Public Announcements

Update on status of some of the major bills our lobbyist has been working on for VACRE

I wanted to update you all on the status of some of the major bills I have been working on for VACRE.

  1. SB 539 (Ebbin).  This bill would allow localities through the land use process to impose labor requirements on commercial and residential developments.  We have worked with HBAV to oppose this and generated a lot of opposition from chambers of commerce and business groups.  Thanks to all of you who have emailed the members of the Senate Local Government Committee in response to our request.  They have made a difference.  The patron failed to show for today’s scheduled second hearing on the bill.  It will be heard and hopefully defeated or referred for study one week from today.
  1. HB 1463 (Gooditis) and HB 1393 (LaRock).  These bills would have allowed localities to restrict the amount of nutrient credits issued in their locality by limiting the conversion of farmland to nutrient banks.  This would have caused significant problems for urban areas who are depending on adjacent rural localities for nutrient banks that can serve as off-site sources of compliance with stormwater requirements.  Both these bills were defeated in House Subcommittee today and I spoke against them.  The issue will be studied in the interim and there is some interest to focus nutrient banks away from prime farmland and instead first use less desirable farmland.
  1. HB 221 (Mugler) and SB 184 (Locke).  These two identical tree bills were introduced at the request of the City of Hampton.  They would have allowed any locality to designate individual “Chesapeake Bay watershed trees” for preservation using a very broad definition of what constitutes such a tree.  I have opposed both bills along with Andrew Clark of HBAV.  Both bills went by the first time they were docketed and both were scheduled to be heard this week.  HB 221 was heard tonight and the patron introduced a completely different substitute bill (scan attached).  The good news is the bill now only applies to Hampton Roads.  The bad news for HRACRE members is that the bill is worse than before.  It now purports to regulate “flood mitigation” trees which are designated by a locality as part of sea-level rise and recurrent flood strategies designated in a comprehensive plan.  These trees can be designated individually or as a “grouping of trees”.  Andrew and I both strongly objected to this last-minute change and the committee then deferred action on the bill until next week.  The Senate bill will be heard tomorrow afternoon and presumably the same problematic substitute bill will be proposed and we will oppose it.  This is a really bad bill and we will work hard to stop it.
  1. HB 6 (Bourne) and HB 357 (Lopez).  A number of you who are interested in multi-family housing issues have expressed concern to me about these two bills that would add discrimination based on “source of income” to the Virginia fair Housing Law.  Hb 357 is being combined into HB 6 which will be heard in Subcommittee on Thursday.  While opposition to these bills is being led by those groups who take the lead on multi-family issues (Virginia Association for Realtors, Virginia Apartment Management Association, Apartment and Office Building Association and Multi-Family Sections of the local home builders association), I have tried to keep up with these two bills and share our concerns.  I wanted to report that the opponents report to me that while they are working to get amendments to make the bill less objectionable, this bill is unlikely to be stopped this Session.  The bill is being supported by the Governor, Attorney General, NAACP, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (who has significantly increased influence this year) and the House Democratic Caucus.  It is a top priority for the Legislative Black Caucus.  While the patron has agreed to amendments to carve out owners who have small numbers of units he is firm on gaining passage of the bill.  Other amendments are being worked on to put short time limits on how long an owner would have to wait for tenancy approvals and inspections when someone holding a housing choice voucher seeks to rent a unit.  There may be a chance for further amendments in the Senate but I wanted to let those of you know who have multi-family housing interests that after years of successfully defeating this proposal, all indications are that some form of this proposal will pass this year.

There are a number of other bills we are working on but I wanted you to be aware of actions on these four this evening.  I hope you find this information to be helpful.  Please let me know if you have any questions on this.  Regards, Phil

Philip F. Abraham
Director and General Counsel
The Vectre Corporation