LEGISLATIVE UPDATE--01-30-2017--YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE
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State ISSUES –2017
It’s Cross-over time:
The House has completed the first three weeks of session. “Cross-over,” the date by which all bills must be passed by the originating chamber so they then can “cross over” to the other chamber for consideration, is fast approaching—February 7th. The Clerk of the House reports that 1,400 pieces of legislation are already in play in the House of Delegates, not including all the amendments being negotiated nor any of the bills that will cross over from the Senate to the House in early February. With so much happening, it’s not possible to cover everything.
SB 838 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Scholarship Pilot Program; DSS to establish and administer. Introduced by: William M. Stanley, Jr.Department of Social Services; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Scholarship Pilot Program. Directs the Department of Social Services (the Department)to establish and administer a three-year Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Scholarship Pilot Program (the Program) for the purpose of providing access to postsecondary educational opportunities to students living in poverty.
- 01/27/17 Senate: Reported from Rehabilitation and Social Services with substitute (15-Y 0-N)
- 01/27/17 Senate: Rereferred to Finance
- 01/30/17 Senate Finance SubCommittee (HHR) passed Unanimously;
An Identical House Scholarship Pilot bill HB 2041 by Delegate Kathleen Murphy
- 01/31/17 House HWI Committee passed Unanimously
SB 810 Food stamp program; categorical eligibility.Introduced by: Barbara A. Favola
Food stamp program; categorical eligibility. Requires the State Board of Social Services to establish broad-based categorical eligibility for the food stamp program, exempting families that already qualify for certain public assistance programs from an additional financial eligibility determination for food stamp benefits.
- 01/27/17 Senate: Reported from Rehabilitation and Social Services (14-Y 1-N); Rereferred to Finance
SB 830 Food stamps; eligibility to receive benefits if convicted of drug-related felonies. Introduced by: Barbara A. Favola
Food stamp eligibility; drug-related felonies. Provides that a person who is otherwise eligible to receive food stamp benefits shall not be denied such assistance solely because he has been convicted of a first-time felony offense of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance in violation of § 18.2-248, provided that he complies with all obligations imposed by the criminal court and the Department of Social Services, is actively engaged in or has completed substance abuse treatment, and participates in drug screenings. Current law prohibits denial of such benefits only if such persons have been convicted of felony possession of a controlled substance.
- 01/13/17 Senate: Passed by indefinitely in Rehabilitation and Social Services (8-Y 7-N)
HB 2213 TANF; time limit on the receipt of financial assistance by: John M. O'Bannon, III
Time limit on the receipt of TANF financial assistance. Reduces the total lifetime limit on TANF financial assistance to 24 months; reduces the number of consecutive months a person may receive TANF before a period of ineligibility from 24 to 12 consecutive months; and reduces the time period of ineligibility from 24 months to 12 consecutive months.
- 01/26/17 House: HWI Subcommittee #2 recommends reporting (6-Y 2-N)
- 01/31/17 Advance to House Appropriations Committee on an 11-10 vote
FYI---SB 923, which increases the felony larceny threshold from $250 to $500, passed the full Senate by a score of 28-12 after being rolled into a similar bill carried by my law partner Scott Surrovell. That's a win.
HB 1651 provides that an inmate sentenced to a term that makes the inmate ineligible for release (i.e., virtually a life sentence) exempt from depositing 10 percent of any funds the inmate receives into an inmate personal trust account. These accounts are designated to support re-entry. There is no re-entry for a virtual life sentence. HB1651 passed unanimously and goes to the Senate.
Driver's Licenses for Immigrants
HB 1682 (Del. Bloxom), to allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue driver privilege cards to taxpaying residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. Despite overwhelming testimony in favor of the bill, it did not advance out of committee. We look forward, however, to supporting similar legislation, HB 2020 (Del. Villanueva), which would extend driving privileges to all immigrants who are legally present in the Commonwealth.
Holding Wages Down
Three different bills offered by my Democratic colleagues that would have raised the minimum wage were defeated by an unrecorded subcommittee voice vote. And this week, the House Republicans passed a bill that prohibits our state agencies from requiring that laborers who work on state-funded projects be paid at the prevailing wage level. Virginians who work for the minimum wage won’t get the raise they need, and our skilled tradespeople could even see their wages fall.
On Monday, the Court of Justice committee killed Senator Favola’s bill which would have prevented those who have severe mental illness from being eligible for the death penalty. Those who don’t possess full understanding of their crimes should not be subject to the highest penalty.
Virginia Transparency Caucus: Increasing Transparency in Virginia Government
The goal is to increase public awareness of the inner workings of Virginia Government and the legislative and political process, in order to make Government more easily accessible to all Virginia citizens throughout the Commonwealth.
A letter is being circulated among General Assembly members advocating for the inclusion of filming capability for committee and subcommittee hearings in the New General Assembly Building. More members are filming the proceedings on their bills as Del Mark Levine and co-founder Senator Amanda Chase do. And another group – Progress Virginia – has chipped in to film almost 75% of subcommittee proceedings.
The Caucus promoted transparency in bills before the General Assembly, such as a bill this year by Republican Delegate Ben Cline that would have required each committee and subcommittee to record its votes (but unfortunately was killed by the Republican Leadership). We want to see more of this type of bi-partisan legislation. Transparency is something that’s good for both sides of the aisle.
End Gerrymandering - Four Delegates Against Reform – Contact Them!
During this legislative session, House Joint Resolution 749 was introduced by Democratic Delegate John Bell to establish an independent citizen-led Redistricting Commission, which would be charged with drawing districts using objective standards.
House Joint Resolution 763 was introduced by Republican Delegate Steve Landes to prohibit districts from being drawn in order to favor or disfavor any political party, incumbent legislator, member of Congress, or other individual or entity.
Unfortunately, both of these common-sense measures were defeated in a Privileges and Elections subcommittee along mostly party-line votes.
Four Delegates voted against redistricting reform on Monday, January 30th. It was four on a seven member subcommittee, so they effectively killed redistricting reform. They decided their gerrymandering was more important. Contact them to tell them how disappointed you are in this vote. Contact these Delegates Minchew, Miller, Hugo, and Cole right now!
State ISSUES –2016
SALT Legislative Proposals/Patron’s Updates—March 10, 2016 --
Reason to celebrate! We did it! You did it!
Thanks to your persistent advocacy our six SALT Budget Items and one SALT bill passed.
Thank your Delegate & Senator and our outstanding patrons: Senator George Barker, Senator Barbara Favola; Delegate Mark Sickles, Delegate Kaye Kory, Delegate Paul Krizek and Delegate Alfonso Lopez. Special thanks to our NOVA Conferees: Senators Dick Saslaw, Janet Howell and the lone Democratic conferee from the House—Delegate Luke Torian—thank them!
This is the most substantial win yet!
Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant - 2016
The General Assemblyadded$17.4 million in SALT proposed &supported TANF program funding for Virginia families:
- $4.8 million for a Child Support Supplement;
- $4.7 million for a 2.5% cash benefit increase;
- $4.0 million to expand workforce training for TANF Recipients to five additional community colleges;
- $1.9 million to Expand Foster Care Services to 21;
- Provides for Apprenticeships for TANF Welfare Families; and
- $2.0 million for domestic violence grants; and
- TANF Caseload Expenditure Reports to Document TANF Funds not Directed Specifically at TANF Families (Non Supplatation).
With thanks! john
Medicaid Expansion Legislation
The 2015 General Assembly session may be over, but one big problem remains: lawmakers still refuse to close the health care coverage gap. A favorite smokescreen is the claim that Medicaid needs to be reformed before it can be expanded. However, this claim neglects the fact that recent Medicaid reforms are not only in place in Virginia, but are exceeding expectations. --The Commonwealth Institute
The Virginia Senate Finance Committee and House of Delegates Appropriations Committee chose to exclude Medicaid expansion from the budget and instead, they want to increase state General Fund dollars to free clinics and community health centers. However, we believe Medicaid expansion would enhance the entire health care delivery system in Virginia and is a better solution.
Virginians are already paying for Medicaid expansion through our federal tax dollars. Since our state lawmakers have refused to expand Medicaid, we are losing that money. We are disappointed that our lawmakers are ignoring the basic needs of 400,000 people, most of whom are employed taxpayers in the Commonwealth.
Keep advocating for a real solution for those 400,000 Virginians because the people of the Commonwealth deserve better.
Breaking News! VIRGINIA GOVERNOR McAuliffe BANS THE BOX WITH EXECUTIVE ORDER
Governor McAuliffe signed Executive Order 41, which reforms state hiring practices by removing questions regarding criminal history from employment applications. The Order makes clear that criminal history shall not be a determining factor in employment decisions, unless an individual’s criminal history bears specific relation to the job for which they are being considered. “In a new Virginia economy, people who make mistakes and pay the price should be welcomed back into society and given the opportunity to succeed,” Governor McAuliffe said about the Order.
As you know, “Ban the Box” legislation was a top SALT priority during the 2015 General Assembly session. SALT & VA-CURE partner made a compelling case for “Ban the Box”: "Formerly incarcerated individuals shouldn’t face a life sentence of no job prospects and no opportunities to better themselves just because they have served time in prison. These new (“Ban the Box”) laws will help them get back on their feet, contribute to their communities and keep one offense from becoming a life-long barrier.”
Visit the SALT website at http://www.S-A-L-T.org