Virginia General Assembly
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Virginia General Assembly 2018 Legislative Session
March 10, 2018 – The 2018 Virginia General Assembly regular session came to an end as scheduled on Saturday March 10, when both chambers adjourned sine die. Though the General Assembly finished their legislative business, the two chambers were unable to reach an agreement on a new 2-year state budget. The main reason the Senate & House budget conferees were unable to come to an agreement centers around whether to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and the millions of dollars in spending affected by expansion. The Senate Republicans remain united in their opposition to the House’s proposal, though Senator Emmett Hanger signaled he would consider expanding Medicaid under a different approach. Legislative leaders preferred that members return home for a few weeks and listen to their constituents before finishing work on the budget.
The lack of a budget conference report caused both chambers to apply to the Governor to convene a special session at a later date. Governor Northam’s office indicated to legislators on Saturday that he will need a few days to review their request and evaluate the calendar and schedules before setting a date, though he wants to get it done sooner rather than later. If a budget agreement is not reached before July 1, 2018, Virginia will see it’s first government shutdown in her nearly 400 year history. The legislature is scheduled to reconvene on April 18 where they can only deal the Governor’s vetoes and amendments from the regular session. The governor has until April 9th to take action on the remaining legislation that is before him.
The special session will mean that the budget will get a new bill number, and will have to go through both chambers’ committee process before being voted upon. This also means there will need to be an additional reconvened session to deal with any potential gubernatorial amendments to the budget.
Click here for the full list of bills we followed this session.
March 3, 2018 – With just one week remaining until the scheduled March 10th adjournment, most of the legislative work is coming to a close. Most committees have now completed their work and several dozen bills remain pending before the full House and Senate. The legislature has approved more than 1000 bills so far and the governor has approved 60 of them. Over the next week, House and Senate budget conferees will be working to negotiate differences in their respective biennial budget proposals. There is a large difference between the two plans, mainly because of the differences in how they handle Medicaid expansion. On Thursday, Governor Northam sent a letter to the budget conferees encouraging them to include expansion and adjourn on time. While other matters are expected to be completed on time, conferees will likely need extra time beyond next week to negotiate the budget.
Below is a list of key legislation we are following that have been approved so far or will likely be approved by the General Assembly in the coming week. Additionally, you can click the link below to view the full list of bills that we have been monitoring this year. Please let us know if you have any questions.
HB50 / SB840 – Hope/Favloa – Requires each local school board to adopt policies that (i) prohibit school board employees from requiring a student who cannot pay for a meal at school or who owes a school meal debt to do chores or other work to pay for such meals or wear a wristband or hand stamp and (ii) require school board employees to direct any communication relating to a school meal debt to the student’s parent, which may be made by a letter addressed to the parent to be sent home with the student. SB 840 is identical.
HB1088 – Boysko – Requires the Board of Health to include in its regulations governing licensed hospitals a requirement that every hospital with an emergency department establish protocols to ensure that security personnel of the emergency department, if any, receive training appropriate to the populations served by the emergency department, which may include training in identifying and safely addressing situations involving patients and others who pose a risk of harm to themselves or others due to mental illness or who are experiencing a mental health crisis.
February 24, 2018 – Week seven of the 2018 Virginia General Assembly session is done. We are now just 13 days away from the end of session. This was an outstanding week as roughly 100 VAND members and interns traveled to the Capitol to advocate on behalf of our profession.
In particular, we advocated for the House to follow the lead of the Senate and include funding for the Virginia Grocery Investment Fund to help address food deserts and a lack of access to health fresh foods in many communities. We also urged Senators to follow the lead of the House and not cut $4.5 million in funding for school breakfast programs, which we have worked hard to increase funding for over the last several years. These differences will be negotiated along with many others over the next two weeks.
Members also learned about and advocated for legislation related to lunch shaming, which has now passed both chambers. This issue was recently covered by InsideNOVA.com.
There was a lot of major movement this week as each chamber passed their respective budgets. A lot of debate in both chambers centered around expanding Medicaid eligibility under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
The House budget includes language to require Virginia to begin working with the Trump administration to use federal Medicaid funds to provide health insurance to low-income Virginians. Under this plan, Virginia will begin working with the Trump administration to apply for healthcare funding under the Affordable Care Act while simultaneously pursuing reforms like a work requirement, cost-sharing mechanisms, and personal responsibility incentives. Their plan ensures that people are put in private health insurance plans, either by providing premium assistance to enroll in a individual market plan or premium assistance to enroll in their employer-sponsored plan. Through a provider tax, the plan requires hospitals to pay for 100 percent of the state’s share of the cost of expansion, which is currently 7.5% and will increase to 10% by 2020. The “Taxpayer Safety Switch” will make sure that if the federal government ever backs out of its commitment to pay for expansion, the plan will end.
In addition to expanding Medicaid, the House budget includes $5.1 million the first year and $12.2 million the second year from the general fund to support salary adjustments for direct care staff who are employees of DBHDS facilities effective January 10, 2019. A portion of this funding shall be transferred to the Department of Medical Assistance Services to support increased Medicaid payments to these facilities as a result of the salary increase.
The final budget bill was approved by the House by a vote of 69-32.
The Senate chose a significantly different route. Instead of full Medicaid expansion, they focused on getting care to the most vulnerable. Senate Bill 915, sponsored by Senator Dunnavant, addresses coverage for Virginians most in need of care. The bill would prioritize the waivers for Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled Virginians, for which there is a current backlog exceeding 3,000. The Dunnavant bill also prioritizes funding for increased mental health and substance abuse treatment.
The Senate rejected a floor amendment to the budget to expand Medicaid, similar to the House proposal.
The Senate also included language that directs the Joint Subcommittee for Health and Human Resources Oversight to develop recommendations on a plan to improve integration of the work of policy development, funding, and implementation for the Commonwealth’s healthcare delivery system. The Senate ultimately approved their version of the budget on a party-line vote of 21-19.
You can view the full list of bills that we are following at the link below. Please let us know if you have any questions.
TRACK VAND LEGISLATION HERE.
February 17, 2018 – Crossover Update – Tuesday, February 13th was the deadline for the House to act on all House bills and the Senate to act on all Senate bills. By now, all bills that are still alive have crossed over to the opposite chamber for consideration prior to the scheduled adjournment date of March 10th. In total, the House of Delegates approved 589 (37%) of the 1610 bills that were introduced, and the Senate approved 469 (47%) of the 994 introduced bills.
The House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees will release their proposed budgets on Sunday afternoon, March 18th. There has been a great deal of uncertainty for what the proposed budgets will look like, largely because of uncertainty over the prospect of expanding Virginia’s medicaid program. Whether or not the program is expanded will have a large impact on the amount of money available for other programs, though expanding to provide more coverage actually makes more money available in other areas.
Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Scott) made waves this week when he became the first Republican in the House of Delegates to publicly announce his support for expansion. Delegate Kilgore, who is a very senior member of the House and the Chairman of the Commerce & Labor committee, voiced his support on Thursday for a plan similar to Kentucky’s that would expand medicaid with a work requirement and impose some small copays.
As we prepare for VAND Legislative Day on the 21st, there are a number of bills still pending that members can help voice support for. Chief among them is SB37 by Senators Stanley and Dance. This legislation is something we have advocated for over the last few sessions along with the American Heart Association and numerous other stakeholders. In particular, this bill would create the Virginia Grocery Investment Fund to help alleviate food deserts in Virginia. Too many communities lack access to fresh foods and basic grocery stores, leading to poor eating habits and unhealthy lifestyles. This fund would take up to $7.5 million in state funding and match it with $22.5 million in private funding to provide loans and financial support for those who seek to fill the gaps in fresh food availability. The Senate passed their version of the legislation unanimously, and the House of Delegates did not even take it up. We hope the Senate will provide funding for this program in the budget this week and work with us to negotiate support for this program in the House as well.
Senator Favola’s SB80 passed the Senate on Tuesday and will create the State School Health Advisory Board. This board will make recommendations to the administration and General Assembly on policies related to school and student health, including related to guidance on associated training requirements for school employees. This will be an excellent venue for VAND and others to continue our work in the education space with the goal of improving the health of our students.
Delegate Hope’s HB50 passed the House on Tuesday and it will require each local school board to adopt policies that (i) prohibit school board employees from requiring a student who cannot pay for a meal at school or who owes a school meal debt to do chores or other work to pay for such meals or wear a wristband or hand stamp and (ii) require school board employees to direct any communication relating to a school meal debt to the student’s parent, which may be made by a letter addressed to the parent to be sent home with the student.
Several bills and resolutions related to urban farming and community gardens were defeated or continued to the 2019 session, as were a number of bills that would have removed food safety inspections and oversight from certain foods, such as yogurts. These bills have returned in some fashion for each of the last few sessions. A bill that would have removed the ability of the governor to waive the federal work requirement for SNAP benefits in certain areas was also defeated this year.
To see the full list of legislation that we are following, please click the link below, and let us know if you have any questions.
TRACK VAND LEGISLATION HERE.
February 10, 2018 – The fifth week of the 2018 General Assembly session is over. This was last the full week of work before crossover. In order for bills to pass by Tuesday, all legislation must have been heard in committee by Friday at the latest. This made for very late committee and subcommittee hearings this week.
The Governor and Republican leadership announced two major bipartisan agreements this week. The first agreement will implement a regulatory reduction pilot program to remove burdensome and unnecessary regulatory requirements facing hard working Virginians with a goal to reduce or streamline regulatory requirements by 25% over the next three years. The second bipartisan compromise will raise the felony larceny threshold from $200 to $500 and adopt into law legislation to ensure that crime victims are paid the restitution duly owed to them.
The Governor and Republican leadership continue to have substantive discussions on Medicaid expansion. On Friday, the Appropriations committee unanimously agreed to legislation that would require Medicaid recipients to work or prepare themselves for employment. House Bill 338 now includes nine exemptions for Medicaid recipients from requirements that they either have a job, enroll in educational or workforce training programs, take care of someone with chronic illness, or engage in community work or public service. It also allows the state to waive the work requirement in areas with unemployment rates at 150 percent or more of the state average.
Delegate Roxann Robinson’s legislation to establish a path to independent practice for Nurse Practitioners was overwhelmingly approved in committee this week, and on Monday we expect the full House of Delegates to approve the legislation and advance it to the Senate for the second half of the process.
Delegate Patrick Hope advanced legislation to the full House this week which would prohibit schools from requiring a student who cannot pay for a meal at school or who owes a school meal debt to do chores or other work to pay for meals, or wear a wristband or hand stamp.
Senator Stanley’s legislation to create a Patient-Centered Medical Home Advisory Council passed the Senate this week. VAND has had an interest in this legislation in recent years, however the Senator’s proposal this year limits the council’s scope to addressing the opioid crisis.
The full list of legislation that we are following is linked below. Please let us know if you have any questions.
TRACK VAND LEGISLATION HERE.
February 3, 2018 – Friday marked the end of the fourth week of the 2018 Virginia General Assembly session. We are just 7 business days from crossover and 37 days from adjournment. There is still a significant number of bills left to be heard. As of today, 339 bills have passed the House, 317 have passed the Senate, and 432 have failed or either continued to the next session. That still leaves several hundred pieces of legislation that need to be acted on before crossover.
Medicaid continues to dominate the conversation around capitol square. This week, the Senate Committee on Education and Health advanced a bill from Senator Siobhan Dunnavant that the RTD called “an alternative to Medicaid expansion”. The House advanced legislation that would impose a work requirement for able-bodied adults on medicaid. Governor Northam signaled his willingness to work on this issue with General Assembly Republicans, at least on a “work search” requirement.
The Virginia Grocery Investment Fund legislation was approved by the Senate of Virginia this week and communicated to the House. However, the House Committee on Appropriations, which has been resistant to the idea in past years, so far has not taken up the House bills. VAND members have been asked to email members of the appropriate subcommittee to encourage them to take up the matter and approve it before next week’s deadline.
It was a big week for nurses as Delegate Roxann Robinson’s HB793 advanced from subcommittee on a unanimous vote. The subcommittee made a number of changes to the bill, unfortunately including an increase in the minimum number of hours for transition to practice up to 10,000. However, this is progress and we are pleased that the legislation is moving forward.
Legislation brought by the Dairymen’s Association and agriculture industry to create new regulatory oversight for raw milk in herd share arrangements was defeated in committee this week. Raw milk advocates showed up in large numbers to oppose the measure, which would have provided for health inspections and reporting to state authorities incidents of sickness due to raw milk consumption.
Legislation that would have removed the ability of the state to waive federal SNAP benefits work requirements for able bodied childless adults was also defeated in committee this week.
All of the bills that we are following can be viewed in the tracking document that is linked below. Please let us know if you have any questions.
TRACK VAND LEGISLATION HERE.
January 27, 2018 – The third week of the General Assembly session is now complete. We are little over halfway to crossover, the halfway point of the session. This past week was full of long committee dockets that heard many controversial bills for many hours. Issues related to healthcare and energy continue to dominate the conversation around capitol square. The first of several meetings to consider Medicaid Expansion took place Thursday in the Senate Education & Health committee. Legislation to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act was defeated on a party-line vote, including a proposal from GOP Senator Emmett Hanger. Next week, the House and Senate Commerce & Labor committees will take up a plethora of bills related to utilities and energy, including the highly anticipated proposal to “thaw” the electric utility rate freeze and amend the way the State Corporation Commission regulates utilities.
House Appropriations and Senate Finance are hearing reports from the various secretariats and their agencies prior to their consideration of proposed budget amendments. The committees will continue to work through the proposed amendments as they prepare the committee’s version of a two-year spending plan, which will be released on Sunday, February 11th.
This week, one of VAND’s top priorities for the 2018 session was approved unanimously by the Senate Finance committee. The Virginia Grocery Investment Program, sponsored by Senators Stanley (R-Franklin) and Dance (D-Petersburg), will help solve the problem of food deserts and the lack of access to fresh foods in many areas of the commonwealth. Both a rural and urban problem, this fund seeks to help small and local grocers open stores by providing affordable financing and grants to help make the financials work. The governor’s introduced budget included $7.5 million each year to support the fund, though we anticipate a lower level of funding in the final budget (if it is approved). The House committee will consider the legislation in the near future, and we continue to express our support for this important initiative.
Additionally, legislation was defeated in committee this week to exempt food safety inspections for certain home prepared yogurts. The dairy industry and a coalition of health and food safety experts collaborated to oppose this legislation from Senator Deeds and Delegate Bell.
TRACK VAND LEGISLATION HERE.
January 20, 2018 – The second week of session was full of legislative activity. The week began with Governor Northam giving his first address to a joint assembly of the legislature. Governor Northam outlined many of his legislative priorities to members of both chambers of the general assembly. This past week also saw every committee hold their first organizational meeting. For the house, this meant that delegates were assigned to subcommittees, several of which were new assignments. Both chambers are now fully engrossed in legislative hearings and are moving through the enormous number of bills in a swift manner. Yesterday was the last day to introduce legislation and in total there were 1603 house bills and 964 senate bills, the most for a long session in recent history.
The full list of bills that we are following can be found at the link below. Most of these have not been taken up yet, but will be considered over the next three weeks before the February 13th crossover deadline. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments regarding these bills, some of which we will be actively engaged in. Once a bill is defeated, you will notice a red cell in the “Failed” column for each bill, or a green cell if a bill is approved by the full House or Senate, and eventually the governor.
Legislators also submitted their ideas for amending the state budget this week, and they can be found here. We will be reviewing and identifying key amendments this week. The House Appropriations committee and Senate Finance committee will review these proposals and put together their own versions of the state budget for approval on Sunday, February 11th. The full House and Senate are schedule to adopt their versions of the budget on Thursday, February 15th before budget negotiators will begin crafting a final two-year spending plan to send to the governor.
TRACK VAND LEGISLATION HERE.
January 13, 2018 – The Virginia General Assembly officially convened the 2018 legislative session on Wednesday, January 10th at 12 noon. After November’s election results, and a series of recounts (plus a drawing to decide the results of a tied election), the balance of power in the House of Delegates remained in question up and until the morning of the 10th. Ultimately, the final two seats in question were resolved and all 100 members were sworn in and seated as duly elected members of the House. Fifty-one Republicans and forty-nine Democrats unanimously elected Delegate Kirk Cox of Colonial Heights to be the 55th Speaker of the House of Delegates. Nineteen new members were elected to the Virginia House in 2017, including 12 women. There are now a record-high 28 women in the House, the previous high being 19.
The House of Delegates adopted a new set of rules to govern the House for the biennium. Major changes include proportional party representation on subcommittees, recorded votes in subcommittee, and limiting the morning hour of the daily floor session to no more than one hour. While not a formal rule change, the majority is following a consultative process with the minority on preferences for committee assignments. Another major change for the House and Senate is that (along with daily floor sessions) all committee hearings will now be live-streamed. Links to the committee hearings can be found HERE on the homepage of the General Assembly website.
As of the today, 1384 House bills had been introduced and another 809 Senate bills. That’s already more than were introduced in 2016, and members have another week to introduce legislation… though they are limited to only a few bills each after the start of session. Members have until Friday the 12th to submit amendments to the governor’s introduced budget and those will be made available by the middle of next week.
The legislature will spend the next four weeks acting on the legislation introduced in their own chamber, and after February 13th they can only consider legislation approved by the other legislative body. Each chamber will adopt its own version of a new biennial budget on February 15th and work to negotiate a final agreement by the scheduled date of adjournment, March 10th.
While more bills will be introduced over the next week, here’s a list of the bills we are following so far:
TRACK VAND LEGISLATION HERE.