Legislation

Legislative Update January 27, 2014
January 27, 2014

At the end of last week, a total of 2,386 bills had been introduced for this legislative session.  The 2014 session is the long session and over the next eight weeks, our committees will hear these bills and many will not survive.  

 

The measures introduced this year cover virtually every topic.  Issues that have gained attention include changes in administration of capital punishment; penalties for child sex offenders; domestic violence assistance; penalties for human trafficking; animal protections; expansion of Medicaid; expansion of mental health services; ethics reform; long term coastal flooding and changes in tax law to eliminate loopholes and outdated exemptions.  Reduction of individual and corporate tax rates and elimination of machinery and tools taxes are among some of the additional proposals.  

 

In the category of education, one of the biggest debates has been the elimination of certain standards of learning assessments for K-12 students.  I voted for legislation to reduce the testing requirements and think it is an advantage in the curriculum to allow more focuson creative problem solving and critical thinking over standardized testing.

 

My legislation is working through the process and many of my bills have passed in Committee and in the full Senate.  Previously Ioutlined some of my legislation but that list has grown and other bills I havepatroned or co-patroned  include:  

-         a bill to repeal the $64 annual license tax on hybrid vehicles;

-          a comprehensive ethics reform bill;

 

-          a bill to provide a housing allowance for State Police officers, based upon pay grade and geographical location and excluded from Virginia state income tax;

 

-          a bill expanding categories of public employees who may be subject to penalties formisuse of public assets;

 

-          a bill toclarify the meaning of real property in determining the property tax exemption for religious bodies;

 

-          a bill to expand resources allocated to sexual and domestic violence, creating a fund inthe Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund where such resources will be consolidated;

 

-          a bill requiring display of a standard decal issued by the Commonwealth identifying vehicles transporting waste kitchen grease;

 

-          a bill authorizing ABC to license sales of certain spirits for tasting and sale at the business site;

 

-          a bill providing that certain economic development authorities created by proclamation of the Governor prior to January 1, 1997, may be dissolved by the affected locality or localities without a proclamation of the Governor;

 

-          a bill toprovide that regional jail authorities enjoy sovereign immunity in the performance of government functions; and

 

-          a bill to authorize investor-owned electric utilities to recover the costs of new underground distribution facilities replacing overhead distribution of 69 kilovolts or less, stipulating that none of the costs of such new facilities shall be allocated to customers in the large general service rate class.

 

I serve on the Senate Finance Committee which continues to meet to draft a Senate budget and to hear testimony from stakeholders around the Commonwealth.  The working budget draft is one introduced by Governor McDonnell prior to his departure from office.  Governor McAuliffe's administration will now propose changes as will the House and Senate.  The final proposal will be in the form of a bill that must pass both Houses of the legislature.  Virginia's Constitution requires that we have a balanced budget.  It is a two-year budget drafted in the even years and educationis the largest spending category, followed by spending for social programs, transportation and public safety.  I have introduced a number of budget amendments to the Governor's budget and they include: 

 

-          a budget measure for maintenance and preservation of rural, unpaved roads in western Loudoun County;

 

-          a budget measure to allocate $38 million for each of two years to fund the education Cost of Competing Adjustment rate for the standards of quality basic aid support positions; 

 

-          a budget measure to extend the 25 percent Northern Virginia salary differential to State Police sworn and non-sworn employees whose duty station is located in Area13; 

 

-          a budget measure request for funds for the construction of the Hazel Building at Lord Fairfax Community College in Warrenton;

 

-          a budget measure that provides funding to increase the number of ID and DD waiver slots provided, by 1,000 and 400 slots respectively, during each year of the biennium;

 

-          a budget measure to address salary compression adjustments for Sheriffs and Regional Jails;

 

-          a budget measure to provide a 2% salary increase for Sheriffs and certain employees;

 

-          a budget measure to provide $40,202 the first year and $43,857 the second year from the general fund for a two percent re-grade for lower-level deputies I and II and equivalent administrative staff for local finance directors' offices;

 

-          a budget measure to provide $141,695 each year from the general fund for adjustments to address salary compression in the offices of local finance directors;

 

-          a budget measure to provide $60,877 the first year and $66,411 the second year from the general fund for a two percent re-grade for lower-level deputies I and II and equivalent administrative staff for local commissioners of the revenue offices;

 

-          a budget measure to provide $251,550 each year from the general fund for adjustments to address salary compression in the offices of the commissioners of the revenue;

 

-          a budget measure to provide $565,077 each year from the general fund for adjustments to address salary compression in the offices of the Commonwealth's Attorneys;

 

-          a budget measure to adjust the language implementing the collection of fines and fees by Commonwealth's Attorneys;

 

-          a budget measure to provide $356,980 each year from the general fund to support the participation of currently eligible Assistant Commonwealth's Attorneys in the career development program;

 

-          a budget measure to provide $560,724 each year from the general fund for adjustments to address salary compression in the offices of the Clerks of the Circuit Court;

 

-          a budget measure to provide $52,247 the first year and $56,996 the second year from the general fund for a two percent re-grade for certain local Treasurers'office staff;

 

-          a budget measure to provide $234,133 each year from the general fund for adjustments to address salary compression in the offices of the Treasurers;

 

-          a budget measure that restores part of the funding reductions imposed on the offices of locally-elected Treasurers since 2002, restoring portions of the payment shortfall in the state's statutory share; 

 

-          a budget measure to authorize the Compensation Board to implement a salary compression compensation adjustment for local constitutional offices;

 

-          a budget measure to implement the 2013 consultant recommendations regarding theintegration of the Commonwealth's electronic procurement and financial accounting systems;

 

-          a budget measure that provides funding for a state grant for historic preservation ofthe Slave Quarters at Clermont Farm in Clarke County;

 

-          a budget measure to provide an additional $80,000 each year to increase reimbursements to 16 localities that currently operate with part time registrars;

 

-          a budget measure to update the per pupil amount for the Virginia Preschool Initiative for At-Risk Four-Year-Olds to $7,972, the FY 2012 rate used for federal HeadStart; and

 

-          a budget measure to transfer the funding and authority for administering the Medicaid Intellectual Disability home- and community-based waiver program from the Department of Medical Assistance Services to the Department of BehavioralHealth Services.

 

As always, I take your thoughts and opinions seriously and urge you to contact our office any time that you have questions or concerns.  I can be reached during the General Assembly session at 804-698-7527, P.O. Box 397, Richmond, VA  23218 or via email at district27@senate.virginia.gov. Also, please visit our website at www.senatorjillvogel.com.

 

 

 



Legislative Update January 13, 2014
January 13, 2014

The 2014session of the Virginia General Assembly began last Wednesday and the openingsession concluded with Governor McDonnell's final State of the Commonwealthaddress.  He expressed his appreciation for the bi-partisanaccomplishments over four years and cited a list of achievements, includingtransportation funding, increased support for K-12 and higher education andbudget reform that took the Commonwealth from multi-billion dollar budgetshortfalls to multi-billion dollar budget surpluses.

As the legislative session begins, we have an ambitiousagenda that includes consideration of more than 2,500 bills and resolutionsthat will impact Virginia. We will also craft a new two-year budget thatestablishes important spending priorities for the next twoyears.  For our office, the beginning of the Senate session marks theculmination of months of preparation, committee meetings and work withconstituents, civic groups, local governments, businesses,non-profit organizations and others who have an interest in policy issuesbefore the Senate. 

We have moved our constituent service and legislative officefull-time to the Richmond Capitol and our critical committee work vettinglegislation begins now.  My committee assignmentsinclude the Senate Finance Committee, the Courts of JusticeCommittee, the General Laws and Technology Committee, the Privileges andElections Committee and the Rules Committee.  I chair the SenateFinance Subcommittee on General Government and Technology which overseesfunding for all state employees, courts and technology and I also serve onthe Finance Subcommittee on Public Safety, theSubcommittee on Health and Human Resources and the Joint Subcommittee toEvaluate Tax Preferences.

On Saturday, the House and Senate met for a joint session toparticipate in the swearing in of the 72nd Governor of Virginia, TerryMcAuliffe.  He gave a speech focused on his priorities for the next fouryears and cited his commitment to work with the legislature to pursue ethicsreform, mental health reform and expansion of Medicaid.  

I have almost completed my legislation for this session and I amworking hard to address the issues facing our district and to support causesthat deserve attention.  Part of my legislation includes:

  • a bill to expand broadband services in rural areas;
  • a bill to establish a procedure for appealing computation of the Composite Index;
  • a bill to make technical corrections to the boundary adjustments in Loudoun County; 
  • a bill to provide that the Frederick County Board of Supervisors may appoint one of its members to the Economic Development Authority;
  • a bill to extend the annexation moratorium statute; 
  • a bill to revise certain inspection and enforcement under the Uniform Statewide Building Code; 
  • a bill to increase transparency and revise campaign finance and disclosure rules to include mandatory electronic filing;  
  • a bill to establish annual reporting obligations by the State Board of Elections related to certain list maintenance obligations;
  • a bill stating that when a member of a local social services board also serves on the Board of Supervisors, that member shall serve on the local board at the pleasure of the Board of Supervisors;
  • a bill to increase the number of circuit, general district and juvenile court judges authorized for the 20th and 26th Judicial Circuits in accordance with the study report issued by the National Center for State Courts and as recommended by the Judicial Council and Committee on District Courts;
  • a bill to coordinate days of operation in General district courts;
  • a bill to move the date of primary elections to the third Tuesday in June in order to improve access to voting locations; 
  • a bill to increase the membership on the Committee on Training within the Department of Criminal Justice Services;
  • a bill to allow private institutions of higher education to purchase directly from contracts established for state agencies;
  • a bill to expand the definition of communications services to include local, wide area, metropolitan and all other data networks;
  • a bill to amend the provisions of personal action for injury to a person for medical malpractice associated with cancer diagnosis;
  • a bill to provide specific goals for VDOT's maintenance of the unpaved rural road network in Loudoun County;
  • a bill to authorize the Virginia Racing Commission to grant a license for certain Gold Cup simulcast horse racing;
  • a bill to amend the personal property tax authority of localities related to phone companies;
  • a bill to amend the Public Procurement Act related to competitive negotiation and certain term contracts; and
  • two bills to implement certain appointments of the Governor.

I am eager to communicate during the Senate session and willupdate you on our progress each week.  We also welcome visitors to theCapitol and hope that you will consider visiting as my guest in the Senate. I take your thoughts and opinions seriously and urge you to contact ouroffice any time that you have questions or concerns.  I can be reachedduring the General Assembly session at 804-698-7527, P.O. Box 397, Richmond,VA  23218 or via email at district27@senate.virginia.gov. Also, please visit our website at www.senatorjillvogel.com.