There were a host of twists and turns along the way, but the Arlington County government has narrowly dodged a towing-related slapdown by the Virginia legislature.
It may only be a temporary victory, however.
State Senators on Jan. 31 voted 23-17 in support of legislation patroned by Del. David Marsden (D-Fairfax County) to place more restrictions in Northern Virginia localities when it comes to regulating towing in their boundaries.
The measure was at least partly in response to actions taken in December by the Arlington County Board, expanding consumer protections. That action drew swift condemnation both from the towing industry and the county’s chamber of commerce.
The 23-17 vote ordinarily would have sent the measure to the House of Delegates for consideration. But later in the day on Jan. 31, the Senate called the bill up for reconsideration, and three senators – a Republican and two Democrats – switched sides, leading to a 20-20 tie. Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) voted to kill the measure.
A motion to reconsider the legislation yet another time the same day garnered 32 votes, but needed all 40 members of the Senate in support to bring it up again.
On the key 20-20 vote, four Democrats (including patron Marsden) sided with 16 Republicans in support, with 16 Democrats and four Republicans opposing the bill.
A similar bill in the House of Delegates also is wending its way to a final vote. If it passes, it will go over to the Senate, which will repeat the process again.