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McDonnell signs streamlining bills

While visiting Central Virginia Community College in Lynchburg on Thursday, Gov. Bob McDonnell ceremonially signed nine bills that streamline or eliminate burdensome state mandates on local governments.

In September 2011, McDonnell announced the creation of the Governor’s Task Force for Local Government Mandate Review. The five-member Task Force is a result of legislation introduced during the 2011 General Assembly session to review state mandates imposed on localities and to recommend temporary suspension or permanent repeal of such mandates as appropriate.

In January 2012, the task force completed its work and made recommendations to the General Assembly about mandate changes that could be enacted. The bills signed today are a result of that work.

“I understand the challenge local governments face when trying to balance their budgets and conduct the people’s business during complex financial times and with limited resources,” McDonnell said. “This difficulty is exacerbated when the state places burdensome mandates on localities. As part of my continuing effort in partnership with the Governor’s Task Force for Local Government Mandate Review to support only justifiable and reasonable mandates on localities, I am pleased to ceremonially sign these bills into law to help ease the burden on localities and to streamline mandates so local governments can focus on their core services.”

Sen. Steve Newman, sponsor of legislation that eliminates several statewide mandates on local governments (SB679), said, “Governing at a local level is challenging because it is closest to the people and has to work to address the direct needs of city and county citizens while also balancing requirements passed by the state. By focusing our efforts to streamline or eliminate these requirements wherever possible, we are able to make local governments more efficient and responsive to their citizens.”

Del. Kathy Byron, patron of sister legislation in the House of Delegates (HB1295) added, “Despite its best intentions, state government can often create burdensome steps that require local governments to focus on bureaucratic steps and writing reports rather than remaining dedicated to its core services. Through the work of the Governor’s Task Force for Local Government Mandate Review Mandates and Governor McDonnell’s dedication to streamlining government, we were able to work across the aisle in the General Assembly to pass this substantive legislation to reduce these burdens on local government. This is a win-win for local governments, and for the citizens who depend on localities to address their needs.”

The laws ceremonially signed by Gov. McDonnell will go into effect July 1, 2012.

Bills Signed

HB96 (Wilt) Accreditation of schools; delayed implementation of certain statutes and regulations.
Extends the delay of the implementation of statutes and regulations upon which the accreditation of schools in the Commonwealth is based that were not already in effect on June 30, 2008, with the exceptions of the graduation and completion rate index and the economics and financial literacy requirement, until July 1, 2013, unless such statutes or regulations are also specifically required by federal code, federal regulation, or court action.

HB869 (Rust)/SB 274 (Smith) Urban Development Areas
Makes incorporation of urban development areas optional rather than mandatory. Currently urban development areas are mandatory for many higher growth localities. The bill also makes technical amendments.

HB914 (Minchew) Children at Play Signs
Allows counties and towns, pursuant to an agreement with the Commissioner of Highways, to install “Children at play” signs on highways within their boundaries. The cost of the signs and installation will be borne by the county or town.

HB1216 (D. Bell) Zoning Amendment Notices on Federal or State Lands
Provides that when a proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance involves a tract of land of not less than 500 acres owned by the Commonwealth or by the federal government, and when the proposed change affects only a portion of the larger tract, notice need be given only to the owners of those properties that are adjacent to the affected area of the larger tract.

HB1295 (Byron)/SB679 (Newman) Eliminates State Mandates
Eliminates several statewide mandates on local government and regional government entities. The bill does the following: (i) removes the requirement that surplus property be offered to political subdivisions or volunteer fire and rescue squads before being sold at a public sale or auction, (ii) raises the ceiling for professional service contracts that a locality may enter without competitive negotiation from $50,000 to $60,000, (iii) eliminates the requirement that a lease of property owned by any political subdivision, or privately owned, licensed public use airport be approved by the department, (iv) removes the requirement for localities to obtain VDOT approval for red light camera locations, (v) clarifies that the local courts cannot require localities to construct a new or additional courthouse, (vi) eliminates requirements for reporting Urban Development Areas to the Commission on Local Government, (vii) removes the requirement for establishing local advisory committees on gifted education and the annual reporting by such committees, (viii) eliminates the requirement to provide the estimated per pupil cost for public education of individual school to each parent or guardian of the enrolled child, (ix) removes the requirement that proceeds from the sale of local education surplus property be applied to capital improvements, (x) eliminates the requirement to establish a school health board, (xi) removes annual contract requirements for community service boards, (xii) eliminates Internet policy mandates on local libraries, (xiii) changes requirement to give first priority for vending contracts to the blind from mandatory to a local option, and (xiv) repeals the requirement for civics training for teachers in order to renew license. The bill also makes technical changes.

SB676 (Garrett) Recycling Survey
Requires solid waste planning units or localities with a population of greater than 90,000 to submit a recycling report annually and requires those units or localities with a population of 90,000 or less to submit the report at least once every four years. Currently, all solid waste planning units or localities are required to submit the report annually.

HB579 (Helsel) Applications for Public Assistance May Be Made Electronically
Provides that applications for public assistance may be made electronically.