Most newly-enacted legislation becomes law in July of each year, unless categorized as “Emergency”, which becomes law immediately upon passage by the General Assembly and subsequently being signed by the Governor.
In keeping with my comittment to legislate with transparency and accountability, I have described below newly-enacted legislation focused upon education and the environment. Many of these new laws had multiple mothers and fathers by the time the General Assembly adjourned and the Governor signed them. In the final analysis, all your elected state officials share responsibility for these changes in the Virginia Code.
New Eduction legislation:
Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011.
This law provides for:
• A new higher education funding policy.
• The calculation of the state general fund share of an institution’s basic operations and instruction funding need.
• Per student enrollment-based funding.
• Targeted economic and innovation incentives.
• The creation of a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Public-Private Partnership.
• The creation of a Higher Education Advisory Committee, which is responsible for development of many of the specific criteria necessary for the implementation of this law.
Delayed graduation requirements.
This law once again delays implementation of any new graduation requirements for one year, with the exception of the graduation and completion rate index and the economic and financial literacy requirement. (I was a co-patron of this bill)
New Environmental Legislation
Net energy metering program.
For residential customers who qualify to participate in a net energy metering program, the law increases the maximum capacity of an electrical generation facility from 10 to 20 kilowatts. The law also provides that a customer-generator whose generating facility has a capacity that exceeds 10 kilowatts shall pay a monthly standby charge. The State Corporation Commission is directed to determine the reasonableness of standby charges.
Voluntary Solar Resource Development Fund.
The law requires the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to provide the option to make voluntary contributions to the Voluntary Solar Resource Development Fund established by this law. Moneys in the Fund will be loaned for projects that involve the acquisition, installation, or operation of photovoltaic devices, solar water heating devices, or certain solar space heating devices at a residence, structure occupied by a nonprofit organization, or commercial establishment. The law expires July 1, 2016.
Dam safety; regulation of impoundment structures.
Dam owners whose impounding structure is not classified, or whose impounding structure is already classified but the owner believes that conditions indicate that the hazard potential classification should be reduced, may request that the Department conduct a simplified dam break inundation zone analysis to determine whether the impounding structure has a low hazard potential classification. If the Department finds that the impounding structure has a low hazard potential classification, the owner shall be eligible for coverage under a general permit.
Fertilizer; regulation of application and labeling.
The law prohibits the sale, distribution, and use of lawn maintenance fertilizer containing phosphorus beginning December 31, 2013, with certain exceptions. Also, beginning on December 31, 2013, it will be unlawful to offer for sale any deicing agent containing urea, nitrogen, or phosphorus intended for application on parking lots, roadways, and sidewalks, or other paved surfaces. However, retailers are allowed to sell their existing inventory of lawn maintenance fertilizer and deicing agents. The law addresses several other issues related to fertilizer use. (I was a co-patron of this legislation.)
Use of HOV lanes.
Extended for another year authorization for motor vehicles bearing “clean special fuel vehicle” license plates to use HOV lanes, regardless of the number of their passengers.
Delegate Kory represents the 38th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. She may be emailed at [email protected].