Legislative Bulletin February 28, 2023Tuesday, February 28, 2023 - 07:07pm
In this issue:
- Legislation of interest in House Counties, Cities and Town; Senate Local Government; and Senate General Laws
As Yogi Berra might say, “It’s déjà vu all over again”
Indeed, after 46 days in session, the House and Senate Budget Conferees acknowledged they were at an impasse last Saturday and headed for home, but only after passing a so-called “skinny budget” that included one policy decision that was in dispute – how to address the basic aid calculation error.
The four-page bill approves decisions that were agreed to last June, but also makes a number of “technical” adjustments to education funding and fixes the calculation error made to basic aid, ensuring that no local school division receives less than they expected based on data provided by the Department of Education during the summer of 2022.
Now speculation swirls around the following questions:
- When will the conferees reconvene to negotiate a comprehensive budget agreement?
- Can a budget agreement be reached, and if so, when?
- Will that agreement:
- Lean toward the House budget that endorsed the Governor’s additional $1.0 billion in general fund tax relief? or
- Favor the Senate’s position that rejected the Governor’s tax cut proposals and instead used revenues to fund education, health and human resources, and public safety? or
- Be a compromise that includes additional tax relief and targeted investments?
- What if there is no budget agreement?
Regarding the last question, it’s important to remember that the Commonwealth has a budget in place for the 2022-24 biennium. Therefore, if the General Assembly were to leave Richmond without amending the budget there is no risk of a government shutdown. We would simply revert to the current biennial budget.
But it would delay for another year decisions on several high-profile budget and policy issues including, but not limited to:
- How much tax relief beyond the $1.2 billion in annual reductions approved last June should be enacted?
- How many resources are needed to stabilize a behavioral health system that remains in critical condition?
- What investments are required to ensure that our schools fully recover from the pandemic-induced damage inflicted on them during the past few years? and
- What dollars should be set aside to facilitate additional economic development opportunities?
Those are just a few of the issues that will be put on ice if the General Assembly cannot agree to any budget changes. And we’re sure to hear about these issues and other policy disputes in the run up to the November elections if an agreement isn’t reached.
In the meantime, like Bill Murray’s character, Phil Connors, from the movie Groundhog Day, let’s hope that the endless loop of frustratingly fruitless days will eventually result in a conclusion we can all get excited about.
VML Contact: Joe Flores, email@example.com
The buck stops here: 2023 finance legislation wrap-up
When the 2023 Session of the General Assembly was gaveled to order in early January, it was clear that VML staff would need to be on their toes. Odd things tend to happen during legislative sessions when one, or in this case, both bodies, are up for election. Elections make lawmakers antsy oftentimes contributing to unexpected outcomes.
Fortunately, most of the bills we were following in the Finance area were modified to be more palatable, sent for study, or (thankfully) defeated. Below are a few examples.
Bills that passed in acceptable form
HB2200 (Robinson) – As introduced, proposed to exempt from BPOL taxes anti-cancer drugs purchased by medical practices and administered within a physician-patient relationship. Instead of imposing a mandate on local governments, the bill was amended to create a work group led by the Secretary of Health and Human Resources to examine issues related to reimbursement and operational challenges for medical practices that administer these anti-cancer medications. That seemed to be the crux of the matter and not BPOL taxes, which was excluded from the charge of the work group.
SJ231 (McPike) – Proposed a constitutional amendment to expand the current tax exemption for real property available to the surviving spouses of soldiers killed in action to the surviving spouses of soldiers who died in the line of duty. While there was considerable discussion and debate in Senate Finance & Appropriations about the fiscal impact on local governments, the bill passed each chamber unanimously. VML did not oppose the bill but monitored these and other bills that imposed popular tax exemptions on local governments. The bill will need to pass the General Assembly during the 2024 Session and then be approved by the voters to become law.
Bills headed for study
HB1896 (Byron) / SB1182 (Ruff) – These identical bills, which proposed to change the way bank franchise taxes are collected by local governments, were converted to a study. As introduced, the bill would have allowed banks with deposits in excess of $40 billion to remit the bank franchise fee tax to the Commonwealth instead of the county, city, or town where the bank resides then funds would be redistributed to localities. That change attracted the most attention and was eventually removed from the bill. In its place, the Department of Taxation will convene a work group to develop potential alternative methods for filing and allocation of bank franchise revenue for consideration by the 2024 General Assembly. VML will be part of the work group. Beginning January 1, 2025, the bill requires localities that impose a bank franchise tax to provide electronic processes for banks to access real estate assessment records.
Bills that failed
HB1749 (Walker) – As originally drafted, the bill would have imposed additional requirements on local governments to raise property tax revenues by more than 1%, compared to the prior year’s revenues. Specifically, the bill would have required that:
- An increase up to 3% would require a public hearing and a majority vote of the governing body;
- An increase more than 3% but less than 5% would require a public hearing and a two-thirds majority vote; and
- An increase of 5% or more would require holding a referendum.
After discussion, debate, and emerging discomfort on the part of members of the subcommittee of House Finance, the bill was left to slumber in the subcommittee (meaning the bill died a quiet death).
SB850 (Sutterlein) / HB1484 (McNamara) – Resurrected a proposal to eliminate the 1% local option sales tax on food purchased for human consumption and essential personal hygiene products that failed to pass the 2023 Session. After attempting to roll-back this local revenue source last year, it was telling that the Governor did not include this recommendation among his other tax relief proposals this year. That decision suggested that removing this tax would not be easy. It wasn’t. Even though the bill attempted to replace these lost local revenues with a fixed general fund allocation, the proposed solution was inadequate to address the needs in local communities and was defeated in the Senate.
VML Contact: Joe Flores, firstname.lastname@example.org
Legislation of interest in House Counties, Cities and Town; Senate Local Government; and Senate General Laws
Use the links below to learn more about each:
Bills that passed
HB2046 (Carr) / SB839 (Locke) Housing and Community Development, Department of; adds to powers and duties of Director. Adds to the Duties of the DHCD Director the gathering of affordable housing data along with creating a statewide affordable housing plan. The bill also incorporates similar reporting requirements from HB2494 for local governments.
HB2494 (Ware) Counties, cities, or towns, certain; powers & duties, report. Applies to localities over a population of 3,500 and requires annual reports to the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). These reports shall include: adoption or amendments of any local policies or ordinances affecting the development and construction of housing, any proffer policy changes, changes to zoning/subdivision ordinances, comprehensive plan revisions, and changes to accessory dwelling units and/or fees. DHCD will work with relevant stakeholders to create a reporting form.
HB1671 (Wyatt) Residential land development and construction; fee transparency, annual report. Requires every locality with a population greater than 3,500 shall submit an annual report to the Department of Housing and Community Development containing the total fee revenue collected by the locality for residential land use development and construction activities.
SB1114 (Stanley) Housing and Community Development, Department of; powers and duties of Director. Directs the DHCD Director to develop and operate a Virginia Residential Sites and Structures Locator database which will show suitable residential or mixed-use development or redevelopment sites that are under public ownership, public and private ownership or private ownership if there is permission to market. This is an optional tool for local governments.
HB1634 (Bulova) / SB1187 (Lewis) Comprehensive Plan; strategies to address resilience. Encourages localities to consider resilience during its comprehensive plan review. “Resilience” means the capability to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from significant multi-hazard threats with minimum damage to social well-being, health, the economy, and the environment.
HB1674 (Hodges) Comprehensive plan; freight corridors. Adds to the local comprehensive plan freight corridors in the transportation area.
SB807 (Favola) / HB2041 (Shin) Parks, walking trails, liability for property owners. Authorizes a locality or park authority to release from civil liability the owner of any property leased, licensed, or provided by easement used for a walking trail in absence of gross negligence or willful misconduct.
SB1091 (Ebbin) Local Stormwater Management; condominiums. Localities can currently create a local Stormwater Management Fund by ordinance that assists owners of private property and common interest communities in stormwater management and erosion prevention. This bill just added joint flooding mitigation projects of condominium owners to the list of groups who can apply.
SB1185 (Lewis) / HB1676 (Hodges) Annexation; extension of current moratorium. Extends the moratorium on annexation to 2032.
SB1205 (Lewis) / HB1665 (Marshall) Local land use approvals; extension of approvals to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Extends to July 1, 2025, the sunset date for local land use approvals that were valid and outstanding as of July 1, 2020.
SB1390 (Lewis) / HB1944 (Hodges) Solar photovoltaic projects; extensions of land use approvals, extends sunset provision. Extends to July 1, 2026, the sunset date for various local land use approvals for solar photovoltaic projects that were valid and outstanding as of July 1, 2023.
HB2450 (Campbell, J.L.) / SB1491 (Bell) Virginia Public Procurement Act; construction manager allowed to bid on certain contracts. States that construction management contracts involving infrastructure projects are not subject to the provision in 2.2-4382(5). The 10% limitation is now removed for local infrastructure projects. Infrastructure projects are not defined.
HB2500 (Wiley) / SB1313 (Bell) Virginia Public Procurement Act; private contracts, payment of subcontractors. States that in contracts for construction, contractors shall be liable to their subcontractors for the entire amount of the work whether the contractor has been paid or not. Contractors may withhold payment from a subcontractor if the subcontractor fails to comply with the terms of the contract; reasonable notice must be provided. This bill applies to contracts awarded by any agency of local government in accordance with Va. Code §2.2-4352.
HB1490 (Davis) Virginia Public Procurement Act; certain construction contracts, performance and payment bonds. Allows a locality to pass an ordinance that will allow a contractor to furnish a performance bond and payment bond equal to the dollar amount in the current contract not a contract of indefinite delivery or quantity contract.
HB1610 (Tata) Virginia Public Procurement Act; cooperative procurement, installation of playground equipment. Excludes the installation of playground equipment, including all associated and necessary construction and maintenance, from the prohibition on using cooperative procurement to purchase construction.
HB2312 (Head) / SB1263 (Hackworth) Uniform Statewide Building Code; stop work orders, appeals. Defines stop work orders for purposes of the Uniform Statewide Building Code along with providing that the appeal process and allows for the recovery of actual costs of litigation, including court costs, attorney fees and witness fees from the locality.
SB1305 (Hanger) Farm buildings and structures; building code exemptions. Amends the building code exemptions to include “any farm building or structure (i) where the public is invited to enter for an agritourism activity, as that term is defined in 3.2-6400, for recreational, entertainment, or educational purposes and (ii) which is used for display, sampling, or sale of agricultural, horticultural, floricultural, or silvicultural products produced on the farm….” The exemption outlines minimal safety regulations to be required.
SB1308 (Deeds) /HB2332 (Campbell) Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority; eligible site for site development grant. Reduces the acreage from 100 to 50 as the minimum contiguous acreage for a non-brownfield site to satisfy the acreage requirement in a site development grant from Virginia Business Ready Sites Program Fund by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority.
SB1401 (Lewis) /HB1805 (Bloxom) Virginia Resources Authority; community development and housing projects. Allows the Virginia Resources Authority to finance projects that are community development projects to include production and preservation of housing, including housing for persons and families of low and moderate income. The Department of Housing and Community Development shall also assist the Authority in determining which local governments should receive grants.
SB956 (Ruff) Localities; authorized to create business improvement and recruitment districts. Provides a tool to localities to create a local business improvement and recruitment district plan in which businesses pay a fee which is used to fund business improvements, promotions, and recruitment.
HB1765 (Carr) Fire protection; expands definition of fire company. Adds to the definition of “fire company” – firefighter support group members and ensures that these support members are not provided other firefighter benefits unless provided for in a local ordinance.
SB1046 (McPike) Law-enforcement officer; definition includes fire marshal with police power. Amends the definition of law-enforcement officer to include a fire marshal with police powers.
SB905 (DeSteph) / HB1993 (Krizek) Fire Marshals; police powers, training requirements. Requires fire marshals and their assistants who have police powers to participate in the appropriate training and programs.
HB2133 (Wilt) State Fire Marshal; authority. Clarifies that the State Fire Marshal, or his designee, is the authority having jurisdiction over state-owned buildings, properties, or structures for purposes of fire safety and fire prevention in accordance with the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code.
HB2451 (O’Quinn) Firefighters; training; electric vehicle fires. Provides that the Executive Director of the Department of Fire Programs shall have the power to develop a training program on the risks of fires in electric vehicles and how to safely and effectively manage such fires to be completed by all firefighters, including volunteer firefighters, and requires the Executive Director to make such training program available by July 1, 2024. The bill also requires all firefighters, including volunteer firefighters, to complete such training program. The provisions of the bill requiring all firefighters to complete such training program have a delayed effective date of July 1, 2024, and the bill requires every person engaged in firefighting activities on July 1, 2024, to complete such training program by December 1, 2025.
SB1455 (Norment) Civil disturbance; local curfew, penalty. Enables the chief law-enforcement officer of a locality to enact a curfew for not more than 24 hours during a civil disturbance. The local governing body or judiciary have to take action beyond the 24-hour period.
SB1246 (Obenshain) / HB1472 (Fowler) Emergency medical services agencies; ordinances or resolutions, designation as emergency response. This proposed legislation requires ordinances or resolutions that establish an emergency medical services agency to specify the geographic boundaries of the primary service area for such an agency. It also designates these agencies as designated emergency response agencies as an integral and essential part of the official public safety program.
HB1569 (Walker) Virginia Freedom of Information Act; disclosure of personnel records. States that access to personnel records of persons employed by a public body engaged in emergency medical services or fire protection services or an emergency 911 or any equivalent reporting system shall be discretionary.
HB2006 (Roem) Virginia Freedom of Information Act; public records charges, electronic payment method. This bill began its journey as a mandate to local governments who took electronic payments and would’ve required that the local government take electronic payments for FOIA requests. During the subcommittee meeting, the patron agreed to make it permissive so now local governments MAY take electronic payments for FOIA requests.
HB2007 (Roem) Virginia Freedom of Information Act; posting of fee policy by a public body. Requires that all state public bodies, any city or county and town with a population of over 250 and any school board shall post on their official government website: “A written policy (i) explaining how the public body assesses charges for accessing or searching for requested records, and (ii) noting the current fee charged, if any, for accessing and searching for such requested records.”
SB1151 (Edwards) / HB2161 (Williams) Local government; standardization of public notice requirements for certain intended actions. This bill came out of a Code Commission study over the summer and standardizes the frequency of advertisements in the newspaper and pares down several zoning notice requirements for the newspapers.
Bills sent to the Housing Commission
HB1413 (Marshall) Industrial development authorities; safe and affordable housing. Would have allowed industrial development authorities the ability to assist with facilities for multifamily residences.
HB2047 (Carr) Affordable housing; amending local ordinance authority. Purported to expand the localities that could create an affordable dwelling unit program. The bill also requires the comprehensive plan of each locality to show the connection between affordable housing and other needs of its residents, such as job creation, educational opportunities, and parks and recreational activities.
HB2100 (Hudson) Accessory dwelling units; establishes authority & requirements for localities in development & use. Establishes authority and requirements for localities in the development and use of accessory dwelling units (ADUs). There was a substitute that was rejected but asked the DHCD to convene an advisory panel to develop a local model ordinance related to accessory dwelling units.
HB2271 (Marshall) / SB1391 (Lewis) Short-term rental property; locality’s ability to restrict property managed by a Virginia realtor. This bill stated that short term rental properties that are managed by a Virginia realtor do not have to comply with the following short term rental ordinance provisions:
1 – a prohibition on short term rentals
2 – limitations on occupancy in a short-term rental property to less than what is allowed under the building code or a local zoning ordinance
3 -a limitation on the number of days for which a short-term rental property can be rented
4 – a requirement that an owner shall occupy the property as his primary residence for any number of days
5 – a requirement for the installation of any type of remote monitoring device on the short-term rental property, including decibel, audio, or video
6 -exterior or interior inspections of the short-term rental property pertaining to any items defined under the building code more frequently than 3 years, unless a complaint has been filed
7 – required repairs, renovations, or updates to the structure of the short-term rental property that are greater than those required under the applicable building code
8 – requirement for an owner to add additional or otherwise alter existing parking spaces for the short-term rental property.
HJ507 (Marshall) Affordable and workforce housing; Va. Housing Commission, et. al., to study local regulation. This study shall develop revisions to Chapter 22 of Title 15.2 of the Code of Virginia to streamline and enhance predictability in local development review and alleviate the effects of local policies or ordinances that contribute to increased housing costs and constrain supplies of affordable and workforce housing. In addition, it shall identify state funding sources and other incentives to encourage the adoption of local policies that would expand the supply of affordable and workforce housing and recommend actions to administer such funds.
Bills that failed
HB1650 (Price) Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; enforcement by localities. Provides that if a condition exists in a rental dwelling unit that constitutes a material noncompliance by the landlord with the rental agreement or with any provision of law that, if not promptly corrected, constitutes a fire hazard or serious threat to the life, health, or safety of tenants or occupants of the premises, a locality may institute an action for injunction and damages to enforce the landlord’s duty to maintain the rental dwelling unit in a fit and habitable condition, provided that (i) the property where the violation occurred is within the jurisdictional boundaries of the locality and (ii) the locality has notified the landlord who owns the property, either directly or through the managing agent, of the nature of the violation and the landlord has failed to remedy the violation to the satisfaction of the locality within a reasonable time after receiving such notice.
HB1473 (Fowler) Land use plans; zoning; notice. Alters the notice requirements related to local government adoption of land use plans and zoning ordinances by no longer requiring the notice to contain a descriptive summary of the proposed action but continues to require the locality to identify in the notice the place or places within the locality where copies of the proposed plans, ordinances, or amendments may be examined. Furthermore, such notice must include the street address or tax map parcel number of the parcels as well as the approximate acreage subject to the action. With regard to notice of proposed zoning actions, the bill also (i) removes the requirement to state general usage and density of the proposed zoning action and (ii) eliminates the requirement for an extra public hearing when land is zoned to a more intensive use classification than was contained in the previous public notice.
SB1141 (McPike) Affordable housing; local zoning ordinance authority; comprehensive plan. If a locality has passed an ordinance to provide for an affordable housing dwelling unit program; this bill offers implementation tools and measures that can be included along with increases in density. This legislation has a delayed enactment until July 1, 2024. *The House version has been sent to the Housing Commission
SB1322 (McClellan) Comprehensive plan; healthy communities’ strategy. Authorizes cities with populations of more than 20,000 and counties with populations over 100,00 to consider adopting a “healthy communities” strategy during their comprehensive plan review process.
SB838 (Locke) / HB1482 (Ward) / HB1612 (Williams Graves) Vacant buildings; registration. Allows any City and certain towns by ordinance to require a registry of buildings that have been vacant for 12 months or more, meet the definition of “derelict building” under Virginia Code 15.2-907.1 (current code) – is expanded to include: meet the definition of “criminal blight” under 15.2-907 or in which a locality has determined a person is living without the authority of the owner or owners.
SB859 (Cosgrove) Virginia Public Procurement Act; competitive negotiation; allows localities to post public notice on appropriate websites. Removes the requirement that if a local public body elects not to publish notice of a Request for Proposal in a newspaper of general circulation in the area in which the contract is to be performed, then such local public body shall post such notice on the Department of General Services’ central electronic procurement website. The bill allows local public bodies to post such notice on any appropriate website without requiring local public bodies to post such notice in a newspaper.
SB954 (Petersen) / HB1957 (Leftwich) Virginia Public Procurement Act; construction management and design-build contracting; applicability. Requires a two-step process consisting of (i) a preconstruction contract and (ii) competitive sealed bidding for construction services for certain projects totaling less than $125 million. Complex projects, defined in the bill, may request an exemption from the provisions of the bill and relevant law from the Secretary of Administration. If a complex project total is more than $125 million, the bill provides that an exemption from the provisions of the bill and relevant law is not required. Finally, the bill states that competitive sealed bidding is the preferred method of procurement for construction services in the Commonwealth.
HB1487 (March) Local government; live broadcast and archive of meetings. Requires the regular meetings of governing bodies to provide live access to audio or visual broadcast and to archive the meetings if the cost is less than $100.
SB1312 (Boysko) Requirement for electric vehicle charging stations for certain developments. Allows for a locality to require by ordinance electric charging stations as part of a subdivision or site plan approval if the development contains commercial, industrial, or multifamily residential uses with a density of 7 residential dwelling units per acre or greater. There is a delayed effective date of July 1, 2024.
HB1810 (Davis) State and local employees; rights of employees, freedoms of conscience and expression. This proposed legislation states that local government employees shall not be penalized by their employer for expressing an opinion during an open meeting on a current or proposed rule, etc.
SB1351 (Marsden) Virginia Freedom of Information Act; electronic meetings, local and regional public bodies. This amends the electronic meeting policy for local or regional public bodies to allow 50 percent of their meetings to be held virtually rather than the 2 times or 25 percent which is current code. It still does not include local governing bodies, local school boards, planning commissions, architectural review boards, zoning appeals boards and boards with authority to deny, revoke, or suspend a professional or occupational license.
VML Contact: Michelle Gowdy, email@example.com
Health & Human Services
Alive and kicking or pushing up daisies: Health and human services bills of 2023
Use the links below to learn more about each:
- Health: Bills that passed
- Health: Bills that failed
- Local and Regional Jails: Bills that passed
- Local and Regional Jails: Bills that failed
- Return to work and compensation: Bills that passed
Health: Bills that passed
SB1513 (Mason) Expansion of CSA state executive council membership – adds the Commissioner of the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services to the State Executive Council (SEC), the state body that oversees the Children’s Services Act (CSA). An amendment made in the Senate to add the Children’s Ombudsman to the SEC was withdrawn by the patron after the bill reached the House.
HB1792 (Ransome) / SB1302 (Deeds) Temporary detention in hospital for testing/treatment resulting from intoxication – Clarifies that when a mental or physical condition appears to be a result of intoxication, a licensed physician who has attempted to obtain informed consent of the adult for treatment of the condition appearing to be a result of intoxication may seek an order from the magistrate or court authorizing temporary detention in a hospital emergency department or other appropriate facility for testing, observation, or treatment, provided that certain conditions are met.
HB1976 (Bell) / SB1299 (Deeds) Involuntary admission; temporary detention; release of detained individual – These similar (but not identical) bills allow the director of the facility in which a person for whom a temporary detention order has been issued but transport has not occurred, to release that person if qualified medical professionals and a community services board employee or designee evaluates the person and determines they no longer met the TDO criteria. A discharge plan may be provided to the person.
HB2185 (Rasoul) / SB1169 (Hanger) Community services boards/behavioral health authorities; performance contract provisions – Modifies and reorganizes provisions related to the requirements of performance contracts between the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and community services boards/behavioral health authorities. These bills are recommendations of the Behavioral Health Commission and the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission. Certain provisions become effective July 1, 2025.
SB1465 (Hanger) Community services boards/behavioral health authorities; purpose; performance contracts – Provides that the purpose of behavioral health services provided by community services boards/behavioral health authorities (CSBs/BHAs) is to enable individuals with a mental illness, developmental disability, or substance use disorder to access effective, timely, and cost-efficient services to help them (i) overcome or manage functional impairments, and (ii) remain in the community to the greatest extent possible, consistent with their well-being and public safety. Also requires certain information in the performance contracts between the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and CSBs/BHAs. Certain provisions become effective July 1, 2025.
SB872 (Newman) Alternative transportation – Requires magistrates to authorize alternative transportation for a person subject to an emergency custody order or temporary detention order if appropriate alternative transportation is available. Also allows an employee or contractor of an alternative transportation services provider that contracts with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and who has completed approved training in the proper and safe use of restraint to use restraints when necessary.
HB2054 (Hope) and SB1267 (Favola) Information to certain defendants; services of community services boards – Requires the courts, in cases in which a defendant is found not guilty after a trial at which evidence of the defendant’s mental condition at the time of the alleged offense was introduced, to make available to the defendant information regarding services provided by their local community services board and how such services may be accessed. Also requires community services boards to develop, regularly update, and make available to their local courts information regarding the services the CSB provides and how to access such services.
HB1465 (Krizek) and SB836 (Reeves) Creation of Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Advisory Committee – Directs the Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to establish a Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Advisory Committee to promote collaboration among prevention and treatment providers and operators of legal gaming in the Commonwealth on efforts to reduce the negative effects of problem gambling.
HB1817 (Avoli) Disposition of unclaimed bodies; how disposition expenses paid; seizure of assets – Permits seizure of a decedent’s nonprobate assets to cover the costs of disposition of such decedent’s unclaimed body. Currently, seizure is limited to estate assets.
SB1414 (Pillion) Establishment of a Commonwealth Opioid Abatement and Remediation Fund – Establishes this Fund to receive funds from settlements, judgments, verdicts, or other court orders relating to consumer protection claims regarding the manufacturing, marketing, distribution, or sale of opioids or that are intended to be used for opioid abatement or remediation, excluding funds designated for the Opioid Abatement Authority. The Appropriations Act will direct the use of funds for prevention, treatment or the reduction of opioid use disorders or their misuse or to otherwise abate or remediate the opioid epidemic, or for approved purposes described in a related settlement, judgment, verdict, etc.
SB1415 (Pillion) Opioid impact reduction – Allows any person to possess and administer naloxone or other opioid antagonist used for overdose reversal in accordance with protocols developed by the Board of Pharmacy in consultation with the Board of Medicine and the Department of Health. Removes training requirements related to use of naloxone. Directs the Departments of Health, Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, and Corrections to collaboratively develop a statewide naloxone distribution plan and allows them to begin implementation of the plan to the extent possible with existing resources. Also requires the Department of Health to provide a report on plan development and resources needed to fully implement it, to the House and Senate budget writing committees by Sept. 1, 2023. Finally, directs the Department of Health to begin developing a registry of nonprofit organizations that work to reduce the impact of opioids in the Commonwealth and directs the Department of Corrections to amend its regulations to require training in the administration of naloxone be provided to every inmate prior to release.
Health: Bills that failed
SB1269 (Edwards) / HB1906 (Hope) Auxiliary Grant expanded uses – Would have expanded the provision of Auxiliary Grants to no more than 200 individuals in independent community living and required the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services to develop an implementation plan.
SB1512 (Mason) Expansion of certified mental health evaluators – Would have allowed hospitals with a psychiatric emergency department to allow certain trained individuals to perform evaluations to determine whether a person meets the criteria for temporary detention for behavioral health treatment. The bill had an expiration date of July 1, 2025.
HB1594 (Gooditis) / SB1368 (Vogel) Health insurance coverage multijurisdictional community services board employees – Would have allowed employees of community services boards that serve more than one locality to be eligible for the state health insurance program.
HB2018 (Adams, L.R.) Children’s Services Act; information sharing; confidentiality exception – Would have allowed family assessment and planning teams (FAPT) and community policy and management teams (CPMT) to share information with local law enforcement or local school threat assessment teams if information received by the team determined that a child posed a threat of violence or physical harm to him/herself or others. Currently, all information about children and families obtained by FAPT and CPMT members must be kept confidential.
HB2192 (Rasoul) Catawba Hospital; substance abuse treatment and recovery services – Would have directed the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to transform Catawba Hospital into a state-of-the-art facility at which a continuum of substance abuse treatment and recovery services was provided in addition to the array of behavioral health and other services currently provided to geriatric individuals in need of mental health care.
Local and Regional Jails: Bills that passed
HB2438 (Campbell E.H.) / SB797 (Favola) State Board of Local and Regional Jails; membership – Adds to the Board a former regional jail superintendent and a public mental health services agency employee with relevant training and experience working with individuals subject to the criminal justice system.
HB1524 (Coyner) / SB820 (Favola) Opioid use reduction/jail-based substance use disorder fund and programs – Creates a fund and directs the Department of Criminal Justice Services to administer the fund and develop guidelines for its use with the Virginia Association of Regional Jails and the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association. Funds would be used for planning or operation of substance abuse disorder treatment and transition services for people incarcerated in local and regional jails. The provisions become effective July 1, 2024.
Local and Regional Jails: Bills that failed
SB889 (Morrisey) Local correctional facility fees; report – This bill would have eliminated or capped certain fees charged to inmates in local correctional facilities and repeal provisions regarding deferred or installment payment agreement or contracts when an inmate is unable to pay.
SB966 (Peake) Compensation of local jails for cost of incarceration – Would have required the Department of Corrections to compensate local jails for the actual cost, based on the rate calculated in the Compensation Board’s annual jail cost report, of incarcerating state-responsible felons who should be confined in a state correctional facility.
Return to work and compensation: Bills that passed
HB1789 (Filler-Corn) Health insurance credits for constitutional officers and staff – Increases the amount of monthly health insurance credits received by retired constitutional officers and their employees with at least 15 years of service from $1.50 to $1.75 per year of service, not to exceed $52.50 per month. Does not change the health insurance credit for other state-supported employees, such as general registrars and their staff, and local social services staff. For local governments, the issue becomes one of whether the state provides sufficient funding to the Compensation Board for the credits; otherwise the localities bear the cost not picked up by the state.
Return to work for certain school personnel – At least four bills passed by the General Assembly sought to shorten the break in service required by the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) before a retiree could return to work full time in critical shortage positions in schools, including teachers, bus drivers, instructional or administrative personnel, or as school security officers, while continuing to receive VRS benefits. One of the comprehensive bills passed was HB1630 (Coyner), which reduced the required break in service from 12 to six months before a retiree could return to work full time in the critical shortage positions and added specialized student support personnel to the critical shortage provisions. The bill contains a sunset date of July 1, 2028, for all classes of employees, and directs VRS report on options for retirees with 25 years of service to be hired into temporary or other non-full-time positions during the break in service without affecting their retirement benefits. Other bills in this category passed by the General Assembly included SB1107 (Cosgrove), SB1289 (Deeds), and SB1479 (Lucas).
SB1411 (Normant) Study on return to work for law-enforcement officers – Directs the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) and the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), in consultation with the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC), to analyze and report on options for allowing law enforcement officers to return to work as law-enforcement officers after retirement and continue to receive their retirement benefits. It specifies that the report shall include the appropriate break in service, the need for retirees to fill law-enforcement staffing shortages, the effectiveness of employing retirees, Virginia’s return-to-work provisions for law-enforcement compared to other public pension plans, and an actuarial analysis of potential changes. The report is due by Nov. 1, 2023.
VML Contact: Janet Areson, firstname.lastname@example.org
From a dozen to a couple: The K-12 Education bills of 2023
After tracking nearly two dozen pieces of K-12 education-related legislation, only two bills (both on the same topic) passed.
Bills that passed
HB1423 (Coyner) / SB1404 (Barker) Early Childhood Care and Education Commission – Rename the current School Readiness Committee as the Commission on Early Childhood Care and Education. With the switch from a committee to a commission, several changes are made: 1. The purpose of the commission. 2. The membership increased (to include a local government representative), and 3. The commission was granted new powers and duties.
Bills that failed
HB2316 (Bourne) / SB1408 (McClellan) One percent local sales and use tax for school construction/renovation – Would have extended the current authority to all counties and cities to impose an additional one percent local sales and use tax if approved by referendum to be used solely for school construction and renovation projects. Nine localities have this authority with several more asking for permission this session. This concept is a unanimous recommendation of the Commission on School Construction and Modernization with bi-partisan support. VML fully supported this legislation.
HB1574 (Walker) Referendum for elected school board – Would have allowed a local governing body to file a petition with the circuit court for authority to ask via referendum if an appointed school board should become elected. Currently, 10 percent of registered voters must sign a petition to call for a referendum. VML supported this legislation as it provides an increase in local authority and flexibility.
Education savings account programs. Although there were some slight differences, HB1371 (P. Scott), HB1508 (Davis/ Governor Supported), SB823 (Chase), SB1191 (Reeves), SB1290 (DeSteph), and HB1396 (March) all dealt with the same concept of creating an education savings account program that would funnel state dollars to parents for use in non-public school settings. Fortunately, all six of these bills died before crossover.
VML Contact: Josette Bulova, email@example.com
Natural Resources & Energy
Natural resources and energy bills of note during the 2023 session
Bills that passed
SB1129 (Hanger) / HB1485 (Webert) – Amended to allow agricultural sector an additional year to meet Chesapeake Bay nutrient reduction goals under the Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP III) for each year that the Commonwealth does not fully fund agricultural best management practices and includes specific targets for agricultural nutrient reductions to meet WIP III Goals.
SB1152 (Cosgrove) – Amended in House Committee for the Marine Resources Commission to work with local wetlands boards to develop expedited administrative procedures for processing applications from US Government agencies and branches of the United States Air Force.
HB2189 (Rasoul) – Defines specific fluorinated organic chemicals (aka PFAS) in the code of Virginia and requires industrial users of publicly owned treatment works who clean, repair, refurbish, or process items that contain PFAS to test waste streams for PFAS before and after undertaking their work and notify the publicly owned treatment works within 3 days of receipt of the test results.
Sent for study
HB1365 (Lewis) – Exempts materials recovery facilities from local flow control ordinances in Hampton Roads and Southern and Western Virginia. The bill was left in House Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns with direction for the Waste Diversion and Recycling Task Force to study the issue further
Bills that failed
HB1370 (Ware) – Prohibits the siting of a new municipal solid waste landfill within one mile of any existing private water well.
SB1496 (Peterson) – Exempts natural gas line replacement from local planning and zoning. This bill was withdrawn at request of Patron.
HB2282 (Edmunds) – Creates new exemption for property development and rezoning from erosion and sediment control regulations for the clearing of timber and forest products.
HB2283 (Shin) / SB1447 (Edwards) – Suspend electric, gas, water, or wastewater utilities from disconnecting residential customers for nonpayment of bills or fees during a state of emergency for 30 days after the emergency has been declared. This applies to utilities subject to regulation by the State Corporation Commission and to utilities owned and operated by a municipality. Other provisions are included regarding when disconnections are suspended.
HB2310 (Williams) – Requests the Department of Housing and Community Development to conduct a study of opportunities for rural water systems to upgrade public water and sewer systems, with technical assistance provided by the Virginia Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Quality.
SB849 (Chase) – Prohibits a public utility from installing smart meters for water, gas, or electricity without customer consent. For any smart meters installed before July 1, 2023, the utility must get retroactive consent. If the customer declines consent, then the utility must remove the smart meter at no cost to the customer. A “smart meter” is defined as being interconnected with the utility via the internet, telephone connection, or radio frequency. Passed by indefinitely in Senate committee.
SB1001 (Stuart) – Repeals the Clean Energy and Community Preparedness Act and directs the Department of Environmental Quality to take all steps necessary to suspend Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Note: Virginia’s participation in RGGI and its emissions auctions is a considerable source of funding for local flooding mitigation initiatives. Passed by indefinitely in Senate committee.
SB1013 (Edwards) – Requires a public waterworks owner to notify customers via mailings and newspaper publication when a water quality analysis reveals that PFAS chemicals are present in a water supply or when a PFAS contaminant exceeds maximum contaminant levels. Laid on the table in House subcommittee.
VML Contact: Mitchell Smiley, firstname.lastname@example.org
Transportation bills that rolled on or ran out of gas
Bills that passed
HB1649 (Wyatt) – Adds $20 fuel surcharge fee for vehicles towed from private property without the consent of its owner. Local governments are prohibited from limiting or prohibiting this fuel surcharge fee. Bill must be re-enacted prior to 7/1/24.
HB2338 (McQuinn) / SB1326 (McClellan) – Increases flexibility for transit systems seeking to use the Transit Ridership Incentive Program by increasing the amount of funding available under this program for capital improvements for passenger facilities like bus shelters and for systems transitioning to a zero emissions fleet and related capital costs.
HB2104 (Bourne) – Authorizes any locality to place a school crossing sign in a school zone, increases the default boundary of a school zone from 600 feet to 750 feet, and authorizes localities in Planning District 8 to reduce the speed limit in school zones below 25 mph without first conducting a traffic engineering study
HB1995 (Krizek) / SB868 (Cosgrove) – Extends from 10 day to 30 days the deadline for issuing a summons for an alleged violation of passing a stopped school bus when the stop arm is activated.
Bill sent for study
SB979 (Marsden) – Pre-empts local authority to set towing fees at a rate other than the state maximum rate. Stricken at the request of the patron with request for further study by VDOT.
HB2302 (Adams, L.R.) / SB1106 (Newman) – This legislation was amended to broaden the types of loans or grants that can be distributed from the renamed Transportation Partnership Opportunity Fund for economic development purposes with approval of the legislative MEI Committee for grants greater than $35. Prohibits grants from being used for exclusively economic development purposes. These funds would be available for transportation improvements associated with economic development projects identified by the Governor and distributed by the Commonwealth Transportation Board. Introduced language requiring off the top funding was eliminated. Can only use funds appropriated by the legislature for the TPOF.
Bills that failed
SB1293 (Deeds) – Authorizes local adoption of Idaho stop for cyclists by ordinance.
SB847 (Favola) – Authorizes cyclists to proceed with pedestrian signals at stop lights.
HB1537 (Jenkins) – Increases the distance a school bus must use warning lights prior to stopping.
SB862 (Newman) – Would eliminate the highway use fee and optional mileage-based user fee for fuel efficient vehicles. Eliminating this program would reduce transportation revenues by tens of millions of dollars ($46 million was collected from this fee in 2022) annually and reduce transportation revenues by several hundred million dollars over the course of the six-year transportation improvement program. This bill was stricken at request of patron.
SB1293 (Deeds) – Provides authority for any city, county, or town by ordinance to authorize operators of bicycles after slowing or yielding to proceed without stopping at an intersection controlled by a stop sign or proceed after stopping at a stop light, provided in each case that it is safe to proceed through the intersection.
VML Contact: Mitchell Smiley, email@example.com
A mixed bag of fates for marijuana and hemp bills
Bills that passed
HB2428 (Wilt) – Marijuana advertising restrictions established that are similar to those for alcohol products. Creates new restrictions for the advertisement of “marijuana, marijuana products, or any substance containing a synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol” other than those that may be legally sold. Limits under what circumstances products can be advertised and audiences that can be targeted as well as types of claims or messages that may be used in advertisements.
HB2294 (Kilgore) / SB903 (Hanger) – Redefines marijuana to include industrial hemp products that have been placed on the schedules of the Drug Control Act by the board of pharmacy. This in effect creates new penalties for the sale of hemp products containing Delta-8, Delta-9 or Delta-10 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It also creates new regulations for packaging, labelling, and manufacturing of industrial hemp extract or foods containing industrial hemp extract as well as establishing penalties for violations.
Bills that failed
HB1464 (Hodges) – Would permit existing medical retailers to sell marijuana and marijuana products July 1, 2023, to adults 21 and older. The bill includes local authority to hold a referendum to prohibit the recreational sale of marijuana from non-medical dispensaries, provides local authority to levy a 3 percent tax on recreational retail sales of marijuana, but does not include local zoning authority.
HB1750 (Webert) – Establishes regulations for a recreational market for marijuana which would allow sales of recreational marijuana to begin in 2025. The bill also provides the Cannabis Control Authority with the authority to promulgate regulations for the licensing and regulation of a recreational retail market and recreational marijuana products with sales starting no sooner than Jan. 1, 2025. The bill also includes local authority to hold a referendum, provides for local zoning authority for cannabis recreational retail operations, provides local authority to regulate the hours of retailer operations, and provides for a local distribution of one-third of the state levied 12 percent tax on recreational retail sales for localities with retail operations.
SB1133 (Ebbin) – Establishes a framework for recreational sales to take place and for relevant state agencies and departments to promulgate the necessary regulations for the establishment of a market in the next two years. The bill would allow existing medical marijuana retailers to sell marijuana and marijuana products to persons 21 years and older without a prescription (as is currently required) starting July 1, 2023. The legislation also includes local authority to hold a referendum on whether recreational sales will be allowed in a locality, provides local authority to levy a 3 percent tax on recreational sales by ordinance, but does not include local zoning authority.
VML Contact: Mitchell Smiley, firstname.lastname@example.org
Courts & Public Safety
Courts & Public Safety bills of interest to local governments
Use the links below to learn more about each:
Bills that passed
HB2317 (Williams Graves) Jury duty daily pay – Increases the daily pay to jurors in trials from $30 to $50. Under state law, cities and counties pay jury duty costs for civil trials and misdemeanors under local ordinances. SB 789 (Spruill) would have increased the pay to $100, as did the original version of HB 2317. The end compromise was $50 per day.
HB1590 (Sullivan) and SB1034 (McPike) Public safety false reporting – Modernize the harassing phone call statute to include any communications that may ring or otherwise signal or alert. Under current law, only telephones and digital pagers are included within the ambit of the statute. VML supported the bills.
SB1291 (Deeds) Public safety false reporting – Makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to knowingly report, or cause another to report in reliance on intentionally false information provided by such person, a false emergency communication to any emergency personnel that results in an emergency response. Makes it a Class 6 felony if such false emergency communication results in an emergency response during which and as a result of such emergency response any person suffers a serious bodily injury and a Class 5 felony if any person is killed. The bill authorizes any locality to provide by ordinance that a person convicted of such false emergency communication shall be liable for the reasonable expense in responding to such false emergency communication. The bill also requires the Secretary of Education, together with the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, to convene a work group for the purpose of establishing best practices, policies, and procedures for school personnel in the event of false information resulting in an emergency response at or near a school. VML supported the bill. HB1613 (Williams Graves) was of the same effect, but SB 1291 became the vehicle for the legislation.
SB1495 (Surovell) Citizen suits against local government officials – As filed would have allowed a citizen to go to court in the locality where the citizen lives (for example, Scott County person owns land in Arlington. Trial would have been in Scott County) for damages, attorneys’ fees, and an order to the locality to stop enforcement if any action taken under Title 15.2 was done with “willful disregard” of the law. That standard means the official knows the rules and acts in a manner contrary to them, regardless.
VML quietly got the bill amended to limit it to actions under the land use chapter of Title 15.2; to limit the right of action to the person against whom the action was taken (earlier version allowed any “aggrieved person” to sue); to limit the court’s power to sending the matter back to the locality for further action consistent with the law; to allow the case to be filed in circuit court or general district court; to have the matter heard where the locality is, not where the petitioner lives; and to apply only to actions taken after 1 July 2023. With these changes, the bill is acceptable and will cause local governments little, if any harm.
SB1431 (Surovell) Removal of elected and appointed officers – was the vehicle among several bills used to change the processes and terms for removal of officers, including city and town council members, whether they are elected or appointed. Because the bill was worked on extensively, use this version for the text of the law: SB1431.
The bill limits removal to “neglect of a clear, ministerial duty of the office”. The law currently provides the removal may be based on “neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence”. The bill did not affect removal for commission of crimes and other, existing provisions of the section. This will make it more difficult for 10% of the voters to just decide they don’t like the person’s policies or politics. The standard becomes clearer.
VML did not work on the bill, but members may want to be aware of this change.
Bill headed for study
HB1631 (Bulova) / SB1088 (Ebbin) Emergency Services Dispatchers’ access to workers compensation for PTSD – These bills would have provided dispatchers access to workers’ compensation benefits relating to post-traumatic stress disorder under the Workers’ Compensation Act. The bills were not enacted but are to be studied by the Joint Legislative and Audit Review Commission. VML does not oppose the concept, but the costs must be understood before any action is taken.
Bills that failed
Control over firearms in public buildings and public spaces – Several bills were filed to repeal the authority of local governments to prohibit carrying weapons in public buildings, public parks, recreation centers and streets during public events on the street. All the bills failed in the Senate Judiciary Committee. They were: SB1236 (Obenshain), SB805 (Chase), and HB1427 (LaRock).
HB1429 (Anderson) Supplementing salaries of state-employed public defenders – Would have required any locality that supplements the salaries of the Commonwealth Attorney and deputies to fund the state-employed public defenders on a proportional basis. The bill did not survive its trip through a House Courts subcommittee.
SB1379 (Deeds) Sovereign immunity loss for local governments fails in Senate – As amended, would have ended sovereign immunity for doctors who provide medical services to inmates and who are local government or jail employees. The senate defeated the bill. The protection of sovereign immunity is a priority for VML.
Contact: Mark Flynn, email@example.com