Our special session on the budget, COVID-19 relief, and police reform has come to an end. This was truly a session unlike any other, with the House performing all of our duties virtually, and the Senate convening in the science museum in Richmond between weddings and other events previously booked in the space! I want to commend the House Clerk's office and the House IT staff who worked tirelessly to ensure everything ran smoothly in this "Zoom" session and that everyone was as safe as possible as we continue to navigate this pandemic.
To see a full list of all House and Senate bills passed during special session, click here. The Governor has signed a number of them, and has until next week to approve, amend, or veto all remaining legislation. The General Assembly will then reconvene to consider any amendments and vetoes and I will keep you posted as that session is scheduled. This newsletter also includes highlights from the budget conference report that was agreed to on October 16th.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to my office at DelKDelaney@house.virginia.gov. My staff and I are here to help connect you to the appropriate resources or state agency.
Last Friday, the House and Senate approved the budget conference report. As you may know, back in April when the General Assembly reconvened for its veto session, we unallotted the majority of new spending from our biennium budget passed at the end of the regular session. With new revenue forecasts, we came in to special session to reinstate funding where we could while ensuring a balanced state budget. Unfortunately, many programs were not able to be funded, including a program dear to my heart that seeks to prevent domestic violence in the Commonwealth. I am hopeful that when we return to session in January with updated revenue forecasts, we will be able to reinstate further funding to critical programs.
Here are just some of the highlights from the budget conference report agreed to by the House and the Senate:
$6.3 million for children's mental health services through the Virginia Mental Health Access Program (VMAP)
$36.5 million to update the rates for Developmental Disability Waiver Services
$4.1 million to restore 250 DD Waiver slots in fiscal year 2022 that were previously unallotted
$11.2 million and matching federal Medicaid funds to continue the additional $20 per day to nursing homes through June 30, 2021
Restores $17.5 million in funding to provide adult dental care for Medicaid recipients starting July 1, 2021
$12.8 million for overtime compensation for Medicaid personal care attendants starting on January 1, 2021
$3.6 million to eliminate the "40-quarter" work requirement for Medicaid eligibility for legal, permanent residents (this is contingent on federal approval coming by April 2021)
$2.5 million to extend FAMIS MOMS' postpartum coverage to 12 months (this is also contingent on receiving federal approval by April 2021)
$1.7 million to increase TANF assistance to low-income families
$95.2 million in Coronavirus Relief Fund moneys to K-12 education to offset the loss of sales tax revenues reserved for K-12 schools
$94 million for additional support for colleges and universities
$105 million in additional funding for the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program
The conference report establishes a moratorium on utility disconnections until 60 days after the end of the declared state of emergency
$85 million in investments to build and expand broadband infrastructure
$210 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds to the unemployment insurance program to help provide additional benefits or increase the solvency of the UI trust fund
Restores $38 million of unallotted funding and includes $30.4 million in new spending for water quality, land conservation, and other natural resource and environmental programs
As you know, I carried a bill during the special session that passed the House and the Senate and is awaiting action by the Governor. I am optimistic that this will soon become law and this loophole that allows law enforcement to claim that sexual activity that occurred between them and someone under their supervision was consensual is done away with in the Commonwealth.
Voting in Virginia:
Today at 5pm was the final deadline to request an absentee ballot if you are an eligible Virginia voter. If you've applied for your ballot or sent it back, and are curious as to where it is in its journey, you can check that here. Please note that in order to be counted, your absentee ballot must be postmarked on or by Election Day, and must be received by noon the Friday after Election Day. Please keep these deadlines in mind as you make your plan to vote.
If you didn't request your absentee ballot before 5pm today, you still have an opportunity to vote early in person by October 31. For more information from the Fairfax County Registrar, click here. For information for Loudoun County residents, click here. Otherwise, you can vote on Election Day in person - polls will be open from 6am to 7pm. Please make your plan to vote if you haven't already!
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you believe you may not safely have a witness present while completing the absentee ballot for the November 3, 2020 Election, you are not required to have a witness present. Accordingly, you may disregard the witness signature requirement if you believe you may not safely have a witness present while completing your ballot.
Virginia has become the first state in the country to implement a free COVID-19 exposure notification app using the Apple/Google Bluetooth Low Energy framework. The app is called COVIDWISE and was developed in an unprecedented, public-private partnership between the Virginia Department of Health, Google, and Apple. Simply put, COVIDWISE allows you to anonymously notify others if you test positive for COVID-19, and notifies you if you’ve likely been exposed to the virus based on positive reports from other app users.
This effort is an example of Virginia leading the way forward during the most pressing pandemic of our lifetimes, with the goal of reducing the risk for your friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues and helping Virginia stay safe and healthy.
But it only works if we all use it. Here’s how you can help:
Visit the App Store or Google Play Store and download COVIDWISE
Share information about COVIDWISE with your friends, colleagues, and family members
Post & share your support on social media
Mental Health and Domestic Violence Resources:
At this trying time, it is important that we continue to care for our mental health. Here are some resources if you are struggling and need help:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Fairfax/Falls Church Community Services Board hotline: 703-527-4077
Loudoun County Mental Health Emergency Services...703.777.0320
Loudoun Suicide Prevention...703.777.0176
PRS CrisisLink: 703-527-4077 or text “Connect” to 85511
SAMHSA National Helpline: 800-662-HELP (800-662-4357)
Children's Regional Crisis Response: 844-NCrisis (844-627-4747) in English and Spanish