2023 Session Update #2 (and other news!)

January 29, 2023

Let’s start with the “other news” which may be more exciting and which I simply forgot last week.  During the Board Meeting in Richmond after the visit to the General Assembly last week the Board made several decisions:

  • Officers were elected (our bylaws allow for officers to serve one year terms, but do permit consecutive terms.)  All of our 2022 officers sought an additional terms and were reelected!
    • Sean McGinnis – President
    • John Weatherspoon – Vice President
    • Emily Bebber – Secretary/Treasurer
  • They also approved the budget, and several projects for this coming year.  Financially VNPP remains in good shape, and we will continue to add to the reserve account on a regular basis; there are no plans to increase dues this year.

Now on to a quick wrap-up of the Session from this week:
  • The “foundational” barrier crimes bill that we requested passed unanimously out of sub-committee (which indicates a 99% chance of passage from Committee and from the House) – it makes no changes in the actual crimes, but allows for a clearer path for the future.  Needless to say, that was the highlight of the Session as we have tried to get it passed for several years!
  • The more substantive bill that would have helped peer recovery specialists to get jobs in their field, was modified during sub-committee and a key element was removed which might have expanded the options for peer recovery specialists to work in adult mental health services, but left in the option for employment in adult substance abuse.  This may be a distinction without a difference as the crime now included for screening is a felony possession crime.
  • The Senate substitute version of that bill also passed from committee on Friday.
  • The bills designed to reduce the frequency of Licensing visits have failed;  they were too inflammatory this close to the end of the DOJ agreement; the other bill about reporting of abuse or Level II or III incidents was turned into a “study,”  the issue is still alive at least for awhile.
  • The bill which we requested which would require greater transparency when a provisional license is issued, passed out of subcommittee with minor changes to the wording.  All-in-all we have had a good week!
  • The very challenging paid leave measure which would have been nearly impossible to administer and which we spoke against did not survive!  The bill to phase out 14-C certificates which we spoke in favor of did survive!
The general consensus is that because the Governor is pushing 500 additional slots, there will likely be another rate increase this year.   There is speculation, but no actual numbers yet.  We did have a productive conversation with the Secretary of HHR  to clarify a better way to describe “eliminating the waiting list!”