eNews July 23, 2021Friday, July 23, 2021 - 05:17pm
In this issue:
- New episode of VML Voice podcast now available
- VML Innovation Awards: Deadline to submit entries is August 16
- VML returns to in person events with successful Mayors Institute and Newly Elected Officials Conference
- 2021 Annual Conference: Business & Sponsor membership opportunities now available!
- Commonwealth Transportation Board scrutinizes locally administered projects during final summer meeting
- Grants available for public open space projects, easement assistance
- DCJS hate crimes grants: FY 2022 Round II applications and webinar
- “Laser Assault and Threat Awareness for Public Safety” webinar coming July 28
- Resilient Virginia conference happening virtually August 25-27
FOIA Advisory Council meets
On July 19, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Advisory Council met in person for the first time in over a year. During the meeting, the Council introduced Lola Rodriquez Perkins, the senior deputy city attorney for the City of Hampton and newest member of the FOIA Advisory Council. Appointed by the Senate Rules committee, Perkins will serve as a member of the Records Issues Subcommittee, FOIA Advisory Council, and as a representative for local government.
HB2000 (Roem) would change the cost of a FOIA request. Under the legislation, the first two hours of required to complete a FOIA request would be free of charge to the requester. Following the subcommittee report, HB200 was sent back to subcommittee for further study.
HB2196 (Mullin) would require that law-enforcement disciplinary records be released after the investigation is closed. Prior to release, however, certain redactions (e.g., Social Security numbers) would be made for privacy purposes. This bill will continue to be studied by the Records Issues Subcommittee.
The Meeting Issues Subcommittee Chair raised the matter of continuing to study electronic meetings for consideration by the Council. The subcommittee would like to continue to study the appropriateness of conducting an electronic public meeting outside of a state of emergency, especially for regional advisory public bodies. While objections were voiced, the Council agreed to ask the subcommittee to study the issue.
In a related topic, a recent discussion from the Virginia General District Court has claimed that only “.gov” websites can be defined and utilized as an “official public government website” to provide timely notice of meetings. The Meeting Issues Subcommittee has recommended that there be further discussion regarding proposed legislation to address this issue.
VML Contact: Josette Bulova, firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: Delegate Kory’s office has informed VML that there will be no Counties, Cities and Towns task force related to public meetings and/or notices before the 2022 General Assembly Session.
New episode of VML Voice podcast now available
It’s hurricane season Virginia! The VML Voice chats with Erin Sutton from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. Listen to find out what localities can do to be ready and what resources VDEM can provide to help. We also discuss unique challenges that persist due to COVID and find out what VDEM is doing to ensure equitable disaster response and recovery. Finally, Erin participates in our Hurricane Quiz Game and we find out if “Herma, Herma, Hurricane” is a real song.
VML Contact: Rob Bullington, email@example.com
Don’t miss this opportunity to spotlight programs and individuals that have made a big difference to your residents by creating innovative solutions to address emerging needs. The deadline to submit entries is 5:00 PM ET on August 16.
More information and a link to the entry form are available on VML’s website here >.
About the 2021 Innovation Awards
Forty-five years ago, the Virginia Municipal League launched its “Achievement Awards” to recognize outstanding work being done by local governments across Virginia. The program went on to become Virginia’s highest honor in local government creativity. In 2017 the name was changed to “Innovation Awards”, but the purpose remains the same: To celebrate all that you do to make your city, town, or county a great place to live!
Appropriately this is the “sapphire anniversary” year for the awards as sapphire is often associated with healing and peace – two things we have good reason to welcome in 2021.
The awards will be presented at VML’s Annual Conference in Leesburg in October.
VML Contact: Manuel Timbreza, firstname.lastname@example.org
VML returns to in person events with successful Mayors Institute and Newly Elected Officials Conference
The local government leaders who gathered in at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville last week may have come from all over the Commonwealth, but they all agreed it was great to get together!
More than 60 mayors and council members from across Virginia met Thursday and Friday, July 15-16, in Charlottesville to review updated FOIA and COIA guidelines, compare experiences in leading localities through a global pandemic, and simply catch up with colleagues. Speakers included Senator Creigh Deeds, Alan Gernhardt of the FOIA Council, G. Stewart Petoe of the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council, Chief Hadezean Smith of the Charlottesville City Fire Department, Mayor Derrick Wood of the Town of Dumfries, and Mayor Bob Coiner and Town Manager Debbie Kendall of the Town of Gordonsville.
Thanks to everyone who participated! (including City of Bristol Mayor Anthony Farnum, pictured).
VML Contact: Jessica Ackerman, email@example.com
This year’s VML annual conference at the Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg promises to be among the best in VML’s history. Our members are looking forward to the opportunity to learn together and share stories in-person following an extended time apart. As in year’s past, organizations and businesses are encouraged to join us at this important annual gathering.
However, please be aware that the Annual Conference will not have a traditional exhibit hall. Instead, VML looks forward to welcoming businesses and organizations to our conference as members of our Community Business Member (CBM) program.
For those businesses and organizations that would like to have a presence at our Annual Conference, becoming a VML Community Business Member is a great way to go! We have added conference-specific options to each level of CBM membership. Review the opportunities here >.
VML Contact: Rob Bullington, firstname.lastname@example.org
ARPA: Resources now available from the Commonwealth Institute
On August 2, the General Assembly will convene to appropriate some (or all) of the flexible fiscal recovery funds that Virginia is receiving from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan Act. The Commonwealth Institute (TCI) has developed a package of resources to help press, policymakers, and the public understand the available state and local funding.
- Infographic summarizing ARPA funds for Virginia and its localities (includes both designated and flexible funds). Click here for the infographic >.
- Blog post with further details on ARPA funds for Virginia and its localities (includes both designated and flexible funds). Click here for the blog post >.
- Facebook live recording of TCI staff discussing the ARPA funds for Virginia. Click Here for the FB Live Discussion >.
About The Commonwealth Institute
From TCI’s website: “The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis (TCI) advances racial and economic justice in Virginia by advocating for public policies that are designed in partnership with people most impacted, and shaped by credible, accessible fiscal and policy research.”
TCI Contact: Sherri Egerton, email@example.com
Cannabis Authority Board members appointed; Director not yet announced
As part of the recent legislation legalizing possession of marijuana, an independent state authority known as the Cannabis Control Authority (CCA) was created to serve as the regulatory agency for the legal cannabis market in Virginia that will begin operation in 2024.
Much like the Virginia Alcohol and Beverage Control Authority (VAABC) the CCA will be led by a five-member board. The CCA board will is tasked with developing the adult marketplace for cannabis by controlling and regulating the production, distribution, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products.
Establishing this board is the first step required for Virginia to stand up its legal marijuana marketplace. Board members represent a diverse range of private and public backgrounds. They include:
- Neil Amin of Henrico, Chief Executive Officer, Shamin Hotels
- Michael Jerome Massie, Esq. of Portsmouth, Owner, Michael Jerome Massie, PC
- Bette Brand of Roanoke, Chief Executive Officer, Strategic Consulting LLC
- Rasheeda N. Creighton of Richmond, Co-Founder, The Jackson Ward Collective
- Shane Emmett of Midlothian, Co-Founder and Former Chief Executive Officer, Health Warrior
An announcement of who will be nominated to run the day-to-day operations of the CCA is expected in the coming weeks.
Other cannabis boards receive gubernatorial appointments
The five-member CCA board is only one of three cannabis boards with appointments made by the Governor.
The Cannabis Equity and Reinvestment Board is a 20-member board which will manage 30 percent of the revenues generated from sales of marijuana to provide resources to communities that experience disproportionate enforcement of drug laws including workforce development grants, apprenticeship programs, scholarships, and reentry programs. For this board, the Governor appointed five individuals with a range of experience in advocacy organizations and from the indigent defense commission.
- Jorge Figueredo, MPP of Falls Church, Executive Director, Edu-Futuro
- Amari Harris of Richmond, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Attorney, Virginia Indigent Defense Commission
- Anthony West of Roanoke, Chief Operations Officer, Virginia CARES (Community Action Re-Entry System)
- Sheba Williams of Richmond, Executive Director, Nolef Turns, Inc.
- Vickie R. Williams-Cullins of Hampton, Executive Director, OPN-Door Communications LLC
The Cannabis Public Health Advisory Board is a 21-member board which will serve as an expert advisory council to the CCA Board. The Health Advisory Board is tasked with monitoring and assessing public health trends and impacts from the retail marijuana market. The board can make recommendations for health warnings, product safety, public health awareness, programming and other resources in addition to health-related regulations that must be approved by the Cannabis Public Health Advisory Board prior to CCA Board approval. Individuals appointed by the governor are:
- Ngiste Abebe of Richmond, Vice President of Public Policy, Columbia Care
- Larry Keen II of Petersburg, Associate Professor, College of Health and Natural Sciences, Department of Psychology, Virginia State University
- Cynthia Morrow, MD, MPH, of Roanoke, Health Director, Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts
- Marcus Treiber of Leesburg, Chief Executive Officer, EMT Holdings LLC
VML Contact: Mitchell Smiley, firstname.lastname@example.org
Virginia Redistricting Commission names replacement citizen member
Following the July 6 resignation of Marvin Gilliam, the remaining 15 members of the Virginia Redistricting Commission appointed Virginia Trost-Thornton at its Monday meeting in Richmond. Trost-Thornton, a lawyer from the Town of Forest, will serve as the Commission’s eighth Republican citizen representative. She was selected from among nominees submitted by Senator Tommy Norment.
The Commission continues to accept public comment as it awaits the September 30 census data release. Upcoming virtual and in-person public hearings are scheduled for:
- July 27 – George Mason University, Fairfax
- July 29 – Virtual, Southwest Region
- August 3 – Pocahontas Building, Richmond
- August 5 – Virtual, Valley Region
VML Contact: Jessica Ackerman, email@example.com
Crumbling School Tour sheds light on school modernization needs
The Virginia Coalition of Small and Rural Schools continued its summer series for local, state, and federal elected officials in the Towns of South Boston and New Castle this week, with groups touring Craig County High School, McCleary Elementary School, and Halifax County High School (including VML staff members Jessica Ackerman and Josette Bulova, pictured).
The Crumbling Schools Tour features at least one public school in each of the Commonwealth’s eight regions to illustrate the extreme capital improvement needs of schools across the state, with the goal of garnering attention and additional funding from state representatives ahead of the 2021 Special Session II. Thursday’s tours in South Boston and New Castle, like those before them, highlighted issues faced in buildings either constructed or renovated in the 1970s which used lower quality materials and has led to significant structural issues.
Earlier school tours this month included visits in Mattaponi, Luray, Waynesboro, and Radford. The final two school visits of the tour will feature Westview Early Childhood Center in Petersburg on Tuesday, July 27 and Kiptopeke Elementary in Cape Charles on Thursday, July 29.
The Crumbling Schools Tour has been coordinated in partnership with VML, the Virginia Association of Counties, Virginia First Cities, the Virginia School Boards Association, the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, and Fund Our Schools.
VML Contact: Jessica Ackerman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Commonwealth Transportation Board scrutinizes locally administered projects during final summer meeting
The Commonwealth Transportation Board met this week for their final summer meeting and a presentation from VDO Chief Engineer on “Development and Delivery Results” sparked a conversation among board members about how the CTB should consider improving on time performance of locally administered transportation projects that use state funds. Pages 10 and 16 of the presentation (available here) show that local project development fails to meet performance targets and fails to meet project delivery targets while exceeding project on budget targets for local projects.
Thanks to astute questions from CTB members Mary Hines (Northern Virginia District) and Carlos Brown (Richmond District) it was made clear that this data is binary and aggregate and excludes any overperformance of projects. Furthermore, this presentation only captures three fiscal years of data and VDOT performance rates have been the subject of significant and concerted efforts to meet performance standards over nearly twenty years. In FY21 VDOT administered 2/3 of project funds and locally administered projects accounted for only 1/3 project budgets. From the discussion during the meeting, there is interest among CTB board members to devise policies to improve local project administration performance.
Given that VDOT has had nearly 20 years to consistently meet project targets it is seems only fair to recognize that any effort to improve local project performance will not happen overnight. It is important that any proposal to change local project funding be done in consultation with localities and respect local authority to manage transportation projects. VML members should be aware that the Commonwealth Transportation Board will be monitoring local project performance metrics carefully and already seem eager to move towards new policies to encourage locally administered projects to meet or exceed performance metrics.
VML Contact: Mitchell Smiley, email@example.com
Events & Opportunities
Grants available for public open space projects, easement assistance
Of the total, $1.075 million is reserved for PTF Public Access grants, which may be used to acquire land, easements, rights of way, lease agreements, or other interests in real estate that result in significant public access. The real estate interest must either be acquired by a local government or conveyed to VOF to be eligible for funding, and protection must meet the requirements of Virginia’s Open-Space Land Act.
Another $350,000 is reserved for PTF Easement Assistance grants, which are available to income-eligible landowners who wish to donate an open-space easement to VOF on their property. Easements allow land to be lived and worked on while limiting development rights to protect water quality, prime farming soils, wildlife habitat, and other conservation values. Easement Assistance grants may help pay for any costs that are associated with conveying the easement to VOF, including legal fees, appraisals, processing fees, and survey costs.
The remaining $400,000 is reserved for GO grants, which prioritize projects in communities that have been inadequately served, overlooked, or marginalized by unfair zoning, housing, and land-use practices or other systemic discrimination. The grants may be used to fund infrastructure, studies, planning, and capacity building to enable safe use of, or access to, public open space, as well as for acquisition. Individual projects may receive no more than $25,000. The minimum grant amount is $500.
The application deadline for PTF Public Access and GO grants is 11:59 p.m. EST, August 20, 2021. PTF Easement Assistance grants are offering on a rolling basis as part of the easement donation process.
VOF encourages potential applicants to contact staff prior to applying to discuss eligibility and seek guidance on producing a successful application.
VOF Contact: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (434) 282-7054 with questions or for information on how to apply.
DCJS hate crimes grants: FY 2022 Round II applications and webinar
The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) is offering a second opportunity for localities to apply for grant funds to combat hate crimes. DCJS is soliciting applications to make competitive grants to localities within the Commonwealth that have established a partnership program with institutions and/or nonprofit organizations that have been targets or are at risk of being targets of hate crimes.
The goal of this program is to minimize bias-motivated incidents by providing funding that supports institutions and/or nonprofit organizations that may be at risk based on race, religious conviction, color, gender, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, or national origin.
More information about the grant solicitation, including the guidelines and application procedures is available here >.
Webinar being offered
On August 4 from 10:00 am to 11:00 am DCJS will conduct a webinar is to aid localities with their grant application preparation. Register here today!
Laser threats and assaults are a growing concern for public safety personnel. Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) laser pointers can and have been directed against law enforcement and emergency responders to disrupt operations.
Interested local government officials and staff are invited to join VML Community Business Member American Military University (part of the American Public University system) on July 28 from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT for a review of the threats posed by commercial lasers to public safety personnel. Historical use, current threats, tactical and operational considerations, safety concerns, counter measures, legal considerations, and future threat potentials will be discussed.
The presentation will also introduce American Military University’s “Laser Assault Awareness” visor card, developed by the speakers LtCol (ret) Matt Begert, Dr. Robert J. Bunker, and Dr. John P. Sullivan, as a resource for personnel in the field.
AMU Contact: Amos Nicholson, ANicholson@APUS.EDU
Resilient Virginia conference happening virtually August 25-27
The 2021 Resilient Virginia Conference offers the opportunity to learn more about economic and social resiliency initiatives taking place in Virginia’s rural areas. The conference includes:
- Breakout sessions on economic and infrastructure resilience and community solutions
- Workshops with in-depth learning on key resiliency topics
- Virtual exhibitor booths
- New this year! Virtual Green Jobs Forum and Career Fair hosted by partner organization, Leaders in Energy.
More information and registration are available here >.
Resilient Virginia Contact: Managing Director Annette Osso, email@example.com