Attachment B – 2007 Legislative Priorities Report

 

This report summarizes action taken regarding Albemarle’s 2007 Legislative Priorities. This report will often cite information from the final legislative reports of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC), Virginia Municipal League (VML), and Virginia Association of Counties (VACo). For these organizations’ complete reports that provide a thorough overview of local government impacts beyond Albemarle’s priorities, please use the links below.

 

TJPDC: http://www.tjpdc.org/liaison/finalReport.asp

VACo:   http://www.vaco.org/sitefiles/pdfs/legislative/legsummary07.pdf

VML:    http://www.vml.org/LEG/07LegPrgrm/07SummariesSubject.doc

 

Land Use and Growth Management Priorities

Priority:         Local Authority – Request the legislature 1) Strengthen local authority in land use decisions; 2) Provide high-growth jurisdictions with growth management tools such as adequate public facilities ordinances and impact fees; and 3) Oppose any preemption or circumvention of existing local authority to regulate land use.

 

   Summary:     Numerous bills were introduced related to this priority; highlights of approved bills include:

 

                        HB 3202 includes authority for assessing road impact fees for many localities, including Albemarle. The bill allows impact fees to be imposed within service areas designated in the comprehensive plan for the construction of new roads or improvement of existing roads.

 

                        HB 2493 and HB 1205 provide that local restrictions on activities at licensed farm wineries be reasonable and account for the economic impact of a restriction, whether such activities and events are usual and customary for farm wineries and whether such activities pose a substantial impact on public health, safety and welfare.

 

                        HB 2503 amends transfer of development rights legislation approved in 2006 to revise several definitions and to provide for the inter-jurisdictional transfer of development rights between any county and adjacent city (Source: TJPDC).

 

Proposal:      Staff recommends this remain a County priority. For the 2008 priorities, the language will be modified to request greater flexibility for impact few authority to allow for more effective implementation.

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Priority:         Conservation Easements – Request the legislature support and augment local efforts in natural

                     resource protection through 1) Continuing to fund the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation (VLCF) for                      locally established and funded Purchase of Development Rights programs (e.g. ACE Program in  Albemarle County); 2) Retaining current provisions in transient occupancy tax legislation so that funds can continue to be used to protect open-space and resources of historical, cultural, ecological and scenic value that attract tourism; and 3) Reestablishing incentives for citizens to create conservation easements by removing the cap on tax credits approved in the 2006 special session.

 

Summary:     The budget includes $6.6 million over the two years for land conservation initiatives, including $1 million for the VLCF (Source: TJPDC). Albemarle’s ability to utilize the transient occupancy tax to support the ACE program was not affected by the 2007 General Assembly.

 

   Proposal:      Staff recommends this remain a County priority and has included it in the proposed 2008 priorities.

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Priority:         Scenic Protection and Tourist Enhancement – Request enabling legislation for an Albemarle County pilot program to provide for a scenic protection and tourist enhancement overlay district. As the County pursues options to protect the visual quality of land as an aesthetic and economic resource, this legislation would provide the County with a method to ensure full consideration of visual resources and scenic areas when the County or state makes land use decisions in designated areas.

 

Summary:     Sen. Creigh Deeds introduced SB 988 to address this priority; however, the bill was passed by in committee. Attempts to advance this bill in previous sessions have also been unsuccessful, though in the past, this priority was written to request enabling legislation for all localities.

 

Proposal:      Staff recommends this remain a County priority and has included it in the proposed 2008 priorities.

 

Transportation Priorities

Priority:         Transportation Funding – Request the legislature establish stable and consistent state revenues for                      Virginia’s long-term transportation infrastructure needs. The state should direct its funding efforts at all transportation modes and coordinate planning for transportation and land use, being mindful of local Comprehensive and regional Transportation Plans when planning transportation systems within a locality.

Summary:     HB 3202 details the funding provisions that have been set into place. $500 million in general funds for transportation, including $339 million left unallocated by the 2006 General Assembly, were earmarked in the current budget, primarily for several key road, rail and transit projects. The statewide funding component of the plan includes a $3 billion bond package to be repaid over 25 years. The package stipulates that 20% of bond proceeds be used for transit capital and 4.3% be used for rail capital. The remaining proceeds will be allocated as follows: 1) as a match for federal highway funds; 2) to provide matching funds for the local revenue sharing program; and 3) to fund statewide or regional projects.

                     The plan designates one-third of all insurance premiums to debt service the bonds and directs 3% of existing recordation taxes be funneled to transportation (2% for transit and 1% for road maintenance). Increases in vehicle registration and abusive driver fees, along with an increase in the diesel fuel tax will support highway maintenance. The package also dedicates two-thirds of any non-obligated state revenue surplus each year to transportation (Source: TJPDC).

Proposal:      Staff recommends this remain a County priority. For the proposed 2008 priorities, additional wording will be added opposing the devolution of state transportation responsibilities to localities, including maintenance.

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Priority:         Use of Primary Funding on Urban Construction Projects – Amend Section 33.1-23.2 of the Code of Virginia to allow for the application of primary funding to projects maintained by a municipality, without a corresponding decrease in their urban construction allocation, only when the route is on the National Highway System (NHS). This would enable the Commonwealth Transportation Board to allocate primary funding to projects located on a NHS route within an urban municipality to accelerate funding of projects. Routes designated as part of the NHS, by act of Congress, are deemed to have regional or national significance.

Summary:     HB 1685 and SB 887 were introduced by Del. David Toscano and Sen. Creigh Deeds, respectively. These identical bills were approved and signed into law effective July 1, 2007.

Proposal:      This priority was addressed successfully and will not be included in the proposed 2008 priorities.

 

Health and Human Services Priorities

Priority:         Comprehensive Services Act (CSA) – Request the state fully fund CSA mandates including obligations for administrative overhead and children, both of which have been shifted to localities in recent years.

 

   Summary:     Mandated CSA funding has been an ongoing issue for localities. The approved budget maintains the introduced budget’s reimbursements to localities under the CSA. Budget language directs the CSA State Executive Council to examine current funding allocations for non-mandated services to children served through CSA and recommend any changes necessary, including additional funding, to eliminate gaps in the current formula. Language also requires the Office of Comprehensive Services to report on the potential fiscal impact of SB 1332, which would increase the mandated CSA population to include children with mental health conditions whose private insurance has been capped or lack private insurance and are not Medicaid-eligible. In addition, the parents/guardian would have to be considering a foster care placement in order to obtain publicly funded services. The bill must be approved again by the 2008 General Assembly in order to take effect (Source: TJPDC).

 

Proposal:      Staff recommends this remain a County priority in 2008 and will expand the language to incorporate more comprehensively the challenges related to CSA.

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Priority:         Reauthorization of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program – Request the state take advantage of the federal reauthorization of TANF by streamlining eligibility requirements and providing maximum flexibility to localities so counties can implement the TANF program that best meets local needs. Further, that the state provide sufficient funding to support the expanded VIEW population with funds for childcare, Medicaid, employment services and related administrative expenses.

 

   Summary:     About $25 million in funding was added to help meet new federal work participation requirements associated with reauthorization of the federal TANF program. A federal deficit reduction act last year means more TANF recipients must be in an approved work activity, driving a need for employment support and child care services (Source: TJPDC).

 

   Proposal:      Staff recommends this remain a County priority in 2008 and will incorporate its language with the following “Child Care…” priority.

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Priority:         Child Care for Low Income Working FamiliesRequest the legislature provide sufficient matching funds to local governments to assist low-income working and TANF families with childcare costs. This funding helps working-class parents pay for supervised day care facilities and supports efforts for families to become self-sufficient.

 

Summary:     See summary for above priority “Reauthorization of TANF…”

 

Proposal:      Staff recommends this remain a County priority and has included it in the proposed 2008 priorities.

 

Public Safety Priorities

Priority:         Quality E-911 Systems and Service Delivery – To ensure the safety of Virginia citizens, request support for legislation that would have private branch exchange (PBX) telephone systems report an exact location to the 911 system for each line so that optimal information is provided to responding emergency workers.

 

Summary:     HB 1603 was approved and signed into law effective July 1, 2007.

 

   Proposal:      HB 1603 successfully addressed this priority; it will not be included in the proposed 2008 priorities.

 

Local Government Administration/Laws Priorities

   Priority:         Full Funding of State Mandates – Request the state provide full funding for its mandates in all areas of local government including the Standards of Quality (SOQs), positions approved by the Compensation Board and costs related to jails and juvenile detention centers. These mandates have been shifted to localities in recent years.

 

   Summary:     Unfunded mandates are an ongoing issue and due to the state’s past actions and historical trends, it is unlikely existing unfunded mandates will be funded by the state.

 

Proposal:      Staff recommends this issue be included in the 2008 priorities.

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Priority:         Local Control of Real Property Taxation – Request the legislature take no action to restrict or limit the local control of real property taxation.

 

   Summary:     While not a restriction, it is worth noting that SJ 354, a constitutional amendment, would authorize the General Assembly to enact legislation to allow localities, by ordinance, to exempt or defer from real property taxes up to 20% of the annual value of residential or farm property that is the owner/occupant's primary dwelling and lived in continuously.  This proposed amendment would need to be approved again in the 2008 session in order to be placed on the November 2008 ballot (Source: TJPDC).

 

   Proposal:      Staff recommends this issue be included in the 2008 priorities and will modify the existing language to include all local revenue sources, as currently stated in the TJPDC legislative program.

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