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Commonwealth's Counties

Governor proposes amendments to 77 bills and “skinny budget”

Last week Governor Youngkin released his proposed amendments to legislation that passed the 2023 General Assembly.  The Governor proposed amendments to 77 bills, as well as four changes to the “skinny budget,” and vetoed three bills.  The legislature will convene on April 12 to consider the Governor’s amendments and vetoes.

Of interest to local governments are the following proposed amendments:

HB 1550 (Campbell, J.) Child abuse or neglect; findings of local department of social services, appeal
As passed by the General Assembly:  Allows a licensed teacher employed by a local school board who is found by a local department of social services to have committed child abuse or neglect to petition the circuit court for a de novo review of such finding after exhausting all options for review by the local department and Commissioner of Social Services.
Governor’s amendment:  Adds language to require the Board of Education to act upon an application for reinstatement of a teacher’s license within 90 days of submission in the case of a teacher who is the subject of a founded complaint of child abuse or neglect and whose license has been revoked, in the event that a court reverses the finding and the individual submits to the Department an application for the reinstatement of his license as a teacher.

HB 1842 (Knight) Virginia Business Ready Sites Acquisition Fund and Program; created.
As passed by the General Assembly:  Creates the Virginia Business Ready Sites Acquisition Program to acquire or option eligible sites (which must be at least 250 contiguous acres and present a significant opportunity for the Commonwealth to attract a large-scale economic development project, but need not be zoned for an economic development use) in order to create and maintain a portfolio of project-ready sites to promote economic development, improve these sites to increase their marketability, and enter into development agreements with private employers for large-scale economic development projects.  The program would be administered by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority in collaboration with the Department of General Services.  The legislation provides that prior to the acquisition or optioning of any site, the locality in which the site is located or the locality’s economic development entity would have a right of first refusal to acquire or option the site.
Governor’s amendment:  Requires eligible sites to be at least 500 contiguous acres and requires certain documentation and reporting requirements for the Program.  Sets up a process for the locality’s right of first refusal whereby the locality would be notified of the Commonwealth’s interest in the site and would have 14 days to attempt to purchase or option the site.  If the locality or its economic development authority does not either purchase or option the site (or have a contract in place indicating an intent to purchase or option the site) within 90 days, the state would be able to proceed with purchasing the site.

HB 1948 (Bloxom) Absentee voting; removes witness requirement, required information on return ballot envelope.
As passed by the General Assembly:  Removes the witness requirement for absentee ballots and replaces it with the requirement that the voter provide the last four digits of his Social Security number (or the unique identifier assigned to each voter in the voter registration system) and his date of birth.
Governor’s amendment:  Allows the use of the unique identifier for those voters whose registration includes a statement of affirmation that he or she has never been issued a Social Security number.

HB 2024 (Leftwich)/SB 1310 (Deeds) Personal information of judges and magistrates; penalty.
As passed by the General Assembly:  Prohibits the Commonwealth from publishing on the Internet the personal information of any active or retired federal or Virginia justice, judge, or magistrate who has made a demand in writing to the Commonwealth that the Commonwealth not publish such information. The bill adds active or retired federal or Virginia justices, judges, and magistrates to the list of people for whom an enhanced punishment applies for the crime of using such person’s identity with the intent to coerce, intimidate, or harass. The bill also adds active and retired magistrates to the list of people who may furnish a post office box address in lieu of a street address on the lists of registered voters.
Governor’s amendment:  Adds a provision establishing a Class 1 misdemeanor offense for any person who pickets or parades in or near a residence of a judge, juror, witness, court officer, or court employee, or their immediate family, with the intent of interfering with the administration of justice or of influencing or intimidating the judge, juror, witness, court officer, or court employee in the discharge of his or her duty.

HB 2185 (Rasoul)/SB 1169 (Hanger) Community services boards and behavioral health authorities; provisions of performance contracts.
As passed by the General Assembly:  Strengthens requirements for oversight of Community Services Boards (CSBs) through performance contracts with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS).  The legislation requires performance contracts to include provisions that enable DBHDS to enforce the contract in the event a CSB fails to substantially comply with requirements, including provisions for notification of the CSB executive director and chair, provisions for a remediation process to allow the CSB to come into substantial compliance, provisions for termination of all or part of a performance contract in the event of failure to come into substantial compliance, and provisions for an appeal of an enforcement action.  These provisions take effect July 1, 2025.
Governor’s amendment:  Revises the effective date of the provisions of the bill dealing with CSB performance contracts so that they would take effect July 1, 2024.

HB 2296 (Hope)/SB 1350 (Ebbin) Liquid nicotine; Secretary of Finance, et al., to assess a licensing scheme, report.
As passed by the General Assembly:  Directs the Secretary of Finance, in consultation with stakeholders, to assess a potential licensing scheme for manufacturers, distributors, and retail dealers of liquid nicotine in the Commonwealth, and the most appropriate manner and entity to enforce and administer licensing, age verification, product verification, and advertising restrictions, with a report due by November 1, 2023.
Governor’s amendment:  Directs the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority to undertake the study.

HB 2325 (Bloxom)/SB 1438 Agricultural land; definitions, ownership by foreign adversaries prohibited, report.
As passed by the General Assembly:  Prohibits any foreign adversary, as defined in the bill, from acquiring or transferring any interest in agricultural land, beginning January 1, 2023, and requires the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to report annually with certain information regarding agricultural land that is under foreign ownership.
Governor’s amendment:  Expands the definition of “agricultural land” and includes further details regarding enforcement in cases where an interest in land is acquired in violation of the bill, including provisions allowing a local government attorney, among other parties, to file certain actions in circuit court.

HB 2332 (Campbell, E.H.)/SB 1308 Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority; eligible site for site development grant.
As passed by the General Assembly:  Reduces the minimum contiguous acreage requirement for a non-brownfield site to qualify for a site development grant from the Virginia Business Ready Sites Program Fund from 100 to 50 acres.
Governor’s amendment:  Allows a site of at least 50 acres to qualify if it is in a locality that does not have a site with at least 100 contiguous acres.

HB 2338 (McQuinn)/SB 1326 (McClellan) Transit Ridership Incentive Program; use of funds, improving accessibility.
As passed by the General Assembly:  Directs the Commonwealth Transportation Board to use up to 30 percent of available funds in the Transit Ridership Incentive Program to support local, regional, and state entities in improving the accessibility of transit bus passenger facilities and transitioning public transit bus fleets and infrastructure to zero-emission bus fleets and infrastructure.
Governor’s amendment:  Removes assistance with transitioning to zero-emission fleets and infrastructure as a use of the funds and replaces that language with provisions for funds to be used for crime prevention and public safety for transit passengers, operators, and employees

SB 810 (Petersen) Injunctions; petitions for review.
As passed by the General Assembly:  Removes permanent injunctions from current Code providing that when a circuit court takes certain actions regarding an injunction, an aggrieved party must file a petition for review within 15 days of the circuit court’s order, so that these provisions would apply only to preliminary injunctions.  The bill extends the deadline for counsel for the opposing party to file a response from seven to 15 days.
Governor’s amendment: Adds a new Code section dealing with the process for appeal of circuit court orders granting or denying a plea of sovereign, absolute, or qualified immunity that, if granted, would immunize the movant from compulsory participation in the proceeding.

SB 956 (Ruff) Localities; authorized to create business improvement and recruitment districts.
As passed by the General Assembly:  Authorizes localities to establish a business improvement and recruitment district upon petition of a majority of the business owners in the proposed district, after complying with certain requirements.
Governor’s amendment:  Specifies that a business improvement and recruitment district must be established within a “Main Street District,” defined to be a physical setting including a commercial area focusing on economic development through locally owned businesses and structures that would benefit from rehabilitation.  Stipulates how a majority share of benefited business is to be calculated.

SB 1035 (McPike) Bridges; state of good repair, allocation of funds.
As passed by the General Assembly:  For new project allocations made after June 1, 2024, allows bridges with certain general condition ratings to qualify for state of good repair funds and allows these funds to be used for improvements anticipated to extend the useful life of bridges with these condition ratings by at least 10 years.  Eliminates the minimum and maximum annual funding distributions for each construction district.
Governor’s amendment:  Reinstates the minimum funding distribution level.

SB 1124 (Stanley) Public elementary & secondary school bldgs.; standards for maintenance & operations, etc.
As passed by the General Assembly:  Directs the Board of Education to make recommendations to the General Assembly to establish standards for the maintenance and operations, renovation, and new construction of public elementary and secondary school buildings as part of the Standards of Quality, with recommendations due by December 1, 2023.
Governor’s amendment:  Delays the due date of the report to July 1, 2024.

SB 1453 (McPike) Public elementary and secondary schools; automated external defibrillators required.
As passed by the General Assembly:  Requires each local school board to place an automated external defibrillator in every public elementary and secondary school and to develop a plan for their placement, care, and use.
Governor’s amendment:  Directs the Department of Education to compile and make available by August 1, 2024, a list of available public and private programs, grants, or funding sources to fulfill the requirements of the bill.

SB 1459 Administration of state government; prohibited applications and websites.
As passed by the General Assembly:  Bars any employee or agent of any public body, or person or entity contracting with any such public body, from downloading or using any application, including TikTok or WeChat, or accessing any website developed by ByteDance Ltd. or Tencent Holdings Ltd. on any government-issued device or government-owned or government-leased equipment, or while connected to any wired or wireless Internet network owned, operated, or maintained by the Commonwealth.  The Superintendent of State Police or the chief law enforcement officer of a county or city may grant exceptions for law enforcement purposes.
Governor’s amendment:  Expands the law enforcement exemption to the chief law enforcement officer of any locality or institution of higher education.

HB 1400 (the “skinny budget”)
As passed by the General Assembly, the “skinny budget” contained four provisions:

  • $115.9 million GF in FY 2023 and $125.8 million GF in FY 2024 for the combined impact of K-12 technical adjustments related to average daily membership (ADM) changes, sales tax revenue forecast changes, and program participation updates, and an additional $16.8 million GF in FY 2023 to ensure that the sum of basic aid and sales tax payments a school division receives in FY 2023 is at least the sum of basic aid and sales tax payments that was communicated to school divisions in June 2022
  • $904.6 million for the required deposit to the Revenue Stabilization Fund
  • $250 million deposit to the Virginia Retirement System that was included in the budget adopted last year as a contingent appropriation to address unfunded liabilities
  • $100 million in FY 2023 to address cost overruns for previously-authorized capital projects

The Governor’s amendments add four more provisions:

  • A technical amendment to reflect changes in revenue collections resulting from legislation conforming the state’s tax code with the Internal Revenue Code, as well as certain required deposits
  • $15.3 million over the biennium for the TANF Unemployed Parents program
  • Reallocation of ARPA funding proposed in last year’s budget to fund certain Medicaid rate increases, such that $28.1 million would be provided to the Department of Medical Assistance Services to contract for assistance with Medicaid redetermination after the end of the continuous coverage requirement and $10 million would be provided to the Department of Social Services to support local departments with redeterminations and appeals
  • Authorization for a short-term loan to construct a high performance data facility associated with the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility.

Legislation vetoed by the Governor
The Governor vetoed three bills:

  • HB 1536 (Jenkins), which directs the state Department of Human Resource Management to update its Grievance Procedure Manual to require the Office of Equal Employment and Dispute Resolution to review and issue a written decision when a party is noncompliant with any of the requirements of the grievance procedure.
  • SB 1051 (McPike), which would allow a vehicle owned and operated by a public utility company or broadband service provider to be temporarily left on private property (for up to 72 hours) without the consent of the owner of the property, provided that utility or broadband service or maintenance is being conducted on the property and such vehicle does not block the entry or exit of the property.
  • SB 1085 (Ebbin) would direct the Superintendent of State Police to convene a workgroup to examine vehicle noise in the Commonwealth.

VACo Contact: VACo Legislative Team

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