Roanoke City Council approves list of priorities to send to General Assembly

ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke City Council has finalized a list of priorities to send to the General Assembly.

Guns should not be allowed where local governing bodies are meeting -- that's one of a list of priorities  Roanoke's Legislative Committee wants the General Assembly to allow it to do.

"All we're really asking for is to have the same security for City Council meetings that the judges have in their courthouse and the schools have," said Bill Bestpitch, chair of the legislative committee.

Along with the priorities, the legislative committee compiled a list of policy ideas that the city would support, including legislation that would help localities protect the public from gun violence. 

"We're not asking for something special for the city of Roanoke, but we really want that issue of public safety to be addressed on a statewide basis," said Bestpitch. 

Also on the list of priorities, the committee wants state lawmakers to:

  • Authorize localities to limit smoking within designated areas of outdoor public spaces. 
  • Allow liens to be placed on unpaid solid waste collection fees. 
  • Authorize treasurers to use third party collection services to collect delinquent taxes and other charges after three months. 

Education was also a key point of the committee's priorities. Similar to the proposal of Sen. Bill Stanley, committee members supported using revenue from sales tax on internet sales or another sustainable funding source to improve public schools.

"There needs to be some reliable sustainable source of funding to make sure that our schools are modernized, to make sure that they're properly maintained," said Bestpitch.

Sen. Stanley sent us a statement about the idea saying:

"The Wayfair decision could result in a new stream of revenue generation of up to $300 million per year for the state...I am proposing that Virginia allocate roughly half of this new revenue stream to finance state bonds that will generate up to 3 billion dollars of revenue for the modernization of K-12 school facilities throughout all of Virginia, without having to raise taxes on our citizens and local businesses.  Virginia’s children are our greatest natural resource, and we owe it the them, and to the future of our Commonwealth, to provide them with a safe, modern and technologically-advanced learning environment that will ensure that they will receive a world-class education that will make them ready to be a part of the 21st century workforce in Virginia." 

The committee's priorities and policy ideas will be presented to local representatives Oct. 15. The General Assembly would then decide if it would take up the issues in February.