 million in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1985. Northern Virginia legislators fended off an attack on the bill that would have deleted the $21 million-a-year contribution the state government makes to the Metro system.
If local counties still do not have enough money for road improvements, another measure would allow them to spend an unlimited amount of local money on highway projects. They previously were limited to spending $55 million over a five-year period, a ceiling that some counties, such as Fairfax, complained was too low.
Seat belts. A proposal requiring drivers and front-seat passengers to wear seat belts was killed by lawmakers. Opponents of the measure argued that the law would be an infringement on individual rights, while supporters said it could save hundreds of lives each year and prevent many injuries.
Trucks. Legislators voted this session, under pressure from a powerful trucking lobby, to allow larger tractor-trailers on the state's roads and highways. The new law would extend the maximum length of the trucks from 55 to 60 feet. Supporters said the longer trucks would help the state compete for business it otherwise would lose, while opponents said the bigger vehicles would create serious safety hazards on congested city streets and narrow country roads.
Another measure, however, would give Fairfax County police officers with special training the authority to order unsafe tractor-trailers off the county's roads and interstates. Under current law, only state troopers are allowed to detain trucks that they consider to be operating with unsafe equipment. Sen. Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), sponsor of the bill, said that less than half a dozen troopers now are dispatched in the county to handle the job.
Airports. Virginia legislators approved a plan to set up an interstate authority to control National and Dulles airports. The proposal, which must be approved by Maryland, the District and Congress, would establish an 11-member airport authority, rather than leaving the airports under the control of the federal government.
Traffic offenses. Motorists would be required to stay in the right-hand lane except under certain conditions, such as when passing -- a law intended to prevent the bottlenecks created by slow drivers in the passing lanes. Under another new law, drivers who find themselves facing traffic fines without enough cash to cover the costs could ante up with a credit card if the judge gives approval.
Legislators refused to stiffen laws to make it easier to convict a motorist of drunk driving by lowering the blood-alcohol content required for a driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction.
A measure sponsored by Del. James H. Dillard II (R-Fairfax) would give police more flexibility to charge motorists with reckless driving when they pass stopped school buses. Under the new law, if the incident is observed by the bus driver, the owner of the vehicle would be presumed to be the operator and would be subject to a $50 fine. Current law requires the bus driver to be able to identify the operator of the vehicle before the driver can be convicted of reckless driving. Health
Asbestos. Citing a state survey that found potentially hazardous asbestos materials in more than 240 state buildings, Sen. Wiley F. Mitchell Jr. (R-Alexandria) pushed through a bill that would require the state to use health specialists to inspect all state buildings and schools by Jan. 1, 1987. The material, used extensively before it was banned for use in construction in 1978, has been found to cause cancer when the tiny fibers are inhaled. Children's Issues
New protections for sexually abused and runaway children dominated much of the assembly. Legislators imposed laws mandating tougher penalties on persons convicted of child abuse.
A new law would allow judges to order accused abusers out of the home in certain cases, rather than the child victim.
The legislature imposed new requirements for criminal record checks of persons under consideration for positions in day care centers.
A special fund was set aside to establish a Missing Children's Clearinghouse to coordinate information among state and local law enforcement and social service agencies.
The most controversial proposal in the children's issues package, a measure that would allow use of videotapes of children's statements in criminal trials, was defeated because of concern over constitutional rights. Legislators agreed to study the proposal for a year and to return to the 1986 session with revised proposals. Environment
Bottle bill. A perennial bill to ban the sale of throwaway beer and soft drink containers once again was killed. The bill, touted as an anti-litter measure, has consistently drawn strong opposition from retailers, drink wholesalers and bottle and can manufacturers.
Coal slurry pipeline. Legislators also defeated a controversial proposed coal slurry pipeline that would carry up to 15 million tons of pulverized coal, mixed with water or liquid carbon dioxide from Southwest Virginia to Hampton Roads every year. The measure was opposed strongly by the railroad lines that now carry most of the coal in the state.
Uranium mining. A measure that would lift the state's moratorium on uranium mining died once again this year. The bill would have allowed Marline Uranium Co. to mine what has been described as a 30 million-pound lode of uranium in southern Virginia. Opponents argued that uranium mining would be a threat to the environment of Southside Virginia. Crime
Emergency lights. In an effort to end confusion between fire and police vehicles, a new law would require all police cars in Virginia to be equipped with blue lights or a combination of blue and red lights, while fire and rescue vehicles would use only red lights.
Evidence. Police would be able to use photographs of stolen items as evidence in burglary cases under a new law sponsored by Del. Robert E. Harris (R-Fairfax). Current law requires police to keep the stolen item itself as evidence, a mandate that frequently is inconvenient for victims because of the lengthy period that sometimes elapses between recovery of the property and the trial of the accused.
Prisons. In the aftermath of a series of prison breakouts and disturbances, legislators toughened penalties for inmates who escape or take hostages. Government
Gubernatorial terms. The General Assembly voted in favor of breaking a 134-year-old constitutional tradition of forbidding Virginia governors from succeeding themselves. Under a proposed constitutional change that must be approved again by the legislature next year and then be placed before the state's voters, governors would be allowed to run for immediate reelection beginning with the 1993 campaign year.
Gubernatorial appointees. Legislators approved a patronage bill backed by Gov. Charles S. Robb that would strip about 550 upper-ranked administrators of state grievance machinery protection. Robb supported the measure after problems in the Department of Corrections and the Department of Mental Health convinced the administration that those agencies as well as others may have a large amount of what they termed "dead wood."
School boards. Legislators defeated a proposal pushed by Del. David G. Brickley (D-Woodbridge) and Del. Floyd C. Bagley (D-Prince William) to allow voters the option of electing their local school boards. Development
After a divisive debate, the assembly gave Loudoun County permission to draft an ordinance for regulating the transfer of development rights from one piece of land to another. Supporters said the measure is aimed at preserving the dwindling farmlands in the county, but opponents said the plan would be too unwieldy to administer. The county's proposed ordinance must be brought back to the General Assembly next year.
New legislation would loosen the bonding requirements local governments can impose on developers. Developers would be allowed to bond proposed developments in small pieces rather than bonding entire parcels. Counties could no longer require developers to put up construction bonds on projects such as tot lot playgrounds and bicycle trails in private subdivisions. Revenue Issues
State lottery. The assembly killed a perennial bill that would have allowed Virginia voters to decide whether the state should operate a lottery similar to those in the District and Maryland.
Taxes. Counties would be allowed to impose a 2 percent transient tax on hotel and motel rooms, an authority currently held only by cities. Budget Statewide
Education. Per-pupil aid to local governments increased from $1,605 to $1,901, an increase of $296 per student. For Fairfax, that would mean an additional $4 million each year.
State employes would receive pay increases of more than 8 percent, with some employes, judges and constitutional officers receiving more.
Payments under Aid to Dependent Children, the state's major welfare program, would rise 8 percent. Under the change, the typical ADC family of a mother and two children in a modest cost-of-living area would receive a monthly increase of about $20.
The legislature eased restrictions on the amount of land adjacent to a home that a family can own to be eligible for assistance, and it exempted a certain amount of a family's burial funds in determining eligibility.
Funding of $1 million was allocated for increases in security equipment for the state's troubled prison system and salaries and additional training for guards.
The assembly restored 349 of the 625 positions in the community college system the governor had asked to be cut from the budget because of declining enrollments; the measure returned about $9.9 million of the $15.2 million proposed in cuts in the budget.
Preparing for what state officials predict could be drastic cutbacks in federal aid, legislators set aside $67 million for a reserve fund that also will be used as hedge against any downturns in the state's booming economy. Budget -- Northern Virginia
Transportation. New changes in the way the state allocates highway funds would increase the amount of money going to Washington suburbs from $41.4 million to $45.5 million a year.
Design of Dulles Airport midfield terminal and tramway: $4 million.
Promotion funds for Dulles: $200,000.
A measure sponsored by Del. Gwendalyn F. Cody (R-Annandale) would permit drivers to have a reproduction of the state seal on their license plates for $25, a fee that the state would collect.
Public safety. Seventeen of 100 new positions for the Department of Motor Vehicles would be allocated to improve customer service and reduce waiting times.
Approximately 12 of the 33 new state police positions for interstate highway patrols would be used primarily in Northern Virginia.
A new state police helicopter for medical and traffic emergencies would be assigned to Northern Virginia on a half-time basis.
Arlington County Jail: $150,000. Alexandria Jail: $150,000.
Transfer of Alexandria Juvenile Court Service unit to the state system: $347,400.
Prince William Group Home for Boys: $147,500.
Loudoun County Youth Shelter: $150,000.
Renovation of Loudoun County Jail: $39,000.
State contribution toward new National Guard armories in Leesburg, Alexandria and Fort Belvoir as a result of the reactivation of the 29th Light Infantry Division; this is in addition to an existing armory in Manassas. Total construction costs are estimated at $8 million, financed primarily by federal funds with some contributions from the state.
Funding of 11 new teaching positions at George Mason University.
Increased budget to allow GMU to continue leasing mobile units used for office and teaching space and new teaching equipment: $1 million.
Construction projects for Northern Virginia Community College system: storage building at Loudoun Campus, $300,000; parking lot and maintenance building at Alexandria Campus, $160,000; maintenance building at Alexandria Campus, $25,000.
Kindergarten. Four-year-olds would be required to pass a test to attend kindergarten following the approval of a measure sponsored by Del. James H. Dillard (R-Fairfax). Under current law, 4-year-olds can enroll in kindergarten if they reach the age of 5 by Dec. 31.
Draft. Legislators defeated a measure to require male college students to register for the draft in order to attend state colleges or receive state financial aid, but legisaltors eliminated state-sponsored tuition for men convicted of refusal to register.
Development of Alexandria port, $100,000.
Arlington Community Services Board, $200,000.
Pay raises for registrars in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park: 10 percent increase above the approximately 10 percent pay raise approved for registrars statewide, because of the high cost of living in the Washington suburbs. Consumers
Health spas. Health spa operators would be allowed to post a minimum bond of $10,000 instead of $25,000 to protect consumers who sign long-term contracts, under a measure sponsored by Del. Kenneth R. Plum (R-Fairfax).
Vacation contracts. The legislature tightened regulations of firms that sell "time-share" arrangments, such as contracts for the use of a condo a week every year.
Injury suits. The legislature defeated a bill that would have allowed an injured person to sue for damages as long as, by his or her own negligence, the person contributed 50 percent or less to the cause of the accident. The bill was sponsored by Del. Bernard S. Cohen (D-Alexandria).
Health boards. Health regulatory boards will continue to be made up of members of the professions as the result of the failure of a bill that would have included citizen members.
Loan charges. The state will continue to allow certain small finance companies to decide what to charge for service and administrative costs. A bill to put a ceiling on those charges died.
Security deposits. One bill sponsored by Del. James F. Almand (D-Arlington) would tighten the law covering the return of a security deposit, and a measure sponsored by Del. Marian Van Landingham (D-Alexandria) would raise the interest paid on the deposits from 4.75 to 5 percent. Social Issues
Abortion. A bill that would have required parental or judicial consent of abortions for girls under age 18 died in the last hours of the session in a House-Senate conference. The House passed the measure, the most controversial of the session, by a 3-to-1 margin. But the Senate substituted much weaker language that would have required only that a minor obtain information on the procedure from a second doctor if she lacked the consent of her parents. Conferees failed to find a compromise.
Drinking age. The beer-drinking age would rise from 19 to 20 by July 1986 and to 21 by July 1987 under a measure sponsored by Sen. Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax). States not raising the age limit by October 1986 stand to lose millions of dollars in federal highway funds. The state's age limit for drinking wine or liquor already is 21.
Among drunk-driving measures that failed was a bill to create a new category of crime between reckless driving and involuntary manslaughter.
Handicapped rights. The mentally ill and the mentally retarded would receive new protections against discrimination in areas such as employment and housing, under a measure sponsored by Del. Warren G. Stambaugh (D-Arlington). The new law would ban discrimination against these groups and would set up a state agency empowered to investigate, mediate and litigate cases of discrimination against all the handicapped.
Involuntary commitment. For the second year in a row, legislators failed to approve a bill, sponsored by Stambaugh, to provide greater legal safeguards and improve medical screening for the aproximately 4,000 persons a year who are sent to state mental hospitals against their will.
Group homes. Legislators defeated a bill sponsored by Del. Kenneth R. Plum (D-Fairfax) that would have prevented developers from blocking the location of small group homes for the handicapped in new subdivisions.
Child support payments. The wages of fathers who fail to make child support payments would automatically be garnished under a new law.
Divorce suits. Pension, profit-sharing and retirement plans would be counted as part of joint property to be divided in divorce proceedings; courts would maintain jurisdiction until the marital property is divided. The measure was sponsored by Del. Gladys B. Keating (D-Fairfax).
Regulation of day care centers. The legislature left the current system for regulating day care centers basically intact, after attempts to weaken the regulatory framework and efforts to strengthen it. Business
Wine. The legislature approved new protections for wine wholesalers against wineries that try to cut off their contracts.
Interstate banking. Banks from a 13-state region, including the District of Columbia and Maryland, would be allowed to set up shop in Virginia, provided that they offer Virginia banks the same opportunity.
Polygraph tests. The legislature defeated a bill that would have banned polygraph tests for applicants for public sector employment or promotion. Groups of teachers and firefighters had complained that the tests were being misused.
Phone rates. The State Corporation Commission would regulate the phone rates paid by municipalities, under a new law that telephone companies supported and local governments opposed. Voter Registration
The assembly approved two constitutional amendments aimed at making registration easier. The amendments must win the approval of the legislature again next year, as well as the approval of voters.
One amendment would allow government employes to serve as assistant registrars. A second amendment would end a practice of automatically purging the names of voters who have not voted in four years from registration rolls without notifying the voters. Local Bills
Trash. Fairfax County, which is rapidly running out of space to dump its garbage, won permission to build a multimillion-dollar trash-burning plant that also would generate electricity. A private contractor would operate the plant, estimated to cost at least $225 million. The county would set dumping fees and sell the electricity to Virginia Power.
"Booting." Falls Church and Alexandria would be allowed to regulate "booting" of automobiles in private parking lots, under a measure sponsored by Del. Vincent F. Callahan Jr. (R-McLean).
Personal property tax. The legislature approved a bill by Del. Stephen E. Gordy (R-Fairfax) to lengthen the amount of time allowed in Fairfax County for payment of personal property tax bills.