Legislation

Legislative Update January 19, 2015
January 19, 2015

 

The 2015 Senate Session convened January 14th at the Capitol followed by the Governorís State of the Commonwealth Address to the legislature.  It comes after a long 2014 session that extended through November.  We struggled with unexpected revenue shortfalls and pressure from bond rating agencies to address it swiftly.  Revenues were $438.3 million short at the end of 2014, with other factors spread over the two-year budget creating a $2.4 billion shortfall.

 

Throughout the summer and fall our committees met to formulate the agenda for 2015.  The full Senate met for a two-day briefing and the Governor briefed our money committees on his budget changes.  His proposal increased money for medical costs for prisoners; employer recruitment and job growth; per diem payments to jails; and state agency information technology among others.  His budget cuts included reduction in coal tax credits; cuts to land preservation tax credits; consolidation of tax holidays; repeal of income tax subtraction from gain on sale of land devoted to open-space; and cuts to tax credit for long term care insurance premiums.

 

In preparing for legislation, I met with local governments, public safety officials, school boards, supervisors, civic organizations and community advocates in each of the seven jurisdictions in the 27th District. Many of their requests are part of my current legislation.  Issues generally expected to draw attention this session include the Governorís gun control proposals; changes to standardized testing and school accreditation; ethics reform; increased reporting of sexual assault; and regulation of day care providers (following 54 tragic deaths).

 

I have almost completed final drafts of bills.  A partial summary of my legislation includes:

 

·         SB 1005 allowing taxpayers to receive income tax refunds by check and prohibiting prepaid debit cards for refunds;

·         SJ 284 establishing a bipartisan redistricting commission;

·         SB 1097 allocating resources more equitably for horsemen and revising structure for horse racing in the Commonwealth following Colonial Downs recent surrender of their license;

·         SB 1075 allowing employees of a school division to join the state employee health plan as a cost savings;

·         SB 1091 changing composite index calculation for school funding to value assessment of property instead of true value which currently cuts school monies in localities with land in conservation easement;

·         SB 1076 moving date of a primary to the third Tuesday in June to accommodate school polling locations;

·         SB 1082 making it a Class 1 misdemeanor to leave children unattended in a vehicle if they are age 4 or under;

·         SB 1083 adding the meningitis vaccine to the immunization list for school aged children;

·         SB 734 requiring reporting of sexual assault by public university employees;

·         SB 1077 implementing a pilot program for localities to employ vote centers in primary elections;

·         SB 1084 making boundary adjustments in precincts as requested by county registrars;

·         SB 1089 establishing the process to fill a vacancy in Constitutional officesí pending a special election;

·         SB 1086 establishing venue in a Medicaid fraud trial as the location in which the offense was committed or the residence at time of offense; 

·         SB 1081 prohibiting tripping or intentional roping of legs of horses except for medical purposes;

·         SB 1080 allowing e-filing of certain documents with the State Corporation Commission;

·         SB 1078 authorizing local school boards to set the school calendar;

·         SB 1093 requiring safety standards for soccer goals and provisions for non-tipping goals;

·         Budget proposal to expand resources for intellectual/developmental disability waivers;

·         Budget proposal to restore funding to Dept. of Aging & Rehab Services for long term employment support services;

·         Budget act to restore Governorís cuts to Civil War Historic Site Preservation Fund;

·         Budget proposal to provide resources for certain Constitutional Officer programs;

·         Budget proposal for implementing Lyme disease prevention strategies; and

·         Budget proposal to expand veteran education opportunities.

 

Please consider visiting the Capitol during session.  We welcome visitors and hope that you will contact my office any time that you have questions or concerns at 804-698-7527, P.O. Box 397, Richmond, VA 23218 or email jillvogel@senate27.com.