WE GOT 'EM SURROUNDED: A reluctant legislature approved laws last year restricting smoking in public places. As a result, the cafeteria in the General Assembly building crams nonsmokers together at tables in the center of the dining room, encircled by smokers on the perimeter.
The restrictions don't apply to the legislative chambers. As a result, House Speaker A.L. Philpott (D-Henry), an inveterate pipe smoker, puffed his way through the governor's televised State of the Commonwealth address, prompting complaints to a Richmond television station. Some of the callers weren't worried about the governor's health, but thought Philpott's smoking was disrespectful. An unrepentant Philpott growled, "Can you imagine?"
Meanwhile, a bill by Del. Jack Kennedy (D-Wise) would raise from 16 to 18 the legal age for buying tobacco products and increase the fine for violations from $25 to $50. POTTY PARITY: Restroom equity, the subject of statewide legislation two years ago, has come at last to the Virginia Senate. What used to be an office just off the floor of the chamber for Lt. Gov. Donald S. Beyer Jr. is now a lounge for the 40-member Senate's three women.
The remodeling was a victory for Sen. Emilie F. Miller (D-Fairfax), who had complained that it was unfair that women had to leave the chamber, a trip that left them subject to confrontations with lobbyists and reporters, while male senators had a private lounge adjoining the chamber. Beyer was given office space elsewhere.FOR ALL YOU DO, THIS ROAD'S FOR YOU: Sen. Charles L. Waddell (D-Loudoun) has proposed a bill to rename the Dulles Toll Road after two former Fairfax legislators. The westbound lanes of the road would be called the Adelard Brault Expressway, and the eastbound lanes would be named the Omer L. Hirst Expressway.PROPOSED LEGISLATION: Del. James F. Almand (D-Arlington) would allow the Arlington County Board to increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes to as much as 10 cents. Arlington's current tax is a nickel a pack, which raises $700,000 a year . . . . Legislation proposed by Del. Kenneth R. Melvin (D-Portsmouth) would allow school boards to require students to wear uniforms to class . . . . Del. C. Richard Cranwell (D-Vinton) would strip from the Freedom of Information Act a provision requiring local governing boards to certify by a vote, immediately upon conclusion of a closed meeting or executive session, that they discussed only permitted matters . . . . The idea of extending the session a day to give members more time to consider the budget has been nixed in favor of moving up by a day the deadlines for getting the budget compromise to all of the members for their consideration.QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "We're bailing the boat out as fast as we can and drilling holes in the bottom at the same time." -- Del. Jay W. DeBoer (D-Petersburg), decrying the abundance of organizations that are exempt from sales and use taxes.COMING THIS WEEK: The Commonwealth Transportation Board will review the list of projects recommended for delay because of the budget crisis . . . . Democrat L. Karen Darner (D-Arlington), who won a Jan. 8 special election to complete the term of the late Del. Warren G. Stambaugh, will be sworn in Wednesday, after the Arlington Board of Elections certifies her victory.THE WILDER WATCH: Legislative session or not, Gov. L. Douglas Wilder will be in Beverly Hills on Sunday, speaking at a champagne brunch of the California Abortion Rights League, sharing the spotlight with Hollywood stars including Holly Hunter, Richard Dreyfuss and Jane Fonda. And don't be surprised if the governor raises some money on the trip for his Committee for Fiscal Responsibility in '92, which many consider to be Wilder's presidential campaign fund-raising PAC.