eNews: Special Edition August 10, 2021Tuesday, August 10, 2021 - 04:57pm
House and Senate adopt budget conference report
The General Assembly completed its budget work on Monday when the House and Senate adopted the budget conference report for HB 7001 worked out last Friday afternoon.
The conference report included some of the amendments from the Senate budget, but they were likewise amended. Some of the Senate amendments did not make it into the final version.
Now that the House and Senate have acted on the conference report, it will go the Governor for review. VML has heard that the Governor intends to sign the bill, at which time it will go into effect.
The following is an update of what happened to select Senate amendments to the bill.
Hazard pay bonuses and series of “one-time” bonuses for sheriff’s offices AND regional jail officers
Conferees agreed to one-time hazard pay bonuses of $3,000 for state-supported sworn officers of sheriff’s departments and regional jails (the original bill was $1,000; the Senate proposed $5,000 with a local match required). The bill also includes language calling for the Governor to convene a workgroup to include staff from the Department of Human Resource Management, the State Compensation Board, Department of Corrections, and the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to address the compensation structure for state correctional officers, deputy sheriffs, and regional jail officers. The workgroup will deliver recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly by Oct. 15, 2021.
Gone is the Senate proposal to carry bonuses through each fiscal year of the 2022-2024 biennium.
Re-opening of DMV customer service centers for walk-in traffic
When the pandemic hit, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) transitioned to online only service and later added appointment-only service across the Commonwealth. Senator Peterson put in a budget amendment during the floor session in hopes of re-opening the DMV for in-person, walk-in client services.
The initial amendment language read: “Within 30 days of the effective date of this legislation, the Department of Motor Vehicles shall fully reopen all Customer Service Centers for in-person services and shall provide for the same level of customer services and transaction types as was provided on March 1, 2020. The Department may continue to use the appointment reservation system to schedule priority service but shall not turn away walk-in customers.”
Between the initial amendment and the final conference committee version, DMVs are now required to submit an operating plan for walk-in customers as well as appointments within the next 30 days. Effectively, within 30 days the DMV must implement the operation plan by opening its Customer Service Centers to walk-ins.
The amendment language now reads: “Within 30 days of the effective date of this act, the Department of Motor Vehicles shall submit a report to the Governor and the General Assembly providing a detailed operating plan for serving walk-in customers at existing Customer Service Centers in addition to the current appointment reservation system. Within 30 days of submission of the operating plan, the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles shall ensure that all Customer Service Centers are open for in-person walk-in services in accordance with the operating plan.”
Medicaid home & community-based service rates
The conference report extends the 12.5 percent rate increase for Medicaid Home and Community-based services and additional six months to June 30, 2022 (introduced bill was through Dec. 31, 2021). The conference report allows for the extended increase with certain exceptions such as agency and consumer directed personal care, respite, and companion services in the home and community-based services waivers and the EPSDT program.
As you may recall, Delegate Mullin offered HB2063 during the 2021 Special Session I, which the Office of the Attorney General has since confirmed would prevent both public and private employers from offering compensatory time in lieu of overtime. The original budget bill included the following language in an attempt to “fix” the issue:
“That for the purposes of the Virginia Overtime Wage Act §40.1-29.2 the terms “Wages” and 1047 “Pay” shall also mean overtime compensatory time in lieu of wages for overtime pay by public 1048 agencies as provided by the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §207(o). Employees covered under 1049 29 U.S.C. §213(b)(10)(A) shall be exempt from the overtime requirements set out in Code of Virginia 1050 §40.1-29.2.”
Following the just concluded budget conference, and as passed by both houses, the agreed upon language now reads:
“That for purposes of the Virginia Overtime Wage Act §40.1-29.2 the term “Wages” and “Pay” shall also mean overtime compensatory time in lieu of wages for overtime pay by public agencies as provided by the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §207(o), and the term “Employee” shall not include an individual described in 29 U.S.C. §203(e)(4). In addition to the provisions of subsection D of §40.1-29.2 of the Code of Virginia, an employer may assert an exemption to the overtime requirements for employees who meet any of the exemptions set forth in 29 U.S.C. §213(a). Employees covered under 29 U.S.C. §213(b)(10)(A) shall be exempt from the overtime requirements set out in Code of Virginia §40.1-29.2.”
Addition to Conference Report: Gun violence reduction/youth & gang violence intervention.
The conference report added $2.5 million to the Department of Criminal Justice Services to provide one-time grants to groups providing community-based gun violence reduction or youth and gang violence intervention programming through initiatives including (but not limited to) programs modeled on, or similar to the models used by Gang Reduction and Youth Development of Los Angeles and Operation Ceasefire of Boston. The Department will prioritize initiatives in localities experiencing higher than average levels of gun violence and those assessed pursuant to language approved in the Appropriations Act passed in the 2020 regular session (cities of Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, Roanoke, and Petersburg).