Wednesday, February 13, 2013

HB 1430: Boneta Bill Update

From Scott Lingamfelter, edited for links and formatting only:

"Friends,


We are about to begin of Committee meetings and floor debate but I had to send you a quick update on House Bill 1430 (The Boneta Bill).

We found out today that the Boneta Bill will be heard in the full Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Committee this Thursday (February 14th) in Senate Room B. The Committee will meet 30 minutes after the Senate adjourns that afternoon- so, the earliest that the bill will be heard is 1:00PM on Thursday; however, it could be later.

We apologize for the ambiguity in the Committee’s meeting time but unfortunately, we cannot influence the Senate Committee agenda.

Against all odds, we have been victorious so far fighting for farmers, small businesses and property rights in the Commonwealth! But we still have a big battle before this legislation becomes law of the land.

But Martha and I need your help.

We understand that breaking away for the day to travel to Richmond is unrealistic for most so if you can’t make it that day, here’s what you can do to help us in the fight to protect small farmers, small business owners and property rights!

Below, I have included a draft email for you to send to members of the Committee. Please copy and paste everything below the bolded “Draft Email Here” into a new email, sign your name (and address if you’d like) at the bottom of the letter, and send to the following email addresses: "Hanger (Chairman), Watkins, Puckett, Ruff, Blevins, Obenshain, McEachin, Petersen, Northam, Stuart, Marsden, Stanley, Black, Miller, Ebbin". [Clicking on a Senator's name should bring up his/her link--PK]

If you’d like to go the extra mile, please call the members of the Committee and ask them to support the Boneta Bill this Thursday in Committee!

Draft Email Here:

Dear Members of the Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Committee,

I am writing to respectfully request that you support House Bill 1430 which will be heard in your committee on Thursday, February 14th and also request that you approve the amendments that will be brought forward to strengthen the bill. House Bill 1430 does no harm to existing Virginia Code section like opponents of the bill have said. The policy issue was decided years ago when the Right to Farm Act was adopted and that policy is not at issue. This bill merely ensures that the policy is clearly understood and consistently interpreted in all Virginia’s jurisdictions.

I also ask that you approve the following amendments to the bill:

Replace the reenactment clause with a delayed enactment clause to ensure that the protections afforded by this bill are implemented in a timely manner. Farmers currently face significant uncertainty as to what they can sell and whether or not they could possibly receive violations and/or fines from local government. A delayed enactment period of six months is sufficient to ensure that local government can review and, if necessary, amend zoning regulations, in order to assure compliance with the Virginia Right to Farm Act.

Reintroduction of “incidental sales” language: While the version of H.B. 1430 adopted by the House of Delegates deleted the provisions ensuring that “incidental sales” on farms are limited to a minority (less than 50%) of the sales from that farm, this limitation should be added to the Senate version of the Bill. This limitation is critical in ensuring that the intent of the Boneta Bill is not to turn our farms into big-box retail, but to allow minimal activity that is common practice and that makes good common sense.

As you may have heard, HB 1430 was put forward in response to a heavy handed local government that cited Martha Boneta for 1) operating a so-called “farm sales establishment” without a “special administrative” permit – even though she had been granted a business license by Fauquier County for this very use; and 2) hosting both “temporary” and “special” events on her property without permit. By Fauquier County’s own admission, they cited the farm based on third-party accusations and internet research, specifically Yelp and Facebook, and never did an onsite investigation before making charges against Martha.

This bill DOES NOT strip away the rights of counties to enforce zoning ordinances and does not inhibit or diminish agricultural zoning.

It simply ensures that the original intent of the Right to Farm Act is understood and given full force and effect across Virginia, and is designed to help farmers and counties alike avoid costly and unnecessary litigation. There has been a lot of misinformation distributed about this legislation and its affects and I can tell you it is wildly exaggerated. I strongly encourage you to consider this legislation, amend it, and vote to send it and the above amendments to the floor of the Senate.House Bill 1430 is a priority piece of legislation for many groups in your district who care a lot about its passage. I hope you will listen to their voice as you hear debate on the bill this Thursday.

Thank you for your consideration and for your service to the Commonwealth,

Sincerely,

Your Name Here

Friends join Marha and I to your support on this important piece of legislation, have your voice heard and remember to tell your friends to engage for the cause.

Also remember to like us Facebook and visit our website scottforva.com!

On to Victory,

Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, HD 31 and Candidate for Lt. Governor for the Republican nomination "