Well, that was fast! Less than two weeks after gaveling in on Monday, Aug. 2, the Virginia General Assembly concluded its special session on Tuesday, Aug. 10.
Legislators are returning to Richmond at the request of Governor Northam in order to allocate more than $4.3 billion in federal Covid-19 relief funding. Send a letter to your state delegate and senator and ask them to invest in parks, trails and green space, which have proved to be so essential over the past year.
The last six months has been a whirlwind of legislative action. The 2020 special session extended into mid-October, creating a mad scramble at its conclusion to prepare for the 2021 regular session. PEC was busy drafting bills and budget amendments, finding sponsors and having the conversations necessary to set up our initiatives for success before the new session began on January 13. The 2021 regular session was eventually extended into a special session that concluded on March 1.
At this point in the 2021 Virginia General Assembly, the House and Senate versions of the budget have passed their respective chambers and a conference committee has been assigned to work out the differences. While we believe many of our conservation funding priorities are well-positioned, we’re making a final push to help ensure they make it into the final budget.
Preserving historic resources is crucial to understanding our nation’s history. However, historic resources related to African-American and indigenous communities are woefully underrepresented in Virginia’s state database. This has resulted in important resources being overlooked or worse yet, irretrievably lost, and has meant these communities are rarely included as part of larger historic district conversations.
Farmland lost is farmland lost forever. Budget amendment 97 #2h (Gooditis) would provide an additional $2 million to the Farmland Preservation Fund grant program (current funding is only $250,000), providing much-needed matching funds and encouraging other localities to adopt Purchase of Development Rights programs of their own.
Good news! On Tuesday, January 26, Senator Stuart’s attempt at a floor substitute for SB 1199 was defeated. This allowed the bill that came out of full committee to proceed to a floor vote. On Wednesday, January 27, SB 1199 was read a third time and passed the Senate on a 25-14 vote. You can see the full vote count here: https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?211+vot+SV0144SB1199+SB1199