With Crossover behind us, I want to update you on a few of the important bills that have passed the Senate. Crossover, the day when bills that have passed their respective chambers make their way from one legislative body to the other, is the symbolic midway point for the session.
During the 2010 session, 2,618 bills and resolutions were introduced. After crossover, 1,650 bills are still being considered by both houses. Many critical pieces of legislation have passed the Senate that will now be debated by members of the House of Delegates. Although these bills are far from being enacted into law, I hope that you will take the time to read through them. Below is a compilation of some of the important bills that have passed the Senate. To view the bills in their complete form click here.
It is also important to note that the Governor released his budget recommendation this Wednesday and the two money committees, House Appropriations and Senate Finance, will follow suit this Sunday with their versions of the budget. I will provide a review of the budget process next week.
Jobs & Economic Development:
- SB 475 (Watkins) - Governor's Development Opportunity Fund; criteria for awarding grants and loans - Provides that criteria to be used in awarding grants and loans from the Governor's Development Opportunity Fund shall include (i) job creation, (ii) private capital investment, and (iii) anticipated additional state tax revenue expected to accrue to the state and affected localities as a result of the capital investment and jobs created.
- SB 554 (Puckett) - Governor's Development Opportunity Fund; authority to award grants - Authorized the Governor to award grants of up to $2 million for projects located in central city or urban core areaï€
- SB 623 (Hanger) - Income tax; corporate and individual; green jobs tax credit - Allows a $500 income tax credit for the creation of "green" jobs for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2010. Each taxpayer is allowed a credit for up to 350 new green jobs and may qualify for the Enterprise Zone Grant program if the job is located in an enterprise zone
- SB 257 (Lucas) - Motion picture film production tax credits - Provides income tax credits to any motion picture production company with qualifying expenses of at least $250,000 with respect to a film production in the Commonwealth, for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2010. Total credits allowed for any biennium cannot exceed $10 million.
- SB 468 (Howell) - Extension of protective orders - Allows a petitioner who has obtained a protective order under § 16.1-279.1 (cases of family abuse) or § 19.2-152.10 (stalking) to obtain an extension of such order for a period of no more than one year if the respondent continues to pose a threat to the health or safety of the petitioner and the petitioner's family and household members. There is no limit on the number of extensions that may be requested.
- SB 486 (Hurt) - Juvenile records; gang information; exceptions to confidentiality - Places an affirmative duty on the Department of Juvenile Justice to provide information to law-enforcement that may aid in initiating or furthering an investigation of a criminal street gang. The bill also requires, rather than allows, the Department or locally operated court services unit to release to law-enforcement information on a juvenile's criminal street gang involvement and the criminal street gang-related activity of others.ï€
- SB 517 (Norment) - Wireless telecommunications devices in motor vehicles - Extends prohibition on use of wireless telecommunications devices in motor vehicles to initiating or answering a call on such device, unless the device is configured for hands-free operation and is being used in the hands-free mode. The bill also provided for graduated penalties for violations.ï€
- SB 518 (Norment) - Safety belt enforcement - Allows for primary enforcement of safety belt requirements when violations are observed by law-enforcement officers at traffic safety checkpoints.ï€
- SB 679 (Hanger) - Restorative justice programs - Establishes a restorative justice program for offenders and victims. Provisions address participation, court involvement, confidentiality, and immunity from civil liability.
- SB 3 (Smith) - Renewal of concealed handgun permits - Allows a person who previously has been issue Virginia concealed handgun permit to submit an application to renew the permit via the United States mail
- SB 408 (Vogel) - Possession of concealed weapons in vehicles - Creates a new exemption to the general prohibition against carrying concealed weapons by allowing a person who may lawfully possess a firearm to carry a handgun in a private motor vehicle or vessel if the handgun is locked in a container or compartment.
- SB 537 (Newman) - Highway speed limits - Increases the general highway speed limit on highways where it is presently 65 mph to 70 mph.
- SB 455 (Hurt) - Permit fees; veterans waiver - Requires state regulatory agencies to waive any fees for issuing a permit when the application is submitted by a veteran in connection with his establishment and operation of a small business.
- SB 55 (Martin) - Federal write-in absentee ballots; use in state and local elections - Provides that voters who are entitled to vote absentee due to active duty military service, membership in the merchant marines, or temporary residence outside of the country, or the spouse or dependent residing with such a voter, may use the federal write-in absentee ballot to vote in state and local elections, as well as federal elections. The federal write-in absentee ballot may also serve as an absentee ballot application and voter registration application for state and local elections, as well as federal elections.
- SB 186 (Norment, Northam, & Smith) - General Assembly Conflicts of Interest Act; establishment of a General Assembly Ethics Review Panel - Makes a number of revisions to the process followed by the Senate Ethics Advisory Panel, including requiring that proceedings beyond the preliminary investigation phase shall be public.
- SJ 147 (Norment) - Study; ethics issues affecting the General Assembly - Establishes a joint committee of the General Assembly and Senate and House Ethics Advisory Panels to evaluate the adequacy of the current law in spelling out ethics rules, defining improper behavior, and providing for the proper disposition of complaints alleging that the General Assembly Conflicts of Interests Act has been violated.
- SB 602 (Newman & Hurt) - Human infant; independent and separate existence - Provides that for the purposes of homicide and child abuse the determination of an independent and separate existence of a human infant from its mother shall not be conditioned solely upon whether or not the umbilical cord has been cut or the placenta detached.
- SB 361 (Barker) - Religious holidays; attendance records - Requires local school boards to develop policies ensuring that any student's absence because of the observance of a religious holiday be recorded as excused on the student's attendance record and that a student not be deprived of any award or of eligibility or opportunity to compete for any award or of the right to take an alternate test or examination, for any which he missed because of such absence.
- SB 283 (Quayle), SB 311 (Martin) & SB 417 (Vogel) - Individual health insurance coverage; requirement to obtain- Provides that a resident of the Commonwealth shall not be required to obtain or maintain a policy of individual insurance coverage. This applies regardless of whether the person has or is eligible for health insurance coverage under any policy or program provided by or through his employer or a plan sponsored by the Commonwealth or the federal government. The measure also states that no provision of Title 38.2 renders a resident liable for any penalty, assessment, fee, or fine as a result his failure to procure or obtain health insurance coverage. The measure does not apply to individuals voluntarily accepting coverage under a state-administered Medicare or Medicaid program.
- SB 652 (Northam) - Public schools; policies in concussions - Requires the Board of Education to develop and distribute to local school divisions guidelines for policies dealing with concussions in student-athletes and requires each local school division to develop policies and procedures regarding the identification and handling of suspected concussions in student-athletes.
- SB 464 (Howell) - Health insurance; mandated coverage for autism spectrum disorder - Requires health insurers, health care subscription plans, and health maintenance organizations to provide coverage for the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and for treatment of ASD in individuals from age two to six, subject to an annual maximum benefit of $35,000. This requirement does not apply to individual or small group policies, contracts, or plans, and will not apply to the state employees' health insurance plan until July 1, 2015. This measure will not apply to an insurer, corporation, or health maintenance organization if the costs associated with coverage exceed one percent of premiums charged over the experience period.
- SB 394 (Wagner) - Offshore energy resources - States that it shall be the policy of the Commonwealth to support oil and natural gas exploration, development, and production 50 miles or more off Virginia's coast. Currently, the policy is limited to supporting exploration for natural gas resources 50 miles or more offshore.
- SB 173 (Deeds) - Bipartisan Redistricting Commission created - Establishes a seven-member temporary commission to prepare redistricting plans in 2011 and each tenth year thereafter for the House of Delegates, state Senate, and congressional districts. Appointments to the Commission shall be made one each by the four majority and minority party leaders of the House and Senate and by the state chairmen of the two major political parties. Those six appointees shall appoint the seventh member and chairman for the Commission. If they cannot agree, they shall submit the names of the two persons receiving the most votes to the Supreme Court for the Court to select the chairman. The Commission will prepare plans and submit them as bills to the General Assembly. The General Assembly shall then proceed to act on the bills in the usual manner. The bill provides for Commission comments on plans as they change in the legislative process. It also spells out the standards and process to be followed by the Commission in preparing plans, including limitations on the use of political data and opportunities for public comment on the plans.
- SB 471 (J. Miller) - Defective drywall; penalties - Makes it a prohibited practice under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act for a supplier to sell, offer for sale, or use in the construction, remodeling, or repair of any residential dwelling in Virginia, any drywall that he knows or has reason to know is drywall that, as a result of containing the same or greater levels of strontium sulfide that has been found in drywall manufactured in China and imported between 2004 and 2007, is capable of releasing sulfur compounds into the air. Such a sale, offering or use of drywall that has been designated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission as posing a substantial product hazard is also made a prohibited practice under the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. The legislation applies to transaction occurring on or after July 1, 2010.
It is an honor to serve you in the Virginia General Assembly. If I may be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my office. With kindest regards, I remain
Very truly yours,
Senator Tommy Norment