Virginia Policy Updates
Highlights from the Virginia General Assembly 2015 Session
In December, Governor Terry McAuliffe released his proposed state budget amendments. Several public hearings on the budget were held across the state on January 7, 2015.
In February, the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee reported their budget bills, HB 1400 and SB 800. A Joint Conference Committee negotiated the differences between the bills and produced a conference report to which the House and Senate agreed. The final amendments to the 2014-16 Biennium Budget can be viewed here. It looks like the advocacy of SCAN and its fellow child advocacy organizations had a positive impact! The General Assembly did not make the significant cuts we were expecting at the beginning of the session, and funding was increased for some children’s programs.
Governor Terry McAuliffe signed the state budget without making any amendments or line item vetoes.
To learn more about Virginia’s budget and the latest developments in Virginia’s fiscal policies, please visit The Commonwealth Institute.
Child Care Safety
Over one dozen bills were introduced in the House and Senate dealing with child care safety. Visit our blog post for a list of those bills SCAN closely followed.
In February, important legislation that would improve child care safety in our state passed in both chambers. However, there were significant differences between their respective versions. Child Care Aware of Virginia put together a very helpful side-by-side analysis of the Senate and House bills. In order to reconcile the differences between the related bills, the Senate and House formed the Joint Conference Committee on childcare legislation. In the final hours of the session, the Senate and the House of Delegates agreed to the Joint Conference Committee’s report, and passed SB 1168 amended, and HB 1570 amended. Child Care Aware of Virginia produced a helpful one-page summary of the Joint Conference Agreement.
Governor Terry McAuliffe amended the omnibus bill on child care so that fingerprint background checks will be required of all regulated child care providers, not just licensed providers. By requiring fingerprint background checks for all regulated child care provider, more providers would be screened for barrier crimes, and Virginia would be in compliance with the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant regulations. The Senate accepted the governor’s amendment to the omnibus child care bill, however the House objected to it. Although the amendment failed, the issue will undoubtedly be revisited in the future, as the deadline for compliance with federal CCDBG regulation is September 2017.
Protecting Children from Injury and Abuse
Throughout the 2015 session, SCAN of Northern Virginia followed a number of bills aimed at preventing and protecting children from abuse and neglect.
HB 1515 : Maternity patients; information about safe sleep environments for infants. The bill was passed unanimously in the House of Delegates. The bill was signed by Governor McAuliffe in March.
HB 1353 and SB 1074: Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry; supplement to Registry (“Robby’s Rule). On February 17, 2015 the Senate version of Robby’s Rule passed the House with a substitute, agreed to by the Senate. The final text can be found here.
HB 1441: Child abuse or neglect; person required to report, training program required. On February 11, 2015 this bill died in the committee.
To stay up-to-date on Virginia policies impacting children, visit Voices for Virginia’s Children and sign up for their advocacy newsletter.