2008 General Assembly Highlights
The General Assembly convened on January 9, 2008 and
adjourned after an extended session on March 13, 2008. Immediately following
the regular session, the General Assembly moved right into Special Session to
iron out the details on the two bond bills for capital outlay. Reconvened
Session will take place on or about April 23, with hopes that the bond bills
will be agreed upon by then.
Given the difficult economic outlook, VCU fared relatively
well. There are modest salary increases for both University faculty and staff
in both years of the biennium, additional funds for base adequacy, a significant
increase for student financial aid, and some funds for research.
For a summary of the State Budget that affects VCU, please
The summary shows, in the left column, the Governor's recommendations in the
introduced budget. The next two columns show House and Senate amendments, and
finally, the right column shows the ultimate compromise. The Governor will make
his amendments to the budget before the Reconvened Session on April 23rd.
Two bond packages were introduced (HB 1547
which will aid colleges and universities with capital construction of
much-needed facilities. The two bills differ in scope and amount, by a little
under $1 billion. The General Assembly is now in the first Special Session to
come to agreement on what projects should be included. The bond bills have been
renumbered HB 5001 and SB 5001. As for VCU, both bills contain our top capital
project, the School of Medicine Building ($70 million). The House allocated
planning money for the General Classroom Building on the Monroe Park Campus
while the Senate gave VCU the full appropriation ($44 million). A new vivarium
for Massey Cancer Center received planning money in both bills.
Tier 3 Legislation
Delegate Chris Jones and Senator John Watkins introduced
legislation (HB 1124,
SB 358) on behalf of VCU to grant the university the
highest level of operational flexibility in key areas under the Higher Education
Restructuring Act. Both bills have passed the General Assembly unanimously and
were signed by the Governor on March 12th. This legislation will go into effect
on July 1, 2008.
Out of the 3322 bills and resolutions that have been
introduced, VCU tracked over 400 pieces of legislation. Bills of importance
Guns on Campus (HB 424,
HB 1371) – These
bills would forbid any higher education institution from setting policies to
prohibit the carrying of a firearm. These bills failed to be heard in
Admission for Undocumented Students (HB 14,
HB 1011) – These bills would either prohibit illegal aliens from
being admitted to an institution or would ensure that these individuals pay
out-of-state rates. These bills failed to pass.
Medical Malpractice Liability (HB 1305,
SB 211) -
Maintaining the medical malpractice liability cap was a priority of VCU Health
System this session. Even though no bills were introduced to remove or
increase the cap, the General Assembly did focus on revamping the
Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Program. The new legislation
increased fees paid by participating providers and hospitals, as well as
recalculated debt models to alleviate some of the financial burden of the
Behavioral Health (HB 499,
SB 246) – Touted as the
most comprehensive mental health reform ever in the General Assembly, these
two identical bills passed overwhelmingly with extensive support on both sides
of the aisle, as well as from the Governor and all stakeholders involved.
Besides broadening the criteria for those to be committed, this bill outlines
the involuntary commitment process. The bills also extend the emergency
custody order for an additional two hours and codify practices of sharing
mental health records.
VCU Institute for Women’s Health (HJ 78) –
Delegate Jennifer McClellan introduced a resolution on behalf of the VCU’s
Institute for Women’s Health commending the institute for its community
commitment and designation as a National Center of Excellence in Women’s
40th Anniversary of Virginia Commonwealth
University (SJ 40,
SJ 41) – Senator Donald McEachin patroned a resolution
celebrating the university’s 40th anniversary and praising the
education and health care contributions of VCU to the Commonwealth.