eNews September 3, 2021Friday, September 03, 2021 - 04:43pm
In this issue:
- So much to share…with just enough time!
- Deadline to register or request refunds is September 13
- The date to reserve VML room blocks has passed; options remain
- Tee times still available for post-conference golf event!
- Virginia Tourism Corporation set to distribute ARPA tourism funds
- “Opportunities to Fund Water Infrastructure Priorities” webinar coming September 14
- Sands Anderson 2021 Virginia Employment Law Pocket Guide hardcopies now available by request
- American Public University offering free topical webinars
VML Annual Conference
We can’t believe our 2021 Annual Conference is only one month away! Thanks to everyone who has registered so far. We are looking forward to a fantastic, educational, safe (and fun) event. In the coming weeks, keep an eye out for special editions of eNews and communications to attendees announcing:
- The detailed conference schedule
- Instructions on downloading the new VML Conference app
- The winners of the 2021 Innovation Awards (there were so many great entries this year!)
- Featured speakers and sessions
- …and much more!
See you in Leesburg soon!
VML Contact: Rob Bullington, email@example.com
Deadline to register or request refunds is September 13
As a reminder, the deadline to register for the VML 2021 Annual Conference is September 13. This is also the date for those who have already registered but need to cancel to request a refund.
Cancellations and refence requests should be send to Joni Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
VML Contact: Sandra Harrington, email@example.com
The date to reserve VML room blocks has passed; options remain
While the date to reserve a room under the VML block rate at the Lansdowne Resort or any of the secondary hotels has passed, there are still rooms available in many locations. In fact, some are offering rooms at equivalent rates. For those still interested in reserving a room at the Lansdowne Resort, a wait list is available as rooms become available.
Those interested in being put on the wait list should contact Lansdowne at (703) 726-1448.
For all other inquiries related to rooms, please contact Sandra Harrington at the below email address.
VML Contact: Sandra Harrington, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tee times still available for post-conference golf event!
It’s not every year that the Virginia Municipal League’s annual conference happens at a location that also boasts a world class golf course. But that’s just what’s going to happen this fall when we gather at the fantastic Lansdowne Resort (and golf course) in Leesburg!
We are pleased to announce a VML golf event to immediately follow the annual conference.
- Date: Tuesday, October 5.
- Time: Tee times will be assigned beginning from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM until all available slots are filled.
- Cost: $110 per person (special discounted VML rate)
- Amenities: Boxed lunches courtesy of McGuireWoods Consulting will be provided prior to the start of the event. Gifts and prizes to be announced soon!
- Groupings & Tee Times: We will do our best to put people who register together in the same foursome. Individual registrations will be assigned to a foursome. All tee times will be communicated in advance of the conference.
More information and registration available here >.
VML Contact: Rob Bullington, email@example.com
Virginia Tourism Corporation set to distribute ARPA tourism funds
The Virginia General Assembly has approved a $50 million American Rescue Plan Act appropriation to the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), of which $30 million will be directed to statewide destination marketing organizations through their local government. These organizations serve as the chief marketing agencies for each destination, helping to drive increased visitation and revenue generation.
This appropriation supports the statewide tourism industry with continued recovery efforts.
VTC is developing the Virginia Tourism Recovery Program (VTRP) that will provide recovery funds to the 133 Virginia counties and cities for tourism marketing. These funds are essential and necessary to cover costs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Available funds will be allocated to each county and independent city based on the relative share of the locality to total state tax revenue. The program will be administered by a third-party business management service that specializes in disaster funding programs, along with VTC providing oversight and serving as a liaison to Virginia localities and DMOs.
More information will be available soon to include application and program details.
VTC Contact: President and CEO Rita McClenny, firstname.lastname@example.org
American Rescue Plan: “Opportunities to Fund Water Infrastructure Priorities” webinar coming September 14
On Tuesday, September 14 at 10:00 AM ET, the National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties (NACo) will host a 1.5-hour webinar to provide an overview of the American Rescue Plan, detail how funds can support stormwater and wastewater, share several examples of local government plans for funding, and a follow-up document with jurisdiction and national resources for additional questions. The webinar goals are to address questions, learn of examples, and consider funding projects that address long-standing water infrastructure needs.
Background: The American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) established the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds; an allocation of $65.1 billion for local government use to respond to acute pandemic response needs, fill revenue shortfalls and support hard-hit communities. It also allows funds to be used for “necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure.”
VML Contact: Mitchell Smiley, email@example.com
Charitable Gaming Joint Subcommittee meets
The General Assembly joint subcommittee to study the percentage of charitable gaming receipts to be used for required purposes met on August 24. Presentations were given by Charitable and Regulatory Programs, the State Inspector General, the State Police, and the Commonwealth’s attorneys.
The agenda, materials and summary of the meeting are available on the subcommittee’s website here >.
During the meeting there was a lot of discussion about illegal machines and how accounting for the legal machines is handled. A report is due on October 1. There will be legislation about these machines in the next session.
VML Contact: Michelle Gowdy, firstname.lastname@example.org
Final guidelines for the disposable plastic bag tax now available
The final guidelines for the Disposable Plastic Bag Tax have been posted on the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall website. Please note that the public comment period will open on September 27, 2021, and close October 27, 2021.
The Virginia Department of Taxation does not anticipate making any changes to the final guidelines. The planned effective date is October 28, 2021.
The Department has also updated its web page for the Disposable Plastic Bag Tax to reflect the final guidelines. The Department thanks everyone who participated in the development of these guidelines.
If you have any questions or need more information, please contact Policy Analyst Steve Klos at the below phone number.
Virginia Department of Taxation Contact: Steve Klos, (804) 371-2336
Updates from the Virginia Redistricting Commission
The Virginia Redistricting Commission has been meeting once a week to develop a plan for how redistricting will occur in Virginia. This ongoing discussion serves to determine who will draw the map of the new Virginia districts and in what way they will be created.
The Commission met in-person on August 23rd to continue the discussion on redistricting in Virginia. During this meeting an abundance of important conversations and debates occurred revolving around public transparency during this process. The Commission has decided to use a blank map to create the new districts meaning the designated drawers will start from scratch. In doing so, incumbent districts and the demographic makeups of current districts will shift, potentially changing political leanings of certain areas.
In the spirit of public transparency, the Commission also decided that all meetings and interactions must be conducted in a publicly accessible forum. Members of the Commission, map drawers, attorneys, and members of the public cannot speak to one another behind closed doors. Further, any questions from one of the parties involved and their respective answers must be shared with the entire body to ensure members have all the information.
While the Commission was meant to have met again on August 30th and September 2nd, the August 30th meeting had to be cancelled on account of a positive covid test from among the Commission members. Thursday’s meeting was held virtually and was limited to presentations on public outreach efforts, an analysis of racially polarized voting in Virginia, and – importantly – two initial drafts of district maps for Northern Virginia. Because the meeting was held virtually, the Commission did not take a vote on any actions. However, members expressed a variety of concerns about the maps presented, including whether the maps adequately accounted for the current residences of incumbents or for the protection of broader interest groups as outlined by the General Assembly.
The next scheduled meeting of the Virginia Redistricting Commission will be held Thursday, September 9th. For access to meeting materials, information about upcoming meetings, or to comment on the state’s redistricting process (and its impact on local redistricting efforts), please visit virginiaredistricting.org.
Records Issues subcommittee meets to discuss 2021 legislation
On Thursday September 2nd, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Records Issues subcommittee met to discuss final recommendations to be made to the entire FOIA council regarding two pieces of legislation from the 2021 General Assembly Session: HB2000 (Roem) and HB2196 (Mullins).
HB2000 would change the fee charged to fulfill a FOIA request by making the first four requests per month free of charge for the initial two hours of research done as well as placing a cap of a maximum of $33/hour for request rates.
The subcommittee’s recommendation is to add language stipulating that $33/hour will be the cap unless a qualified person charges a rate higher than the capped rate. If a higher rate is required, the requester may go to court to seek financial relief.
HB2000 affects localities that may not have the technology, financial ability, or staffing capability to comply with these two proposed changes. Although technology is available to track the number of requests per person, not every locality has the means to purchase such systems.
HB2196 would ensure law enforcement disciplinary records following investigations are available to the public with the goal of increased accountability and transparency. Specific personal contact information such as social security numbers and witnesses’ names would still be redacted.
The subcommittee’s recommendations are:
- Remove the word “substantiated” from line 22 of the bill.
- Specify that proceedings may arise whether the officer was on or off duty.
- Narrow the scope of the legislation to avoid technical violations.
- Example: Responding to an incident outside of jurisdiction by ¼ of a mile.
- Add language stating that a technical infraction does not include any instance involving a firearm.
VML will continue to monitor HB2000 and HB2196 closely. The date for the full FOIA Council Advisory Meeting has not yet been set.
VML Contact: Josette Bulova, email@example.com
Commonwealth Connect Coalition meets
This week the Commonwealth Connect Coalition met for monthly updates on broadband legislation and efforts on the federal level. The coalition is comprised of staff members from Commonwealth Connect as well as local governments and local government organizations (such as VML) and is dedicated to developing a plan to close the broadband coverage gap in Virginia.
Zack Golden, State Director for US Senator Mark Warner, gave an in-depth presentation on the proposed Federal Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) highlighting aspects of the proposed legislation pertinent to local government related to broadband.
While H.R. 3684 is subject to change, two items are worth noting for localities:
- $42.45 billion could potentially be allotted to the State Broadband Deployment Grants
- Money allotted could potentially be used for numerous items regarding broadband such as deployment, connection of anchor institutions, data collection, mapping, infrastructure installment, adoption of broadband and affordable devices, and more.
- $14.2 billion could potentially be allotted for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
- The ACP would provide a $30 a month benefit for qualified households to use towards broadband services.
- The ACP would expand affordability and support through widening the eligibility criteria to 200% of federal poverty levels. This effectively adds coverage for WIC recipients.
Following Golden’s presentation, acting Gloucester County Acting Administrator Carol Steele and Botetourt County Economic Development Director Ken McFayden presented on how Gloucester and Botetourt counties used Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) money. Broadband in Virginia funnels through VATI which funds broadband funding initiatives and grants through private-public partnerships. Steele and McFayden emphasized the need for cohesion when planning, focus on cost efficiency when budgeting, local participation, and utilizing resources such as technical assistance.
VML Contact: Josette Bulova, firstname.lastname@example.org
Events & Opportunities
Sands Anderson 2021 Virginia Employment Law Pocket Guide hardcopies now available by request
Each year, Sands Anderson publishes a Virginia Employment Law Pocket Guide. Written for employers and HR professionals, this guide summarizes key Virginia statues and employment law principles to help them navigate sensitive employment situations and avoid liability.
As you may know, the 2020 Virginia General Assembly passed several new laws that dramatically changed Virginia employment law. The new laws provide Commonwealth employees broader protections and make it easier for employees to bring claims against their employers. Consequently, the 2021 pocket guide has been updated to include what Virginia employers need to know to comply with these new laws and avoid liability in 2021.
Sands Anderson is also offering to mail a hard copy of the guide to those interested in receiving it. These hard copies will be distributed while they last. To request a copy, please send an email to Faith Alejandro by September 30, 2021. Include your name and mailing address.
Sands Anderson Contact: Faith Alejandro, email@example.com
From the pandemic to emerging technology, many factors are driving change in the workplace. Join VML Community Business Member American Public University System (APUS) for a webinar series confronting these challenges. Professors from the university will discuss the catalysts behind the changes as well as opportunities to mitigate unproductive obstacles.
Learn more here >.
Webinar topics & schedule
September 9th @ 7 PM ET
“Change in the New Normal”
Click to RSVP
Join APUS faculty member Dr. Robert Gordon for a discussion on the changing workplace as a result of the pandemic and what adjustments are needed to return to full operational status.
September 21st @ 4 PM ET
“Transitioning Back to the Workplace”
Click to RSVP
Join APUS faculty member Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt for a discussion on the physical and psychological aspects of re-entry into the workplace post-pandemic.
October 14th @ 7 PM ET
“Pillars of Emotional Intelligence in a Changing Workplace”
Click to RSVP
Join APUS faculty member Dr. Stacey Little for a discussion on how high levels of emotional intelligence can contribute to positive work culture.
October 26th @ 7 PM ET
“Ten Factors to Consider When Selecting a Degree Path”
Click to RSVP
Have questions about choosing the right degree program? Join us for a discussion on what to consider before making a selection.
November 2nd @ 7 PM ET
“Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace”
Click to RSVP
Join APUS faculty member Dr. Wanda Curlee for a discussion on how to use AI to add value as an employee.
November 18th @ 7 PM ET
“Navigating Finance for Continuing Education”
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Have questions about how to pay for school? Join us for a discussion on planning tips and types of financing.
APUS Contact: Amos Nicholson, ANicholson@APUS.EDU