2022 Session Update: Week Two
Friday, January 28th, 2022
This was a busy week at the General Assembly for VPLC advocates. We often must try and follow bills being heard in two or even three committees that meet at the same time! Please encourage your legislators to do the right thing and publicly praise them when they do.
Below, an update on some of our issues and how you can help:
HB 839, which would have kept new utility projects affordable for utility customers, died in the House Commerce and Energy subcommittee Tuesday.
SB 159, which would stop universities from withholding transcripts from students with university debt, has passed the Senate Education and Health committee and is headed to the Senate floor. Virginia Attorney General Miyares announced yesterday that he is cutting the attorney fee they charge when suing students for debt from 30% to 15%. This progress likely comes from media around the legislation to stop student transcript withholding.
SB 40 made it out of Rehab and Social Services and is going to Finance. The bill would protect Virginia’s vulnerable adults from unlawful eviction from assisted living facilities, ensuring older adults have the same rights to stable housing as any other tenant in Virginia.
VPLC supports HB 646, which would improve health, safety, and living conditions for nursing home residents in Virginia. We anticipate this bill will need support as decisions may be made prior to it reaching committee. TAKE ACTION: Urge the GA to pass HB 646!
There are bills in both the House (HB 1012, Delegate Tran) and Senate (SB 484, Senator McClellan) that would provide health care coverage for children regardless of immigration status. Both bills have not yet been heard in committee. We estimate HB 1012 and SB 484 would provide health coverage for 13,000 of Virginia’s children.
Two bills that deal with hospital charity care programs have not yet been heard in committee. HB 1221 (Delegate Tran) mandates language access requirements for hospital charity care programs. HB 1071 (Delegate Tran) requires hospitals screen all patients for charity care and Medicaid eligibility before taking debt collection action.
HB 803 (Delegate Price) would permanently set the pay-or-quit notice period during which tenants can pay late rent and prevent the landlord from filing an eviction lawsuit at 14 days. The pay-or-quit notice period has been 14 days since November 2020, but it will revert to five days on July 1, 2022 unless HB 803 passes. We think the additional nine days make a tremendous difference in allowing tenants to pay their rent (and late fees) and avoid a lawsuit, which carries additional costs the tenant must pay (such as court costs and attorney’s fees) and can hamper a tenant’s chances to get the rental housing of their choice in the future, as landlords often refuse to rent to anyone who has an eviction filing on their record regardless of the outcome of the case.
HB 804 (Delegate Price) would make the process of applying for rental housing more transparent by requiring landlords to make their application process and criteria, as well as their total application fees, publicly available. Application fees and the application process don’t serve either landlords or tenants well. Landlords are allowed to charge hundreds of dollars in nonrefundable fees and usually rely on tenant screening reports from third party companies that provide little if any details as to why they are recommending an applicant be accepted or rejected. This removes the discretion that often results in the best choices.
HB 802 (Delegate Price) would empower localities to file cases under the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act against landlords who allow their properties to fall into disrepair and threaten the health and safety of tenants. With the passage of HB 802, a locality could seek an injunction against such a landlord that orders the landlord to make all the necessary repairs. Under current law, localities are limited to seeking penalties or condemnation under the Property Maintenance Code.
Senator Hashmi’s SB 270, which would ensure that all state agencies in the Commonwealth offer language access services, passed on a partisan vote in Senate General Laws.
Thanks, as always, for your support. We’re grateful to have you with us as we create a just Commonwealth together.
Executive Director, VPLC
Want to learn more about our advocacy efforts during the 2022 legislative session? Visit our Legislative Advocacy Page.