eNews January 31, 2022Monday, January 31, 2022 - 06:06pm
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In this issue:
- Bill requiring referendum prior to any increase in the local property tax rate being heard tomorrow morning!
- Bills that passed out of Senate Local Government
- Charter bill updates
- Two problematic land use bills stricken by their patrons in Senate Local Government
Bill requiring referendum prior to any increase in the local property tax rate being heard tomorrow morning!
SB620 (Cosgrove) is up tomorrow (Feb. 1st) morning at 9:00 AM in the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee. This bill would require localities to hold a binding referendum to approve any increase to the local property tax rate that is greater than one percent.
Here’s why this bill should be a big concern for local governments:
- As happened in California and Massachusetts, this would blow a hole in local budgets and likely lead to the state government needing to take over additional public services that are now performed by local governments.
- In FY2018, the real property tax accounted for 64.6 percent of county revenues, 29.1 percent of town revenues, and 55.5 percent of city revenues. These revenues fund K-12 education, public safety, elections administration, social services, and behavioral health.
- Decisions about taxes and the use of revenues are among the most fundamental to governing. The General Assembly should not tie the hands of local elected officials who are the closest and most responsive to the people of Virginia.
Sign up to attend/comment virtually here >.
Send an email or call Senators to express opposition.
Members of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee:
VML Contact: Carter Hutchinson, firstname.lastname@example.org
State compensation to local jail bills: Which to support (and how to support them)
The January 28th issue of eNews gave a round-up of jail-related bills and proposed budget amendments affecting jails. Today we’ll focus on two “compensation to local jails” bills and how you can support them.
HB989 (Runion) and SB165 (Peake) would compel the state to compensate local jails for the cost of incarceration of convicted felons, calculated from the date of mailing/transmittal of the final order. We’ll consider each in turn.
Support SB165 in the Senate
SB165 would compel compensation for the full cost of incarceration, as calculated in the annual jail cost report, beginning on the 61st day following the date of the mailing or electronic transmittal by the clerk of the committing court to the director of the Department of Corrections.
This bill has been reported by Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee and referred to Senate Finance and Appropriations, where it will likely be assigned to the Public Safety Subcommittee, which meets on Wednesdays (it has not yet been docketed for this week’s subcommittee meeting).
This bill faces an uphill battle because of the DPB fiscal impact statement which gives the potential fiscal impact in the range of $5 million to $106.7 million. It also does not have an accompanying proposed budget amendment to cover the potential costs.
Action: To support SB165, contact the members of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee this week to tell them how the staffing and overtime costs related to holding state-responsible inmates beyond the date that the state should take them into its system affects your local budget.
Support HB989 in the House
HB989 takes a graduated approach for additional state funding to local and regional jails after the date of the mailing or electronic transmittal by the clerk of the committing court to the director of the Department of Corrections:
- For the first 60 days following the date of the letter/transmittal, the state would pay $12 per day.
- For the period of more than 60 days, but not more than 90 days, the state would pay $40 per inmate per day.
- For the period of more than 90 days, the state would reimburse the jail for the actual cost of incarceration as calculated in the jail report prepared annually by the Compensation Board.
Currently, such compensation rates are provided for in the General Appropriation Act. Fortunately, Del. Runion has introduced a budget amendment to pay the estimated cost of his bill: Item 404#22h.
HB989 has been referred to the House Public Safety Committee, which meets at 8:00 AM on Fridays. The bill has not been assigned to a subcommittee.
Action: To support HB989, contact the members of the House Public Safety Committee this week to express your support. Be sure to explain how the staffing and overtime costs related to holding state-responsible inmates after the date that the state should take them into its system affects your local budget. In addition to supporting the bill, you should also express your support for Delegate Runion’s proposed budget amendment to the members of the House Appropriations Committee.
VML Contact: Janet Areson, email@example.com
Cyber security incident reporting bills to oppose
Earlier today, VML sent an action alert asking our members to oppose the legislation outlined below. To view the action alert, click here >.
HB1290 (Hayes) was heard in the House Communications, Technology, and Innovations Committee this morning. Despite multiple speakers in opposition, HB1290 passed 18-2 with amendments. The amendments create a work group with various stakeholders, including VML, to further discuss this issue. However, reporting must still occur while the work group convenes.
VML asks our members to contact the members of the House of Delegates and urge them to oppose HB1290. VML also asks that you contact members of the Senate Committee on General Laws (see below) urging them to oppose the Senate version – SB764 (Barker) – as well. SB764 may be on the docket as early as Wednesday, February 2nd.
HB1290 and SB764 would require all public bodies to report any known incidents that compromise and threaten the security of the public body’s information technology systems to the State Chief Information Officer (CIO) within 24 hours from when the incident was discovered. VML has serious concerns with this legislation due to the time constraint, lack of definitions, lack of reporting guidance, and the inability to meet with an insurance provider or cyber expert of your choice before having to report to the State.
- Time Constraint: 24 hours is not enough time to properly assess the extent of the situation, formulate the best strategy, and speak with staff and other individuals affected.
- Definitions: VML has serious concerns about the lack of definition of “incident”. Without a definitive definition the term “incident” becomes extremely vague allowing for misinterpretation on what constitutes as an incident that must be reported. Secondly, there is no specific language on what needs to be reported. Once again allowing for misinterpretation of what must be reported.
- Reporting: HB1290 requires the public body to report the incident to the State before having the opportunity to discuss the matter with your insurance company, provider, or agency of choice. This creates another reporting mandate for public bodies.
Current GA Committees
HB1290 – Full House of Delegates
SB764 – Senate Committee on General Laws:
VML Contact: Josette Bulova, firstname.lastname@example.org
Some good (and some bad) education bills expected to be heard this week
Although not docketed yet, we expect to see committees address myriad education bills this week. Be sure to keep an eye out for the following bills (and reach out to your legislators about them).
Support: Data reserve tool for accurate ages of school buildings
HB252 (Simonds) creates a data reserve tool to identify and collect data on accurate ages of school buildings. This legislation would help to better funnel funds to school buildings that need it. This bill was heard in the House Committee on Education and was rereferred to the House Appropriations Committee. VML supports this bill and appreciates any efforts being made towards school modernization.
Support: Add school construction to SOQs
HB1100 (LaRock) and SB603 (Stanley) add school construction to the Standards of Quality (SOQ). SOQs are funded by the State and Localities based on the Local Composite Index. By including school construction in the SOQs, steady funding is assured. VML supports these bills. Both HB1100 and SB603 were recommended by the Commission on School Construction and Modernization. HB1100 has been assigned to the House Education Early Childhood Innovation Subcommittee. SB603 has been assigned to the Senate Education and Health Committee.
Two bills dealing unexpended funds: Two to support, two to oppose in present form
HB251(Simonds) would codify the ability of local governing bodies and school boards to enter into a collaborative agreement to properly allocate any unexpended funds at the end of a fiscal year. Currently, any unexpended school funds at the end of the year are returned to the local governing body unless the locality chooses to allow the funds to remain with the school division. This legislation codifies the ability to enter into such agreements.
This bill has been assigned to the House Education Early Childhood Innovation Subcommittee. VML supports HB251 and appreciates the patron’s efforts to work with VML.
SB481 (McClellan) encourages local governing bodies and school boards to enter into a collaborative agreement to let the school board keep unexpended funds at the end of the fiscal and to set aside these unexpended funds in a separate fund for the school board to use for school construction, maintenance, or renovation. This would change current law in which any unexpended school board funds are given back to the local governing body. This bill also stipulates that any school board failing to enter into an agreement would not be eligible to receive state grants, loans, or bond programs to support maintenance, renovation, or construction.
As written, VML opposes SB481 in its current form and will continue to work on possible amendments with the patron. This bill has been assigned to the Senate Education and Health Committee.
HB608 (Bourne) deals with the same concept as HB251 and SB481. As written, this legislation would give authority to school boards to keep any unexpended funds instead of the local governing body receiving the funds at the end of the year. VML opposes HB608 in its current form and will continue to try to work with the patron to amend this language. This bill has been assigned to the House Education Early Childhood Innovation Subcommittee.
SB276 (Stanley) deals with the same concept as HB251, SB481, and HB608. SB276 was heard in the Senate Education and Health Public Education Subcommittee in which an amendment was adopted, and the bill was rereferred to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee. The adopted language maintains local authority by allowing the collaboration to be optional via resolution, thus maintaining local control over unexpended funds. VML supports SB276.
VML Contact: Josette Bulova, email@example.com
Action on marijuana legislation expected this week
The House Marijuana bills HB950 (Webert)and HB430 (Herring) have not yet been assigned to a committee and it is unclear when they will be heard within the two weeks remaining for the House to consider bills prior to crossover. As these bills pertain to local governments, they are nearly identical in that neither bill as introduced clarifies the authority of towns to hold a referendum. The House Committee on General Laws will meet tomorrow (February 1st) to receive presentations on marijuana. This will be the first meetings on the topic to be held in the House of Delegates this session.
Meanwhile, in the Senate…
The Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee Subcommittee on Cannabis will meet this Wednesday (February 2nd) to discuss Senate marijuana bills SB313 (Ebbin), SB391 (Ebbin), and SB621 (Dunnavant).
SB313 (Ebbin) and SB621 (Dunnavant) set out the conditions to begin the legal sale of marijuana on July 1 of this year. As introduced these bills exempt retail sales starting July 1 from any local option marijuana sales tax. We are in conversation with both offices about including local authority to levy optional local sales tax on retail marijuana sales and hope to have further updates on the status of these conversations this week. SB313 and SB621 would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell retail marijuana to persons 21 and older from existing permitted locations starting July 1, 2022.
SB391 (Ebbin) is the main vehicle in the Senate to re-enact the legislation to legalize marijuana and create regulations for the retail sale and establish the regulatory structure for the new retail market and includes clarifying language that towns can hold referendums and any county referendum is not controlling in those towns that hold a referendum.
This bill includes several new provisions that were recommended by a legislative committee overseeing the implementation of the marijuana legalization process, the first recommended change narrows local zoning authority by preventing licensed marijuana businesses from being treated differently from any other similarly zoned use. The second recommended change conforms marijuana business operating hours to be identical to the hours of Virginia ABC stores.
We appreciate the consideration the patron has given localities in this bill and support the changes that have been made concerning localities to date.
VML Contact: Mitchell Smiley, firstname.lastname@example.org
Local Government Legislation
Bills that passed out of Senate Local Government
SB501 (Lewis) Local land use approvals; extension of approvals to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Extends to July 1, 2023, the sunset date for local land use approvals that were valid and outstanding as of July 1, 2020.
SB503 (Lewis) Virginia Resources Authority; short-term loans to planning district commissions. Gives the Virginia Resources Authority the power to establish a perpetual and permanent revolving fund for the purpose of making short-term loans to any planning district commission.
SB720 (Hackworth) Virginia Regional Industrial Facilities Act; revenue sharing agreements; facilities. Localities may agree to a revenue and economic growth-sharing arrangement with respect to tax revenues and other incomes/revenues generated by a facility owned by an authority or a facility owned by a non-authority utilized as part of a cooperative arrangement entered into by an authority promoting economic and workforce development.
VML Contact: Michelle Gowdy, email@example.com
Charter bill updates
It’s been a busy session for charter bills due to, but not limited to, localities moving May elections to November. For those keeping track of the charter activity this year, we offer the below updates.
Passed out of the Senate Local Government Charter Subcommittee
- SB377 (Petersen) Town of Vienna
- SB387 (McDougle) Town of Port Royal
- SB523 (Lucas) City of Portsmouth
- SB627 (Hackworth) Town of Tazewell
- SB699 (Hanger) City of Waynesboro
- SB589 (Pillion) Termination of the Town of St. Charles
Charter bills that have cleared Senate Local Government Committee
These bills have cleared the full committee and will go to the floor:
- SB91 (Ruff) Town of Clarksville
- SB92 (Ruff) Town of Blackstone
- SB97 (Surovell) Town of Occoquan
- SB99 (Hanger) Town of Grottoes
- SB164 (Peake) Town of Appomattox
- SB182 (Saslaw) City of Falls Church
- SB253 (Locke) City of Hampton
- SB274 (DeSteph) City of Virginia Beach
- SB322 (Vogel) Town of The Plains
- SB58 (Locke) City of Portsmouth
VML Contact: Michelle Gowdy, firstname.lastname@example.org
Two problematic land use bills stricken by their patrons in Senate Local Government
In a bit of good news, two bills that would have created problems for local governments were stricken by their patrons earlier today.
SB255 (Bell) Zoning; wireless communications infrastructure; application process. This was a terrible bill that VML OPPOSED. Dealing with cell towers this bill talks about a “standard process project” as defined in 15.2-2316.3 of the Code of Virginia. This bill would require that an application be approved if the proposed new structure provides additional wireless coverage or capacity for first responders or if the wireless support structure is not within a four-mile radius of an existing structure. In addition, currently a locality can deny a structure that exceeds 50 feet if appropriate rules are followed BUT this bill would amend this to 150 feet.
SB602 (DeSteph) Short-term rental properties; definition; locality requirements and restrictions. Would have prohibited localities from requiring or allowing the approval of neighbors or the neighborhood for the operation of short-term rental properties; imposing requirements/restrictions that exceed those of regular properties, including special parking and occupancy restrictions or restricting short-term rentals by geographic location within the locality by means other than general land use.
VML Contact: Michelle Gowdy, email@example.com