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Kilgore working to toughen Virginia litter laws

Staff report • Jan 14, 2007 at 12:12 PM

Delegate Terry G. Kilgore, R-Gate City, chairman of the House Majority Caucus, announced Friday five legislative initiatives to strengthen Virginia's littering and pollution laws to keep Virginia's highways and waterways clean.

"Current fines dealing with littering are meaningless. I think it's time to increase the fines courts place on individuals who throw their trash onto our roadways and pollute our rivers and streams," Kilgore said.

Kilgore's initiatives would stiffen fines for polluting and dumping, grant immunity to volunteers and officials who work at recycling facilities from suits brought by probationers, and allow nonprofit organizations dedicated to protecting our natural resources to collect their judgments in successful suits.

"It is important to me, especially as a lifelong resident of beautiful Southwest Virginia, that we have laws that reflect our commitment to protecting our environment. There must be a mechanism in place to effectively deter those who desecrate the outdoors," said Kilgore. "In order for us to appreciate the beauty of our commonwealth, each of us should do our part to recycle, throw away our trash, and not pollute our waters. I want Virginia to remain a place of beautiful rivers and streams and the home of breathtaking vistas. Therefore, I respectfully urge the General Assembly to pass this legislation so it can be presented to the governor for his signature."

Kilgore's environmental legislation includes the following bills:

•HB 1715: Increases the fine for dumping garbage into the waters of the state from a maximum of $100 to $2,500.

•HB 1758: Increases the fine for obstructing or contaminating state waters to a Class 1 misdemeanor. As it now stands, Virginia law stipulates the penalty is a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500 or confinement in jail for not more than 12 months, or both.

•HB 1786: Authorizes nonprofit organizations whose primary mission is to protect Virginia's natural resources to receive the proceeds from a civil action they brought for the improper disposal of solid waste.

•HB 1787: Provides civil immunity for public officials and private volunteers from a lawsuit by probationers who are assigned recycling duties at landfills, garbage transfer sites, and other public waste disposal systems.

•HB 1842: Gives the court the authority to assign a person who is convicted of littering from a motor vehicle to clean up litter on roadways or streams, to suspend their driving privileges for up to 12 months, or to assign them to work in recycling for up to 250 hours. This sentence would be in lieu of confinement.

Kilgore represents Scott County, Lee County and parts of Washington and Wise counties.

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