by Dick Hall-Sizemore
The 2022 General Assembly left town on March 12 with a great deal of public business still pending.
Most importantly, it adjourned without adopting a budget. That is not uncommon, however. Since 2000, the legislature has adjourned six times without adopting a budget, having to come back in special session to deal with it (2001, 2004, 2006, 2012, 2014, and 2018). In 2001, it could not even agree on a budget in the special session, therefore not approving a budget bill at all that year. (It could do that because it was in the middle of a biennium and the Appropriation Act enacted in 2000 remained in place for FY 2002). In several of the other years, the legislature did not adopt a final budget bill until the last week of June.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Monday that no progress had been made on the budget. In fact, the House and Senate conferees have not talked to each other since the legislature adjourned. That, too, is not surprising, considering the large, basic philosophical disagreement they must overcome — a $2.2 billion disagreement on how much money should be available to spend.
The truly surprising development of the 2022 General Assembly was its failure to pass 45 bills, not counting the budget bills, that had been approved in some form by each house and were in conference when the legislators adjourned sine die on March 12. That is an astounding amount of unfinished business. In the past, there were occasions when conferees for a bill could not agree on a compromise, or one chamber rejected the conferees’ report. Perhaps there were also some instances in which the conferees just did not have enough time to work out a compromise. In such instances, the bills would die. This year was different. The legislature provided in HJR 455 that any bill in conference upon adjournment, including the budget bill, would be “continued” to special session for action. This is the first time in recent memory that the General Assembly left bills in conference to be taken up later in a special session.
The last day of a Session is usually frustrating and sometimes chaotic. There are a lot of last-minute details to be attended to, but, at the same time, a lot of waiting around during recesses while the conference committees worked to come up with their recommendations for bills assigned to them. In past years, it was not unusual for the two chambers to work into the late evening of the last day in order to finish acting on all of the remaining bills. For example, the 2000 Session adjourned at 11:20 p.m. on the last day.
Procedural changes, primarily the authorization for House subcommittees to kill bills, have enabled the legislature to reduce its workload at the end of a Session. Nevertheless, as recently as 2015 and 2016, the legislature did not adjourn until the evening of the last day. In contrast, this year’s Session adjourned at 2:55 p.m. Saturday afternoon despite having numerous bills still in conference.
The Senate did not seem able to manage its calendar very well. Among the list of bills continued are five for which a conference report had been issued and had been approved by the House. One would think that the legislature could have delayed adjournment by one hour in order to enable the Senate to consider those five conference reports, which are usually approved.
The resolution authorizing the continuation of the budget and the other bills to a Special Session did not set a date for that session. Governor Youngkin has announced that he will call the General Assembly back for the Special Session on April 4. If the governor thinks that calling a special session this quickly will pressure the legislators into adopting a budget right away, he is likely to be disappointed. In 2014, Governor McAuliffe called a special session to begin March 24. In 2018, he called one to begin on April 11. In both years, the General Assembly convened on the set date, adopted resolutions authorizing each house to recess “from time to time,” met for a couple of days, and then recessed. Over the ensuing months they reconvened sporadically until a budget compromise was ready. The 2014 Special Session, which convened March 24, adopted the budget bill on June 12. It had to reconvene on June 23 to consider the governor’s line item vetoes. It was at that point that a final budget bill had been adopted. As for the 2018 Special Session, it convened on April 11, but did not adopt a final budget bill until May 30.
All the continued bills are listed below, except for the budget bills. The list includes several tax reduction bills. It also includes other controversial bills, some of which have been discussed on this blog. These deal with laboratory schools, the State Board of Elections, hazing on college campuses, continued operation of municipally-owned natural gas companies, issuance of permits by the environmental boards, financing of a professional football stadium, and local school construction. Finally, there are a number of seemingly non-controversial bills.
HB 86 (Anderson, R-Virginia Beach)—Requires Dept. of Elections to provide public interface to campaign finance database maintained by agency.
HB 103 (Greenhalgh, R-Virginia Beach)—Income tax deduction for expenses incurred by teachers for purchase of supplies, etc.
HB 128 (Davis, R-Virginia Beach)–Scholarship fund for Historically Black Colleges and Universities
HB 177 (Bloxom, R-Accomack)–Makes an absentee voter’s failure to have a witness sign the absentee ballot envelope a material omission that renders the ballot void. Additionally, the bill requires an absentee voter to include the last four digits of his social security number and his date of birth with the voter affirmation statement on such ballot envelope.
HB 191 (Hodges, R-Middlesex)–Creates the position of Special Advisor to the Governor for Health Workforce Development (the Special Advisor) in the Office of the Governor and creates the Virginia Health Workforce Development Fund. (House adopted conference report; still pending in Senate.)
HB 305 (Ransone, R-Westmoreland)—Provides that the Board of Elections, rather than Governor, appoint the director of the Dept. of Elections. Expands the Board of Elections from five members to six members, with equal representation by both parties, rather than the party of the Governor having a majority.
HB 346 (Davis, R-Virginia Beach)—Permits any public or private institution of higher education to apply to Board of Education to establish a college partnership laboratory school. [See BR discussion here.]
HB 349 (Tata, R-Virginia Beach)—Requires that housing support be provided to certain persons between the ages of 18 and 21, who had been in foster care or who had been in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
HB 563 (O’Quinn, R-Bristol)—Requires each school board to establish a database on the age of school buildings and their maintenance needs. Also establishes a school construction fund to be funded with the remaining balance of the Gaming Proceeds Fund.
HB 653 (Wampler, R-Washington)–Directs the Department of Social Services to establish and implement a collaborative local board placement program to increase kinship placements and the number of locally-approved foster homes.
HB 680 (Hope, D-Arlington)–Directs the Board of Medical Assistance Services to update the state plan for medical assistance services to include a provision for the payment of medical assistance for targeted case management services for individuals with severe traumatic brain injury.
HB 736 (Bell, R-Albemarle)–Changes the hours of execution of a search warrant for the search of any place of abode from the daytime hours between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
HB764 (Krizek, D-Alexandria)—Tightens restrictions on the holding of Texas Hold’em tournaments by charitable organizations.
HB 833 (Wilt, R-Rockingham)–Creates the Operation Ceasefire Grant Fund, to be managed by the Office of the Attorney General. The fund would provide grants to localities and organizations related to violent crime reduction. No source of funding was identified.
HB 935 (Robinson, R-Chesterfield)–Provides an income tax refund of up to $300 for individuals and up to $600 for married persons filing a joint return for taxable year 2021 on or before November 1. [See general discussion on tax legislation in BR here.]
HB 993 (Murphy, D-Fairfax)–Makes the crime of hazing a Class 5 felony if such hazing results in death or serious bodily injury to any person. The crime of hazing that does not result in death or serious bodily injury remains a Class 1 misdemeanor.
HB 1046 (Scott, R-Fredericksburg)—Directs DMAS to study the issue of expanding Medicaid to include over-the-counter medications and supplies prescribed by a doctor.
HB 1053 (Shin, D-Fairfax)–Directs the State Board of Local and Regional Jails to convene a work group to study implementation of the reduction or elimination of certain fees associated with inmates in local and regional jails
HB 1128 (McGuire, R-Henrico)–Establishes an income tax subtraction for up to $20,000 of military benefits in taxable year 2022, up to $30,000 in taxable year 2023, and up to $40,000 in taxable year 2024 and each year thereafter. [See general discussion on tax legislation in BR here.]
HB 1206 (Cordoza, R-York)–Adds to the powers and duties of the Fort Monroe Authority.
HB 1245 (Adams, D-Richmond)–Reduces from five to two the number of years of full-time clinical experience a nurse practitioner must have to be eligible to practice without a written or electronic practice agreement.
HB 1257 (Kilgore, R-Scott)–Bars public entities from adopting an ordinance, resolution, or other requirement that limits or prohibits customers from acquiring natural gas service and supply from both utility and non-utility gas companies. [See BR discussion here.]
HB 1261 (Bloxom, R-Accomack)–Provides that the authority of environmental boards does not include the authority to issue any environmental permit, or abridge or deny any environmental permit issued by the Department of Environmental Quality. Also provides for some members of the boards to be appointed by the legislature.
HB 1306 (Simon, D-Fairfax)–Makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to possess or sell any firearm that has a serial number that has been removed, altered, changed, destroyed, or obliterated in any manner.
HB 1319 (Adams, R-Pittsylvania)–Creates a nonrefundable income tax credit for taxable years 2022 through 2026 for expenses incurred by a taxpayer for the implementation of beneficial hardwood management practices.
HB 1339 (Leftwich, R-Chesapeake)–Authorizes local law enforcement and campus police departments to utilize facial recognition technology for certain specified uses.
SB 38 (Norment, R-James City)–Grants the Capitol Square Preservation Council the authority to review and approve all plans or proposals for alterations, improvements, additions, or renovations to, or other disposition of, any monuments, statuary, artwork, or other historical artifacts contained within the Capitol Building, including within the old and new Senate chambers, the old and new halls of the House of Delegates, and the Rotunda.
SB 47 (Locke, D-Hampton)–Removes the $15 million credit cap imposed on the Virginia Housing Opportunity Tax Credit.
SB 273 (Ebbin, D-Alexandria)–Requires the State Board of Elections to promulgate regulations for providing a unique identifier to any qualified voter who lacks a social security number and provides that such unique identifier can be accepted in place of a social security number for the purposes of voting absentee.
SB 324 (Vogel, R-Fauquier)—Prohibits most public agencies from requesting personal information.
SB 371 (Vogel, R-Fauquier)—Expands the Board of Elections and gives it, rather than the Governor, the authority to appoint the director of the Department of Elections.
SB 440 (Boysko, D-Fairfax)–Provides immunity for arrest and prosecution for hazing and involuntary manslaughter if a person in good faith seeks or obtains emergency medical attention for a person who has received a bodily injury by hazing.
SB 451 (Boysko, D-Fairfax)–Provides a state sales and use tax exemption for food purchased for human consumption and essential personal hygiene products. [See general discussion on tax legislation in BR here.]
SB 471 (McClellan, D-Richmond)—Expands use of Literary Fund for local school construction projects.
SB 473 (McClellan, D-Richmond)—Establishes a special fund to be used to provide grants for local school renovation and construction projects. The bill provides that 3% of any fiscal year’s budget surplus shall be appropriated to the School Construction Fund and Program.
SB 487 (McClellan, D-Richmond)–Establishes the Virginia Center for Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention within the Department of Criminal Justice Services and transfers to the Center the administration of the existing Virginia Gun Violence Intervention and Prevention Fund.
SB 490 (McClellan, D-Richmond)–Requires each school board to provide at least four specialized student support positions per 1,000 students. Under current law, each school board is required to provide at least three such positions per 1,000 students.
SB 498 (Lewis, D-Accomack)–Provides that there is a presumption for state and local governmental agency and office purposes that title to property transfers to the grantee upon acceptance of a deed conveying such property by the clerk of court in the county or city in which the property is located.
SB 528 (Reeves, R-Fredericksburg)–Provides an individual income tax subtraction for up to $5,000 of military benefits in Taxable Year 2022, up to $10,000 in Taxable Year 2023, up to $15,000 in Taxable Year 2024, and up to $20,000 in Taxable Year 2025 and each taxable year thereafter. [See general discussion on tax legislation in BR here.]
SB 579 (Hanger, R-Augusta)–Provides an income tax refund for individuals and for married persons filing a joint return for taxable year 2021 in an amount specifically set forth in the general appropriation act passed during the 2022 Session of the General Assembly. [See general discussion on tax legislation in BR here.]
SB 598 (Pillion, R-Washington)–Permits any public institution of higher education and any nonprofit private institution of higher education to establish a college partnership laboratory school. [See BR discussion here.]
SB 652 (Vogel, R-Fauquier)–Requires an applicant for an absentee ballot to provide on the application the last four digits of his social security number, except when completing the application in person.