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Commonwealth's Counties

Rural stormwater bill dries up in subcommittee

Senator Emmett Hanger’s rural stormwater bill met an untimely demise on February 18 as it failed to advance from the formidable House Appropriations Committee.

SB 1328 (Hanger) authorizes the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to designate a portion (up to 20 percent) of Stormwater Local Assistance Fund (SLAF) grants to smaller, rural localities that are not regulated under municipal separate storm sewer (MS4) permits for stormwater management.  The bill directs DEQ to prioritize grants for projects that are regional in scope. SB 1328 also provides that any funds remaining after allocation to qualifying projects proposed by non-MS4 localities shall be made available for additional projects of MS4 localities, and directs DEQ to seek stakeholder input and public comment in developing eligibility criteria and to submit such criteria by January 1, 2020, for consideration by the State Water Control Board.

SB 1328 enjoyed a great deal of success in the General Assembly until the very last minute.  The bill previously passed the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee unanimously (13-0) as well as the Senate unanimously (40-0).  SB 1328 fared well in the House as well, reporting from the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee unanimously (22-0) before suddenly being re-referred to the House Appropriations Committee. There, it was heard late Monday afternoon by the Commerce, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Technology Subcommittee, whose members ultimately voted party-line, 5-3, to kill the bill.

VACo was pleased to support SB 1328 and testified in favor of the bill numerous times throughout the 2019 session, including one last time on Monday before the subcommittee.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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