October 20, 2014
In this update:
On Capitol Hill: McConnell Seeks Clean Slate for 2015
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) wants to get all must-pass legislation completed in the lame-duck session so Senate Republicans will have a clean slate at the start of 2015 if they control the upper chamber.
According to Senate GOP aides, McConnell would prefer to pass an omnibus spending bill or a year-long stopgap funding measure that would keep the federal government operating until the end of the fiscal year on September 30.
Included could be a package extending a variety of expired tax provisions. Some House Republicans would like to delay action on the so-called tax extenders package to 2015 and others are seeking to extend some expired provisions indefinitely, like the credit for business research. Aides say the Senate GOP is open to that approach, but want to finish off an extenders package before 2015.
The biggest question is what to do about legislation funding the government. Republicans are divided over whether it should keep federal departments and agencies operating through the end of the calendar year or only until the late winter or early spring. A short-term funding stopgap would give the expected Senate Republican majority a chance to reshape spending priorities mid-year, something GOP lawmakers demanded after their party captured the House in the 2010 midterm election.
New Rule to Strengthen the Clery Act
The Obama Administration has announced the publication of the final rule implementing changes made to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act) by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA). That law and the new rule strengthen the Clery Act to more effectively address, and ultimately reduce, sexual violence on college campuses, including, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
The Clery Act requires institutions of higher education to comply with certain campus safety- and security-related requirements as a condition of participating in the Federal student financial aid programs authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act. Under the Clery Act, an institution is required to disclose crime incidents that occur in one of three geographic categories: on campus, on public property within or adjacent to the campus, or in noncampus buildings or property owned or operated by the school.
The final rule requires an institution to record incidents of stalking based on the location where either the perpetrator engaged in the stalking or the victim first became aware of the stalking.
For more information, visit https://www.ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/GEN1413.html.
Warner and Gillespie Final Debate
Senator Mark Warner (Virginia) and Republican challenger Ed Gillespie faced off for the "People’s Debate" in Richmond on Monday, October 13. The event was organized by the League of Women Voters and AARP and broadcast on TV stations across Virginia. Bill Fitzgerald, anchor for WTVR CBS-6, served as the moderator. Warner and Gillespie discussed ethics, taxes, social programs and Ebola. This was the pair’s third and final campaign debate.
McAuliffe Unveils Cost-Cutting Measures
Governor Terry McAuliffe has unveiled cost-cutting measures in response to a projected budget shortfall. The steps are intended to partially address a previously announced multi-year deficit of $2.4 billion. In addition to job losses concentrated in the state prison system, the state will mark up the price of liquor, sell an old state police airplane and wait longer than usual to fill some jobs. Those actions will take effect immediately.
The administration also plans to cut $100 million next year as well as $150 million over two years from higher education and funding for local governments. On December 17, McAuliffe will reveal a new budget projection and plan for how to save $536 million in fiscal 2016.
For more information, visit https://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/newsarticle?articleId=6857.
Support Costs & Staffing at Virginia’s Higher Education Institutions
Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) has released a draft report entitled, “Support Costs & Staffing at Virginia’s Higher Education Institutions.” Directed by the General Assembly, JLARC is currently studying the cost efficiency of the state’s institutions of higher education to identify opportunities to reduce costs. Interest in this topic was spurred by increases in tuition and fees in recent years and the debt load of Virginia students. The report, which is the fourth in JLARC’s higher education series, focuses on support functions, including information technology and procurement (HJR 108, 2012).
To view a copy of the report, visit http://jlarc.virginia.gov/reports/Rpt460.pdf.
Children’s Services: CHIP Sign-on Letter
Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU and VCU Health System, have signed onto a letter with more than 1,400 organizations asking Congressional leaders to take action in the upcoming lame duck session to provide continued funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The letter, generated by First Focus, urges Members to include a four-year CHIP funding extension in the next legislative vehicle that is moving at the end of this session. Congress must act this year to stabilize the CHIP funding stream to ensure that states can continue to operate their programs without interruption. The letter will be sent to Senators Reid, McConnell, Hatch, Wyden; and Representatives Boehner, Pelosi, Upton, and Waxman.
To view a copy of the letter, visit http://firstfocus.org/letter-2/.
Executive Branch Media Talks
Visit the following links to access President Obama’s and Governor McAuliffe’s regularly scheduled media talks.
President Obama's Weekly Video Address
State & Local Government Meetings
Visit the following links for information on official state and local government meetings open to the public.
The Commonwealth Calendar - http://www.virginia.gov/connect/commonwealth-calendar
Legislative Fun Fact: Virginia's Workers
Across the country, millions of people work in the public sector. In Virginia more people work for the United States government than any other industry; about 1/4 of Virginia's workers.
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To view the university and health system’s legislative priorities, updates, legislative tracking lists, and more… go to the http://www.govrel.vcu.edu/.
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