Home Virginia Politics Governor McAuliffe Announces Actions on 2015 Legislation

Governor McAuliffe Announces Actions on 2015 Legislation

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From Gov. McAuliffe's office… 

RICHMOND – At a press conference today in Richmond, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced his actions on the 800 bills passed by the Virginia General Assembly during the 2015 legislative session.

 

“When I began the process of evaluating the 800 bills that were sent to my desk this year, I applied one simple standard: Does this legislation make Virginia more competitive and improve people’s lives, and if not, can I amend it to ensure that it does?

 

“As I have said, this session was marked by bipartisan cooperation on issues that are important to Virginia families. We passed a balanced budget that closed a revenue shortfall, protected core priorities like education, and invested in economic development, health care and school nutrition. 

 

“We took significant steps forward reforming our workforce development system, strengthening our transportation planning process, enhancing the resources we offer Virginia veterans, and building on our efforts to grow a 21st Century energy economy.  My focus this session was on laying a foundation for a new Virginia economy, and I am proud to say that we did just that this year.”

 

The Governor also announced his vetoes to 17 bills that he determined did not comply with his standard of growing and diversifying our economy and moving Virginia forward.

 

“The bills that I vetoed this year sought changes in law that I viewed to be counterproductive to the economic and social progress we need to better serve Virginia families. From drawing legislative lines outside of the constitutional process, to loosening Virginia gun laws and unnecessarily disrupting the ability of law enforcement and the Virginia Board of Education to do their jobs, these bills do not make Virginia stronger or more competitive. Accordingly, I have vetoed them.”

In addition to the six bills dealing with redistricting which the Governor vetoed yesterday, he vetoed the following bills today:

 

SB 948 – Provides that information on concealed handgun permitees in the Virginia Criminal Information Network may not be shared with law enforcement in states that do not have reciprocity agreements with Virginia for the carrying of concealed handguns

This bill could unnecessarily hamper criminal investigations in other states and put our law enforcement officers at risk.

 

SB 1059 – Requires the Attorney General to make a public written determination as to the need for special counsel, and places reporting requirements on the use of outside counsel

This bill limits the Attorney General’s authority to appoint outside counsel and could present challenges to attorney-client privilege.

 

SB 1137 – Provides that lawful concealed carry permit holders be permitted to carry a loaded shotgun or rifle in any vehicle on public streets, highways and roads

This legislation ignores long-established fire arm safety procedures and could endanger law enforcement officers in the line of duty.

 

HB 1318 – Requires photo identification for persons seeking absentee ballots by mail, telephone or electronic transmission.

Governor McAuliffe determined that this bill imposes barriers on eligible voters being able to obtain and cast an absentee ballot.

 

HB 1473 – Allows a General Registrar who lives and is registered to vote in one locality to serve as registrar in an adjoining locality

Governor McAuliffe determined that this bill makes unnecessary changes to current law, which requires that the person who runs elections in a given locality should be a voter in that locality.

 

HB 1608 – Prohibiting any local government from requiring contractors to have a wage floor or other employee benefit above what is otherwise required by state law.

This bill would unduly limit the ability of local governments to decide their own labor practices and could negatively impact the utilization of registered apprenticeship programs.

 

HB 1626 – Prohibiting public schools from joining any organization which does not permit home schooled students to participate in sports program (such as the Virginia High School League)

This bill would create a double standard, as students who are not subject to academic or attendance requirements of public schools would now compete with students on public school athletic teams. He also recognized the wide availability of athletic programs that operate outside the public school system.

 

HB 1752 and SB 724 – Prohibits the Board of Education from adopting the Common Core State Standards without prior approval of the General Assembly

This bill infringes on the authority of the Virginia Board of Education, particularly given that fact that Virginia has no plans to adopt the Common Core State Standards.    

  

HB 2009 – Requires the chief law enforcement officer to provide a certification for transfer of a machine gun within 60 days if the applicant is not prohibited by law from receiving the machine gun

This bill restricts the authority of local law enforcement to make its own decisions about machine gun transfers.

 

HB 2395 – Prohibits a state agency from requiring a bidder, offeror, contractors, or subcontractors to perform services at rates based on wages and benefits for the corresponding classes of laborers and mechanics

This legislation is a solution in search of a problem. This bill responds to a future circumstance that has not arisen because Virginia does not have a prevailing wage law.   

 

In addition to his vetoes, Governor McAuliffe announced that he would amend around 50 pieces of legislation in order to align them with his goals. Those amendments include significant substantive and technical changes to the ethics legislation that was passed in the final hours of the legislative session.

 

“The ethics bill that was sent to my desk represented a significant step forward, but it was not perfect. While my amendments do not make it perfect, they do further strengthen our ethics laws so that Virginians can have greater confidence that their leaders are putting them first.

 

“While I sought a much stronger bill, my top priority is amending this bill to include a $100 aggregate cap on gifts, so that leaders cannot receive unlimited $100 gifts from lobbyists and those seeking influence with the state. That is a reasonable step that I hope the General Assembly will accept this year, so that we can begin preparing to further advance this important cause in the next legislative session.”

 

 

The Governor’s amendments to this year’s ethics bill include:

Record Review

Conference report: Forms reviewed only for completeness. If incomplete, the filer is notified confidentially to file a completed disclosure.

Governor’s amendment: The Council will conduct semiannual, random inspections for compliance with disclosure requirements, limitations on gifts, accuracy of information and deadlines.

Appointments to Council

Conference report:  Governor’s appointees would be a retired judge and two individuals from a list suggested by VML and VACO.

Governor’s amendment: Governor’s appointees would be an Executive Branch appointee and the two proposed by local government organizations.

Travel waivers

Conference report: Exemptions to the waiver requirement include travel paid by any government, travel to facilitate attendance at the legislative session, a legislative or commission meeting or a national conference approved by House/Senate Rules committee, and travel related to a meeting that an official has been appointed to because of his/her office.

Governor’s amendment: All travel paid by a third party to the legislative session, the NCSL and similar organizations must be disclosed.

Gifts

Conference report: A $100 cap per gift to state and local officials and legislators from a lobbyist or lobbyist principal. For state and local officials, the cap also applies to entities seeking a contract with an official’s agency. Exemptions/waivers for personal friends and widely attended events in addition to the travel exemption discussed above.

Governor’s amendment: A $100 aggregate gift cap. That cap also applies to gifts to legislators from entities seeking a contract with the state. This is existing law.

Definition of widely attended event

Conference report:  Officials may accept food and beverages with a value exceeding $100 at widely attended events. Widely attended events are defined as events at which 25 or more people are expected to attend. The event must also be open to the public or to individuals with a common interest; members of a civic, public or professional organization; or individuals from a particular industry.

Governor’s amendment: Removes language in the definition that exempts events that are open to the public in order to clarify that major sports events such as the Super Bowl are not included in the definition and exempted from the gift cap. 

  • ProgressVA today applauded Governor Terry McAuliffe’s amendments to SB1424/HB2070, the omnibus ethics reform legislation. McAuliffe’s amendments significantly strengthen the legislation while closing loopholes that allow travel and gifts to go undisclosed.

    “We’re proud of Governor McAuliffe for standing up for accountability and transparency,” said ProgressVA executive director Anna Scholl. “This ethics bill was riddled with errors and loopholes. The Governor’s amendments are significant steps forward. We expect members of the General Assembly to get with the program and approve these amendments when they reconvene in a few weeks.”

    In addition to reinstating the aggregate gift cap and fixing a loophole that would allow legislators to still accept free Super Bowl tickets, the Governor amended language that would have allowed elected officials to accept free travel paid for by third parties without any disclosure. This travel loophole would allow special interests like Dominion to fly any legislator around the state for “official business” or underwrite their attendance at meetings of the American Legislative Exchange Council, where corporate lobbyists meet with state legislators behind closed doors.

    The General Assembly will reconvene on April 15th to consider the Governor’s amendments. Amendments must pass both houses in order to become law.