Monday, September 13, 2021

Governor Releases August 2021 Revenue Report

Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam released numbers from the August 2021 Revenue Report showing Virginia's economy continues to recover from pandemic lows last spring. According to administration numbers, the General Fund rose 18.9 percent in August 2021 when compared to the same period in 2020.

Collections of payroll withholding taxes increased 12.7 percent in August. Collections of sales and use taxes, reflecting July sales, grew 20.2 percent in August. Recordation taxes from real estate transactions increased by 8.9 percent. There was one more deposit day this August than there was August of last year. The first estimated payments from individuals, corporations and insurance companies are due in September.

On a year-to-date basis, collections of payroll withholding taxes62 percent of General Fund revenueswere up 9.6 percent, above the annual estimate of a 1.7 percent increase. Sales tax collections17 percent of General Fund revenuesgrew 14.3 percent year-to-date, ahead of the forecast of a 4.2 percent decline. On a fiscal year-to-date basis, total revenue collections rose 5.2 percent in August, above the annual forecast of an 8.0 percent decline.

The full report is available here.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Budget Compromise Passed by House and Senate

 The Conference Committee reached a compromise on the spending plan, which makes several amendments to the introduced spending plan.  The Conference Report can be found here.   

Today both the Senate and the House approved the Conference Report, which now heads to the Governor's desk.  

The adopted spending plan includes the $250 million for ventilation improvements as well as the language to restore the option for public employers to use compensatory time in lieu of overtime, which we wrote about here last week.  

In addition, the spending plan also includes the following additional amendment:

Line 1048, introduced, after § 207(o)

insert

, and the term "Employee" shall not include an individual described in 29 U.S.C. §203(e)(4). In addition to the provisions of subsection D of § 40.1-29.2 of the Code of Virginia, an employer may assert an exemption to the overtime requirements for employees who meet any of the exemptions set forth in 29 U.S.C. § 213 (a)

This additional language restores certain exemptions under the Virginia Overtime Wage Act and clarifies that certain volunteers are not considered employees under the Virginia Overtime Wage Act.  This amendment was intended to address a concern that the Virginia Overtime Wage Act, passed earlier this year, may have conflicted with the practice of paying coaches a nominal stipend, which is permitted under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.  With this language now in the budget, that practice with regard to coaches can continue.  


   

Friday, August 6, 2021

APRA Spending Plan Heads to Conference Committee

The plan to spend the 4.3 billion dollars of federal funding provided through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA)  is headed to a conference committee in the Virginia General Assembly. Yesterday, the House (HB 7001) and Senate (SB 7001) insisted on their own spending plans during afternoon floor sessions.

The action followed a marathon session Wednesday night, in which the State Senate approved its priorities for the funding from the American Rescue Plan Act by a vote of 22-18. Unlike the House of Delegates, which quickly rejected amendments to the governor’s plan, the Senate debated over 100 amendments before passing their version of the legislation.

Conference Committee members are meeting Friday with hopes of reaching an agreement on a final spending plan before the legislature returns Monday. Please check back for updates and watch the VSBA social media outlets, Facebook, and Twitter, for breaking alerts. The VSBA Government Relations Team will post the conference report upon release from the committee.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

House Passes ARPA Spending Plan

By a vote of 71-25, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a spending plan allocating (HB 7001) roughly $3.5 billion dollars in funds received by the state from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). Included in this budget bill is $250 million dollars for qualified ventilation projects in public schools:

Education - Ventilation

1) $250,000,000 to Direct Aid to Public Education (197) for qualifying ventilation improvement projects in local public schools. Funds shall be allocated to local school divisions based on fiscal year 2022 projected March 31 average daily membership with a minimum allocation of $200,000 per division. Funds shall be paid to school divisions on a reimbursement basis. Localities shall provide a match for these funds from any available fund sources equal to 100 percent of the grant amount. A school division may elect to accept a grant amount less than its formula allocation. Before receiving any funds, local school divisions must provide a description for each of the projects to be completed with these funds, including estimated costs and date of completion, and certify to the Department of Education no later than November 15, 2021, that these funds will be used to improve ventilation systems in public facilities in accordance with guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for the American Rescue Plan Act Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. Following certification from a school division that it will not participate in the grant program or elects to accept an amount less than its formula allocation, the Department of Education is authorized to reallocate any program balances based on actual demand. No later than December 15, 2021, the Department of Education shall compile the school division certifications and submit a report to the Chairs of the Senate Finance and Appropriations and House Appropriations Committees, the Secretary of Education, the Secretary of Finance, and the Director, Department of Planning and Budget.

In addition to the ventilation funds, HB 7001 makes a clarification regarding The Virginia Overtime Wage Act which went into effect July 1. The Virginia Overtime Wage Act was presented as a change which would allow workers to pursue overtime claims against their employers in state court instead of federal court. 

The provisions of the Virginia Overtime Wage Act became problematic to some school divisions when in a frequently asked questions page on its website, the state Department of Labor and Industry posted its interpretation of the law, stating that employers cannot provide compensatory time instead of pay. Under language found in HB 7001, public agencies can use compensatory time in lieu of of wages for overtime pay;

That for the purposes of the Virginia Overtime Wage Act §40.1-29.2 the terms “Wages” and “Pay” shall also mean overtime compensatory time in lieu of wages for overtime pay by public agencies as provided by the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §207(o). Employees covered under 29 U.S.C. §213(b)(10)(A) shall be exempt from the overtime requirements set out in Code of Virginia §40.1-29.2.

House Bill 7001 will now move to the Senate. Senators are considering 142 budget amendments to SB 7001, which at the time of filing, was identical to the House legislation.

The VSBA Government Relations Team will continue to provide updates on the actions of the Senate regarding SB 7001 as they develop. The Senate is in recess until 6:30 p.m.


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

House Hears Budget Amendments, Substitute to HB 7001

Members of the Virginia House of Delegates heard proposed amendments to HB 7001, as well as substitute legislation offered by Delegate Todd Gilbert (R- Shenandoah). House Democrats rejected each amendment and the substitute legislation along party lines moving HB 7001 onto its third reading which will likely take place Wednesday. HB 7001 is the identical House legislation to SB 7001 that allocates monies to Virginia from the American Recovery Plan Act of 2021.

The first action taken was on the substitute legislation. By a vote of 53-43, the substitute bill was Passed by Indefinitely by the House. Two additional floor amendments offered by Delegate Glenn Davis (R- Virginia Beach) and Delegate Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach) were also Passed by Indefinitely by the Chamber. 

The House will convene Wednesday at noon to take a final vote on HB 7001.

Senate Passes Budget Bill By for the Day

The Senate of Virginia convened Tuesday afternoon to consider SB 7001, which would allocate roughly $3.5 billion dollars in funds Virginia received through the passage of the federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2021 (ARPA). After several amendments were filed by Senators by the 5pm deadline on Monday, lawmakers decided to Pass By for the Day SB 7001 to allow time for reading of proposed amendments.

The Senate is slated to take up the legislation when it convenes Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m. The VSBA Government Relations Team will continue to provide updates from the Capitol Building in Richmond as the legislator works through the bill making process.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Senate, House Budget Bills Report to Floor

The House Appropriations Committee and Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee met this afternoon to consider budget legislation that would allocate roughly $3.5 billion dollars in funds received through passage of the American Recovery Plan Act of 2021 in March. Lawmakers considered identical bills sponsored in each chamber (HB 7001, SB 7001) and reported the legislation to the floor by votes of 17-2 and 14-2 respectively. The legislation will be considered on each floor with a likely passage later this week after three readings in each chamber.