Our 2019 package of legislation was highlighted by several criminal justice reform initiatives, including bills aimed at removing certain barriers from obtaining an occupational license, and a measure that requires all School Resource Officers (SROs) to complete minimum training standards as administered by the Department of Criminal Justice Services. We also introduced a measure aimed at diversifying and strengthening our neighborhoods in Hampton Roads through a housing tax incentive for landlords. Although several bills failed to get through the committee process, seven will head to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law. A few notable bills that will likely be signed into law are summarized below:
Compulsory Minimum Training Standards for School Resource Officers (SROs)
Directs the Department of Criminal Justice Services to establish minimum training standards for SROs across Virginia. All current SROs must complete the four-day training by July 2020, and all newly hired SROs after July 2020 must also complete the training. Funding to cover this program was included in the budget approved on February 24th, 2019.
Restricted Driver’s License for Out-of-State Drug Conviction
Provides that a Virginia resident convicted of a drug offense in another state may petition the general district court of the county or city in which he resides for a restricted driver’s license allowing the petitioner to operate a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth on a restricted basis, provided that no such restricted license shall permit the petitioner to operate a commercial vehicle.
Housing Tax Credit
Allows landlords in the Newport News-Norfolk-Virginia Beach MSA to receive a tax credit for accepting housing vouchers from tenants. Specifically, the landlords must own property in census tracts in which the poverty rate is 10% or less. The measure seeks to deconcentrate poverty, diversify our communities, and expand access to housing.
Suspension of Toll Collection During Mandatory Evacuations
HB2489 directs the Commissioner of Highways to suspend toll collection on evacuation routes during mandatory evacuations issued by the Governor. Current law leaves the decision of toll suspension to the Commissioner’s discretion. The legislation would apply in affected evacuation zones and areas, and was introduced as a result of toll collections during Hurricane Florence in the fall of 2018.
Transitional Child Care for Virginia Initiative for Employment Not Welfare (VIEW) Participants Allows VIEW participants whose Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) financial assistance is terminated to receive child care assistance for up to 12 months after termination provided that the individual is enrolled in an accredited public institution of higher education or other postsecondary school licensed or certified by the Board of Education or the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and is taking courses as part of a curriculum that leads to a postsecondary credential, such as a degree or an industry-recognized credential, certification, or license. Funding to cover this program was included in the budget approved on February 24th, 2019.
Expansion of Beneficiaries in Wrongful Death Cases
Enables parents of the deceased to be added to the primary list of beneficiaries of wrongful death damages if the parent was receiving support or services from the deceased at least 12 months prior to their death.
Other Budget Amendments
Item 136 #3h
This amendment (which is language only, and includes no additional funding) doubles the percentage of Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) slots that can be filled using a local definition of “at-risk” from 15% to 30%.
A complete list of bills and budget amendments introduced by Delegate Jones can be found here: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?191+mbr+H299.