VLA 2016 Legislative Committee Update: Increase to State Aid and more

The 2016 Virginia General Assembly proved to be a successful session for the Virginia Library Association. Senator Tommy Norment and Delegate Tag Greason were patrons of VLA’s budget amendments requesting a $2.5 million increase in state aid to local public libraries in Virginia.  This request faced an uncertain future just after cross-over when the House of Delegates proposed no increase in funding for state libraries, while the Senate proposed an increase of $1 million that would be funded in both years of the 2016-2018 budget.  Library supporters successfully lobbied the budget conferees who agreed to an increase of $500,000 in both years of the next budget to produce a total $1 million increase in state aid to local libraries.

The budget conference report also included the addition of $395,000 for digital archives at the Library of Virginia, a one-time grant of $500,000 for construction at the Eastern Shore Public Library and $20,000 per year for operating costs at the Saltville branch of the Smyth-Bland Regional Library.

While the $1 million of additional funds for local public libraries achieved in the budget conference did not meet our original goal (click here for the VLA 2016 Legislative Program Goals), libraries fared well in the budget conference compared to previous years.

Along with the budget amendments mentioned above, there were also two bills introduced in the General Assembly that were of particular interest to the Virginia Library Association.  HB 336 dealt with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and public access to library records of minors.  As we predicted at the start of the Session, this bill was carried over for the year and will be further studied by the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council.  VLA will monitor action on HB 336 during the remainder of 2016 as the FOIA Council considers it.  

Additionally, HB 516 created significant controversy during the 2016 Session.  This bill would require the Board of Education to adopt a policy requiring schools to allow for parents to review “sexually explicit” instructional material that is expected to be used in class and be given the option to have their children provided “nonexplicit” alternative materials.  HB 516 remains in the Governor’s 30-day bill review process.
The 2016 VLA Legislative Committee
Tom Shepley, Director, Pamunkey Regional Library and Legislative Committee Co-Chair and
John Ulmschneider, University Librarian, Virginia Commonwealth University and Legislative Committee Co-Chair