Our View of the Legislature: Employment

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This is an especially confusing time in the Virginia legislature.  According to the official calendar adopted by the House and the Senate, both houses must complete work on their bills by tomorrow, February 5th, and should begin working on bills from the other house as of Saturday, February 6th.  According to the official calendar, all work must be completed one week from today, Thursday, February 11th.  However, there are several key committees that are not even scheduled to meet to consider legislation from the other house before the end of session, most notably the Senate Committee on Education on Health and the Senate Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services.

We are left to speculate on what might happen.  It is possible that the two parties, and the two houses, may agree on a new resolution and extend the length of the session.  It is possible that the legislature could reach the 11th, and simply never adjourn – just go into recess – and operate under a fiction that the day has not ended.  It is possible that the legislature will leave it to the Governor to call them back to a special session, even as early as the very next day.  We think it very unlikely that they will simply not complete their legislative work.

There are some important employment related bills that were passed by the House of Delegates and that must be acted on by the Senate.

Delegate Guzman’s HB 2140 establishes an alternate application process in state employment for people with disabilities and creates a program to hire and train such employees.  The bill is supported by the Administration and has no “fiscal impact,” meaning that the state believes it can implement the new process within existing resources.  HB 2140 was approved by the House and now needs approval by the Senate Committee on General Laws.  That committee typically meets on Wednesdays, so even if the bill is heard and approved next Wednesday, there are not enough days in the calendar for it to get full approval before the end of session (a bill must be read in the chamber on three different days before passage.)   An extended session is, therefore, critical to the success of this bill.

HB 1848, patroned by Delegate Sickles, extends state protections against employment discrimination to individuals with disabilities.  In 2020, the legislature passed sweeping protections against discrimination for many classifications, but neglected to include people with disabilities. HB 1848 corrects that oversight.  HB 1848 was approved by the full House of Delegates.  The bill now moves to the Senate Committee on General Laws.  As with Delegate Guzman’s bill, above, there does not seem to be sufficient time for passage unless the session is extended.

The disAbility Law Center of Virginia’s mission is to advance independence, choice and self-determination; protect legal, human and civil rights; and eliminate abuse, neglect and discrimination of people with disabilities through zealous and uncompromising legal advocacy and representation.

We are available to educate policy makers about the potential impact of legislative proposals.  Please let us know of any legislative proposals or budget issues that you think we should be following.  Contact us at info@dlcv.org or by calling 1-800-552-3962 or 804-225-2042.