The 2024 legislative priorities were presented at the Blacksburg Town Council meeting Jan. 23, 2024. Larry Spencer, Town Attorney, touched on a couple of main points of interest in the priorities.
“Well, the town does this every year, it tries to find things, and generally, there are some statements in there we’re concerned about,” said Spencer. “Things that would take away the town’s land use authority and taxation authority. There are references to certain bills that are out there that may be doing that. There’s also a lengthy part to the back where Carol Davis analyzed a whole bunch of sustainability measures, and she conferred with me, and she picked the ones that she thinks will have the most impact.”
The legislative priorities document states, “The town supports a constitutional amendment (HJ18) that automatically reinstates voting rights after a convicted felon is free from any term of incarceration.”
Additionally, Spencer’s comments on taxation are most likely referring to the town’s comments that the General Assembly should consider taxation on “lawful” manufacturing, distributing or sales of marijuana. Gaming legislation of electronic devices were also mentioned in the document concerning the effects that adopting this legislation would have on zoning in Blacksburg.
Measures were also included to avoid situations of rent gouging in the town, along with other points that would mitigate for better approaches for citizens in addressing local issues. However, one of the most important items included in the priorities, according to Spencer, is the need for mental health support in the region.
“To me, one of the most important is to, a call for more mental health funding to avoid situations where our citizens can’t get help and our officers are stuck at the hospital waiting for them to be able to get help,” Spencer said.
The full legislative priorities document can be found at www.blacksburg.gov.
Town council members shared announcements for upcoming local meetings and events as well.
The General Passenger State Rail Authority will be hosting a public meeting on Monday, Jan. 29 at the Blacksburg Community Center from 4:30-8:30 p.m., Council member Jerry Ford said.
“This is to give the public an update on the efforts being made to bring Amtrak and passenger rail service to the New River Valley,” Ford said. “It will be just a lot of good information to keep everyone up to date. Larry and I serve on the Passenger Station Rail Authority. Our community is in charge of building the station, where the state is in charge of building the platform and the rail line.”
A survey will be conducted, both at the meeting and online, according to Ford.
The Dialogue on Race will be occurring today, Saturday, Jan. 27, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Christiansburg Middle School. Coffee with Cops will also be held at 9 a.m. prior to the discussion, according to council member Susan Anderson.
The town council retreat will also take place Tuesday, Jan. 30 in Radford. Additionally, the Virginia Municipal League Government Day will be held in Richmond, Thursday Feb. 1 which will allow an opportunity for many of the Council members to speak with elected officials, Anderson said.