Public Comments for 02/10/2021 Appropriations
HB1800 - Budget Bill.
Last Name: Tye Locality: Newport News

Please vote no on Amendment 2, Item 57. 250,000 dollars should not be allocated to an investigation if most of it is to be FOIA exempt. The investigation's shield of secrecy goes against the very reason it was demanded of in the first place. There is no transparency in this amendment and an bipartisan alternative should be sent to the Governor's Office as soon as possible. Please vote no on Amendment 4, Item 128. 598,403 dollars should not be given to the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity for new positions until it has been established that SWaM business's are being vetted properly. It has come to my attention that certain certified small businesses are earning more than 10 million dollars a year from State and Local purchase orders alone. Some of these business's have deflated their number of employees in order to qualify as "small" while simultaneously listing more for lucrative PPP loans. When several multi-million dollar, large regional companies twist the rules and take up the bulk of SWaM orders, it defeats the purpose of the SBSD and the SWaM process. There's a lot of fraud in this program and pumping up a broken system may make it much worse. The department needs to be fixed immediately before increasing it for the sake of executive order 35.

Last Name: McDermott Organization: Faces and Voice of Recovery (FAVOR) of Virginia Locality: Maidens

Item 321 #2h, was not adopted into our Commonwealth’s proposed 2021-2022 budget. Last week, it was announced in The Richmond Times-Dispatch that “Gov. Ralph Northam has identified an additional $730.2 million in state revenues that General Assembly budget negotiators can use.” It is my hope that with this fresh perspective on our Commonwealth’s fiscal health, we can now adopt HB1800 | Item 321 #2h into our Commonwealth’s 2021-2022 budget, and here’s why – Virginia has acknowledged Substance Use Disorder (SUD) as being of “epidemic” proportions for quite some time. This data, from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) shows a non-alcohol overdose incident response level of 750 in January of 2017. In December of 2020, this is now a little over a 1,000, representing a 33% increase. Whatever, and however our Commonwealth is addressing SUD is quite simply not effective. Virginia’s General Assembly has legislatively sanctioned the Virginia Association of Recovery Residences (VARR) as the credentialing agency for certifying recovery residences. All VARR members meet or exceed federally recognized standards which have evolved since initially drafted and implemented in 2011. Housing is a critical foundational component in the proven and sustainable recovery hierarchy illustrated above, and can be provided in a VARR certified recovery centric environment for only $30/day. Food and clothing are readily available through other community and social service providers. Length of engagement is an evidence based lived experience indicator for positive recovery outcomes, and $10 million would support 1800 recovery bed six month stays. Current Virginia data illustrates an average of over 2000 monthly overdose response incidents. Immediate access to these newly funded beds would significantly impact the current relapse pattern the VDH OEMS data displays. Now firmly engaged with others in recovery, an individual strengthens the connections leading to sustained SUD recovery, benefitting, rather than burdening, their community, while regaining relationships to loved ones. This innovative “rubber meets the road” direct approach to immediate SUD recovery services access vs. current methods of prolonged and virtual assessments will also siphon consumers from needing taxpayer funded first responders, hospital emergency departments encounters and criminal justice system engagements. An arrest costs the Commonwealth approximately $10,000.00 administratively, which does not include “correctional” costs, evidence testing laboratory expenditures, etc, etc. An emergency room admission costs taxpayers approximately $5,000.00, which does not include EMS dispatch and first responder expenses. SUD has been recognized for far too long as being of epidemic proportions. It affects all, and what the recovery community firmly believes are common sense solutions have been ignored. Data doesn’t lie, and the time is now to employ a new tactic and Save Lives!

Last Name: Trice Organization: Camp Mont Shenandoah Locality: Richmond

I urge support for relief for residential summer camps. My children benefitted from years of experience in their environment, encouraging socialization skills , teamwork , self-reliance and heathy exercise. This industry is suffering under current conditions and is worthy of our support

Last Name: Jenkins Organization: Virginia Loggers Association` Locality: Goochland

Virginia Loggers Association supports all budget requests for the Virginia Department of Forestry. The VDOF is a small agency relative to its vast responsibilities across the Commonwealth. VLA fully supports all additional funding to the VDOF to help them support the private landowners requiring the best possible scientifically - based management information on Virginia's renewal, natural forest resources. Healthy forests also provide many benefits to our environment and citizens by creating clean air and water, and improved social equity for all citizens. VLA supports providing the best educated personnel qualified to ensure healthy hardwoods and softwoods. Part of the 2021 budget amendments address important hardwood management and incentives to ensure future hardwood forests are robust. VLA members and non-member forest harvesters benefit by including cost share funding in the VDOF budget for BMP and bridges on forests harvests. Forest harvesters are responsible for ensuring streams and water ways remain clear and free of sedimentation during the harvest. Bridges are expensive and important to forest harvesters to cross stream beds and imperative to ensure clean water. Without the funding to cost share bridges and BMPs, forest harvesters would not be able to carry out the quality best management practices on forest harvesting. Forest harvesters need this money which is used on private forest landowners' property and helps keep their forests healthy. VDOF is very small and has lost many personnel over the years. VLA recommends building the VDOF budget back to a robust level as private landowners need an unbiased source for forest management advice. Thank you.

Last Name: Venskoske Organization: Frederick County Voter Registration Locality: Frederick County

Frederick County had 64,886 registered voters at the end of 2020 Adding almost 5,500 new voters in 2020 19,998 voters checked in at the polls to vote on November 3rd In 2020, 19,534 voters voted early, at either our Satellite Office or the Registrar’s Office 9,288 Vote-by-Mail Ballots were sent out Roughly 7,785 were returned In-person or via the Drop Boxes In 2016, we had 3,471 voters Vote-by-Mail or Absentee In-person That is up 728.75% over 2016 78.6% of Frederick County’s registered voters voted in the Presidential Election 45% voted prior to Election day, which surpassed all expectations This was the largest voter turnout since 1992, (the George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton Presidential Election) To meet the Department of Justice’s initial deadline for sending out ballots, we had over 50 poll workers and volunteers working eight days straight. Working between 12- and 15-hour days, over 850 hours were put into getting the first batch, of almost 7,000 ballots mailed. With the more than expected Vote-by-Mail applications, and the steady flow of Early Voters, my staff and I worked an average of 12 to 15 hours a day, seven days a week, from the first of August through the middle of November, working more than Eleven Hundred hours of over-time. With the three elections, I worked 2,398.5 hours. This is the same as working an extra 12 weeks or the equivalent of working 64 weeks in a single year. Yes, 2020 was a very unique year, but this might just be the norm going forward. Isn't it time the General Registrars/Directors of Elections got paid for the hours they work?

Last Name: Lee Locality: Madison Heights, VA

Hello Subcommittee Members: I am writing to encourage your support for Delegate Walker's budget amendment HB 1800 #C-64 #1h. I am the co-owner of the VC Mobile Home Park in Madison Heights, VA. The Central Virginia Training Center's closure has left the County of Amherst in a situation where the water supply will become stagnate and unsafe. As a result, they must periodically purge water to ensure safe water supply to the mobile home park residents. Until ~1983, the water was supplied to the mobile home park by a well system on the property. The state determined the well system was contaminated and unsafe. As a result, my family worked with the State of Virginia and the County of Amherst to connect CVTC's water supply. Stagnation of the current water supply due to CVTC's closure was likely an oversight during the closure's planning process. Approval of this amendment will ensure the mobile home park residents continue to have access to safe water without the costly waste of water. Thanks for your consideration. Eric Lee - eric@leefamilynet.com

Last Name: Clark Locality: Botetourt County

I sincerely ask your support of budget amendments submitted by several patrons in both chambers (Batten, Brewer, Fariss, Heretick, Hurst, Tyler) which will adjust the annual salaries of General Registrars to be equal to the salaries for Local Treasurers. This adjustment has been requested for numerous years to no avail. Two studies, requested by and reported back to the General Assembly (2014 & 2019), have shown the similarities of duties and the gross disparity in salaries between registrars and their constitutional counterparts such as the treasurers. Registrar salaries have not been changed for almost three decades (1992). We find ourselves ranked among the lowest paid professionals in our localities with responsibilities that far exceed those of the positions paid comparably. In addition to the disparity in salary, we face very stringent penalties for not performing our responsibilities whether intentional or unintentional. In the five years I have been in office, our responsibilities have changed exponentially to include things outside of the administration of elections or the registration of voters. Cybersecurity, website maintenance and other technology related duties have been added in addition to major changes to our preparation and reporting of an election. My first few weeks in office I attended training where new legislation from the GA session was reviewed. I was stunned at the number of significant changes to election laws and the responsibilities of the registrars in just one session. I cannot fathom the changes implemented in 29 years. Of course what has also changed is the political climate across the country where our every move is doubted, scrutinized and we take the brunt of suspicion from voters who are drowning in misinformation from the media, social media and from lack of knowledge of the election processes. All registrars knew 2020 would be challenging due to the presidential election but we could have never dreamed we would be faced with the unimaginable obstacles that we faced. First, a pandemic which not only changed the way we did day-to-day business but found us trying to understand and implement health safety practices, overcome lack of resources (funding, materials and manpower) all while trying to keep ourselves, our staff, our voters and our families safe from the deadly virus while preparing for the biggest election in history. Secondly, the ever changing rules and guidance pertaining to the election which inundated us on almost a daily basis and continued up to and even after early voting began. Yes -- it was all part of our "jobs" and we tightened up our bootlaces and made the election happen the best we could because that is who we are - dedicated professionals who take the integrity of our democratic process very seriously. So today we ask that you acknowledge the importance of our responsibilities and the impact they have in the overall governmental function while correcting the oversight of the last 29 years by supporting a budget amendment which will adjust the salaries of the General Registrars this year to equal those of the local Treasurers. Thank you for your time, your service and your consideration of this request.

Last Name: Stalik Organization: n/a Locality: Stafford

Please support budget amendment 373 #2h which would fund Environmental Literacy. I am an Environmental Educator who works closely with hundreds of teachers in several counties. Virginia Department of Education expects teachers to provide a wide array of experiences to develop student understanding of the natural world. Teachers are expected to collaborate with many types of organizations to provide rich, real world, hands-on opportunities. These experiences are difficult to provide especially to students of underserved populations. Some students must fund their own experiences or forego the opportunity. Our environment faces increasing pressures: Climate change, habitat loss, and water quality are only a few of these pressures. Support of this budget amendment would help produce a more environmentally literate pubic and; hence, a more informed citizenship which is what this world needs.

Last Name: Gooden Locality: Rockingham County

I have had the opportunity to view some of the sessions livestream, and I know that you are very busy. As the session continues, I would earnestly ask for your support for the budget amendments submitted by Delegate Roslyn Tyler (and others) seeking equal compensation for General Registrars/Directors of Election. It has been many, many years (the last time being in 1992) since our compensation has been adjusted to reflect the increases in our duties over this timeframe. This past year saw 69 new election laws passed, the majority of which took effect July 1st and led into one of THE most challenging elections in history. Election laws that are passed have a direct bearing on our duties, workload, resources, manpower etc., and 2020 was no exception. I hope that General Registrars/Directors of Election will be able to count on your support of the Virginia Election Budget Amendment 87 #4h and #1h to finally compensate Election Administrators equally to Constitutional Officers (as recommended in both studies ordered by the General Assembly in 2014 and 2019—as most of you were a part of this action.) Your consideration in implementing the following actions in this GA session would be greatly appreciated as they are long overdue: a) Revise the population brackets and compensation amounts for General Registrars equal to Treasurers; b) Reimburse localities 100% of the salaries outlined in the NEW population brackets as the state does for Constitutional Officers; and c) Implement the resulting compensation THIS session to bring compensation in parity as determined by the results of the two recent studies ordered by the General Assembly. To resume 100% reimbursement of the NEW compensation amounts would also free up some monies at the local level to fund some of these new laws as localities are currently only reimbursed around 65% of our grossly insufficient compensation. As you are probably aware, Directors of Election are now required to complete a very extensive certification program that provides us with additional knowledge and skills needed to successfully perform our job in an efficient and effective manner. In addition, localities were required to complete a very comprehensive election security policy that was due in December 2020. This policy will continue to be regularly updated. That said, I must admit that it is disheartening that state leaders have ‘overlooked’ the fact of equally and equitably compensating Directors of Election all the while enacting these very stringent rules and regulations. I hope that you have the opportunity to very carefully review my comments and those of other GRs across the Commonwealth. I appreciate the opportunity to share my concerns, and I truly hope that you will support this long overdue and extremely well researched initiative for local Directors of Election to receive equity in compensation. It must be kept in mind that because of “US” (Directors of Elections) democracy works and provides YOU (elected officials) the opportunity to serve our great Commonwealth of Virginia. Lisa B. Gooden, VREO Director of Elections/Voter Registrar Rockingham County 20 East Gay Street Harrisonburg, VA 22802-4108 540.564.3056 State VA

Last Name: McKiernan Organization: Virginia Election Administrators Locality: Rappahannock County

Election Administrators (General Registrars/Directors of Elections) are counting on you to approve, pass, and follow through on the budget amendments, in their entirety, that include a) adjusting population/compensation brackets in accordance with BOTH state studies ordered by the General Assembly b) resume 100% of the NEW salaries to localities as you do all Constitutional Officers c) make it happen THIS session. There isn’t a single reason to deny pay equity for the people who conduct your elections and serve your constituents. Twenty nine years since compensation has been adjusted in keeping with the documented and exponential increases in duties is long enough!! Your almost 6 million registered voters/constituents deserve experienced, dedicated, certified Election Administrators to conduct local, state, and federal elections. The future integrity of elections in Virginia lies in your hands as many Election Administrators are seeking other jobs or making plans for early retirement as a direct result of the continued inequity in compensation. You have the results of both studies. Please do the right thing. We have more than earned it.

Last Name: Shapiro Organization: VA-APSE Locality: Henrico

Dear House Appropriations Committee Members, The Virginia Association of People Supporting Employment First (VA-APSE) supports budget amendment 66#1h which seeks to convene a work group to identify model telehealth practices for individuals with disabilities. Providing individuals with disabilities opportunities for telehealth jobs, through best practices, will expand positive employment outcomes in competitive integrated settings for this entire population. The unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities currently sits at 11% according to the US Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment. This budget amendment can offer another tool to help get more people employed. For quite some time, people with disabilities have had a desire to work from home but have not had the support or resources to make this a reality. Because of the ongoing pandemic and recent shift to working from home, now is the perfect time to develop a structure to allow people with disabilities the opportunity to work from home. This would be a win-win for both people with disabilities and employers everywhere. We want to thank Delegate Kathy Tran (VA-42) for bringing this budget amendment forward and we strongly support its implementation. We ask that you also support this amendment. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions regarding this legislative request. You can contact me at: vaapselobbyist@gmail.com or by phone at (804)-317-0819. Thank you for your consideration of this amendment. Sincerely, Matthew Shapiro VaAPSE Lobbyist

Last Name: Hopkins Organization: Amherst County Service Authority, VC Mobile Home Park, Central Virginia Training Center Locality: Madison Heights, Amherst County

Dear Subcommittee Members: 40 years ago, owners and residents of VC Mobile Home Park were told by the VA Dept. of Health that their groundwater was contaminated with radon and had to be discontinued for domestic use and consumption. They solved their problem in 1983 by extending a water line to the Central VA Training Center water system, which is supplied using a long transmission (very few service connections) water main from the City of Lynchburg. For 37 years, the families in VCMHP have gotten potable water and fire protection thru the CVTC system, but now CVTC is closing. The closure will eliminate the vast majority of water use in the CVTC system, which will result in the water being in the piping too long, getting stagnant, and losing water quality. Public health issues are likely to result, including loss of disinfectant, bacteriological re-growth, taste and odor problems, and production of carcinogenic disinfection byproducts. These issues will force the closing of the City water supply or extensive and costly wasting of water to replace it with fresh, at ACSA expense. This is surely an oversight on the part of the State during the process of closing CVTC, but it needs to be corrected to protect the health and quality of life of the 71 families residing in VCMHP. Amherst County Service Authority, working with our engineers, has come up with a way to address the problem by extending an ACSA water main to connect to the CVTC water system and supplying VCMHP, as well as CVTC buildings which will require water services after CVTC closure, with water for domestic use and fire protection. Because the ACSA main would be shorter and the existing main to be extended already has many service connections on it, the problems described above will not happen. ACSA is requesting $100,000 in State funding assistance to address the CVTC closure overlooking of VCMHP; the money will be used for materials; demolition and restoration of site features; utility relocations as needed; and other construction costs. ACSA will more than match that funding with labor, equipment, fuel, etc. to install the water main extension and modify the CVTC water system to make the temporary water supply to VCMHP work. The State has already tentatively authorized the temporary use of the CVTC water system, but we need the funding assistance and that has not been forthcoming. The project will replace the lost water supply and eliminate the costly wasting of water, at ACSA expense, to replace stagnant water in the piping with fresh to continue to provide high quality potable water and fire protection for VCMHP residents and the CVTC buildings. Delegate Walker’s HB 1800 #C-64 #1h budget amendment is low impact, addresses public health, provides clean water to 71 families, and is an example of good stewardship of public money and the purpose for which government exists: providing for the public health and quality of life of Virginia citizens. It allows for up to $250,000 to be provided to extend the water main and modify the water system to maintain water services and fire protection to 71 families and CVTC buildings that will continue to need those services post-closure. I trust you will vote to move this budget amendment out of subcommittee and to committee, on its way to General Assembly adoption. Please call me if you have questions. Thank you!! Robert A. Hopkins, PE Executive Director Amherst County Service Authority 434-221-8757

Last Name: Betts Organization: Camp Friendship Locality: Palmyra, VA

Camp Friendship is a family-owned overnight summer camp which has been open since 1966. We provide campers and staff with a safe space for independence, individuality, community, personal growth, and fun through our camp activities. I am writing on behalf of the Virginia Overnight Camp Coalition, representing a sector of Virginia’s economy that has been uniquely negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. We are united in asking for your support for Item 112 #3H, the budget amendment sponsored by Delegate Rush to help stabilize our industry until we are able to recover from the losses sustained this past year. Overnight summer camps were the only small business sector not permitted to operate in any phase of Virginia’s plan for reopening. We need your support! Overnight camps play a vital role in Virginia’s economy and in the well-being and development of our youth. Nationally, summer camps are a multi-billion dollar a year industry, employing both year-round and seasonal staff, purchasing local goods and services, and contributing to regional tourism. Our sector also provides needed childcare services to working parents. The CDC named the negative effects of the pandemic on the mental health of children as a crisis in the United States. The camp experience is essential to every child’s growth and education. It has been proven that a camp experience helps a child develop confidence, resilience, perseverance, independence, and important connections with nature, peers, and adults. Camps across Virginia serve all populations of children. As a seasonal industry not permitted to operate in any phase of the pandemic, the amount of relief funds Virginia’s overnight camps qualified for, while helpful, was proportionally less than other businesses who were permitted to operate. Much uncertainty remains regarding summer 2021, with phase 3 restrictions not yet modified and new proposals for year-round school. However, our industry must start making preparations and financial investments now if we are to be viable this summer. Without dedicated financial support specific to our circumstances, we are struggling to continue to serve youth at a critical time when they have already lost so much as a result of the pandemic. I greatly appreciate your time and attention to this matter. Item 112 #3h will help thousands of children throughout the state of Virginia, young people who rely on camps for summer employment, parents in need of summertime childcare options, and rural communities that rely on camps to boost local economies.

Last Name: Anderson Locality: Stafford

Please support budget amendment 373 #2h for Environmental Literacy. Having been an Environmental Educator for 10 years in 4 different states, I would love to see Virginia grow and give teachers support in Environmental Education. Students who have access to hands on practical learning in and out of the classroom thrive in all aspects in life. Please support the budget amendment 373 #2h for Environmental Literacy.

Last Name: Philput Organization: Chance on the James Locality: Norfolk

Overnight camps play a vital role in Virginia’s economy and in the well-being and development of our youth. Nationally, summer camps are a multi-billion dollar a year industry, employing both year-round and seasonal staff, purchasing local goods and services, and contributing to regional tourism. Our sector also provides needed childcare services to working parents. The CDC has named a growing mental health crisis for children as a result of the pandemic. The camp experience is an important piece of the solution to this mental health crisis, and is critical to the growth and education of children across the Commonwealth. It has been proven that a camp experience helps a child develop confidence, resilience, perseverance, independence, and important connections with nature, peers, and adults. Camps across Virginia serve many demographics: economically disadvantaged families, those with increased medical needs, those with disabilities, Black, white, Hispanic, urban, and rural. Our camps include non-profit, private, agency affiliated, independent, and religious organizations. Camp-Specific Paragraph Example: Here at Chanco on the James, we serve campers from ForKids homeless services, Boys Home of Virginia, immigrant families on the Eastern Shore, and at-risk inner-city youth. Our ministry hosts All God’s Children Camp for children with an incarcerated parent, providing a week of sanctuary for children who face challenges in their lives such as economic poverty, temporary living conditions, loneliness, low self-esteem, violence, and drugs all while working to help break the cycle of incarceration. It is a place where children learn they are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God and they are truly "somebody"! As a seasonal Industry not permitted to operate in any phase of the pandemic, the amount of relief funds Virginia’s overnight camps qualified for was proportionally less than other businesses who were permitted to operate. Much uncertainty remains regarding summer 2021, with phase 3 restrictions not yet modified and new proposals for year-round school. However, our industry must start making preparations and financial investments now if we are to be viable this summer. Without dedicated financial support specific to our circumstances, we are struggling to continue our mission to serve youth across the Commonwealth at a critical time when they have already lost so much. I greatly appreciate your time and attention to this matter.

Last Name: Kalfas Organization: Chanco on the James Locality: Surry

I am writing on behalf of the Virginia Overnight Camp Coalition, representing a sector of Virginia’s economy that has been uniquely negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. We are united in asking for your support for Item 112 #3h, the budget amendment sponsored by Delegate Rush to help stabilize our industry until we are able to recover from the losses sustained this past year. Overnight summer camps were the only small business sector not permitted to operate in any phase of Virginia’s plan for reopening. As one of only six states that prohibited overnight camps from opening this past summer, we suspended operations in support of Governor Northam’s restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19. Now, we need your support! Overnight camps play a vital role in Virginia’s economy and in the well-being and development of our youth. Nationally, summer camps are a multi-billion dollar a year industry, employing both year-round and seasonal staff, purchasing local goods and services, and contributing to regional tourism. Our sector also provides needed childcare services to working parents. The CDC named the negative effects of the pandemic on the mental health of children as a crisis in the United States. The camp experience is essential to every child’s growth and education. It has been proven that a camp experience helps a child develop confidence, resilience, perseverance, independence, and important connections with nature, peers, and adults. Camps across Virginia, including for-profit, non-profit, agency affiliated, independent, and religious, serve all populations of children: economically disadvantaged, medically challenged, physically and mentally disabled, Black, white, Hispanic, urban, and rural. Here at Chanco on the James, we serve campers from ForKids homeless services, Boys Home of Virginia, immigrant families on the Eastern Shore, and at-risk inner-city youth. Our ministry hosts All God’s Children Camp for children with an incarcerated parent, providing a week of sanctuary for children who face challenges in their lives such as economic poverty, temporary living conditions, loneliness, low self-esteem, violence, and drugs all while working to help break the cycle of incarceration. It is a place where children learn they are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God and they are truly "somebody"! As a seasonal Industry not permitted to operate in any phase of the pandemic, the amount of relief funds Virginia’s overnight camps qualified for, while helpful, was proportionally less than other businesses who were permitted to operate. Much uncertainty yet remains regarding summer 2021, with phase 3 restrictions not yet modified and new proposals for year-round school. However, our industry must start making preparations and financial investments now if we are to be viable this summer. Without dedicated financial support specific to our circumstances, we are struggling to continue our mission to serve youth across the Commonwealth at a critical time when they have already lost so much as a result of the pandemic. I greatly appreciate your time and attention to this matter. Item 112 #3h will help thousands of children throughout the state of Virginia, young people who rely on camps for summer employment, parents in need of summertime childcare options, and rural communities that rely on camps to boost local economies.

Last Name: Caldwell Locality: Richmond

Please support summer camps who are struggling because of COVID restrictions.

Last Name: Bueche Organization: Camp Motorsport, AstroCamp, and Camp CHOP Locality: Clover

Delegates, I am writing on behalf of the Virginia Coalition of Overnight Summer Camps to ask for your support for Amendment 112 #3h.  This item was graciously put forth by Delegate Rush in support of Overnight Camps across the Commonwealth.  As a camp director and former instructor, I have seen firsthand the power that an overnight camp experience.  Where else can you see campers learn to connect and communicate with their peers in a safe and supportive environment outside of school? In just a few days, we see substantial growth in confidence, independence, and sense of self.  Not to mention the hard skills they are building, and the new things they are trying in motorsports, astronomy, engineering, and cooking.  We, along with our colleagues, have been hit hard by the economic shutdown from the pandemic response.  Much of the financial support has been appreciated but has mostly missed the mark of helping camps survive.  As the only industry unable to operate in Virginia in 2020, we are asking for financial assistance specifically for overnight camps.  This help will ensure that we are ready to support campers and families as we begin to emerge from this pandemic.  Barring this assistance, our camp, and many others may not be able to survive.  

Last Name: Hagan Egl Organization: Camp Carysbrook Locality: Afton

Please support Budget Amendment 112 #3h in the amount of $15,000,000 for the stabilization of the overnight summer camp industry in Virginia sponsored by Delegate Nick Rush. Virginia’s overnight summer camps have been providing quality, outdoor experiences for youth across the state since 1915; and since 1923 for girls, with the establishment of Camp Carysbrook. Through the Great Depression, polio, world wars, pandemics, and recessions, we have continued to provide a safe environment, away from home, where children from all backgrounds can develop emotionally, socially, and spiritually in a community that encourages them to take healthy risks without fear of failure and to develop a sense of self necessary for navigating the modern world. For businesses without income for more than a year after suspended operations in accordance with Governor Northam’s restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19, the PPP, Rebuild Virginia, the EIDL, and county grants have provided some relief, but leave gaping holes. Virginia’s overnight camping industry provides jobs, tourism, and a seasonal economic injection to local, rural communities in Virginia. Beyond the financial losses, there is a real threat to the existence of the industry itself and the services offered to children at a time where they have already lost so much. Without a stabilization package, many camps will not survive to operate with costly COVID-mitigation resources in an impending mental health crisis looming as a result of school closures, cancelled social and sporting events, and online learning. Overnight camping is uniquely poised to combat this crisis and empower Virginia’s next generation to face the difficulties that lie ahead with the grit and determination so characteristic of what is at the heart of what is best in Virginia. Support of Budget Amendment 112 #3h in the amount of $15,000,000 for the stabilization of the overnight summer camp industry in Virginia sponsored by Delegate Nick Rush would make that possible.

Last Name: Chones Organization: Virginia Overnight Camp Coalition Locality: Culpeper County

As a proud member of the Virginia Overnight Camp Coalition, The Salvation Army Camp Happyland has been a mainstay of the surrounding Virginia community since 1968 providing thousands of at-risk families and children and older adults an enjoyable camping experience. Please support and vote in favor of this amendment (item 112 #3h) to provide much needed funds to provide financial assistance to our summer camp and the people that attend during the those month. Although the majority of our programs occur during the summer, our camp operates on a year-round basis, incurring expenses ranging from maintenance, utilities, insurance and maintaining payroll for staff. The funds we need will help in continuing our camp’s mission in providing for those most in need through outdoor camp ministry.

Last Name: Barge Organization: Camp Easterseals Locality: Roanoke City

Camp Easterseals Virginia, a member of the Virginia Coalition of Camps, is an overnight camp for kids and adults with disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and epilepsy. This past summer was the first summer in 63 years that the camp was not able to open. Campers come from all over the state of Virginia to practice social skills, ride a horse, gain independence, shoot an arrow, dance, be with friends, climb a wall, and more! For many campers, this is their only time to get away and for many caregivers it is their only break. All forms of income for Camp Easterseals have been negatively impacted including camp programing, which hasn't occurred since 2019, fundraising, and rental/conference groups. Please consider supporting all overnight camps and item 112 #3h! This will support not just children in need of outdoor or social experiences, but also campers with disabilities, staff who gain valuable skills serving others, and caregivers! Thank you.

Last Name: Powell Organization: Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp and Retreat Center, Inc. Locality: Fort Valley

We are writing on behalf of the Coalition of Virginia Overnight Summer Camps, representing a sector of Virginia’s economy that has been uniquely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. We are united in asking for your support for Item 112 #3h, the budget amendment sponsored by Delegate Rush to help stabilize our industry until we are able to recover from the losses sustained this past year. Overnight summer camps were the only small business sector not permitted to operate in any phase of Virginia’s plan for reopening. We suspended operations in support of Governor Northam’s restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19. Overnight camps play a vital role in Virginia’s economy and in the well-being and development of our youth. The CDC has named a growing mental health crisis for children as a result of the pandemic. It is proven that a camp experience helps a child develop confidence, resilience, perseverance, independence, and important connections with nature, peers, and adults. Camps across Virginia serve many demographics: economically disadvantaged families, those with increased medical needs, those with disabilities, Black, white, Hispanic, urban, and rural. Our camps include non-profit, private, agency affiliated, independent, and religious organizations. The amount of relief funds Virginia’s overnight camps qualified for was disproportionately less than other businesses who were permitted to operate. Without dedicated financial support specific to our circumstances, we are struggling to continue our mission to serve youth across the Commonwealth at a critical time when they have already lost so much. We greatly appreciate your time and attention to this matter and respectfully request that you give this amendment consideration and add funding to save camps for our kids. Item 112 #3h will help thousands of children throughout Virginia, young people who rely on camps for summer employment, parents in need of summertime childcare options, and rural communities that rely on camps to boost local economies.

Last Name: LaRoche Organization: Camp Holiday Trails Locality: City of Charlottesville

Since 1974 Camp Holiday Trails has welcomed children with chronic illnesses and medical needs from throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region. We also provide many clinical rotations for nursing and medical students seeking to improve their skills. Our campers experience isolation during non-pandemic times, and now we are seeing more anxiety and depression among our camp population. The stress of caring for a child with a medical need is significant and our families miss the respite our camp provides. We look forward to the day when our Camp Family can be reunited and we can focus on resilience, self esteem and independence with our inspiring campers. In addition, our income and contributions have been negatively impacted by restrictions from the pandemic. Investments in overnight camps and the overall camping community are investments that impact children and families for the rest of their lives.

Last Name: Warner Organization: Virginia Overnight Camp Coalition Locality: Bath County

To the esteemed members of the Virginia House Appropriations Committee: Last July, a coalition of Virginia overnight summer camp directors banded together to provide one another support during the pandemic and to work together to navigate our way through the wake of the financial crisis in which we found ourselves. As you may be aware, we are seeking financial assistance from the state to help stabilize our industry until we are back on our proverbial feet. The Honorable Nick Rush has graciously sponsored a budget amendment to this end, the Overnight Summer Camp Grant, or 112 #3h. We, the Virginia Overnight Camp Coalition, ask that you support and vote in favor of this amendment as you deliberate the 2020-2022 budget. Our justifications: • We are the sole business industry that has been prohibited from operating in all three phases of reopening. (Please see accompanying graphic generated by Governor Northam’s office in June, 2020 when Phase 3 restrictions were announced.) • The window in which we can generate revenue is small, essentially the summer months. When we begin to receive tuition payments this spring for the upcoming camp season, it will be close to two full years since we have had an income stream. Yet, we continue to have year-round expenses, such as payroll, utilities, insurance, marketing, office expenses, professional fees, leases, debt retirement, and, in a few cases, corporate taxes. Most overnight camps are older and include several acres and numerous buildings, all requiring a significant financial investment in maintenance and upkeep. • Most overnight camps were unable to fully capitalize on PPP and RebuildVA grants because of the disparity in the formulas and timing used to calculate funding amounts. Other small businesses in Virginia were able to access PPP and RebuildVA funding plus operate during 2020. Thank you for your consideration. By providing overnight camps financial assistance, you will be giving children of all ages, disabilities, colors, and socioeconomic statuses the chance to be outdoors and away from technology where social connections are the rule, not the exception. You will allow working parents to have another option for out-of-school childcare. You will keep scores of young people employed during the summer months. You will aid in the economic recovery of many ailing rural communities hit hard by the pandemic.

Last Name: Luther Organization: VAEE Locality: Roanoke

Please support funding for Environmental Education.

Last Name: Didlake Locality: Bowling Green

Good afternoon, I am an Environmental Science teacher at Caroline High School. We teach this class to all 9th grade students. I encourage you to support item 373 #2h. Our VDOE state guidelines for Environmental Science states: It is expected that teachers will collaborate with museums, aquaria, nature centers, government agencies, associations, foundations, and private industry in efforts to engage the community, provide diverse points of view about the management of natural resources, and offer a variety of learning experiences and career education opportunities. This expectation does not come with funding from VDOE or the local school boards. Individual teachers have to research and reach out to develop lessons and opportunities for their students. Many times students have to pay for these experiences (ie field trips). Our undeserved schools and school systems cannot afford to offer these opportunities to their students for lack of funding and their students miss out on field experiences and environmental stewardship activities. I would like to encourage full funding of Environmental Education at both the school level (K12) and for the general public. Outdoor experiences increase awareness and encourage stewardship.

Last Name: Pomeroy Organization: Friends of the Rappahannock AND Fredericksburg City Public Schools Locality: Fredericksburg

Please support budget amendment 373 #2h for Environmental Literacy. As a parent of three school-aged kids, someone who works both in an environmental non-profit AND as an elected school board member, I see how absolutely vital environmental education is to our next generation. We MUST fully fund this. Our children deserve to be given the tools to protect and preserve their planet and their future. It is incumbent upon us to provide them with meaningful educational experiences that will serve to ignite their interest in our amazing natural world and show them their potential to protect it.

Last Name: Atkinson Locality: Prince Edward County

Influencing behaviors that have a positive impact on the environment begin in childhood. Environmental Education is a necessary step in producing sustainable habits. Please support EE in our education system.

Last Name: Ford Locality: Warren

Please support budget amendment 373 #2h for Environmental Literacy. An increase in funding will provide programs essential to Virginians' health and well-being and bring about positive change to our Commonwealth's natural resources. Support of the amendment will help communities understand issues impacting their health and wellness, and providing all students equal access to natural resources and outdoor space. Support will also provide for increased environmental education from climate change to environmental justice. Increasing our teachers’ capacity to deliver quality EE programs increases their ability to deliver meaningful content across all curriculums. Thank you for your attention to this important amendment.

Last Name: Rocchio Organization: Virginia Environmental Educators Locality: Norfolk

Please support budget amendment 373 #2h for Environmental Literacy. I have been an environmental educator for the past 11 years, and I can say from experience that environmental literacy is vital for the success of any and all students from all communities around Virginia. No matter where I have worked, whether it was AmeriCorps VISTA, nature centers, parks, or museums, environmental literacy has shown to be beneficial to all students, especially communities of color and impoverished communities (rural and urban). More funding for environmental literacy in Virginia can help with equity, inclusion, green job promotion, the economy, mental and physical health, and so much more. More funding for environmental literacy also translates to providing more unique experiences for students throughout their student careers. As a museum educator, my department relies on grants and school funding to bus students to our museum for fun and engaging environmental science field trips. We are committed to making interesting, relevant, hands-on, engaging environmental programs in part to prepare students to be global citizens. Providing schools the chance to send students on engaging and meaningful field trips in their community to learn about local place-based issues and solutions is at the heart of environmental literacy. These types of hands-on experiences, supported by classroom information and activities, allow students to have a fuller understanding of natural phenomena and a stronger appreciation for the natural world around them. Lastly, we need students to have as many opportunities to engage in the environmental community, through field trips, special classroom experiences, community service, and so on because they are the future. They are going to inherit this world and they need to be prepared for the hard tasks ahead of them with the state of our world. Climate change is already having real consequences, including health and economic issues. Students need to understand the science and solutions now so we can bring up a more resilient future. We owe that to them. Thank you for your time.

Last Name: Pankau Organization: Loudoun Environmental Education Alliance (LEEA) Locality: Sterling

Thank you for considering a yes vote to the environmental education monies. Here in Loudoun County we , the Loudoun Environmental Education Alliance (LEEA) support our communities and schools with usable information to promote a better, healthier world for all of us. We appreciate your EE support. Thank you, Mark Pankau LEEA Advocacy Chair

Last Name: Plourde-Rogers Organization: VES Land Trust Locality: Onancock

Please support budget amendment 373 #2h for Environmental Literacy. Students are more motivated, focused, and curious when learning outside. They also remember more of what they learn. While not all environmental education takes place outside, it's an important and necessary component of interdisciplinary education. Learning outside boosts learning across subjects. I have the pleasure of hosting second graders on nature walks several times a year through my work with a local land trust. The walk is punctuated by voices saying, "What's that?" and "This is the best day ever." The students are quick to connect what they learn in the classroom to the habitat we are walking through. Our partner at UVA/LTER in Oyster, VA studied perception and observation before and after our field trip. They found that student artwork was more realistic after the field trip showing an increase in observation skills. Please support funding for environmental education. Thank you.

Last Name: DYCKES Locality: Henrico

Please support budget amendment 373 #2h for Environmental Literacy. Environmental education is important for all students, especially as we face the impacts of climate change.

Last Name: Blom Locality: Richmond City

Please support budget amendment 373 #2h for Environmental Literacy. Studies have shown a direct correlation between equitable environmental access and our mental and physical health. Communities suffering degraded environmental conditions, with limited access to green outdoor space, experience more negative health outcomes, a condition highlighted and exacerbated by COVID-19.

Last Name: McKiernan Organization: Virginia Directors of Elections/General Registrars Locality: Rappahannock

We hope we can count on your support of the Virginia Election Budget Amendment #87 to finally compensate Election Administrators equally to Constitutional Officers as recommended in both studies ordered by the General Assembly in 2014 and 2019. We Ask that The Following Be Implemented This Session: a) Revise the population brackets and compensation amounts to equal those of Treasurers b) Reimburse localities 100% of the salaries outlined in the NEW population brackets and c) Implement the resulting compensation THIS session to bring compensation in parity as determined by the results of the two studies ordered by the General Assembly. To resume 100% reimbursement of the NEW compensation amounts would also free up some monies at the local level to fund some of these new laws as localities are currently only reimbursed around 65% of our grossly insufficient ancient compensation. Elections are classified as critical infrastructure by the Department of Homeland Security. Directors of Elections are essential personnel. We now have had added to our duties, cyber security requirements including writing General IT Security Policy, Administrative Policies and Procedures and much more. Directors of Elections are the ones in the trenches overseeing and completing absolutely every step of conducting elections. We continue to take the brunt of suspicion and anger from disillusioned voters in our localities and statewide. We are also the ‘fall guys’ if anything goes wrong regardless of whose fault it is. The General Assembly is already discussing and proposing election laws that would continue to add to our duties, including the proposal to be open on Sundays during Early Voting. We work hundreds of additional hours for each election that we do not receive compensation for....and the prospect of legislators adding days while continuing to deny equal compensation is, frankly, shocking. This coming year will bring a statewide risk limiting audit, redistricting, at a minimum a June Primary, local candidates (for whom we have to verify every single petition signature) for the November Election, the Gubernatorial race in November, and potentially implementing a new state database. All of this while continuing to incorporate the majority of the 69 new election laws passed last year and with the prospect of an entire slew of added laws from this session. We are disheartened, demoralized, and frankly appalled that the proposed budget includes increases in funding and/or compensation for every single local county government department EXCEPT ELECTIONS. This after 29 years, 2 studies, and on the heels of the most grueling, contentious election year ever in the midst of a raging pandemic with over 69 new election laws passed and a myriad of last-minute directives. In spite of all of that and more, we serve our locality, the state, and the federal government with integrity, professionalism, and dedication. We don't believe, for a second, that you would think that any of this is fair and so, we are requesting your support. In a recent email "There is absolutely not a single reason for this to be denied and almost 6 million (registered voters in Virginia) reasons for it to be approved " as elections are in jeopardy due to the mass exodus of experienced, trained Election Administrators because of this ongoing issue.

Last Name: Garland Organization: Friends of Accotink Creek Locality: Vienna

Friends of Accotink Creek support Item 377, #6h Research to Reduce Salt in Water Excess salt damages soil and aquatic life. Research directed to rectify this problem is badly needed. Please vote yes to this measure.

Last Name: Czaplicki Organization: Virginia National Guard Association Locality: Fredericksburg

On behalf of the 10,000 currently serving and retired Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, I highly endorse section 469-473.10 of Va. Code 1-131 approving funds for the Department of Military Affairs.

Last Name: Killius Organization: James River Association Locality: Richmond

Please support Budget Item 307 #2h, a budget amendment offered by Delegate Guzman that will provide $60,000 each year to the Virginia Department of Health for the two-year study of PFAS contamination within Virginia drinking water required by 2020 legislation. This funding will ensure that the agency can test for more types of PFAS contaminants and assess seasonal changes in PFAS levels. PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are man-made chemicals common in firefighting foam and non-stick coatings that persist in the environment and in the human body. The use of these chemicals is so prolific that a CDC survey found PFAS in the blood of 97% of the participants. They have been linked to many troubling health impacts including thyroid disease, cancer, high blood pressure, low fertility and low birth weight. Recent studies suggest PFAS exposure may reduce antibody response to vaccines. Last year, the General Assembly passed legislation requiring VDH to protect Virginia's drinking water from PFAS contamination by studying the occurrence of these chemicals at up to 50 waterworks across the state. Unfortunately, no additional funding was made available. Given this mandate and growing concerns about the public health impacts of PFAS, VDH has pushed forward using very limited federal resources. This funding allows for only one sample round at each of the 50 water sources and no ability to observe seasonal changes or investigate positive or anomalous results with additional samples. A budget amendment for $60,000 in the first year and $60,000 in the second would allow VDH to conduct multiple sample rounds at each location with room to use a new, EPA-validated test that detects 11 additional types of PFAS contamination.

Last Name: Tetterton Organization: Virginia Association for Home Care and Hospice Locality: Henrico

As you know, the Governor released his budget mid-December. As part of that budget he included a 2% rate increase for Medicaid personal care services effective July 1, 2021. While we are appreciative of the additional funding, we are very concerned with the impact of minimum wage increases that become effective May 1, 2021 and January 1, 2022. The net effects of minimum wage increases scheduled for May 1, 2021 will reduce agency directed personal care to 64% of benchmark for the rest of the state and 58% for northern Virginia. The net effects of minimum wage increased scheduled for January 1, 2022 will reduce agency directed personal care to 57% of benchmark for the rest of the state and 53% for northern Virginia. It is also important to note that this benchmark only covers wages and does not reflect the additional cost of Electronic Visit Verification, protective equipment and supplies associated with COVID-19 or the impacts of general health care inflation. Virginia has provided no additional financial support for any of these items. This program is not sustainable at 57% and 53% of benchmark reimbursement. If immediate and drastic action is not taken tens of thousands for professional care giver jobs will be lost and over 18,000,000 hours of much needed per care services will be lost. This will force some of Virginians most frail and vulnerable citizens to receive care at hospitals through emergency rooms or early admission to costly nursing facilities.

SB1134 - Refunding bonds; alters the principal and interest requirements.
Last Name: Jennings Organization: Office of Governor Ralph S. Northam Locality: Richmond

Mr. Chairman, members, and staff, The Administration strongly supports this legislation to allow debt service relief for institutions of higher education by restructuring the debt service on all or a portion of the Commonwealth’s outstanding 9(c) debt. This relief would be accomplished by deferring up to the next two principal payments (June 1, 2021 and June 1, 2022) on these bonds. Respectfully, June Jennings, Deputy Secretary of Finance

SB1145 - Commonwealth of Virginia Higher Educational Institutions Bond Act of 2021; created.
Last Name: Jennings Organization: Office of Governor Ralph S. Northam Locality: Richmond

Mr. Chairman, members, and staff, The Administration strongly supports this legislation to authorize the issuance of bonds to finance $34,136,000 plus financing costs for revenue-producing capital projects at institutions of Higher Education pursuant to Article X, Section 9(c) of the Constitution of Virginia. This amount represents supplements to two existing projects at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The Treasury Board would be authorized to provide for the sale of bonds, to borrow money in anticipation of the issuance of the bonds, to provide for the pledge of the net revenues of the capital projects and the full faith, credit and taxing power of the Commonwealth for the payment of the bonds and to provide that the interest Income on the bonds will be exempt from all taxation by the Commonwealth. This bill contains an emergency clause, allowing the act to be in force from its passage, which will allow the institutions to access Treasury loans or other borrowing prior to July 1. Respectfully, June Jennings, Deputy Secretary of Finance

SB1155 - Capital outlay plan; repeals existing six-year capital outlay for projects to be funded.
Last Name: Jennings Organization: Office of Governor Ralph S. Northam Locality: Richmond

Mr. Chairman, members, and staff, The Administration strongly supports this legislation to update the six year capital outlay plan. Respectfully, June Jennings, Deputy Secretary of Finance

SB1156 - Technology Development Grant Fund; created.
No Comments Available
SB1251 - Virginia Retirement System; technical amendments.
No Comments Available
End of Comments