eNews Mar 30, 2017

Thursday, March 30, 2017 - 4:30pm

Breaking news: First responders broadband network selects partner

FirstNet made a much-anticipated announcement today. They are partnering with AT&T to build the First Responders wireless broadband network.  This is a 25-year agreement that will benefit first responders nationwide.   It is a public-private partnership that will begin with FirstNet providing 20MHz of spectrum and $6.5 billion dollars over the next five years to support this build out.  The individual state plans will be rolled out in the next six months or so. Once the Governor receives the proposed plan, Virginia will have 90 days to accept the plan or create their own.  A media kit is available here.

The FCC issued a Public Notice today opening WC Docket No. 17-79 and 17-84 captioned “Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment” and “Accelerating Wireline Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure Investment” respectively.  The underlying documents are posted here. VML will continue to monitor. 

VML contact: Michelle Gowdy, mgowdy@vml.org

 

Governor proposes 27 budget amendments

The legislature faces a busy reconvened session next Wednesday, April 5. The General Assembly will be acting on all the amendments and vetoes proposed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, including 27 amendments to the Appropriation Act. The following summarizes amendments that Gov. McAuliffe submitted on the budget.

The chief objectives of Gov. McAuliffe’s 27 amendments to HB 1500, the state Appropriation Act, are to increase the $3.6 million unappropriated balance the General Assembly approved before leaving in February, and to tug on certain policy issues. Gov. McAuliffe’s proposed unappropriated balance is $10.4 million.

This balance comes from $1.2 million in new revenue and net $5.7 million in spending cuts. Some of the specific items include:

  • $1.0 million more in sales tax revenues in FY17 from nexus recognition (Item 0, Amendment 3)
  • $4.0 million in savings from closing Peumansend Creek Regional Jail (Item 69, Amendment 4)
  • $5.0 million in savings reductions from Jamestown-Yorktown 2019 Commemoration (Item 475.10, Amendment 22)
  • $442,500 in FY18 tied to mental health assessments in jails to create a statewide model staffing standard related to the assessments (Item 70, Amendment 5)
  • $655,000 in FY18 to support a call center for upcoming elections and to maintain Department of Elections’ operations after federal funding runs out. (Item 86, Amendment 6)
  • $1.1 million in FY18 to support continued growth of the solar industry in Virginia. Priority will be given to projects in local public school divisions and to assist commercial, industrial and individual customers in financing solar projects. (Item 120, Item 7)

Some of the amendments are controversial and may run into some buzz saws. For example, Gov. McAuliffe also proposes budget language to allow the state to amend Virginia’s Medicaid plan to cover additional Virginians if “Obamacare” is continued, amended or replaced through federal law or regulation. Any FY18 savings would be held in reserve for the 2018 legislative session. (Item 306, Amendment 17)

Another amendment proposes to eliminate budget language that would expand public works contract requirements to all projects developed under the Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA). This language could preclude vendors with union labor from participating in PPTA projects. (Item 436, Amendment 19)

The Governor also proposes to strike budget language requiring notification by the chairs of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees to the Executive Department to release $1.5 million of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s appropriation (Item 125, Amendment 8).

Finally, legislative leaders are likely to oppose the spending reduction targeting the Jamestown-Yorktown 2019 Commemoration.

VML contacts: Janet Areson, jareson@vml.org; Neal Menkes, nmenkes@vml.org; Mary Jo Fields, mfields@vml.org

 

Governor amends bills related to FOIA, COIA, fire programs, children’s services, procurement and more

Fire Programs Funding
HB 1532 proposes to increase the share of moneys in the Fire Programs Fund that would be allocated to localities for improvement of fire services.  The bill as passed had an effective date of January 2018; the Governor has proposed that the General Assembly pass the bill again before it can become effective. 

FOIA – Working Papers
HB 1539 is the records Freedom of Information Act omnibus bill. The Governor has proposed a change regarding the definition of working papers.  The italics are from the bill that passed both houses and the underline is the Governor’s proposal.

Further, information publicly available or not otherwise subject to an exclusion under this chapter or other provision of law that has been aggregated, combined, or changed in format but does not contain a material revision to such information shall not be deemed working papers without substantive analysis or revision.

Release of death investigations-FOIA
SB 1102 requires that records of completed unattended death investigations be released to the parent or spouse of the decedent or, if there is no living parent or spouse, to the most immediate family member of the decedent.  Gov. McAuliffe has submitted amendments to change “records” to “summaries,” which will only allow summaries, not the entire record, to be given to persons defined above.

Conflict of Interests Act
HB 1854 / SB 1312 made 28 changes to the Conflict of Interests Act.  The Governor has proposed an amendment to add further disclosure of legislator relationships with state or local governments.

Collection of overdue accounts
HB 2442 provides that an ordinance for collection of overdue accounts may also provide for the imposition of collection and administrative fees, not to exceed those allowed for collection of delinquent taxes. The Governor has submitted an amendment that would allow for the imposition of either collection or administrative fees, and would limit those to five percent.

Programs for children
SB 1239 addresses various types of organizations that offer programs for children, including day care programs offered by religious organizations, after-school programs offered by public and private schools, organized sports leagues, programs of religious instructions, and most notably, local parks and recreation programs.  The bill changed during the session, particularly during a conference committee during the final hours of the session.  Governor’s amendments mostly take the bill back to the version passed by the Senate, and keeps most of the enactment clauses added in conference committee.  In the substitute, local parks and recreation programs stay exempt from licensure and subject to safety and supervisory standards established by their local government.  They would be required to file with Virginia Social Services (VDSS) annually; certify to VDSS that parents/guardians were notified in writing that the local program is exempt from state licensure; report to VDSS any serious injuries or deaths; and post notice on-site that the program is not state licensed.  The enactment clauses include one allowing local parks and recreations programs to provide evidence to VDSS that they comply with basic health and safety standards so that they are not subject to state inspection.

Restitution and non-compliance
HB 1855/SB 1284 deal with restitution, enforcement and non-compliance.  The bills as passed require the court or the clerk to complete a restitution form at the time of sentencing, provide for docketing a judgment if unpaid and require local circuit court clerks to submit quarterly reports to the attorney for the Commonwealth and probation agencies.  As passed, the bills also amend Virginia Code §19.2-354 and §19.2-358 which deal with the ability of a court to fine a person for nonpayment. The proposed bill removed the fine and left only the ability to imprison.  The Governor’s substitute does not amend §19.2-354 and §19.2-358, and is otherwise like HB 1855 and SB 1284. 

Restitution and probation
Under HB 1856/SB 1285 as passed, a convicted person required to pay restitution must be placed on indefinite probation.  The legislation adds guidance on how to end or amend probation and restitution as well.  In the recommendation by the Governor, this legislation would only apply in the 16th Judicial Circuit (Albemarle, Culpeper, Fluvanna, Goochland, Greene, Louisa, Madison, Orange); the legislation would expire July 1, 2019; and the Virginia State Crime Commission shall monitor and report to the General Assembly by January 1, 2020.

Unpaid court fines
HB 2386/SB 854 allow for longer time periods before creating payment plans as well as providing a code section that outlines deferred or installment payment agreements.  The Governor’s recommendations tinker with the time periods and the threshold amounts in the payment plans.

Procurement
HB 2017 deals with bid bonds and performance/payment bonds in various types of procurement. 

For bid bonds, the following italics are from the bill that passed and the underline is the Governor’s proposed changes.

For nontransportation-related construction contracts in excess of $100,000 but less than $500,000, where the bid bond requirements are waived, prospective contractors shall be prequalified for each individual project in accordance with § 2.2-4317. However, a locality may waive the requirement for prequalification of a bidder with a current Class A contractor license for contracts in excess of $100,000 but less than $300,000 upon a written determination made in advance by the local governing body that waiving the requirement is in the best interests of the locality. A locality shall not enter into more than 10 nontransportation-related construction  such contracts per year in which the contract amount is in excess of $100,000 but less than $300,000 and in which the bidder's prequalification requirement has been waived.

For performance and payment bonds, the following italics are from the bill that passed and the underline is the Governor’s proposal.

For nontransportation-related construction contracts in excess of $100,000 but less than $500,000 $300,000 $500,000, where the bid bond requirements are waived, prospective contractors shall be prequalified for each individual project in accordance with § 2.2-4317. However, a locality may waive the requirement for prequalification of a bidder contractor with a current Class A contractor license for contracts in excess of $100,000 but less than $300,000 upon a written determination made in advance by the local governing body that waiving the requirement is in the best interests of the locality. A locality shall not enter into more than 10 nontransportation-related construction such contracts per year in which the contract amount is in excess of $100,000 but less than $300,000 and in which the bidder's prequalification requirement has been waived.

(Note:  The original bill took out $500k and substituted $300K; the Governor proposed $500K)

 

Governor vetoes of interest to local government

Here’s a quick overview of vetoes of most importance to local government:

  • HB 2077 removed local authority to prohibit firearms in emergency shelters.
  • HB 2000 prohibits localities from adopting any ordinance, procedure, or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws.
  • HB 1753 prohibits localities from requiring contractors to provide wages and benefits higher than those required under state or federal law.
  • HB 1468 prohibits jails from releasing aliens except to transfer custody to another facility or an appropriate federal authority.
  • HB 1400 and SB 1240 create a statewide virtual school as a state agency.
  • HB 2342 and SB 1283 allow the State Board of Education to establish regional charter school divisions that would then operate regional charter schools.
  • HB 1605 establishes a parental choice educational savings account program whereby parents could receive 90% of the state Standards of Quality funding allocated for students in the resident school division.

 

VML contacts: Janet Areson, jareson@vml.org; Mary Jo Fields, mfields@vml.orgMichelle Gowdy, mgowdy@vml.org; Neal Menkes, nmenkes@vml.org; Mike Polychrones, mpolychrones@vml.org