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Virginia General Assembly Special Session Updates

From the Washington Post: “On Sunday, the House will take a virtual vote to hold the rest of the session online and then will reconvene in a giant videoconference-style meeting. Committees can meet online this week but can’t take votes….The Senate, which never considered meeting remotely, convened nearby at the Science Museum of Virginia and will continue to do so during the session.”

General Assembly Special Session Committee schedule – note you can watch live or archived videos, and in some cases sign up to testify by clicking on: 

Filed bills for Special Session include at least a few relating to housing (may not be a complete list):

HB 5064 Patron: Price

Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; landlord remedies; noncompliance with rental agreement; payment plan (companion to SB 5088.)

SB 5051 Patron: Hashmi

Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; temporary prohibition against landlord termination of rental agreements or actions to obtain possession of a dwelling unit under certain circumstances

SB 5088 Patron: Ebbin

Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act; landlord remedies; noncompliance with rental agreement; payment plan (companion to HB 5064.)

SB 5102 Patron: Chafin

Income tax credit for rent forgone due to the COVID-19 pandemic


BUDGET:

Governor’s Special Session Budget Priorities – includes housing affordability and eviction/foreclosure moratoria, as well as broadband funding to help close the Digital Divide.

Watch Joint Senate and House Finance (Money Committees) presentations by Commerce Finance Secretary Aubrey Layne and Budget Director Dan Timberlake. 

The Northam Administration confirmed that Virginia ended FY20 (on June 30) with a $234 revenue shortfall. Currently, the state projects a $2.7 billion shortfall over the next two years; officials say that September revenue data reports will be very helpful in anticipating the level of revenues needed to prepare for the January 2021 General Assembly budget deliberations. 

Director Timberlake mentioned three principles of sound fiscal health: 

  • Liquidity, or cash on hand to address unexpected and immediate needs

  • Structural Balance, or ensuring that recurring annual costs can be covered by recurring annual revenues, with a cushion of revenue for savings

  • Reserve Funds, or having adequate ‘savings’ to ensure the state can manage cash flow in low economic cycles and emergencies.

Timberlake said that Virginia is in an excellent position on Liquidity and Reserve Funds. However, the pandemic has impacted Structural Balance – because adjusted anticipated revenues will not cover anticipated recurring costs. He recommends using one-time funding to cover one-time expenses, preserving cash for future, fast-response emergency needs, and working to mitigate the structural imbalances so they are not made worse as the revenue impacts of the pandemic are still occurring.

Budget Director Timberlake also mentioned that the Unemployment Trust Fund projects a $750 million deficit by December 31; this does not include any additional payments from the President’s Executive Order and memoranda regarding a $100/week supplemental unemployment payment to be covered by states over the next few months. CARES Act funding allocated directly to the Commonwealth could be used to backfill deficits in this program, but the potential future demand for greater unemployment filings would impact balance projections. 

Funding from the CARES Act is also providing resources for the $50 million Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP.)

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