Through the General Assembly website, citizens can track the status of any pending legislation.
The General Assembly also offers a toll-free hotline during its annual legislative session that provides citizens with the opportunity to express their views on the issues before the General Assembly. The hotline makes it possible for vital information to the members of the House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia concerning public opinion on matters before the General Assembly.
The number for the toll-free hotline is: 1-800-889-0229. Callers in the Richmond area may dial: 225-4973.
During each legislative workday, the hotline receives calls from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Calls are answered by hotline operators who request the constituent to provide a name and address, a geographic location or legislative district, the designated legislator(s) to receive the constituent's message and the issue on which the constituent is expressing his or her opinion. The operators record the messages and forward the information to the legislators for their review. If the caller seeks additional information concerning legislation or wishes to speak directly with the legislator, the operator will provide the appropriate telephone number.
Dear Members & Friends,
The 2016 General Assembly session has ended and I am writing to give you a Legislative Wrap-Up.
Thank you sincerely for calling and emailing legislators. And a special thanks to those of you who visited Richmond to speak to your elected representatives and testify when bills were before committee. While a couple of bills passed which we do not prefer, those bills that would have done real harm to Virginia’s sheltered animals were defeated and that is a direct result of your consistent outreach to legislators.
Report on the bills we followed most closely
HB156 - Patron/Delegate Bobby Orrock - would have nullified the private shelter adoption purpose created when SB1381 passed in the 2015 General Assembly. VFHS OPPOSED HB156. This bill was withdrawn by Delegate Orrock. The bill text can be seen here http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?161+ful+HB156 Note that sometimes a bill changes a sentence in a longer code section so when you click on the link, scroll down and look for italics and underlined sections to see proposed changes. In this case, scroll down to the “private shelter” definition.
HB157 - Patron/Delegate Bobby Orrock - addressed guidance documents and originally specified that VDACS may not use guidance documents to determine private shelter status. VFHS OPPOSED HB157. This bill was passed by for the year. Typically a bill that is passed by for the year is not revived the next year. Here is the bill text: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?161+ful+HB157H1
HB340 - Patron/Delegate Bobby Orrock - would have also nullified the private shelter adoption purpose created by SB1381 passed in the 2015 General Assembly. It was presented as a benign bill to clarify the adoption purpose but, in fact, it directed VDACS to establish the purposes of private animal shelters. HB340 was amended several times. VFHS opposed HB340 at every step, until the final amendment which said that VDACS would engage in a regulatory process to develop regulations for the enforcement of the private shelter adoption purpose. VFHS SUPPORTED HB340 as amended. The bill passed. The bill text can be seen here: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?161+ful+HB340ER I am adding one more link to show you who voted for and who voted against the bill in the House when the bill was still in a form that would have nullified the private shelter adoption purpose. http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe… If you have not already done so, please thank those Delegates who voted against the bill at that time.
HB1270 - Patron/Delegate Bobby Orrock - would have required VDACS to create an Animal Advisory Board. VFHS OPPOSED HB1270. VDACS can convene an Advisory Board without legislation and the CACL Working Group rendered no substantive results. This bill was defeated in the Senate, then revived and sent back to the Senate Agriculture Committee where it remained with no further Committee actions taken. Here is a link to the bill text: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?161+ful+HB1270 And here is a link to the vote on the Senate floor which defeated the bill http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe… Again, if you have not already done so, please thank those Senators who voted against HB1270.
HJ160 - Patron/Delegate Bobby Orrock - directs VDACS and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to study Virginia’s procedures for licensing dogs and cats. VFHS OPPOSED HJ160. We take the position that jurisdictions need to maintain autonomy as to whether each jurisdiction wishes to enact an ordinance requiring licensing of cats; any discussion of cat licensing must also include a discussion of and allowance for TNR by localities and public shelters; and, if an advisory committee or other group is organized to conduct this review, any organization represented as a "stakeholder" should have some measurable, official status such as being incorporated and registered in some way with the state. HJ160 passed. VFHS will be represented on the group to conduct this study. The bill text can be seen here: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?161+ful+HJ160H1
HB476 - Patron/Delegate Matt Fariss - requires all Virginia releasing agencies to file their intake policies annually with VDACS. VDACS OPPOSED HB476. VFHS initially took “no position” on HB476; members who responded to my request for input didn’t support it but also didn’t mind submitting their intake policies, so we took “no position”. The bill as originally drafted required that releasing agencies “submit” their intake policies to VDACS. VDACS said that in order for releasing agencies to do this, VDACS would have to expand the existing Animal Custody Record Online Reporting System at an initial cost of $51,000 and $6,000 per year afterwards. Given that cost, HB476 was destined to die in the Senate Finance Committee but was amended to say that releasing agencies would “file” their intake policies which meant sending in a hard copy to VDACS rather than “submitting” online. Changing “submit” to “file” diminished the cost to VDACS but kept the burden on releasing agencies, and meant that the public would not have easy access to the information. Another concern raised was that releasing agencies are not required to have an intake policy and there is no clarity on whether a releasing agency will be penalized if having no intake policy, does not submit one. In the end VFHS worked to defeat the bill but the bill passed. You can read the text of the bill here: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?161+ful+HB476ER
Other bills of importance:
SB9 – Patron/Senator Kenny Alexander – gives immunity to first responders for forcible entry of a motor vehicle to remove an unattended companion animal. VFHS SUPPORTED SB9. As originally written, this bill would have provided civil
immunity to citizens, but was amended to apply only to first responders. This bill passed as amended.
HB1211 – Patron/Delegate Jay Leftwich & SB651 – Patron/Senator John Cosgrove – requires Animal Control Officer training within one year of hire, instead of the current two year requirement. VFHS SUPPORTED HB1211 & SB651. The bill passed.
HB1231 – Patron/Delegate Chris Collins - allows the district court to order that any dog that has been found to have injured or killed only poultry be microchipped and either confined securely or transferred to another owner whom the court deems appropriate. Under current law, the court is required to order that such a dog be killed immediately or removed to another state. VFHS SUPPORTED HB1231. The bill passed.
Hope to see everyone at Conference – it is going to be terrific!!!!