Governor Bob McDonnell has taken executive action on legislation passed by the General Assembly during the 2012 session. Governor McDonnell amended two pieces of legislation that were part of his "Opportunity to Learn" K-12 education agenda. Further, Governor McDonnell amended two key pieces of his transportation agenda - the Comprehensive Port of Virginia Promotion and Reform Bill (HB1183/SB578) and the Comprehensive Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority Promotion and Reform Bill (HB813/SB284). He also amended two pieces of legislation strengthening the Virginia Retirement System (SB498 and SB497). Finally, the governor amended the voter ID legislation (HB9/SB1). McDonnell vetoed seven pieces of legislation.
Speaking about his "Opportunity to Learn" legislation, Governor McDonnell said, "This year's 'Opportunity to Learn' K-12 agenda includes bold and aggressive legislation to improve our education system and create more educational options for our children. I have amended two pieces of K-12 legislation passed by the General Assembly as part of this agenda. I signed Senator Stanley's SB131 and amended Delegate Massie's HB321, legislation that establishes a tax credit for individuals' or corporations' donations to nonprofit organizations providing scholarships to low-income students or eligible students with disabilities to attend private elementary or secondary schools. The amendments make the bill stronger by improving program quality, consistency and implementation. I also amended HB1181, a bill that will provide reading intervention to students who show deficiencies in third grade. These amendments strengthen the communication with parents about reading deficiencies and available services when a student's performance requires reading intervention. Additionally, the amendments require the Board of Education to develop requirements for providing intervention services and 'good cause' exemptions that may permit a third-grade student to be promoted to fourth grade despite reading deficiencies. This amendment solidifies local school divisions' responsibility to ensure that all students have appropriate resources to be reading on grade level by third grade. These bills will ensure that every child, regardless of their zip code, will have access to the high-quality education they deserve."
Governor McDonnell's amendments to HB321 - legislation to spur private-sector investment in scholarships for underprivileged students to attend private schools:
Extend the turnaround time to six months for corporations.
Require that payments be made quarterly, in order to more adequately ensure consistency between scholarship foundations and portability.
Requires scholarship foundations to allow an eligible student to attend any eligible private school.
Amendments made to HB1181, a bill that will provide reading intervention to those students who show deficiencies in third grade, do the following:
Requires school divisions to work with parents in the division to develop reading intervention plans.
At the end of grade two or beginning of grade three, it utilizes the Phonological Awareness and Literacy Screening (PALS) or any other diagnostic test that meets criteria established by the Department of Education to assess reading deficiencies.
Requires the local school division to provide reading intervention services and document that the deficiency has been remediated based on testing performance prior to promoting the student from grade three to grade four.
The Board will also develop "good-cause exemptions" that may permit a grade three student to advance to grade four with required continued reading remediation in grade four for a student who demonstrates grade level deficiencies in grade three after receiving required reading intervention services.
Speaking to his amendments to two key pieces of his transportation agenda, Governor McDonnell said, "This past Session, the General Assembly adopted two critical pieces of legislation to reform and better promote two of Virginia's transportation entities: the Virginia Port Authority and the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority," said Governor McDonnell.
"These two authorities are tremendous economic assets with the potential to spur economic development and job creation all throughout the Commonwealth. However, to fully realize their potential we must ensure that adequate funding streams and incentives are in place so that they both may become national leaders in their respective industries. I have, therefore, recommended that the Commonwealth create the Port of Virginia Economic and Infrastructure Development Zone, which will help attract the distribution, manufacturing, warehousing and other support facilities needed for the port to realize its projected growth. Also, I have recommended that we increase the annual funding provided for the VCSFA in this year's legislation so that the authority can attract and retain the professional staff needed to become a leader in the commercial aerospace industry and can adequately maintain the tremendous facilities developed on Wallops Island."
The following amendments were made to HB1183 and SB578, which create new efficiencies and enhance incentives for the Port of Virginia:
Technical amendments clarifying new requirements for members of the Board of Commissions
Creating the Port of Virginia Economic and Infrastructure Development Zone, which will provide corporate income tax credits to companies that ship goods into and out of the Port of Virginia or are involved in other aspects of maritime commerce.
Amendments to HB813 and SB284, which reconstitutes the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority to make it a leader in the commercial aerospace industry, include:
Increasing the amount of annual dedicated funding from $7.5 million to $9.5 million
Placing a sunset on the VCSFA's annual funding
Clarifying provisions related to the establishment of retirement programs for VCSFA employees
Speaking about his amendments to SB498 and SB497, legislation reforming and strengthening the Virginia Retirement System, Governor McDonnell commented, "Virginia is fortunate to have dedicated and hard-working state and local employees who keep Virginians safe, help
government function for its citizens, and prepare for the future of our Commonwealth. Over the last few years, we have taken a number of important steps to help ensure that these employees' retirement is secure. This year, the General Assembly passed historic legislation to further improve the long-term solvency of the Virginia Retirement System."
Governor McDonnell continued, "Yesterday, I was pleased to sign HB1130 into law, and I have submitted a number of amendments to SB497 and SB498. These amendments are primarily technical in nature and ensure that the legislation conforms to the conference report agreed upon by the General Assembly. I commend the members of the General Assembly, particularly Speaker Bill Howell, Senator John Watkins, Senator Janet Howell and Delegate Chris Jones, for their support of and important work on this issue. With these efforts, we will be better able to ensure the security of our public employee retirement system."
Governor McDonnell signed HB1130. The governor's amendments to VRS legislation (SB498 and SB497) are as follows:
SB498 Virginia Retirement System; hybrid defined contribution and defined benefit retirement program.
The amendments would make the sickness and disability coverage for local employees under the new hybrid plan mandatory, with an opt-out provision for localities that offer comparable disability coverage.
In several instances, definitions of the employees to be covered by various changes were not consistent with the conference report, and these definitions have been revised so that the 1.65 percent multiplier and the 60-month average final compensation provisions will apply to all Plan 2 employees and to non-vested Plan 1 employees.
The amendments would also apply the 1.65 percent multiplier to judges appointed to an initial term on or after Jan. 1, 2013, instead of to non-vested judges who may have already taken the bench prior to Jan. 1, 2013.
A number of technical corrections are proposed to remove unnecessary words or language inadvertently included in the bill and to correct certain references.
SB497 Virginia Retirement System employee contributions; local employees; school board employees.
Amendments to SB497 would extend the ability to phase in payment of the full 5 percent member contribution by employees over five years to all local employers. The legislation as passed restricted the phase-in authority to school boards.
Specifically commenting on the voter ID amendments, Governor McDonnell noted, "Ensuring the security, fairness and openness of our elections are cornerstones of a strong democracy.
For people to have faith in their government, they must have faith in their elections. This legislation passed by the General Assembly attempts to increase the security of our elections by lessening the risk of voter fraud. The legislation adds five forms of identification to the list of acceptable forms of ID and strengthens the protections when someone votes without presenting an ID. In reviewing this legislation, I want to preserve this goal of preventing illegal voting while promoting voter participation, and making sure we do not stand in the way of legitimate voting. I also want to ensure that this legislation complies with the requirements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965."
The Governor's amendments to the voter ID legislation (HB9/SB1):
A signature comparison requirement so that any voter who votes without presenting a valid ID will, without further action, have the signature on his/her provisional ballot compared to the signature on file with the State Board of Elections so the voter will not have to go the Registrar to present ID or send it in, although that option will still exist. At least 12 other states have signature provisions in their laws.
To extend the amount of time under which a voter may send or present ID to the local electoral board. Under the legislation that passed the General Assembly, the voter would have been required to attend the canvass the day after the election to present ID or to request an extension to the following day. Under the governor's proposed amendment, the voter will have until the Friday after the election to present ID. If the voter did not present ID, the voter's signature would still be compared to the signature on record under the previous amendment.
To eliminate the provision in the legislation that allows for voter ID requirements to be waived if an officer of election states that he recognizes the voter after receiving input from a number of registrars and electoral board members concerned about the subjectivity and lack of uniformity that would result.
To also allow for community college identification cards as acceptable forms of ID.
Based on information from the State Board of Elections, under Virginia's current voter ID law, approximately 0.25 percent to 0.30 percent of voters vote without identification and signing the affirmation. Under this legislation, the number of people subject to the non-ID voting provisions will decrease with the addition of several acceptable IDs.
Finally, Governor McDonnell vetoed the following seven pieces of legislation:
HB399: Directs the Department of Health to convene a work group to develop a plan for implementing a program for screening infants born in the Commonwealth for critical congenital cyanotic heart disease.
This bill was deemed unnecessary in light of current work in this area by the Virginia Department of Health.
HB423: Requires the Common Interest Community Board to develop and publish best practices for declarations and develop a model declaration
This bill was vetoed because it increases the Common Interest Community Board's responsibilities without any discernible benefit.
HB736: Moves the June 12, 2012, primary date to Aug. 7, 2012, in response to the 2012 redistricting process and adjusts various deadlines for filings and election preparations to accommodate the new primary date.
This bill was vetoed because it would have only taken effect if Congressional redistricting were not precleared by the Department of Justice by April, but the legislation was precleared in March.
HB878: Raises amount localities may charge for an annual license tax upon owners.
The intent of this legislation is to encourage residents moving to the Commonwealth to register their vehicles in Virginia so that the localities may collect the personal property tax levied upon such vehicles. However the new license tax conflicts with and adds a second penalty to the existing state law and thus was vetoed.
HB886: Requires the Board of Education to promulgate regulations by July 1, 2013, to address truancy.
This bill was deemed unnecessary in light of fact that regulations are currently being promulgated by the Board of Education to address the issues included in the legislation.
SB471: Requires the Board of Education to promulgate regulations governing physical education programs in public schools.
The companion bill, HB1092, was amended.
SB627: Clarifies a community association's authority to prohibit or restrict the installation of solar power devices.
This bill was vetoed because of constitutional concerns that the legislation may impair the contracts in violation of the United States and Virginia Constitutions.
The General Assembly will consider all of the governor's vetoes and amendments when it meets next week for the reconvened session.