LEGISLATIVE
ADVOCACY

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Legislative Advocacy

Take Action/What to Watch this Week: 2022 Session

Affordable Energy: HB 839 is speculated to be up Tuesday in the Commerce and Energy Subcommittee. VPLC supports this bill because it would let the State Corporation Commission do its job of protecting utility customers and ensuring a fair rate of return for utility companies and ensure the clean energy transition of the Virginia Clean Economy Act. TAKE ACTION: Tell the House to Vote Yes on HB 839!

Child Welfare: We are continuing to advocate for the creation of two pilot parent representation centers to increase access to justice for parents, which would improve outcomes for children in foster care.

Consumer Rights: VPLC supports SB 159 and HB 732. This legislation would stop public universities from holding back student transcripts from students who owe a debt to the school, allowing students to move forward with employment or complete their education.

VPLC opposes SB 496 and HB 203. Virginia started regulating student loan servicers this year, and some of the servicers are trying to exempt themselves from the new law.

Elder Law: SB 40, which would protect Virginia’s vulnerable adults from unlawful eviction from assisted living facilities, will be up next Friday. VPLC supports this bill as it guarantees that older adults have the same rights to stable housing as any other tenant in Virginia.

Health Insurance: VPLC opposes HB 237, which rolls back important consumer protections on Short-Term Limited-Duration (STLD) plans passed in 2020. While these plans meet the needs of some consumers with short coverage gaps, they are not designed to be comprehensive, year-round coverage and lack many consumer protections. STLD plans are often misrepresented to consumers, and many people purchase them without knowing their limitations.

VPLC supports budget amendments (House Budget Amendment Item 304 #44h, Senate Budget Amendments Item 304 #12s & Item 304 #32s) that would streamline Medicaid enrollment for recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI). People who receive SSI are among the nation’s poorest, and currently, SSI recipients in Virginia must go through a complicated and duplicative process to get Medicaid despite being known to meet the Medicaid eligibility criteria. This bill would remove administrative barriers keeping vulnerable Virginians from getting necessary health coverage.

Housing: Our priority for next week is Senator Ebbin’s SB 284, which would allow tenants to raise poor conditions and lack of repairs as a defense to nonpayment of rent.

Language Access: VPLC supports Senator Hashmi’s SB 270, which would ensure that all state agencies in the Commonwealth offer language access services. Nearly 500,000 Virginia residents (6.1% of Virginia’s population) speak a language other than English. 12.1% of Virginians have disabilities, and roughly 11% of adult Virginians have low literacy levels. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also legally requires language access, as recipients of federal funds are prohibited from operating programs in a manner that discriminates on the basis of race, color, or national origin.

How You Can Help: Stay tuned for action alerts at our Action Center, or you can always contact your legislator.

VPLC’s 2022 Legislative Priorities

Click through the menu below to learn more about our priorities for the 2022 General Assembly session.

  • Allow college students unrestricted access to their transcripts. (SB 159/HB 732) Learn more here.
  • Improved control over consumer data.
  • Drive down upcoming electric utility costs through better regulatory tools. Support continued efforts to reduce costs for utility customers and work toward greater balance between the need for consistent energy access and the need to protect consumers' finances. (HB 839)
  • Fair access to appeals in eviction cases. Allow the court to waive high fees so that low-income tenants have access to an appeal like all other civil cases and eliminate the dismissal of appeals without a hearing. (SB 474/HB 614)
  • Safe and Healthy Homes Act: Enact a warranty of habitability defense to nonpayment of rent, allowing tenants to raise unsafe or unhealthy conditions as a defense to nonpayment of rent as long as they gave the landlord notice of the condition. Learn more here. (SB 284)
  • Community enforcement of health and safety rental housing laws to help tenants living in unsafe or unhealthy conditions who lack the means to enforce their rights. Empower cities, counties, and towns to file suit against slumlords to force compliance with the health and safety standards of the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act. Learn more here. (HB 802/SB 43)
  • Keep the 14-day pay or quit notice requirement: Allowing residential tenants 14 days to pay rent after receiving a late notice, rather than five days as required pre-pandemic, helps more tenants avoid eviction and provides rental and late fees income to landlords without payment of court and lawyer fees. (HB 803)
  • Learn More: Other Housing Advocacy Fact Sheets
  • Court oversight of foster care placements to ensure decisions made are in the best interests of the child.
  • Give relatives of children in foster care an opportunity to appeal the denial of foster placement.
  • Create two pilot parent representation centers to increase access to justice for parents, improving outcomes for children in foster care.
  • Improve immigrants’ access to healthcare by creating a state-funded Medicaid-like program to cover children who are ineligible for Medicaid based on their immigration status.
  • Streamline Medicaid processes by removing administrative barriers that keep low-income children from getting coverage.
  • Reduce Marketplace costs through increased funding. Oppose any larger role for non-ACA compliant health plans (such as Association Health Plans), which are risky for consumers and undermine the ACA risk pool.
  • Improve language access in hospital charity care programs.
  • Increase access to SNAP by allowing incarcerated individuals to apply for SNAP prior to their release so they have access to SNAP and education and training programs upon release.
  • Strengthen cash assistance for children living in poverty by repealing full family sanctions within TANF, which take away assistance to the entire family if the parent doesn’t meet TANF’s work or other requirements.
  • Improve nursing home conditions through increased staffing ratios, particularly for Medicaid nursing homes, which have the lowest rates of staffing in Virginia.
  • Guardianship reform: Increase access to the public guardian program and change the role of court-appointed guardians ad litem to increase use of less restrictive options when feasible.
  • Protect Virginia's vulnerable adults from unlawful eviction from assisted living facilities. Learn more here. (SB 40)

PDF Version: VPLC’s 2022 Legislative Priorities

HOW TO FOLLOW THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION

FINDING LEGISLATION
You can find legislation at Virginia’s Legislative Information System’s (LIS) database. You can search this legislation by entering the bill number (e.g., 5051) or by searching a keyword (e.g., eviction). Once you find the legislation, you will find the bill’s sponsor(s) and a summary of the bill’s language. You will also find which committee the bill has been referred to (e.g., referred to Committee on General Laws and Technology). You can track the progress of each bill as it moves through the legislative process.

CLICK HERE to access the 2022 LIS database now.

FINDING A COMMITTEE
Once you find where legislation has been referred, you can find when that committee is meeting on the Session Meeting List. Once you know when your committee is convening, be prepared to stream the meeting at the “Virginia Senate Live Stream Video” page or the “Virginia House of Delegates Video Streaming” page. Once the time of your committee is scheduled to start, it will be viewable under the heading entitled “upcoming events.” To stream the event, click “view event.”

CLICK HERE to access the Senate streaming page.

CLICK HERE to access the House streaming page. 

VPLC Advocate Contact Information

SESSION ACTION CENTER

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