2016 General Assembly Session Update #5 - Sine Die Edition

The General Assembly adjourned Sine Die on March 11th, one day early, after completing work on thousands of bills and a $105 billion two-year budget.   The Governor has until midnight, April 11th to sign, amend, or veto the legislation on his desk.  On Wednesday, April 20th, the General Assembly will return for Reconvened Session to consider the Governor's amendments and vetoes. 

You can read the highlights of the 2016 session here and a more detailed summary here.

 

Overview of 2016-2018 Budget

The most important bill passed by the General Assembly this session is the $105 billion biennial budget.  

Here are highlights:

Education

  • Major increases in K-12 education funding over the current biennium, including almost $200 million in lottery funding for school divisions, a 2% salary incentive effective December 1, 2016, and additional money for eligible students to receive free or reduced lunch and breakfast at schools.
     
  • Major new funding for higher education, including a 3% across-the-board raise for faculty. 
  • Additional money for community colleges to develop new programs to train the workforce of the next decade.

State Government

  • A 3% pay increase for state employees.
     
  • Full repayment to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) of money the General Assembly borrowed several years ago and funding 100 percent of the VRS board-certified contribution rates. Both of these actions will enhance the fiscal viability of the system. 
  • Fully funding the "Rainy Day Fund," the special account we reserve for use if Virginia experiences a dramatic economic downturn.

Economic Development

  • Major initiatives for job creation through the "GoVirginia" program, which will allow regions to cooperate in competing for economic development grants and projects necessary to build the New Virginia Economy.

Mental Health

  • An additional $76.2 million for mental health services. 

Foster Care

  • Support for the Fostering Futures Program, which allows foster care and adoption assistance to be extended for teens who would otherwise "age-out" of the foster care program on their eighteenth birthday. Funded with $1.9 million from the general fund and $3.9 million from the federal government or other sources, the program will benefit a large number of foster children who otherwise might experience tremendous difficulty transitioning to adult life. 

You can read an overview of the budget conference report  here and view specific budget amendments adopted by the conference report here

Governor McAuliffe is now reviewing the budget proposal. He can choose to pass it in its entirety or make line by line amendments or vetoes. When the General Assembly reconvenes in April, we will consider the Governor's actions.

 

Delegate McClellan's Legislation

This year, I had three bills pass the General Assembly:

HB 487, removing the obligation for school resource officers to enforce school board rules and codes of student conduct as a condition of funding through the School Resource Officer Grants Program, has been passed by the Senate and awaits action by the Governor. Click here to see the Henrico Citizen's coverage of this bill. In addition, this bill was profiled as one of the school discipline reform bills still moving through the General Assembly in this article by The Center for Public Integrity.

HB 703, prohibiting minors under 18 from marrying unless they are emancipated by the court, has passed out of Senate committee and is awaiting a vote on the Senate floor.  You can watch the floor debate on this bill here. This bill has gained national attention, including this New York Times article and an article on TakePart

HB 485 , permitting a first offense simple assault where the victim was a family or household member of the defendant to be taken under advisement while the person is ordered to complete an anger management or domestic violence class. Click here to see the Henrico Citizen's coverage of this bill.

You can track the progress of all of my 2016 legislation  here

 

As always, if you would like more information or to express your thoughts on legislation before the General Assembly or need assistance with a state matter, please contact my office at (804) 698-1171 or deljmcclellan@house.virginia.gov.

You can also stay informed of the House of Delegates' activities by following me on twitter and liking my facebook page

Sincerely,

Jennifer L. McClellan
Virginia House of Delegates
71st District