March 11, 2016

Dear Friend,

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative in the Virginia Senate. Now that the 2016 session has come to a close, I would like to share with you a brief legislative and budget overview.  Below is a summary of bills and budget amendments/bond requests that I introduced this session:

Bills

  • Senate Bill 9 - This bill grants civil immunity to first responders who forcibly enter a motor vehicle to remove an unattended companion animal that is at risk of serious bodily injury or death. (SB 9 passed both chambers, awaiting Governor’s actions)
  • Senate Bill 317 - Through the Veterans Docket Act, this piece of legislation will create problem-solving courts offering judicial monitoring of intensive treatment and supervision of offenders who have special conditions and needs based on military service.  (For further study, SB 317 has been continued to the 2017 General Assembly session)
  • Senate Bill 338 - Once signed into law, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia will be required to develop guidelines for study abroad programs. (SB 338  passed both chambers, awaiting Governor’s actions)
  • Senate Bill 669 - This bill provides that localities receiving highway maintenance payments from the Commonwealth based on moving-lane miles of highway will not have such payments reduced if moving-lane miles of highway are converted to bicycle-only lanes. (For further study, SB 669 has been continued to the 2017 General Assembly session)

Budget Amendments/Bond Requests  

  • $1.4 million to the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters
  • $50,000 each year in the biennium for payments in lieu of taxes to Port of Virginia host cities
  • $50,000 each year in the biennium for Norfolk Drug Court to test new non-narcotic treatment regimens (Additional $50,000 was added in Budget Conference Report for Henrico County Drug Court)
  • $15.4 million in state matching funds to adjust Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals for inflation
  • Bond request – EVMS Renovations (Hofheimer Hall and Lewis Hall)

Moreover, I have received many calls and letters this session on legislation ranging from Environmental Quality, Economic Development, Public Safety, Public Education, Health Care, and Transportation. Listed below are highlights of key pieces of legislation:

BONDS

Senate Bill 731 - Authorizes the Virginia Public Building Authority and the Virginia College Building Authority to issue bonds in an aggregate principal amount of up to $1.5 billion to fund certain capital projects.  (This bill is in conference committee)

ECONOMY

Senate Bill 576 - Establishes the New Economy Workforce Credential Grant Fund and Program for the purpose of disbursing funds to certain public higher education institutions in the Commonwealth to provide grants to Virginia students who complete noncredit workforce training programs.  (This bill passed both chambers, awaiting Governor’s actions)

EDUCATION

Senate Bill 211 - Requires at least 20 minutes of physical activity per day or an average of 100 minutes per week during the regular school year for students in grades kindergarten through five.  (This bill is signed into law by the Governor-effective 2018-2019 school year)

Senate Bill 245 - Requires each comprehensive community college to enter into agreements with the local school divisions it serves to facilitate dual enrollment of eligible students into a Career Pathways program. (This bill passed both chambers, awaiting Governor’s actions)

House Bill 389 - Permits the parents of certain students with disabilities to apply to their resident school division for a Parental Choice Education Savings Account, to consist of the student’s Standards of Quality per pupil funds and to be used for certain expenses of the student. (This bill passed both chambers, awaiting Governor’s actions)

House Bill 942 - Requires local school boards to provide youth-oriented, community organizations access to school property. (This bill passed both chambers, awaiting Governor’s actions)

ENVIRONMENT

Senate Bill 282 - Establishes the Virginia Shoreline Resiliency Fund for the purpose of creating a low-interest loan program to help residents and businesses that are subject to recurrent flooding. (This bill passed both chambers, awaiting Governor’s actions)

House Bill 2 - Requires the Department of Environmental Quality to receive approval from the General Assembly for a state implementation plan to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants prior to submitting the plan to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval.  (This bill passed both chambers, awaiting Governor’s actions)

PUBLIC SAFETY/CRIMES

Senate Bill 253 - Provides that, in order to ensure the safety of any adult or child victim and their families, programs and individuals providing services to such victims shall protect the confidentiality and privacy of persons receiving services by limiting the disclosure of information about such victims.  (This bill is in conference committee)

Senate Bill 394 -Extends the statute of limitations on sexual crimes against minors to one year after the victim reaches 18 years of age for misdemeanor violations. (This bill is signed into law by the Governor-effective July 1, 2016)

House Bill 815 - Provides that if the Director of the Department of Corrections certifies that lethal injection is not available as a method of execution, electrocution shall be used instead, and vice versa. (This bill is in conference committee)

House Bill 1160 - Establishes a comprehensive procedure for the collection and analysis of physical evidence recovery kits for victims of sexual assault, including those who elect at the time of the exam not to report a sexual assault to a law-enforcement agency. (This bill passed both chambers, awaiting Governor’s actions)

TRANSPORTATION

Senate Bill 742 - Changes the regional gas tax in Hampton Roads from a percentage to cents per gallon tax that decreases as the price of gas increases. (For further study, this bill has been continued to the 2017 General Assembly session)

House Bill 1069 - The bill prohibits tolling any highway, bridge, or tunnel without approval of the General Assembly except in limited circumstances.  (This bill passed both chambers, awaiting Governor’s actions)

Further, we are proposing a budget to include:

  • 3% raise for state employees and higher education faculty
  • 2% pay raise for teachers and state supported local employees
  • $900 million in K-12 public education to include $34 million dedicated for schools with high concentrations of at-risk students
  • Creation of 355 additional Medicaid DD waiver slots
  • $35 million to fund the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Act, an economic development initiative
  • $12.5 million to provide workforce development credentials for in-high demand fields
  • $11 million to combat heroin and opioid overdoses
  • $177.9 million each year for state aid to localities with police departments

The final vote on the $100 billion budget will be rendered, tomorrow, March 12.

To learn more on the budget, please visit the Senate Finance website at http://sfc.virginia.gov/. Additional information on bills and resolutions can be found by visiting the Virginia General Assembly website at http://virginiageneralassembly.gov.

Sincerely,

Kenneth Cooper Alexander