February 5, 2014 Legislative Highlights

The disAbility Law Center of Virginia promotes and protects the rights of all Virginians with disabilities.  The dLCV is a private nonprofit organization. We may educate policymakers about the impact of proposed legislation.  Contact us at info@dLCV.org or at 1-800-552-3962 if there is a policy matter of concern to you that you feel we should be addressing.

 VOTING BILLS

All legislative proposals that would have enlarged, improved or clarified an individual’s ability to vote have been defeated, except for one.  A Senate proposal to allow a person over age 65 to vote absentee without any additional excuse has been approved by the full Senate and sent to the House for consideration.  (SB 16, Miller).  Note, however, that a similar House proposal to allow a person over age 65 to vote absentee was defeated in subcommittee.  (See HB 37, Kory).

The legislature declined to pass any bill that would allow a person to vote absentee without excuse, that would restore voting rights to felons who have served their prison sentence or that would allow a person to vote absentee if they were hospitalized at the time of the application deadline.  The legislature also declined to clarify that a person can use an unexpired but suspended drivers license as identification at the polling place.

HOUSING BILLS

SB 340 (Puller) as originally written would have required group homes for people with disabilities to provide prior notice to local jurisdictions and would have required such home to have sprinklers and other fire suppression systems.  The bill was substantially rewritten to eliminate the fire suppression requirements and to modify the notice requirements.  As currently written, it requires the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to provide a list of recently licensed group homes and their addresses when a local jurisdiction requests such.

For news on other housing bills, see our update for February 3, 2014.