Welcome back VA Community! We hope everyone is doing well and taking care in these times. We’re back today sharing your latest VA Newsletter with info on the Two New Budgets introduced by each chamber and some bills passed in the General Assembly.
We also get a bit into the Russian invasion into Ukraine and what Governor Youngkin’s response has been so far. For all who want to help, please read below to find direct links to donation centers and much more.
“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
We have updates on;
▪️ Two New Budgets
▪️ General Assembly Week 7
▪️ Russia invades Ukraine (link in bio to help)
▪️ In other news, VA Headlines
▪️ COVID-19 Data
▪️ Vaccine Data
Two New Budgets
The Republican-controlled Virginia House and Democrat-controlled Senate on Thursday each passed their own budgets.
The two budgets for fiscal years 2022-2024 contain some similarities, including raises for state and state-funded employees and deposits to the state’s reserves and retirement system.
Here is a look at some points of agreement, differences and items of interest in the two chambers’ bills:
Taxes and Reserves:Both chambers have agreed to return some money to taxpayers, but they disagree on how much and in what form the tax relief should come.
The Senate version would cost about $2.5 billion over two years. About $1 billion would go to one-time rebatests and it also includes eliminating part of the grocery tax, the veterans’ retirement changes and $47 million for housing tax credits to expand affordable housing.
The House version would cost about $5.3 billion over two years, including one-time rebates, suspending the recent gas tax increase, reducing taxes on veterans’ retirement pay, fully eliminating the sales tax on groceries and doubling the standard deduction.
State Employee Compensation: Both chambers’ budgets included pay raises for state and state-supported local employees, including teachers.
The Senate version includes a 5% pay raise every year + a one-time $1,000 bonus. Costs approx: $2.2 billion.
The House version includes a 4% pay raise each year + tw0 1% bonuses. Costs approx: $1.7 billion.
Both chambers’ plans include substantial deposits to the Virginia Retirement System, as well as the state’s reserves.
Education: Both budgets would increase total funding for K-12 schools, but they differ in a variety of ways. They each call for funding for school construction and modernization.
The Senate version offers about $500 million in one-time grants.
The House version includes about a $542 million loan rebate program to help districts pay off borrowing for such projects. The House also calls for $150 million in funding for “lab schools,” where colleges and universities partner with K-12 school systems. The Senate didn’t fund the proposal, which Youngkin has made a priority.
Both provide extra funding for an “at-risk add on program” that sends money to districts with high percentages of students living in poverty, though the House offers comparatively less.
Economic Development: Both chambers want to spend more than $100 million to supplement an existing economic development program aimed at promoting and developing industrial “megasites” capable of hosting major industrial employers.
A 2019 Associated Press review found the state had already put more than $100 million into land acquisition and development at a handful of such megasites with little to show in return. But economic development officials say without ready-to-go sites, the state will continue to miss out on transformational economic development opportunities.
Both chambers are proposing $8.5 million to support a medical-grade glove manufacturing facility in southwest Virginia that’s promising to create 2,500 new jobs as well as $1 million for a proposed Slavery and Freedom Heritage Site in Richmond, according to money committee documents.
Unemployment Benefits: Both chambers also advanced legislation which would backfill the state’s unemployment trust fund, which pays benefits for laid-off workers.
The Senate version supplements $110 million. They also proposed $500,000, according to committee documents, to initiate a comprehensive efficiency review of the Virginia Employment Commission, where long-running problems have been on display amid the agency’s response to the surge of claims during the pandemic.
The House version would provide $180 million.
Both using federal American Rescue Plan Act funds — are intended to keep employers’ taxes from rising.
General Assembly Week 7
As Legislators continue in the 7th week of the 2022 Special Session, here’s an update on a few bills that have passed in the last week.
HB450: Parking of vehicles; electric vehicle charging spots; civil penalties. Prohibits a person from parking a non-electric car in a space reserved for charging electric vehicles. A violation is subject to a civil penalty of $100 to $250, and the vehicle may be towed or impounded.
Passed Senate: 28-Y / 12-N.
HB719: Physical evidence recovery kits; victim's right to notification, storage. Physical evidence recovery kits; victim's right to notification; storage. Provides that for a physical evidence recovery kit that (i) was collected by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner as part of a routine death investigation, and the medical examiner and the law-enforcement agency agree that analysis is not warranted, (ii) was determined by the law-enforcement agency not to be connected to a criminal offense, or (iii) is connected to an offense that occurred outside of the Commonwealth or another law-enforcement agency has taken over responsibility of the investigation and such kit is not transferred to another law-enforcement agency, the law-enforcement agency that received the physical evidence recovery kit shall store such kit for a period of 10 years or until 10 years after the victim reaches the age of majority if the victim was a minor at the time of collection, whichever is longer. The bill provides that after the mandatory retention period, the law-enforcement agency may destroy the physical evidence recovery kit, or in its discretion, may elect to retain the physical evidence recovery kit for a longer period of time.
Passed: 100-Y / 0-N.
HB1010: Real property taxes; rate of increase. Requires the governing body of a locality to hold a referendum before making most increases in their real property tax rate.
Passed: 53-Y / 46-N.
HB1022: Certain public elementary and secondary school students; excused absences; attendance at pow wow. Provides that, subject to guidelines established by the Department of Education, any student who is a member of a state-recognized or federally recognized tribal nation that is headquartered in the Commonwealth and who is absent from school to attend such tribal nation's pow wow gathering shall be granted an excused absence.
Passed: 100-Y / 0-N.
HB1146: Commercial driver's license examinations. Authorizes school boards to issue a commercial driver's license skills test certificate to employees of other school boards.
Passed 40-Y / 0-N.
SB572: Veteran-owned small businesses; waiving of fees. Directs the Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs and the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, in conjunction with the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity, to examine the waiving of fees associated with permits necessary to establish a small business for veteran-owned small businesses.
Passed 22-Y / 0-N.
Russia invades Ukraine
Russian President Vadimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine that opened with air and missile strikes on Ukrainian military facilities before Russian troops and tanks rolled across the borders.
The Ukrainian military fought back on multiple fronts. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address early Friday that 137 people, both servicemen and civilians, have been killed and hundreds more wounded.
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this week, Governor Glenn Youngkin on Saturday called for the Commonwealth of Virginia and local governments to cut ties with Russian entities. Virginia ABC stores later announced it would take seven Russian-based vodka brands off store shelves.
Across the country, many are looking to support Ukraine. Here’s a few ways you can help:
- CARE is raising money for its Ukraine Crisis Fund, which will provide immediate aid including food, water, hygiene kits, support services and direct cash assistance.
Donate to the GoFundMe at gofundme.com/kyivindependent-launch
The Kyiv Post also offers subscriptions for $45 a year.
- José Andrés is helping provide “thousands of meals in Poland, Romania and even inside Ukraine,” he wrote on Twitter.
Donate to help donate.wck.org/give/donation/checkout
- UNICEF supports health, nutrition, HIV prevention, education, safe drinking water, sanitation and protection for children and families caught in the conflict in Ukraine.
- Voices of Children is providing assistance and help with evacuations to children and families all over Ukraine.
Donate to voices.org.ua/en/donate
In other news, VA Headlines
ABC 8 News - Attorney General Jason Miyares has announced the final approval of the $26 billion opioid agreement between Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen with Johnson & Johnson. The commonwealth expects to receive $530 million to fight the opioid crisis. The funding helps to support efforts to reduce, prevent and treat opioid use disorder and to fight the opioid epidemic.
Prince William Times - Three sites in Northern Virginia are being considered for a proposed new stadium and commercial complex for the Washington Commanders, including two in Prince William County - Woodbridge and Potomac Shores. The other is in Sterling, Loudoun County.
ABC 8 News - Boom towns: The fastest growing cities in Virginia. Many cities have experienced the most significant growth within the first few years of the decade.
#20. Short Pump – 2010 to 2020 percent population change: 27.4%
#19. Manassas – 2010 to 2020 percent population change: 18.6%
#18. Lake Ridge – 2010 to 2020 percent population change: 17.1%
#17. Gainesville – 2010 to 2020 percent population change: 67.8%
#16. Leesburg – 2010 to 2020 percent population change: 18.5%
#15. Cherry Hill – 2010 to 2020 percent population change: 52.7%
#14. Linton Hall – 2010 to 2020 percent population change: 24.8%
#13. Dale City – 2010 to 2020 percent population change: 13.3%
#12. Stone Ridge – 2010 to 2020 percent population change: 149.4%
#11. Loudoun Valley Estates – 2010 to 2020 percent population change: 376.3%
#10. Reston – 2010 to 2020 percent population change: 18.7%
#9. South Riding – 2010 to 2020 percent population change: 47.4%
#8. Suffolk – 2010 to 2020 percent population change: 14.3%
#7. Brambleton – 2010 to 2020 percent population change: 173.3%
#6. Virginia Beach – 2010 to 2020 percent population change: 5.4%
#5. Richmond – 2010 to 2020 percent population change: 12.3%
#4. Alexandria – 2010 to 2020 percent population change: 19.3%
#3. Chesapeake – 2010 to 2020 percent population change: 13.8%
#2. Woodbridge – 2010 to 2020 percent population change: 1021.2%
#1. Arlington – 2010 to 2020 percent population change: 20.9%
COVID-19 and Vaccine Data In Virginia
The Virginia Department of Health reported Monday that the statewide total for COVID-19 cases is 1,639,942. The 1,639,942 consists of 1,169,612 confirmed and 470,330 probable cases. There are 18,771 COVID-19 deaths, and Virginia’s 7-day positivity rate is now at 7.3%.
Vaccine Summary: As of Monday, February 28
Total Doses Administered: 15,407,053
People Fully Vaccinated: 6,184,508 or 72.0%
% of Adults (18+) Fully Vaccinated: 82.0%
People Vaccinated with at least 1 dose: 6,945,752 or 80.9%
% of Adults (18+) Vaccinated with at least 1 dose: 91.8%
People Vaccinated with Booster / Third dose: 2,809,471
For more information on Virginia's vaccination efforts, please visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA
Please be kind and respect one another, we are all in this together.
- Maria, Editor-in-Chief