January 23, 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. Although all proposed bills have been filed by now, it is possible that there are proposals we do not know about or that have an impact on people with disabilities that we do not know about. We urge you to let us know if there is an important issue or proposal that you think we should know about. Contact us at info@dlcv.org or at 1-800-552-3962.

While some housing proposals have not yet been decided, there have been a number of disappointing developments in the legislature with respect to accessible housing, with one positive change with respect to zoning laws.

A bill patroned by Delegate Pogge, HB 527, clarifies that group homes for people with disabilities must be treated as single family residences, regardless of whether the home has a “resident” staff living there. The change brings Virginia law closer to compliance with federal fair housing laws.

On the other hand, a bill that would have also brought Virginia law closer to compliance with federal law was stricken by a house subcommittee. HB 816, patroned by Delegate Lopez, would have barred a landlord from considering a person’s source of income in housing practices. It is currently a violation of federal law to consider some sources of income in making housing decisions, particularly those sources of income that might identify the presence of a disability.

HB 524 (Pogge) was stricken by subcommittee. That bill would have increased the number of accessible units in newly constructed complexes to 10% of the units. Currently, the state building code requires only 2% be accessible. A general laws subcommittee struck the bill, which means it will not be heard by full committee.

A House Finance subcommittee is considering a proposal that would increase the total amount of money available in the budget for tax credits to those who build accessible homes. The bill is patroned by Delegate Villanueva: HB 295. Currently, there is 1 million dollars available for the tax credit; the bill would increase it to 2 million. A companion bill, SB 57 (Marsden), is before the Senate Finance committee.