General Assembly Session Update: Special Session in Full Swing, All Eyes on Budget Amendments
Sunday, February 14th, 2021
The 2021 General Assembly session has ended, but by order of the Governor, the 2021 General Assembly Special Session began Wednesday. The Special Session is expected to last two to three weeks. Both the House and the Senate approved the Governor’s proposed budget but with many amendments. It is expected that the House will reject the Senate budget, the Senate will reject the House budget, and then there will be a conference committee appointed to hammer out a compromise.
Below, an update on some of our issues:
We’ve made great progress advancing tenants’ rights in Virginia, with all but one of our bills we’re supporting this session passing in both chambers!
But we have one upcoming bill that needs your help.
This Wednesday, February 17, the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee will consider Delegate Price’s bill (HB1889) to give tenants more time to pay rent and stay housed. The bill takes tenant protections that passed during the 2019 special legislative session — extension of the pay or quit period from five to 14 days and requirement that larger landlords offer tenants a payment plan before evicting tenants for late rent — and makes them a permanent part of the Virginia Landlord Tenant Act.
How You Can Help: Please contact the committee members to urge them to vote yes on HB1889 and sign up to give public testimony during the committee meeting.
SB1180 (Senator Surovell) permits class actions in state courts. Currently, class actions are allowed only in Virginia’s federal courts, and Virginia and Mississippi are the only two states in the country that do not allow class actions at the state level. SB1180 levels the playing field for lower-income individuals who seek access to justice.
The bill has passed the Senate and is now headed for the House Courts of Justice committee, where we expect it will face some resistance.
How You Can Help: Urge the committee members to vote yes on SB1180.
Our top priority is in both budgets: Medicaid/FAMIS coverage of prenatal care for women without regard to their immigration status. This will cover undocumented women, improve maternal and infant health, and ensure the newborns’ enrollment into health coverage.
Both budgets have an increase in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program: 5% in the House budget and 18% in the Senate budget. We have been pushing for the 18% increase.
The Senate budget includes a 20% increase to all recipients of auxiliary grants. Auxiliary grants are an income supplement for certain individuals who have low income and are aged, blind, or disabled individuals and reside in a licensed assisted living facility (ALF) or an approved adult foster care (AFC) home.
Thanks as always for your support,
Executive Director, VPLC