Legislation reinstating a statewide mandate for any new septic system to use “best available technology” met with a surprise on the Senate floor Thursday, when a preliminary approval vote failed on a vote of 22-23. The vote was reconsidered, in a common parliamentary maneuver, and placed on hold for further discussion Friday.
MACo had opposed the legislation, suggesting that the statewide mandate (as opposed to just the Critical Area near waterways, where thas standard currently applies by law) is an inefficient and costly method to reduce pollution. (Read MACo’s testimony online)
Senator Steve Hershey, the Minority Whip and an opponent of the bill, expressed his thoughts on the vote in social media:
Bill requiring BAT septics in non-critical areas fails 22-23, yet will be reconsidered. Our wins don't last long. pic.twitter.com/LOb8x1hD6p
— Steve Hershey (@SenatorHershey) March 2, 2017
At the time of this writing, the Senate debate was expected to continue on Friday — with the bill still on its second reading in its original chamber, it is open to amendments as well. The close negative vote on the bill advancing to its final Senate reading suggests a lively and possibly contentious floor debate ahead. The House of Delegates has yet to act on similar legislation.