General Assembly Session Update: Special Session Winds Down
Sunday, February 21st, 2021
Many people are getting the vaccine, and there is hope that we may see this pandemic winding down. The General Assembly special session is also winding down, and there is hope that many of our initiatives will be enacted into law.
Below, a more detailed update on some of the issues we’re working on.
HB2014 (Delegate Price) passed both chambers (54-45 in the House and 25-14 in the Senate) with an amendment. The bill expands the right of tenants to pay all that is owed to avoid eviction. Unfortunately, the amendment means smaller landlords will not have to comply with the new law. This is a compromise we were forced to make to get the bill passed.
HB1889 (Delegate Price), which gives families more time to pay rent and stay housed, passed the House 54-45. On Thursday it reported out of Senate General Laws with an amendment that extends the sunset clause to July 1, 2022—meaning that the law will expire on that date. It will be up for a vote on the Senate floor next week.
SB1215/HB1900 (Senator Ebbin/Delegate Hudson) would stop illegal evictions. The Senate version passed both chambers, while the House version passed the House 54-44 and reported out of Senate General Laws 9-5. It will be up for a vote on the Senate floor next week.
SB1180 (Senator Surovell), which permits class actions in state courts, will be up in the House Courts of Justice Committee on Monday. 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.
How You Can Help: Urge the committee members to vote yes on SB1180!
The consumer data protection bills, SB1392 and HB2307, have passed both the Senate and the House. The bills seek to “grant consumer rights to access, correct, delete, and obtain a copy of personal data and to opt out of the processing of personal data for the purposes of targeted advertising.” If passed, the legislation will not go into effect until January 1, 2023 and many improvements need to be made to the law before then.
HB2074/SB1318 (Delegate Simonds/Senator Hashmi) are still alive. These bills address environmental and health issues disproportionately affecting low-income communities and communities of color. They will require the government to better involve the public when considering permits for harmful projects such as power plants, landfills, and sewerage treatment facilities and adopt environmental justice policies in future comprehensive plans.
Bills to address the problem of the legislature granting monopoly utilities excess profits that harm Virginians were all defeated in the Senate.
Association health plans, which could drive up premiums for those dependent on comprehensive coverage, were rejected while reinsurance passed in both chambers. This is a win, as reinsurance creates a healthier system with the high costs of the sickest people in the marketplace covered and premiums reduced for everyone.
HB2124 is headed to Senate floor. This bill expands emergency Medicaid to cover COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccination regardless of immigration status.
HB1820 (Delegate Helmer) sailed through Senate Finance unanimously. This bill will make 25,000 Virginia families eligible for food assistance funded by the federal government.
Senator Locke’s bill (SB1121) to make it easier to amend birth certificates has passed both the Senate and the House and is on its way to the Governor.
Domestic and Sexual Violence
HB1992 (Delegate Murphy) passed in both chambers. It prohibits a person who has been convicted of assault and battery of a family or household member from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm. A person who violates this provision is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
HB2133 (Delegate Delaney) passed the Senate. This bill gives victims of trafficking the option to vacate convictions.
Family and Child Welfare
HB2002 (Delegate Samirah) passed in both chambers. This bill ensures that parents getting child support receive information on Medicaid/FAMIS so they can get public health coverage if they qualify rather than having to put their own resources toward insurance.
HB1962 (Delegate Gooditis) passed in both chambers. It expands relatives’ capacity to get children out of foster care rather than parents’ rights being terminated and requires that children ages 12 and over (rather than 14 and over) be included in development of the child’s foster care plan.
Thanks as always for your support,
Executive Director, VPLC