Throughout the sixty-day long session, the General Assembly will consider nearly 3,000 pieces of legislation as well as develop and agree upon a balanced, biennial budget for FY2014-2015 and FY2015-2016.
More of our TANF 2014 SALT priorities; fact sheets & resources that might be helpful as Session gets underway will be sent out when there is movement on our priorities.
This session, SALT has many bills and strong patrons. SALT will continue to advocate for the least. In the Senate and House, legislators have already begun to meet and vote on legislation in committee.
Here and attached are the SALT priorities with the bill numbers and Patrons available at this point. SALT will provide Fact Sheets talking points as bills advance and come up on the various committee dockets.
We urge your continued advocacy to the full extent possible. Your voice will make a difference.
Salt Legislative Updates
(2014 GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION)
SALT’s goal is to help shape policies that will advance the common good, support human services and promote justice in Virginia. We urge your support for:
SALT Priority #1: Medicaid Expansion - SALT supports the Medicaid expansion for 400,000 of uninsured working poor Virginians. This would enable Virginia to take advantage of the $2 billion/year of federal funding to pay for 100% of the cost for the first 3 years, then 95% from 2017-2020, and 90% after 2020.
SALT Priority #2: 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 used to supplement, not supplant, existing State and local spending.
SALT Priority #3: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Automatic Adjustment for Inflation – (SB 132 by Senator Barbara Favola passed Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee unanimously; Referred to Senate Finance; HB 38 by Kaye Kory Laid on the Table) 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.
SALT Priority #4: Rescinding the Federal Lifetime Ban of TANF – (SB 1068 by Delegate Robert Orrock assigned to Health Welfare & Institutions Subcommittee #3) SALT is in support of rescinding the Federal lifetime ban on TANF welfare benefits for ex-offenders convicted of felony drug crimes. This ban penalizes children of drug felons and has more to do with vengeance than with justice.
SALT Priority #5: Support of Operation Backpack for TANF Families – (Budget Amendment Item 341 #3h by Del. Scott Lingamfelter & BA Item 341 #2s Sen. Chuck Colgan) 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.
SALT Priority#7: Ban the Box – (HB 892 by Del. Krupicka assigned to Criminal SubC Courts of Justice & SB 250 McEachin) – This ban prohibits automatically disqualifying job applicants. 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. It will only apply to state agencies. Potential employers can ask about criminal history during the interview process (after the initial application process) without a conditional job offer.
SALT Priority #1A: Reasonable Rates for Inmate Telecommunications Systems – (HB 414 by Delegate Patrick Hope & Delegate Jim Lemunyon assigned House Militia, Police, & Public Safety SubC #2 Passed 8-0 and passed Full Committee 21-0; Assigned to Appropriations SubC on Public Safety) SALT proposes legislation to mandate that phone rates at correctional facilities be the lowest available rates. Permitting additional financial burdens to be placed on prisoners and their families is unwarranted. The bill would cap Commissions at 10 percent and direct those monies into a Prison Reentry Fund.
SALT Priority #2A: Child care services for TANF and low-income families. (SB 195 by Senator Bill Stanley; Referred to the Senate Finance Committee) Directs the Department of Social Services to provide financial assistance to offset the cost of child care for individuals receiving TANF and other individuals whose household incomes are less than 185% of the federal poverty level and who are employed or participating in job placement, job training, or education in accordance with the requirements of the Virginia Initiative for Employment Not Welfare program.
SALT Priority #3A: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program; distribution of benefits (HB 780 by Delegate Tony Wilt; Referred to HWI SubC #1) SALT Opposes restrictions. Provides that the Department of Social Services shall distribute TANF benefits only through electronic benefit cards or direct deposits, and that all TANF electronic benefit cards shall be limited to the TANF Program and conspicuously indicate that they are issued for the purpose of redeeming TANF benefits. SALT says TANF recipients should not have to pay a processing fee or ATM fee if the e-benefit cards need to be cashed. Banks should honor them without fee.
SALT Priority #4A: Drug Testing TANF Recipients (SALT is strongly OPPOSED to HB 642 in HWI SubC #2 by Del. Jeffrey Campbell; Rolled into HB 234; Passed 7-0; Referred to Appropriations). 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 benefits outweigh costs. In addition, it again starts punishing children who did nothing, and this bill does not suggest provision of rehabilitation services to the actual drug addicts.
SALT Priority #5A: Workforce Development Pilot Program (HB 912) by Del. Charniele Herring; Referred to HWI #3). Some participants in Virginia’s TANF program who are already involved in job-related study programs should not have to quit their studies and find any low-paying job available. Participants who are in vocational programs should not be required to subordinate or drop out of programs that are training them for specific fields only to pick-up a dead-end job.
If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact John Horejsi,
(January 20, 2014)
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.
- Opposing budget reductions to programs that provide shelter, health care, and other basic necessities to low-income Virginia residents. Advocate to restore the Homeless Intervention Program (HIP) and Homeless Shelter funding cuts. Results: Supplants TANF Funding cuts for HIP with General Funds (SALT's Top Priority). HIP funds were restored from General Fund for FY 2011 in the amount of $3,191, 583 and for FY- 2012 in the amountr of $4.419,115. Thank your legislators, especially Delegate Charniele Herring.
- Providing state-subsidized "rental assistance" to working families whose wages do not enable them to afford adequate housing. Senator Mamie Locke, patron; (SB 616) to General Laws, Chair Sen. Locke; Budget Amendment Item 99 #1s. Results: Passed Senate General Laws & Senate Finance Committees and passed the Senate. Crossed over to House. Sent to and defeated by House General Laws. Rental Assistance Delegate Charniel Herring, patron, (HB 451) to General Laws--#1 Housing, Chair, Del. Albo. Results: Carried over in House General Laws.
- Implementing a cost-of-living adjustment (Indexing) for payments to low-income families under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. Senator Janet Howell, patron, Budget Amendment Item 327 #1s. Delegate James Scott, patron, Budget Amendment Item # not yet available. Results: Not considered/called up in House or Senate.
- Opposing the diversion of TANF funding toward non-TANF purposes--TANF Community Funding Pool bill. Delegate David Englin, patron, HB 80, Results: Passed HWI (22-0). Next, sent to Appropriations Committee to be carried over. No Senate Bill.
- TANF Welfare Ban Opt Out/Transitional Support Services for former Drug offenders. SB 576. Results: Passed Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee (11-4) Next, Carried Over in Senate Finance -- Delegate Vivian Watts, Patron, HB 226. Results: HWI Carried over to next year
TANF Contingency Fund (Stimulus). The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) provisions in section 2101 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) created a new fund, the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund (ECF), under which Virginia can receive federal reimbursement for up to $79 million of increased TANF-related expenditures. Virginia can access stimulus funds in each of three categories:
- non-recurrent short-term payments;
- subsidized employment; or ·
- basic assistance.
Results: We thank Senator Janet Howell, Delegates Jim Scott and Ken Plum for their leadership and for passionately presenting the case for obtaining TANF Emergency Stimulus funding by insisting that the State of Virginia include qualified local initiatives with new or increased expenditures to be considered in the next Virginia request for TANF federal Stimulus funds. Allowing the successful pass-through of TANF Stimulus funds to the localities and the non-profits is making difference in the lives of those in the greatest need.
Visit the SALT website at http://www.S-A-L-T.org