The Bulletin

General Assembly upholds veto of bill letting utility vehicles park on private property without permission

By: - April 12, 2023 6:29 pm

A Comcast truck outside the Virginia Capitol. (Photo by Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Lawmakers agreed Wednesday to uphold Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s veto of legislation that would have allowed public utility and broadband providers to temporarily park their vehicles on private property without permission of the owner while conducting service or maintenance.

Youngkin had said the bill violated the rights of property owners. The Democratic-controlled Senate accepted the governor’s veto with a 22-18 vote. Vetoes can only be overriden with a two-thirds vote in both legislative chambers. 

“As a cornerstone of our society, property rights must not be eroded for convenience or expediency,” said Youngkin in his veto. 

The bill, which passed with strong support in both chambers, included provisions to restrict service vehicles from blocking entries and exits and prevent towing services from removing them for 72 hours.

Youngkin said the bill could have resulted in disputes that led to “unnecessary conflict and animosity” between property owners and service providers and that Virginia would be better served by “encouraging communication between service providers and property owners rather than enacting legislation that undermines individual liberty.”

However, the bill’s patron, Sen. Jeremy McPike, D-Prince William, said the veto would allow predatory towing of utility vehicles left by service technicians to address gas leaks or power outages. 

“The governor’s giving a nod to predatory towing, which impacts public safety,” McPike told the Mercury. 

Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-Loudoun, said one of the reasons she supported the original bill was to help expand broadband access across Virginia.

“They have to be able to drive and park their trucks if we want broadband to be deployed,” Boysko said. 

However, Sen. David Suetterlein, R-Roanoke, said the governor’s veto protects the rights of property owners upon which the original bill would have infringed.

“I don’t think that is something we can do,” Suetterlein said. “We should not be granting such powers to these utilities, and I think if it’s an emergency issue, we ought to have legislation related directly to the emergency. Not this.”


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Nathaniel Cline
Nathaniel Cline

Nathaniel is an award-winning journalist who's been covering news across the country since 2007, including politics at The Loudoun Times-Mirror and The Northern Neck News in Virginia as well as sports for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. He has also hosted podcasts, worked as a television analyst for Spectrum Sports, and appeared as a panelist for conferences and educational programs. A graduate of Bowie State University, Nathaniel grew up in Hawaii and the United Kingdom as a military brat. Five things he must have before leaving home: his cellphone, Black Panther water bottle, hand sanitizer, wedding ring and Philadelphia Eagles keychain.