eNews February 26, 2021Friday, February 26, 2021 - 05:32pm
In this issue:
Budget Conference Report summary for local governments
No Extra Innings!
Unlike the 2020 Special Session, this year’s Special Session budget work will not slowdown the march to Sine Die. Last night, the House Appropriations and the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committees posted their conference report, including all the budget amendments.
VML staff will be available next week to answer your questions.
The following narrative highlights the budget items of most concern for local governments. Use the links below to jump to each section:
- Economic Development
- Children’s Services Act (CSA)
- Health Department
- Behavioral Health
- Social Services
- Public Safety and Compensation Board
- Natural Resources
- Miscellaneous Items
- VML Staff Contacts
The budget enacted last year projected $43.5 billion in general fund revenue for the 2020-22 biennium. Unexpected sales tax collections and stronger than anticipated collections in non-withholding income taxes and corporate income taxes provided a significant revenue cushion for the General Assembly. The budget conference report assumes that general fund revenues will top $45.2 billion for an increase of almost 4 percent since the last budget adopted in November 2020.
Item 275 #1c pumps up the state’s cash reserves by $250.0 million. Total reserves in the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” and cash revenue reserve would be roughly $2.1 billion by the end of this biennium. VML supports building up the state’s cash reserves but questions if this is the best strategy for reducing and meeting future spending liabilities.
The introduced Budget Bill included $61 million to buy down a portion of the Teacher Retirement Fund’s unfunded liability. VRS will treat the deposit as an actuarial gain to be recognized over the next 20-years. This will result in an estimated 5.0 basis point reduction in future Teacher plan contribution rates. That’s a $4.5 million annual savings of which $2.7 million is estimated to accrue to localities. Would an increase to the Teacher Retirement Fund result in even more savings for the state and localities?
Item 4-14 #3c sets out the state’s plan for conforming with federal tax policy changes approved by Congress and President Trump in late December. This was both a revenue and budget issue. The budget conferees agreed to conform with the federal changes consistent with SB1146, which provides a deduction of $100,000 for business expenses funded by forgiven loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The measure also provides an income tax subtraction of up to $100,000 for grant funds issued under the state’s Rebuild Virginia Program.
Item 52 #1c and Item 111.10 #1c carry out the provisions of HB2321 to create a new secretariat, the Secretary of Labor. Funding for the new office comes from transferring an existing appropriation in the Governor’s Office for the Chief Workforce Development Officer. The state agencies reporting to the Secretary of Labor, effective July 1, will include the Department of Labor and Industry, VEC and the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.
Item 113 #1c implements HB2053 providing $50,000 for the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to lead a workgroup to provide recommendations on increasing local development of accessory dwelling units on single-family dwelling lots.
Item 114 #2c provides $424,000 for DHCD to develop a statewide broadband map and establish parameters for the development of the map. The effort is to include satellite-based broadband providers.
Item 114 #4c is a language amendment directing the Commission on Local Government to review the effects of mandatory property tax exemptions on local government revenues and services and to recommend options for mitigating the fiscal impacts. VML and VACo worked with several localities on the issue. The amendment had been adopted by both the House and Senate in their respective budget packages.
Item 114 #7c provides $1.5 million in FY22 for the Virginia Main Street Program, specifically to address economic recovery efforts necessitated because of the pandemic.
Item 114 #9c (at long last) establishes a one-year pilot program to allow public broadband authorities to apply directly for Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) funds without investments from the private sector.
Item 134 #2c appropriates $2.1 million for tourism promotion. The money is from increased sales tax collections from online travel companies like Expedia. Authorization for the tax collections is from SB1398.
Item 479.10 #1c alters the state’s utility assistance program funded with federal Coronavirus Relief money. The language change permits the funds to be applied to a customer’s account more than once. The language also updates the timing of certain actions related to the CRF because of congressional actions extending the program’s deadlines.
Item 4-14 #4c makes technical changes to and clarifies the requirements of the state’s rental assistance program, including evictions-related actions and program changes excluding mortgage assistance.
Children’s Services Act (CSA)
A number of bills and budget items were introduced this year to address aspects of the Children’s Services Act (CSA) regarding special education funding and program administration. Three items in the conference report address these issues. The first item would end the temporary two percent rate cap on increases for private day special education services enacted when the General Assembly began studying special education private day; this study is now completed (Item 292#1c); another would remove the language enacted during the earlier days of the pandemic to allow localities to adjust daily and monthly rates with private special education for virtual/distance learning for the 2020-2021 school year (Item 292#2c).
Another item would add funding and a position to the Office of Children Services (OCS) to implement new responsibilities for monitoring local program performance and working with underperforming localities pursuant to HB 2212 and collecting additional information from localities regarding local administrative staffing and budgets to better understand local program resources (Item 293#1c).
Also affecting CSA is an amendment to fund the state portion of costs ($305,357) for establishing a State Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program with the goal of increasing permanent placements. Local governments will see a fiscal impact because of the move from Title IV-E funds; this may be partially offset by cost avoidance under requirements of new federal foster care requirements going into place in FY2022 (Item 292#3c).
The COVID-19 pandemic brought much more focus and funding for the Virginia Department of Health (VDH)and local health districts. The introduced budget included state funding for several COVID-19 related efforts; recent federal funding allocations allowed budget conferees to supplant the state funds with federal funds. This includes funding to support mass vaccination administration efforts, data modeling, testing and surveillance at state-operated behavioral health facilities, testing and contact tracing at state higher education institutions, and communications and outreach efforts. Federal funds in the second year will fund the provisions of HB1989 regarding creation and implementation of a real-time information-sharing system regarding communicable disease cases between VDH and local EMS agencies. This would be in place during a declared public health emergency (Item 299 #3c).
State funding of $2.74 million will also support an additional 23 positions plus the 12 included in the introduced budget) for communicable disease surveillance investigation at the state and local health district level (Item 302#1c).
Cooperative health budget match rates:
The conference report amended the implementation of the updating of state and local match rates for the cooperative health budget included in the introduced budget. The conference report phases in the new match rates over a three-year period beginning in FY2022 and eliminates the single year hold-harmless for those with proposed local match increases. The introduced budget had proposed fully implementing the local match decrease in FY2022 while giving those localities with proposed local match increases a hold-harmless for one year with full implementation of the increased match in the following year (Item 302#2c).
The conference report included $150,000 in the second year to assist with transportation costs for individuals discharged from a state hospital following a temporary detention order. Sometimes the state facility is hours away from a person’s home community and transportation is difficult to obtain (Item 321#3c).
The report also included language clarifying that funding formerly in the grants to localities and moved to the central office budget is available and will be allocated to CSBs for diversion services to keep individuals from placement in state hospitals by using acute inpatient or community-based psychiatric services at private facilities (Item 321#6c).
Jail forensic discharge planning:
The report restores $2.8 million in funding unallotted last year to expand forensic discharge planning services at three additional jails with a high percentage of inmates with serious mental illness (Item 322#1c).
The conference report included $9.65 million in federal funds from the Child Care and Development Fund to implement provisions of HB 2206 which temporarily expand the child care subsidy program. Additional CCDF funds became available to states through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (Item 350#6c).
Local department of social services funding:
State and federal funds are included in a conference item in the second year to increase the minimum pay band for local departments of social services in FY22. The pay band minimum would increase by 20 percent for family services positions and 15 percent for all other benefit program services positions, self-sufficiency services positions and administrative positions currently below the new minimum threshold (Item 351#1c).
State and funding is also included to fund the increased workload impact on local departments of social services of SB 1321, regarding expansion of stepparent adoption provisions (Item 351#2c).
the conference report includes a total of $4.4 million in state funding to increase the Auxiliary Grant rate by 10 percent in FY2022. There is an unfunded fiscal impact on local governments because localities pay a 20 percent match on each auxiliary gran. (Item 353#1c).
Criminal diversion workgroup:
Language in the conference report establishes an interagency work group to develop recommendations for local criminal justice diversion programs to provide alternatives to arrest, conviction and incarceration of lower-level offenses. The workgroup will a number of stakeholders, include community action agencies and local governments (Item 359#3c).
Public Safety and Compensation Board
A total of $2.5 million is included in the second year to continue funding for the Emergency Shelter Update Assistance Fund to help local governments with preparations for emergency sheltering needs on a continuing basis (Item 410#1c).
Funding is also provided for the creation and coordination of a formalized Partners in Preparedness Program and community outreach campaign to ensure that response and recovery plans and procedures take equity and inclusion into consideration during disaster preparedness and incidents (Item 410#2c).
No additional funding for state assistance to local law enforcement was included in the introduced budget or conference report.
Commonwealth attorney staffing standards:
Language in the conference report requires the Compensation Board to examine the staffing standards used to determine and distribute funding to Commonwealth Attorneys’ offices. While it includes a number of new items to examine, including specialty dockets and diversion programs, it does not address the workload created by use of body camera video (Item 75#1c).
The Conference Report released Thursday for by the Budget Conferees includes significant new and additional investments in cleaner waterways across the Commonwealth including $25 million in additional funding for the Stormwater Local Assistance Funding (Item 379 #1c) which provides grants to localities to upgrade stormwater systems (a VML legislative priority).
Additionally there is $100 million in new funding included in the conference budget (Item C-70.50 #1c) directed to specific wastewater treatment plants throughout the Chesapeake Watershed as directed by HB2129 (Del. Lopez) and SB1354 (Sen. Hanger). There is also a $500,000 increase in funding for the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program which provides funding for water quality improvement projects in urban areas. Clean water related funding includes $30,000,000 for Agricultural Best Management Practices (Item 373 #4c) which makes for a total investment in clean water programs of $155 million with $125 million of those funds directed to local wastewater and stormwater improvements directly. These funds will be essential for localities meeting their obligations to reduce nutrient loads under the third Watershed Implementation Program (WIP III).
Permit fee increases are included in the budget which will include permit fees for the Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) Permit for Stormwater Discharges of Stormwater, fees are to be increased to offset up to 62% of the actual administrative cost incurred in the administration of the VPDES permits and the nutrient credit certification program. Fees are to be adjusted with input from impacted permittee stakeholders (Item 377 #2c).
Several studies are also included in the budget that may be of interest to localities including a stakeholder group (Item 382 #1c) to study assessing fees on kayaks, canoes, and rafts accessing public waterways using state owned or managed boat ramps which also halts the imposition of any fees until July 1, 2022. Nutrient Credit Workgroup is tasked by a language amendment with examining the impact of generating nutrient credits from retiring farmland (Item 377 #5c).
In all the natural resources funding in the conference report budget represents a significant investment in clean water to help localities with carrying out federal and state legislative and regulatory mandates like Phase II of the Watershed Implementation Plan.
The Budget includes distributions of federal funding for Transportation in the amount of $323.4 million of one time funding as a result of the congressional actions to beef up Coronavirus Relief passed in late 2020 (Item 477.10 #1c). These funds are being directed in part to assist and mitigate the impacts tied to the significant decrease in transportation revenues since March of 2020 and are programmed to meet a variety of purposes including additional funding for WMATA, VRE, Rail, $10 million for the identification and development of multi-use trails across the Commonwealth, pilot programs for fair free urban and rural transit up to $10 million and a study of transit equity and modernization, $10 million for a connected infrastructure redevelopment project, a study of costs associated with extending intercity passenger rail to the City of Bristol and cost associated with a rail station in Bedford.
Other transportation items of interest included in the budget:
- An economic development access program moratorium on repayment for 48 months Item (451 #1c)
- Language that requires adequate notification by VDOT of any changes in weight limits to bridges (Item 447 #1c)
- A study of coastal transportation infrastructure inundation which will identify at risk rural and urban infrastructure and develop a mitigation plan as well as a timeline for implementation of mitigation efforts (Item 446 #2c)
Amendments from the 2021-2022 biennial budget that had been allocated in light of the pandemic included $3.5 million for general registrars (Item 87 #1c). This will not only fully cover their salaries – a longstanding request from local governments, given the state’s authority over these positions – but will also increase salaries to match those of local treasurers.
Following last year’s expansion of absentee voting both via executive order and, effective last July, legislative action from the 2020 session, language is included that will also continue to reimburse general registrars for the cost of prepaid postage, estimated at roughly $1 million based on FY21 spending (Item 86 #3c).
In a much-anticipated move, the General Assembly made $153.6 million available for teacher salary increases of up to 5 percent (Item 145 #11c). The language includes a number of caveats, including the requirement that localities offer at least an average of a 2 percent increase over the biennium in order to qualify for a state match; however, there is some question as to how the term “average” will be applied, based on the phrasing. As VML reads the item, “average” applies to the average salary increase across positions based on tenure, etc. The amendment will likely receive additional clarification during the reconvened session.
An additional $14.6 million is provided to the cost of competing adjustment for school districts in Planning District 8 and in select adjacent school divisions (Item 145 #12c). For PD8 divisions, the COCA will increase the salary adjustment factor from 10.6 percent to 18 percent; for eligible non-PD8 divisions, the adjustment factor will increase from 2.6 to 4.5 percent. These increases reflect restorations of those unallocated after the 2020 General Assembly session, with a 1.5 percent and 0.5 percent boost, respectively.
Reflecting increased awareness around non-instructional student needs, state funding for SOQ-mandated support positions is increased from two to three per 1,000 students, at $49.5 million (Item 145 #2c). The cap on support staff such as school nurses, school counselors, social workers, or behavior analysts has been in place since the Great Recession. As a result, school districts across the Commonwealth have been struggling to foot the bill for both the unfunded positions and any additional much-needed positions.
The conference budget also accounts for the additional federal COVID support granted to Virginia in last month’s Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act. As such, $52.5 million is included from the Child Care and Development Fund to expand the state’s child care subsidy (Item 137 #2c). Another $7 million will support the continued expansion of Virtual Virginia’s management system and support additional free slots for students (Item 141 #3c). The state will also fund the restructuring of English and math assessments described in HB2027 (Coyner) and SB1357 (Dunnavant) with $8.8 million in CRRSA money (Item 139 #1c). Finally, $30 million is included in Fiscal 2022 for CRRSA-supported Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Grants, designed to help address learning loss and remediation efforts (Item 146 #2c).
Direct aid to schools sees increases, beginning with updated sales tax increases of $40 million in Fiscal 2021 and $45.7 million in Fiscal 2022 under (Item 145 #18c). Of note, the $40 million increase in revenue is reflected in the corresponding reduction of COVID relief funding and will be used in the state’s agreement to hold school districts harmless following COVID restriction-related enrollment losses during the 2020-2021 school year (Item 145 #19c).
In response to ongoing learning loss issues related to school closures and virtual learning, the conference report includes $40 million in Fiscal 2021 to support summer learning and other programs to help bring students back up to speed. Importantly, these funds are allocated for Fiscal 2021, but can be used in Fiscal 2022 as needed (Item 145 #8c). Allocations of $20.1 million in FY21 and $9.9 million in FY22 will raise Infrastructure and Operations Per Pupil payments, formerly known as Supplemental Lottery Fund Per Pupil allocations, by $30 and $15, respectively (Item 145 #13c).
Item 477 #2c addresses salary increases for state employees and state-supported local employees including locally-elected constitutional officers, general registrars and members of local electoral boards, full-time staff of locally-elected constitutional officers, and full-time Bs, Centers for Independent Living, secure detention centers supported by Juvenile Block Grants, juvenile delinquency prevention and local court service units, local social services boards, local pretrial services act and CCCA employees, and local health departments. Some $48.3 million is provided in FY 2022 for this 5.0 percent salary hike.
Item 479.10 #3c is likely to cause some degree of discomfort in the Governor’s Office. The language amendment creates the Assistance for COVID-19 Trust Fund. Any direct federal assistance provided by Congress after January 1, 2021, for addressing COVID-19 impacts will be deposited to this account. The language also sets out as policy that no money may be expended from the Trust Fund unless specifically appropriated in a general appropriation act pursuant to Article X, Section 7 of the Virginia Constitution. That means Governor Northam will not be able to expend these dollars without legislative permission.
Item 479.10 #4c appropriates from the existing COVID-19 Relief Fund $36 million in FY21 and $40 million in FY22 as “No Loss Payments” for local school divisions. In addition, another $25 million is appropriated for the Rebuild Virginia program. The source of the money is the revenue from games of skill machines (“gray machines”) deposited to the COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Item C-70.50 #1c provides $50 million from the general fund and an additional $50 million from VPBA bonds to implement the enhanced Nutrient Removal Certainty Program. The program is authorized under SB1354.
Item 4-14 #1c is a language amendment requiring Dominion Energy to write off debt owed by its customers. The accounts will be forgiven if balances are more than 30-days in arrears as of December 31, 2020.
Item 1 #5c creates a joint House-Senate subcommittee on tax policy to evaluate and make recommendations on potential changes to current state policies.
Bills that have passed both chambers
HB1778 (Ward) Removal of clutter from property; civil penalty. Provides that a locality may by ordinance require the removal of clutter from property, or may, whenever the governing body deems it necessary except on land zoned for or in active farming operation, after reasonable notice, have such clutter removed by its own agents or employees, in which event the cost or expenses thereof shall be chargeable to and paid by the owners of such property and may be collected by the locality as taxes are collected. The bill defines “clutter” as including mechanical equipment, household furniture, containers, and similar items that may be detrimental to the well-being of a community when they are left in public view for an extended period or are allowed to accumulate. Violations of the bill are subject to the existing civil penalty applicable to violations of provisions relating to the removal of trash, garbage, refuse, litter, and similar substances from property.
HB1898 (Roem) Board of zoning appeals; appointments. Provides an exception to the general rule that an elected official cannot be appointed to a board of zoning appeals by allowing an elected official from a town to serve on the board of zoning appeals of the county in which the member also resides.
HB1919 (Kory) Local green banks. Authorizes a locality, by ordinance, to establish a green bank to promote the investment in clean energy technologies in its locality and provide financing for clean energy technologies, defined in the bill. The bill establishes certain powers and functions of a green bank, including developing rules and procedures, financing and providing loans for clean energy projects, and stimulating demand for renewable energy. The bill requires the green bank to be a public entity, quasi-public entity, or nonprofit entity and requires the locality to hold a hearing and publish notice in a newspaper of general circulation prior to establishing the green bank.
HB2042 / SB1393 (Guy / Marsden) Replacement and conservation of trees during development; work group. Gives a locality the ability to exceed general requirements in its tree replacement and conservation ordinances in specific circumstances, including development that impacts stormwater permit requirements, recurrent flooding, formerly redlined areas, and comprehensive plan compliance. The bill also directs the Secretary of Natural Resources and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry to convene a stakeholder work group for the purpose of developing and providing recommendations to state and local governments related to policies that encourage the conservation of mature trees and tree cover on sites being developed, increase tree canopy cover in communities, and encourage the planting of trees. The bill will not become effective unless reenacted by the 2022 Session of the General Assembly, but the stakeholder work group is effective in due course.
HB2054 (Samirah) Comprehensive plan; transit-oriented development. Adds reducing, modifying, or waiving local parking requirements or ratios to the strategies that may be included when certain larger localities consider incorporating strategies to promote transit-oriented development in reviews of their comprehensive plans. The bill removes from the existing strategy of increasing development density in certain areas to reduce density in others the phrase “to reduce density in others.”
HB2201 / SB1207 (Jones / Barker) Solar and energy storage projects; siting agreements throughout the Commonwealth. Expands existing provisions related to siting agreements and zoning special exceptions for solar projects located in an opportunity zone to include energy storage projects and makes the provisions statewide. The bill provides that its provisions shall not apply to any energy storage project that has received zoning and site plan approval, preliminary or otherwise, from the host locality before January 1, 2021. The bill also provides that its provisions shall not become effective with respect to energy storage projects unless the General Assembly approves legislation that authorizes localities to adopt an ordinance for taxation of energy storage projects such as solar projects with a local option for machinery and tools tax or solar revenue share.
HB1923 / SB1334 (Ayala / Edwards) Electric utilities; broadband capacity pilot program. Expands an existing pilot program under which Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power are authorized to provide or make available broadband capacity to Internet service providers in areas of the Commonwealth that are unserved by broadband to include municipal Internet service providers. The current program is restricted to nongovernmental Internet service providers.
HB2304 / SB1413 (Tyler / Boysko) Provision of broadband capacity by Phase I or Phase II electric utilities. Makes permanent the pilot program under which a Phase I or Phase II electric utility is permitted to petition the State Corporation Commission to provide broadband capacity to unserved areas of the Commonwealth. The bill expands the program to allow for the participation of municipalities and government-owned broadband authorities. The bill provides that investor-owned electric utilities may recover costs of and revenue generated from providing broadband capacity that serves as an electric grid transformation project in areas unserved by broadband, as defined in the bill. The bill also consolidates the State Corporation Commission petition approval process into one hearing.
HB2025 (Gooditis) Virginia Freedom of Information Act; record exclusion for personal contact information provided to a public body. Provides that personal contact information provided to a public body or any of its members for the purpose of receiving electronic communications from the public body or any of its members is excluded from the mandatory disclosure provisions of FOIA, unless the recipient of such electronic communications indicates his approval for the public body to disclose such information. Currently, the law provides protections for personal contact information provided to a public body, not to its members; only applies to electronic mail; and requires the electronic mail recipient to request the public body not to disclose his personal contact information in order for the information to be exempt from mandatory disclosure.
HB1813 (Krizek) Highway construction by state or local employees; limit. Increases from $600,000 to $700,000 the value of highway maintenance and construction projects eligible to be performed by state or local employees.
HB1881 (Heretick) Enterprise zone job creation grants. Provides that, for purposes of wage requirements for the enterprise zone job creation grant program, the minimum wage shall be the higher of the state minimum wage or the federal minimum wage. The bill also reduces the percentage of the minimum wage that grant eligible jobs must meet. The bill has a delayed effective date of January 1, 2022.
SB1225 (Boysko) Broadband services; education. Authorizes school boards to appropriate funds for the purposes of promoting, facilitating, and encouraging the expansion and operation of broadband services for educational purposes. The bill authorizes school boards to partner with private broadband service providers to promote, implement, and subsidize broadband for educational purposes to the households of students who would qualify for (i) a child nutrition program or (ii) any other program recognized or adopted by the local school board as a measuring standard to identify at-risk students.
HB2217 (Hodges) Liability of public access authorities. Grants public access authorities, including the land holdings and facilities of such authorities, certain liability protections that are currently given to localities in relation to parks, recreational facilities, and playgrounds.
HB2326 (Williams Graves) Regulation of child-care services in localities. Expands to include all cities the authority related to the regulation of child-care services that is currently available to certain Northern Virginia localities. This will have the effect of granting all cities authority by ordinance to regulate child-care facilities that provide regular care to one or more children not related by blood or marriage.
SB1208 (Barker) Continuity of government. Extends from six to 12 months the period of time after an enemy attack or other disaster that a locality may, by ordinance, provide for a method to assure continuity in its government and requires the ordinance to provide a method for the locality to resume normal governmental authority by the end of that 12-month period.
HB2046 (Bourne) Virginia Fair Housing Law; unlawful discriminatory housing practices. Prohibits any locality, its employees, or its appointed commissions from discriminating (i) in the application of local land use ordinances or guidelines, or in the permitting of housing developments, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, elderliness, familial status, source of funds, sexual orientation, gender identity, military status, or disability; (ii) in the permitting of housing developments because the housing development contains or is expected to contain affordable housing units occupied or intended for occupancy by families or individuals with incomes at or below 80 percent of the median income of the area where the housing development is located or is proposed to be located; or (iii) by prohibiting or imposing conditions upon the rental or sale of dwelling units, provided that the provisions of this subsection shall not be construed to prohibit ordinances related to short-term rentals. The bill provides that it shall not be a violation of the Virginia Fair Housing Law if land use decisions or decisions relating to the permitting of housing developments are based upon considerations of limiting high concentrations of affordable housing. The bill also requires the Fair Housing Board, after determining the existence of an unlawful discriminatory housing practice and after consultation with the Attorney General, to immediately refer the matter to the Attorney General for civil action.
SB1298 (Bell) Tourism improvement districts. Authorizes any locality to create a local tourism improvement district plan, consisting of fees charged to businesses and used to fund tourism promotion activities and capital improvements. Under the bill, the locality is authorized to contract with a nonprofit entity to administer the activities and improvements.
VML Contact: Michelle Gowdy, firstname.lastname@example.org
Electronic meetings bill signed by Governor Northam
On Thursday of this week, Governor Northam approved HB1931 (Levine) which will be effective on July 1, 2021.
The legislation authorizes a public body to conduct through electronic communication means a meeting for which, on or before the day of the meeting, a member of the public body holding the meeting notifies the chair that such member is unable to attend the meeting due to a family member’s medical condition that requires the member to provide care for such family member, thereby preventing the member’s physical attendance.
The bill also clarifies that participation in an electronic meeting by a member of a public body due to the inability to attend because of a personal matter is limited each calendar year to two such meetings, which is current law, or 25 percent of the meetings held that calendar year rounded up to the next whole number, whichever is greater.
VML Contact: Michelle Gowdy, email@example.com
It’s not too late! Deadline for 7th grade “If I Were Mayor” Essay Contest is March 1
Virginias 7th graders have one more weekend to submit their essays! VML encourages all eligible 7th graders to submit their essays before the end of the day on March 1st for the chance to win up to $250, a plaque and recognition in our magazine.
This year’s theme is “What I’ve Learned” and we are asking students to tell us what has worked for them, and what has not during a school year like no other.
Prizes and recognition
Regional winners selected from around the state will each receive a $150 cash prize and plaque. One statewide winner chosen from the regional winners will receive a $250 cash prize and plaque. The runner-up from the region that receives the statewide award will become that region’s winner.
Winning essays will be featured in the May issue of VML’s magazine Virginia Town & City.
How to enter
All entries must be received by end of day on Monday, March 1st. There are 2 ways to submit your entry:
You can do this yourself or you can have your teacher or someone else help you. Copy and paste your essay into the “Essay” box in the form. After VML receives your entry, your teacher will get a confirmation email.
Mail your essay with a filled-out paper entry form (see back of this flyer) attached to:
VML, Attn: 7th Grade Essay Contest
P.O. Box 12164
Richmond, VA 23241
Who is eligible?
Any 7th grade student living and/or attending school in a VML member locality (Full list available here).
VML Contact: Rob Bullington, firstname.lastname@example.org