From the Desk of Don Gehring Date: February 6, 2009
February 10th is the last day to take action on bills in the House of origin. The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on February 28th.
On February 17th, VCU will host the annual Legislative Basketball Game at the Siegel Center. Starting at 7:00 pm, the Senate will play the House of Delegates, followed by a game of the Governor’s Office versus lobbyists. Proceeds from this basketball game will go to support the Massey Cancer Center.
The House and Senate will release their recommendations to the Governor’s introduced budget this Sunday, February 8th. As noted last week, Delegates Putney, Hamilton, Cox, Sherwood, Hogan, and Joannou have been named House budget conferees. The Senate will name their conferees on or before February 18th.
There will be an additional legislative update on Monday with details of the proposed budget recommendations from the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees.
Currently 1846 bills and 396 resolutions have been introduced. We are tracking 147 higher education and administration bills and 217 health related bills, totaling 364 bills.
Management of Investment Funds (HB 1725, SB 1395) – This legislation authorizes the boards of visitors of the College of William and Mary, Virginia Tech and VCU to invest and manage endowment funds, endowment income, gifts, and all other nongeneral fund reserves. HB 1725 passed the House unanimously last Thursday and is waiting to be heard on the Senate side. The identical bill, SB 1395 was reported out of the Senate Finance Committee yesterday and is expected to crossover to the House next week.
Anti-Smoking Legislation – Multiple bills were introduced relating to smoking in public places, especially restaurants. The Governor, Senate and the House have conceptually agreed on legislation that will ban smoking in nearly all restaurants across the Commonwealth, allowing narrow exceptions for private clubs and restaurants with separate designated smoking rooms. The Senate version of these bills have all passed the Senate, while HB 1703 was reported from General Laws with a vote of 16-6.
Personal Information of Nurses (SB 1282) – Senator Newman introduced SB 1282 after learning that the Department of Health Professions (DHP) was selling personal information of nurses to outside organizations. This bill will prohibit that practice as well as allow hospitals to only print nametags with the first name and first letter of the last name of health professionals who work in a psychiatric department, emergency room or when providing care for inmates.
Medical Malpractice Liability (SB 843, SB 1389) Both of these bills may be discussed on Monday, February 9th in the Senate Courts Committee. This will be the last day this committee can act on these bills.
Immigration Issues - About 130 immigration-related bills were introduced last year compared to about 30 which were proposed this year. We will monitor the affects of these immigration bills on admission and tuition policies at the university.
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – The House of Representatives passed their version of an economic recovery package (HR 1) on Wednesday, January 28th with a vote of 244 – 128. Not a single Republican voted for the bill. The Senate is currently debating their own version of the bill (SR 1). Both versions of the bill contain varying levels of funding (as well as certain caveats and conditions) for:
Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) Increase
Increase in Pell Grants/Student Financial Aid
Health Information Technology
NIH Research Funding
Higher Education Infrastructure Funding for Existing Buildings
Once the Senate passes its bill, differences between the House and Senate versions will be resolved by a conference committee.
State Children’s Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP) - President Obama signed the SCHIP legislation on Wednesday, February 4th. This bill would extend the current SCHIP law for another four and a half years, as well as expand this insurance program to an additional 4 million children.
If you have questions, contact Don Gehring (email@example.com) or Mark Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org). Our office phone number is: 804-828-1235.