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VACo opposes major changes to Local Government Grievance procedures


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

VACo opposes major changes to Local Government Grievance procedures

VACo opposes HB 1744 (Hugo), which seeks to make several changes to the grievance procedures that apply to all localities throughout the commonwealth. The bill, which also has some provisions regarding school board grievances, is scheduled to be heard by the House Education Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee on January 28.

Please contact Subcommittee members to oppose HB 1744.

The bill makes a number of changes to the local government grievance procedures that make the system more cumbersome, lengthy and subject to inconsistent outcomes. HB 1744 changes the language that requires both parties to agree to a hearing by a three-member panel at the final stage of the process. Instead HB 1744 provides that the choice is made solely by the grievant. The bill also eliminates a number of longstanding grandfathered impartial grievance panels used by localities that currently work well. Lastly, the bill shifts interpretation of local government policy from the locality’s Chief Administrative Officer to the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

VACo Contact: Phyllis Errico, CAE


House Transportation Committee approves bill regulating TNCs

On January 27, the House Transportation Committee approved HB 1662 (Rust), which sets permanent rules for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft and allows them to continue operating in the state.

Much like the Senate version of the bill, SB 1025 (Watkins), HB 1662 incorporates several recommendations from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). A key component of the bill is that the DMV will regulate TNCs at the state level, a request that VACo shared with the DMV from counties. The bill also addresses public safety concerns raised by localities. For instance, drivers for TNCs will receive special vehicle registration stickers from DMV, allowing police, airport and other authorities to easily identify if a private vehicle is being used by one of the companies. Another component of the bill states that when a TNC driver has a passenger or is en route to pick up a passenger, the driver shall be insured up to $1 million. If a TNC driver is using the TNC’s app but has not received a request for a ride, the driver’s personal insurance will cover the claim.

VACo participated in several stakeholder meetings on this issue with the DMV last summer and communicated public safety concerns raised by many localities. HB 1662 addresses many of those concerns. VACo will continue to provide updates on the bill.

VACo Contact: Beau Blevins


VACo opposes bill altering real estate assessment appeals law

HB 1416 (Taylor) removes the presumption that real estate assessments are correct in cases where a taxpayer takes a local government to court to challenge the assessment.

The bill is likely to be heard January 28 in the House Courts of Justice Civil Law Subcommittee.

VACo opposes HB 1416 because it allows a taxpayer to go to court without having to prove his case. It requires the locality to justify the assessment first. The bill would result in many more cases ending up in court, making the process more expensive. Also, there is no evidence of any cases that show the presumption of correctness has been unfair to a taxpayer.

The bill upends agreed upon legislation through extensive negotiations in 2011 between VACo, VML and representatives of real estate development interests.

HB 1416 will likely be heard by the House Courts of Justice Civil Law Subcommittee on January 28. Please contact your delegate immediately to oppose.

VACo Contact: Dean Lynch, CAE


Bills allowing industrial hemp cultivation headed to House Agriculture Committee

HB 1277 (Yost) allows for the licensed cultivation of industrial hemp. HB 1277 also directs the Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to adopt relevant regulations and establishes an industrial hemp research program. The measure (supported by VACo) has been referred to the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee and is expected to be heard on January 28.

VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE


House approves bill on local monitoring of industrial sludge

On January 26, the House unanimously passed HB 1364 (Peace), a bill supported by VACo that authorizes localities to adopt ordinances requiring testing and monitoring of the land application of industrial wastes. The bill’s provisions are similar to those in Section 62.1-44.19:3.10.I of the Code of Virginia that allows for the local testing and monitoring of biosolids (processed sewage sludge.) HB 1364 also requires the State Water Control Board to adopt emergency regulations, requiring persons that land apply industrial wastes to collect a fee from the generator of the industrial wastes and remit the fee to the Department of Environmental Quality.

VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE


Industrial sludge ban fails in subcommittee

By a unanimous vote the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Chesapeake Subcommittee recommended that HB 1363 (Peace) be tabled. HB 1363 would have imposed a ban on land applications of industrial sludge in the counties of Hanover, King William and New Kent.

VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE


Bill requiring stormwater fee waivers for religious institutions debated

VACo opposes HB 1293 (Morris), which requires localities to waive stormwater utility fees for properties owned by churches and other religious institutions. On January 22, the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Chesapeake Subcommittee heard testimony but took no action. Instead subcommittee members decided to delay a vote until their next meeting on January 29.

VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE


Initiatives introduced to factor land use taxation in computing composite index

By a 12-10 vote, the House Education Committee rejected HB 1514 (Minchew), which would have required that land use taxation be utilized as a factor for the calculation of the local composite index (LCI). The bill generated lively debate among committee members. Meanwhile on January 29, the Senate Education and Health Committee is likely to vote on a similar measure, SB 1091 (Vogel).

Also, HJR 514 (Webert) and SJR 288 (Vogel) have been introduced. These are identical resolutions requesting the Department of Education to study utilization of the land use assessment when calculating the local composite index. Respectively, these measures have been referred to the House Rules Committee and the Senate Rules Committee.

VACo’s 2015 Legislative Program expresses support for “legislation to adjust the calculation of the local Composite Index for public school funding by directing the Department of Education to adjust its funding calculations for the local ability to pay by using the use-value assessment of real property, instead of the true value, in localities that have adopted use-value taxation.”

VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE


Bill extending deadline for school budget approval advances

On January 26, the House Education Committee unanimously reported HB 1514 (Tyler), which conforms the county budget preparation and approval process to the schedule of municipalities. This means that if the bill passes, the deadline for county governing bodies to approve their school budgets would be extended from May 1 to May 15.

VACo Contact: Larry Land, CAE


Bill allowing removal of appointees is defeated in committee

HB 1383 (Morris) was defeated in the House Counties, Cities and Towns Committee on January 23. The legislation as amended would have allowed a local governing body to remove the members of any board or commission it appointed at will with a two-thirds vote of the governing body.

VACo Contact: Erik Johnston, CAE

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