Friday, January 24, 2014
Helpful stormwater bill recommended by subcommittee
On January 23, a House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Subcommittee unanimously recommended HB 1173 (Hodges), a measure that was amended by the subcommittee into a major omnibus bill that meets many stormwater-related objectives in VACo’s 2014 Legislative Program.
One major component of HB 1173 provides any locality not operating a Municipal Separate Stormwater Sewer System (MS4) with the option of allowing DEQ to manage a Virginia Stormwater Management Program (VSMP) on the locality’s behalf. This provision was proposed as an alternative way of assisting localities that would have benefitted from a one-year delay in the compliance deadline for localities to adopt their own stormwater programs.
As recommended by the subcommittee, HB 1173 has the following other helpful provisions for counties:
• Authorization for the State Water Control Board to adopt regulations creating a procedure for approving permits for individual parcels in a common plan of development.
• Establishment of a procedure by the State Water Control Board relieving single family lot owners from requirements of obtaining a registration statement when engaging in a land disturbance.
• To reduce duplications and help simplify the stormwater permitting process, the separation of “post construction” and other standards from Virginia’s “General Permit for Discharges of Stormwater from Construction Activities.” (This “general permit” is actually a set of regulations required under the federal Clean Water Act that applies to all counties. The general permit’s objectives are similar to objectives of state mandated erosion and sediment control programs administered by localities.)
The subcommittee also added an emergency clause to HB 1173, meaning that the bill will go into effect upon signature by the governor if it passes both houses by super majorities.
The bill is scheduled for a vote by the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee when it holds its next meeting at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 29.
County officials are urged to contact House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee members to voice support for HB 1173.
VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE
Legislation affecting CSA
SB 153 (Stuart) expands eligibility for services through the Comprehensive Services Act for At-Risk Youth and Families program (CSA) to students placed in public school special educational programs established by a school division.
VACo is concerned that this bill would take CSA funds away from services such as foster care, social services, etc. and give it to a school system who already has funds for special education programs. This bill will be considered before the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services committee next week.
SB 369 (Favola) increases the membership of the State Executive Council for Comprehensive Services Act for At-Risk Youth and Families by adding a third private provider representative and a member who may be either a representative of a child advocacy group or organization or a representative of a mental health advocacy group with a specialization in children’s mental health. The bill also provides that the members of the Council who are parent representatives may not be a current member of a county board of supervisors or city council or a county administrator or city manager.
VACo worked on this bill to remove the provision that states a parent representative may not be a city or county official. This language was removed and the bill passed out of Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee on January 24.
SB 426 (Hanger) provides that the State Executive Council for Comprehensive Services for At-Risk Youth and Families may promulgate regulations necessary to carry out its powers and duties. The bill contains technical amendments. VACo supports this bill, which will be considered before the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee next Friday.
VACo Contact: Beau Blevins
Senate Agriculture Committee reports bill relating to the safety of dams
On January 23, the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee unanimously reported SB 582 (Garrett), a bill that, as amended, directs the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to re-evaluate its methodology for assessing the safety of dams.
Currently, 320 dams in Virginia are classified as “high hazard.” Of these, at least 150 of them (located in 47 counties) have a defect in need of correction in order for the dam to be re-certified. Some of these corrections could be highly expensive. SB 582 requires DCR to explore methodologies used in other states for assessing the safety of dams.
During the 2014 session, at least 10 measures have been introduced to address the issue of dam safety and the high costs associated with repairing defects of dams that are classified as “high hazard.” Among these measures is HJR 118 (Austin), a resolution supported by VACo that also directs DCR to study the problem. Another resolution directing a study on dam safety is HJR 132 (Byron). Both study resolutions have been referred to the House Rules Committee.
VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE
VACo monitoring the following billboard bills
HB 377 (Anderson) and SB 295 (Puckett) include the erection of a sound barrier in the list of actions that allows relocation of a billboard sign and allows a nonconforming billboard to remain in its original location until the Commissioner of Highways gives notice to its owner that construction is ready to proceed.
HB 756 (Rust) revises and updates statutory requirements pertaining to the maintenance and repair of nonconforming billboards.
VACo Contact: Beau Blevins
VACo on the Go Legislative Edition: Speaker Bill Howell
William Howell, Speaker of the House of Delegates, talks with VACo about Medicaid expansion, local business taxes and the historic transportation bill that was passed last year.
VACo Contact: Dean Lynch, CAE
Governor McAuliffe to speak at the 2014 Local Government Day
The Virginia Association of Counties, Virginia Municipal League and the Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions will host Local Government Day at the General Assembly on Thursday, February 6.
Governor Terry McAuliffe has confirmed he’ll be the keynote speaker.
The event will be held at the Richmond Marriott, located at 500 East Broad Street in downtown Richmond.
Staff will report on legislation affecting local governments. Local officials are encouraged to participate in committee meetings and lobby state legislators at the Capitol. In the evening, local officials are urged to invite their state legislators to dinner.
The cost of the event, which includes a box lunch, is $45 per person.
VACo Contact: Carol Cameron