eNews January 23, 2018Tuesday, January 23, 2018 - 03:01pm
In this issue:
- Governor, Finance and Transportation Secretaries to speak at VML’s Legislative Day
- ALERT: Contact delegates today on Communications Sales and Use Tax Bill
- Make calls on wireless bills
- Keep the heat on “by right” solar bills
- Bill to eliminate pretrial services may be up this week
- Budget amendments to support
- Bill would create new source of school capital funding
- Helpful water quality bills before legislature
Governor, Finance and Transportation Secretaries to speak at VML’s Legislative Day
Governor Ralph Northam will be the opening speaker at VML’s Legislative Day, to be held Wednesday, Jan. 31, at the Library of Virginia in Richmond. Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne and Secretary of Transportation will speak as well. The program begins at 2:00 p.m. but registrants can pick up information packets beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the Library. A reception will take place from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
Please make sure you register for this informative event! On-line registration and details are available here.
ALERT: Contact delegates today on Communications Sales & Use Tax Bill
Early tomorrow afternoon, House Finance Subcommittee #2 will decide the fate of HB 1051, a bill to modernize the Communications Sales and Use Tax (CSUT). If the subcommittee declines to recommend the proposal, the House Finance Committee will kill the measure next Monday. VML needs members to contact their delegates to make sure that HB 1051 is approved and goes to the House floor.
Delegate Watts offered the bill at the request of local governments to correct a growing defect in the Communications Sales and Use Tax. As enacted by the General Assembly in 2006, the tax is imposed on certain telecommunications technologies that are fading away in popularity such as telephone landlines, paging services, music video and album downloads, and satellite radio and television.
HB 1051 would bring prepaid calling services under the CSUT and expand the definition of communications services to include audio and visual streaming services. The tax would apply regardless of the way the consumer is billed for the communications services.
In effect, the measure adjusts the tax base, recognizing the fast pace changes in telecommunications technologies over the last ten years. Below are the reasons for support HB 1051:
Talking points for change are based on a 2015 report from the Department of Taxation:
- Revenue deposited since 2013 has declined each year, creating a yawning gap between tax revenues and appropriations. Without the cash, fewer dollars are allocated to localities each year.
- Between 2007 and 2014, telephone landlines decreased an estimated 21.1 percent and satellite radio services collapsed by 91.1 percent, helping to cause the revenue shortfalls.
- Digital subscriptions and audio/video streaming soared during this same time period, but are not taxed, meaning major services are untaxed.
- HB 1051 recognizes the changes in the marketplace and puts all digital services on a level playing field, capturing streaming audio and video services and prepaid calling services.
VML contact: Neal Menkes, firstname.lastname@example.org
Make calls on wireless bills
HB1258 and SB405 eliminate most local control over the installation and operation of new wireless structures. Please ask your senators and delegates to OPPOSE the bills. Updated talking points are here. Also, we hope that all councils and boards of supervisors will adopt resolutions in opposition to the bills. A template for a resolution is posted here.
VML contact: Michelle Gowdy, email@example.com
Keep the heat on “by right” solar bills
SB429 (Stanley) and HB508 (Hodges) severely encroach on local governments’ authority to regulate solar facilities on homes as well as on commercial, industrial, institutional, and agricultural structures. The bills allow, by right, property owners to install certain solar facilities subject to very limited conditions. Talking points on the bills are included on the January 16 Enews at this address.
SB429 is in the Senate Committee on Local Government, which meets Tuesdays. It is not on the committee’s docket for today. HB508 will be heard in House Counties, Cities and Towns Subcommittee#2, which meets Thursdays at 4 p.m. The docket for that meeting has not yet been posted, but please get in touch with your delegate on that subcommittee. Since the full House Counties, Cities and Towns Committee meets Fridays at 8 a.m., so it’s a good idea to go ahead and ask your delegate on the committee to oppose HB508.
VML contact: Michelle Gowdy, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill to eliminate pretrial services may be up this week
HB 997 (Gilbert), which would eliminate the Pretrial Services Act which authorizes the establishment of local pretrial services agencies, is on the docket of the House Courts of Justice Subcommittee #1, which will meet Wednesday and Friday this week. More details on the bill as well as talking points are in the Jan. 18 issue of Enews. Please make sure your delegate on the subcommittee knows of your opposition to the bill.
VML, along with a host of other organizations, oppose the bill. VML does not oppose the patron’s study resolution (HJR 97), which calls for a JLARC study of the program. That resolution is in the House Rules Committee.
VML contact: Janet Areson, email@example.com
Budget amendments to support
VML and other local partners worked to get a series of budget amendments introduced this year. The following are some of these budget amendments, which are worthy of your support, and the support of your delegation members:
- Eliminate local Medicaid match for the Children’s Services Act (CSA) – Item 282 #3s – Lucas. Localities do not pay any portion of the state Medicaid match on any other services than CSA, which is a federal/state program. Special education wraparound services provided through the Children’s Services Act
- CSA special education wrap-around match rate. Item 282 #5h (Bell, Richard P.)/Item 282 #4s (Hanger) – changes the local match paid for special education wraparound services through the Children’s Services Act to the community-based rate from the basic rate. This would lower the match rate paid by localities.
- Streamline Medicaid enrollment for incarcerated adults and juveniles – Item 73 #7h (Ingram)/Item 73 #8h (LaRock)/Item 67 #1s (Dance) (Compensation Board); Item 307 #3h (Ingram)/Item 307 #4h (LaRock)/Item 307 #7s (Dance) (DMAS; ; Item 391 #31h (Ingram)/Item 391 #32h (LaRock)/Item 387 #1s (Dance)(Dept. of Corrections); Item 413 #2h (Ingram)/Item 413 #3h (LaRock)/Item 412 #1s (Dance)(Dept. of Juvenile Justice) – These amendments implement recommendations of a 2017 study that looked at simplifying the process for determining eligibility/enrolling eligible inmates so that inpatient hospital costs could be covered under Medicaid and reentry into the community made easier for people leaving jails/juvenile detention.
- Jail per diems Item 66 #3h (Gooditis)/Item 67 #2s (Barker)/Item 67 #3s (Ebbin)provide a 13 percent inflation adjustment for per diem payments for local- and state-responsible inmates; this increase mirrors the equivalent rise in the Consumer Price Index since 2010, the last time jail per diems were adjusted (payments for local-responsible inmates were reduced from $8 to $4 a day; state-responsible payments were changed from $8 per day for the first 60 days and $14 per day thereafter to a standard rate of $12 per day). The amendment also includes language directing per diems to be adjusted annually for inflation.
- Street maintenance funding- Item 453#3s (Wagner) – transfers $2.75 million in FY19 and $17.25 million in FY20 to street maintenance; directs the Commonwealth Transportation Board to annually increase the amount by no less than the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
- Virginia Telecommunications Initiative – Item 106#3s (Dance) – adds $5 million each year to increase funding available to $7 million each year to provide financial assistance to supplement construction costs. Item 106 #12h (Gooditis) increases funding by $2 million each year. A number of other House amendments increase funding as well, including Item 106 #3h (Farris); and Item 106 #5h (Bell, Richard), which both increase the funding by $5 million each year.
- Stormwater Local Assistance Fund – Item 368#1h (Landes) and Item C-45#1h (Landes) – adds $25 million in general fund support each year to this program; Item C-45 #1s (Hanger) adds $50 million in the first year only.
Bill would create new source of school capital funding
HB 1431 (Bell, Richard), would require the Virginia Public Building Authority to establish and administer a Public School Capital Grant Program, which would provide grants on a competitive basis to school divisions in localities that have high fiscal stress as determined by the Virginia Commission on Local Government. (These ratings are reported in the COLG’s Report on the Comparative Revenue Capacity, Revenue Effort, and Fiscal Stress of Virginia Counties and Cities.) These grants would be used for school capital costs – construction or renovation. The grants would be capped at $10 million and would require a local match. VML supports creation of such a program to help with school capital costs. The bill has been referred to House General Laws, but it will be referred to another committee this week.
VML contact: Janet Areson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Helpful water quality bills before legislature
VML supports three bills (SB 340-Peake, SB 344-Peake, and HB 1475-Poindexter) that seek a well-coordinated and sufficiently-financed approach to nitrogen-related wastewater upgrades that may be forthcoming. SB 340 and SB 344 have passed the Senate and are in the House. HJB 1475 is in the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee.
The State Water Control Board is in the process of reviewing and adopting ammonia criteria guidance recently revised by the U.S. EPA on nitrogen-related wastewater upgrades. EPA recommends reducing wastewater plant ammonia-nitrogen limits to approximately half of currently allowed levels, with the goal of enhancing protection for freshwater snails and mussels. No states in the mid-Atlantic have yet adopted EPA’s new guidance.
Implementation of these lower levels will have the broadest impact on smaller facilities (smaller cities and towns, school systems with small treatment plants and industrial facilities) that are not designed and constructed to meet extra low-levels of ammonia-nitrogen. However, large facilities, even those with complete Chesapeake Bay nitrogen upgrades, can be affected under winter operating conditions. The number of affected facilities ranges somewhere from 370 to 590 facilities statewide. A consultant to the Virginia Association of Municipal Water Authorities estimates that the costs of meeting these revised levels at $512 million in capital construction, plus an additional $34 million in annual operating costs.
How these bills help
SB 344 and HB 1475 help mitigate the effects of the lowered levels by providing a phased implementation approach that takes into consideration appropriate compliance schedules and financial hardship. SB 340 recognizes that this type of ammonia-nitrogen project is eligible for state cost-share funding under the Water Quality Improvement Fund, subject to appropriations. The effect of the bills will be to phase-in the new ammonia-nitrogen requirements over time and with potential grant funding, while enabling the Commonwealth to focus at this time on meeting the Chesapeake Bay TMDL deadlines.
VML contact: Mike Polychrones, email@example.com