The 2014 General Assembly session is underway and there are a slew of proposed bills that could impact Hanover County, if passed.
“I’ve tried to select some bills that relate to the board’s legislative agenda and give you an update on where they stand,” said County Attorney Sterling Rives at the Jan. 22 board meeting.
There are a number of bills introduced to change the “composition of the transportation board.” One piece of legislative introduced in the House of Delegates would double the number of members to 22 and would give more representation to urban areas of Virginia.
Rives said there’s a consensus that will “produce better representation for the Richmond district,” but rural counties may not be fond of this legislation.
“I think you’re right about the rural areas not liking this much at all because they become the minority,” said Wayne T. Hazzard, vice chairman and South Anna District supervisor.
There is also legislation that would prohibit localities from increasing machinery and merchant’s tools tax above a locality’s current rate.
“You wouldn’t be able to change the rate of tools and you also wouldn’t be able to change the assessment ratio on machinery tools,” Rives said.
He said this one would really impact Hanover.
W. Canova Peterson IV, Mechanicsville supervisor, asked if this would trigger the state government to start eliminating business and professional occupation license, or BPOL, taxes, which are a local revenue source.
“I think step one is to cap them where they are and then I think step two is to eliminate them,” Rives said.
Another bill would allow local governing bodies like the board of supervisors to fire any appointed public official. In Hanover, this includes those on the parks and recreation committee, planning commission and the school board.
Rives said that governing bodies would not have to justify the removal.
There is also legislation related to the Freedom of Information Act that would allow individuals from out of state to file requests. Rives said this could be an expense for localities.
“Hanover and other governments typically get some requests from out of state,” he said.
Some school related legislation is on the board’s radar. For instance, there are four bills dealing with the school calendar year that were introduced in the House and would give school boards the authority to decide when the school year should begin instead of having to wait until after Labor Day unless there’s an exception from the state.
Rives said he is not aware of a Senate bill at the moment and that type of legislation often glides through the process in the House but is tabled in the senate.
“So we’re keeping an eye on these bills,” Rives said.
There is also legislation that would require school boards employ a resource officer in every elementary and secondary school. House Bill 66 says the cost of funding each school resource officer would come out of the Lottery Proceeds Fund.
“That would substantially increase the number of school resource officers Hanover would have to have on board,” Rives said.
Currently the bill is making its way through the House. On Monday, it moved out of the House education committee and was assigned to the elementary and secondary education sub-committee. On Tuesday, the sub-committee recommended “laying” the bill on the table by a voice vote.
Another big topic that the supervisors are following closely alongside officials with other localities is the local implementation of the stormwater management programs. Rives said there are at least three or four different bills that were introduced on this topic. One in particular, House Bill 697, would delay the date that local governments have to assume responsibility for the program to be implemented until July 1, 2015 instead of this summer. However, that bill was moved to the table by a voice vote last week.