Governor signs Delegate Joshua Cole’s hazardous vegetation removal bill into law
FREDERICKSBURG, Virginia — Delegate Joshua G. Cole’s bill, House Bill 284, was approved by Governor Ralph Northam, last week. HB 284 (2020) amends the Code of Virginia to allow for localities, by ordinance, to remove hazardous vegetation that might obstruct the view of drivers.
“This simply is another tool in our toolbelt for keeping people safe,” Delegate Cole stated. In response to criticisms that the bill would be a burden on localities, Cole remarked, “this is simply an option, this provides counties and cities with the ability to handle a problem on their own instead of relying on VDOT. This bill alleviates pressure on both groups while making roads safer for drivers and pedestrians.”
The bill originated from activism by the group Changing Stafford’s Roads. The group was founded by students from Colonial Forge High School after the death of their fellow student, Helen Wang. Wang was killed in an automobile accident after her view of an oncoming truck was obscured by roadside vegetation.
“We [at the General Assembly] worked on this bill, but this will always be ‘Helen’s Law.’ Changing Stafford Roads paved the way for this bill and without their advocacy, this bill may not have made it onto the Governor’s desk,” Cole said.
Delegate J.G. Cole also worked closely with other delegates and senators to ensure the bill’s passage. “We are thankful for the work of Senator Stuart on his Senate version of our bill as well as the support of our House sponsors, Delegate Mark Cole and Delegate Kathy Tran.”
The law will go into effect July 1, 2020.