VACo opposes HB 2736 (Hugo) and SB 1783 (Boysko), which are identical and are refilings of similar bills defeated during the 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018 legislative sessions. The bills seek to make several changes to the local grievance procedures that apply to all localities and local government employees throughout the Commonwealth.
The bills as introduced seek to make the local government grievance process more cumbersome, lengthy, and subject to inconsistent outcomes. Currently, many localities use a hearing officer or existing approved grievance boards or panels. This bill would revert to a three-member panel if the grievant doesn’t agree to the existing panel or hearing officer. These three-member panels often have no experience in conducting such procedures, resulting in delay and inconsistency. The bills also eliminate many longstanding impartial grievance panels used by localities that currently work well.
In addition, the bills would eliminate the provision of the act regarding the interpretation of whether the relief granted is consistent with local policy. Currently, the law provides that a locality’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), or if the CAO was directly involved in the case, the Commonwealth’s Attorney to make that determination.
The main proponent of past bills has been the Police Benevolent Society, and it is important to note that law enforcement employees have the option to choose either the local grievance process or the grievance process provided under the Law Enforcement Officers Procedural Guarantee Act, thus making the change to the local grievance procedure unnecessary.
Other problematic grievance bills include SB 1708 (Edwards), which makes a sweeping change to the Law-Enforcement Officers Procedural Guarantee Act by changing the final hearing panel decision from advisory to a binding decision and provides a process for petitioning the court to implement the decision of the Hearing panel. SB 1708 will be heard in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.
SB 1494 (Edwards) and HB 2263 (Krizek) make a dramatic change to the Firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians Procedural Guarantee Act by introducing language that would give an automatic cause of action against the local government employer for any breach of procedures of the act.
VACo Contact: Phyllis Errico, Esq., CAE