Everything in Richmond has been on a fast track more than any previous year. See bill summaries below.
We need to keep reminding legislators that cutting human services hurts the kids and adds to the schools burdens!
Until Virginia expands Medicaid, people will suffer needlessly! Success requires the heavy lifting of all of us—to help set things right. Your advocacy support helps us do that! Keep advocating.
Here are SALT priorities updates with the bill numbers and Patrons. SALT will provide Fact Sheets talking points as bills advance.
Salt Legislative Updates
(2014 GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION)
Policies Amended, Effective April 21
Governor Terry McAuliffe signed into law amendments to Virginia's Restoration of Rights Policy, which controls the process by which rehabilitated felons can have their voting rights restored. Read more.
May 8, 2014 is our big day! Regulations Limiting use of restraints on pregnant prisoners in Virginia go into effect. This message from Public Safety Secretary Brian Moran:
“I'm glad I was able to move these to the Governor who gave quick approval”.
SALT wants to be sure everyone knows that our coalition got the anti-shackling regulations moving and published in the Virginia Register. Following the comment period, the regulations went into effect May 8th.
Congratulations to Delegate Patrick Hope & Delegate LeMunyon for their leadership and to all partners and advocates. Advocacy works. Keep on advocating. john
Governor Terry McAuliffe Signs Shared Work Bill
Persistence by Virginia Advocates and Legislators Results in Victory for
Employers and Workers
After three years of determined public advocacy and the tireless efforts of patrons in the Virginia General Assembly, short-time compensation was signed into law by Governor McAuliffe on May 23, 2014. Short-time compensation is a layoff aversion program that targets job preservation. It combines a pay check with partial unemployment benefits. Often called shared work or work sharing, short-time compensation allows employers during business slumps to reduce the number of hours of work for all employees or for a work unit rather than totally laying off some workers. It saves jobs during tough times
Bills Abolishing Geriatric Parole for Inmates Who Were Subject to a Protective Order in Favor of the Victim of Their Offense
SALT joined with VA-CURE to urge Gov. McAuliffe to Veto two geriatric parole bills for the reasons outlined in our SALT letter to Gov. McAuliffe. This note from Governors Chief of staff: “ Thanks for your note on this.
We are looking at this issue now. Best, Paul Reagan”
Please thank Governor McAuliffe for doing the right thing by vetoing these bills. Having won this one, means the work has just begun to pass a reasonable and clean bills in the next General Assembly session. Now, let's plan to advocate for it in the 2015 session. – Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a pair of bills dealing with parole for geriatric prisoner.
Click here to read SALT Letter to Governor McAuliffe and article from the Daily Press Monday May 26, 2014.
Bills Abolishing Geriatric Parole for Inmates Who Were Subject to a Protective Order in Favor of the Victim of Their Offense
The parole bill would have made prisoners facing a restraining or protective order ineligible for the state’s geriatric parole program, which is available to people 60 or older. McAuliffe said he had constitutional problems with the bill. He said the bill also would have allowed victims to get protective orders against inmates years after the crime was committed, “potentially overruling parole board decisions” and leading to litigation.
“It is the Parole Board's duty to carefully weigh an inmate's eligibility for geriatric release,” McAuliffe said in his veto letter. “This bill potentially strips that discretionary decision-making process and places Virginia's parole system into question.” TRAVIS FAIN--
Human Services Bills PASSED by Virginia General Assembly & Regulations Approved(Reason to celebrate—Victories)
Due to dedicated, tireless and effective advocacy for human services by SALT advocates and partners we celebrate the following:
Virginia Becomes 28th State to Enact Work-Sharing Program to Help Employers Avoid Layoffs
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has signed into law legislation that will make Virginia the 28th state in the nation to establish a work-sharing unemployment insurance program. Shared Work is a common-sense form of unemployment insurance that businesses can use to avert layoffs. It is a voluntary program that enables workers to keep their jobs during a temporary downturn while employers retain skilled workers. For more information click on: Virginia Becomes 28th State to Enact Work-Sharing & Shared Work Success Announcement & Who Supports Short-Time Compensation?
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – (Cost of Living Increase by Senator Barbara Favola passed — in Budget when resolved) The 2 1/2 percent increase for TANF did survive. We just need an adopted budget. This is clearly a fairness issue. Virginia has enacted only one TANF benefit increase since 1985. Currently a family of three receives a benefit of about one-fifth of the federal poverty level.
Anti-Shackling Regulations Effective May 8, 2014. After Delegate Hope’s Anti Shackling bill was defeated in subcommittee with the leadership of Delegate Hope SALT & our anti-shackling Coalition achieved Virginia Board of Corrections passage of regulatory language to restrict the use of restraints on pregnant inmates. Delegate Hope, said, “I commend the Board of Corrections for its strong endorsement prohibiting the restraint of pregnant inmates...the proposed regulations will ensure the protection of the mother, her unborn child, and law enforcement. No pregnant inmate should ever be unnecessarily restrained.”
EIC Conformity: Governor Terry McAuliffe signed his first bill into law, which was the conformity bill extending enhancements to the state EIC until tax year 2017. These enhancements include a greater credit for larger families and marriage penalty relief. We thank our partners, especially the Commonwealth Institute, Senator Stosch, Delegate Ware, and Gov. McAuliffe for their support.
HB 414 Telephone Justice & Re-Entry Fund bill laid on the table in Appropriations. However, in an unprecedented occurrence, they had the Appropriations clerk grill SALT about the FCC ruling; SALT and coalition members successfully, with Delegate Hope’s leadership, advocated with the FCC to get an August ruling to lower inter-state rates for prison families.
SALT opposed bills successfully defeated -- an enormous success for our advocates:
Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a pair of bills dealing with parole for geriatric prisoner. SALT joined with VA-CURE to urge Gov. McAuliffe to Veto two geriatric parole bills for the reasons outlined in our SALT letter to Gov. McAuliffe. Thank Governor McAuliffe for vetoing these bills. Having won this one, means the work has just begun to pass a reasonable and clean bills in the next General Assembly session. Now, let's plan to advocate for it in the 2015 session.
SB 607, Oppose the "electric chair default bill", The Senate voted 21-19 to re-refer to Courts of Justice Committee for further study.Defeated because the Democratic controlled committee failed to vote the bill back out this year; The identical House bill was rejected by the Senate Rehabilitation & Social Services Committee.
Drug Testing TANF Recipients SALT is strongly OPPOSED; Defeated as currently, the budget does not include the cost to do the drug screenings, much less train staff for the process, defend suits for misuse of the process and false positive (many medications, including HIV medications give false positives). The costs outweigh any benefits. In addition, it again starts punishing children who did nothing wrong, and this bill does not suggest provision of rehabilitation services to the actual drug addicts.
SALT Supported Bills that failed & will be revisited in 2015:
“Ban the Box” by Senator McEachin -- Passed the Senate 21Y to 19N. What a debate!!! Defeated in the House. Sen. Jill Vogel was the lone Republican vote. This ban prohibits automatically disqualifying job applicants with a prior conviction - will no longer have to check a box disclosing that they have been convicted of, or pled guilty to, a crime. Potential employers can ask about criminal history during the interview process.
Operation Backpack for TANF Families - (Budget Amendment by Del. Lingamfelter & Sen. Colgan—defeated) We propose that this be made an annual event to assist destitute school children, grades Pre-K through High School. The allowance would permit children living in poverty to acquire some of the needed school supplies and clothing essential for returning to school & to help equip them for learning.
SB 662 Child Care; by Barbara A. Favola. Child-care subsidy; use of local sliding scale—defeated. Allows any county operating under the urban county executive form of government to continue using a local sliding scale in determining copayment responsibilities for families receiving child-care subsidy.
HB 1068 by Del. Orrock TANF Life-Time Ban Opt Out for former drug felons laid on the Table in Appropriations—defeated. i.e., For more information Click on: TANF Ban Opt Out Fact Sheet.
Minimum Wage by Delegate Plum and Senator David Marsden. Increases the minimum wage from its current federally mandated level of $7.25 per hour to $8.25 per hour effective July 1, 2014, and to $9.25 per hour effective July 1, 2015. Passed the Senate. Tabled in the House.
SB 510. by Senator Favola passed the Senate on a 29-6 vote. Although the bill was laid on the table in the House Courts of Justice Committee, it did get referred to the Crime Commission for further study. SB 510 prohibits an individual who has been convicted of a misdemeanor --stalking, sexual battery, and/or assault and battery of a family or household member-- from possessing or transporting a firearm.
Pending in Currently extended legislative session & 2015 session:
Medicaid Expansion – SALT Supports the Medicaid expansion for 400,000 of uninsured working poor Virginians. Issue is still unresolved, with continued advocacy needed during currently extended legislative session.
End Supplantation of Federal TANF Dollars - The ability of Virginia to use Federal TANF funds to replace previous State expenditures for low-income families corrupts the intent of TANF. The goal is to maximize the resources available to serve low-income children and families and ensure that Federal TANF funds are supposed to be used to supplement, not supplant, existing State and local spending.
CLOSING COMMENTS: With TANF caseloads declining, we should not miss the opportunity to take prudent steps to alleviate poverty and protect families. We remind all legislators and the Governor that strong families are as important to Virginia’s future as schools and roads
Some good news on one of the session's big issues: whether Virginia would join 25 other states in extending health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of people through expansion of the Medicaid program. A major sticking point has been how much Medicaid expansion would cost us over the next several years. While earlier estimates calculated that the cost of Medicaid expansion would be around $137 million over the next few years, newly released estimates, based on the experience of other states that have already accepted Federal funds for this program, show that Medicaid expansion would actually save Virginia over a billion dollars between now and the year 2022.
The decision to expand or not expand Medicaid is much more complex than a "take it or leave it" decision. The Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission is responsible for verifying the implementation of Medicaid reform that is needed to consolidate support systems and service delivery, and to streamline eligibility and verification on individuals that qualify for related programs.
It is SALTs position that if Virginia is already going to be funding this program, that Virginia should support a mechanism to recoup the dollars paid to the federal government in new taxes; and the program must be established in a PRODUCTIVE, and ECONOMICALLY RESPONSIBLE way to serve all the citizens of the Commonwealth.
The Health Care coalition continued to increase the awareness of the need to “Close the Coverage Gap” that exists without Medicaid Expansion and how much money is “flying” away with each day of delay. Even on the days of freezing weather a member was outside the GAB displaying a sign with that message. The new report from Secretary Hazel that shows even more savings possible with medicaid expansion will be scrutinized by all parties as options are considered.
Raise the minimum wage to $10.10.
Millions of Americans work full time jobs, but still live below the poverty line.
Why? Because they work for the minimum wage.
Making the federal minimum wage means working 40 hours a week and earning just $15,000 a year! No one who works hard deserves to live in poverty. Support the Minimum Wage bills in the Virginia legislature.
Virginia House and Senate Approve 2013-14 Budget-- Create Housing Trust Fund .
The budget creates a "Virginia Housing Trust Fund" and provides $7 million in initial capitalization in the second year of the biennium. The Housing Trust Fund will provide a flexible source of loans and grants to support a broad range of affordable housing efforts from homeownership to homelessness.
The Fund will have up to 20% in the form of grants with special targeting to reduce homelessness. The balance of the Fund will be in the form of flexible, low interest loans and will be available for a broad range of housing initiatives. The creation of the Housing Trust Fund could not come at a better time as Federal housing programs are being deeply cut.
The Trust Fund will be administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and the Virginia Housing Development Authority. DHCD will take the lead in program design and fund allocations while VHDA will oversee loan underwriting and administration.
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