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RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today signed House Bill 5005, Virginia’s revised biennial budget. The Governor called the General Assembly into special session on August 18 and has worked with legislative leaders to enact a spending plan that protects key priorities, preserves the Commonwealth’s financial options, and addresses critical challenges that Virginians are facing amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“This budget gives us the tools we need to contend with the challenges brought on by the ongoing pandemic,” said Governor Northam. “I am grateful to our partners in the General Assembly their work in crafting a revised spending plan that protects the most vulnerable Virginians, stays true to our shared values, and puts the Commonwealth in a strong position to weather this public health crisis.”
The signed budget finalizes previously announced funding allocations that Virginia received under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, including:
Utility Shutoff Protections
The budget signed today includes $100 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to support jurisdictional and municipal utility customers facing financial hardship due to the public health crisis. It also directs the State Corporation Commission to establish an application process for distributing the funds to utilities so they can efficiently provide direct assistance to eligible customers.
The budget also puts in place a moratorium on utility disconnections, including water and electricity, which will remain in effect until the Governor determines that the economic and public health conditions have improved such that the prohibition does not need to be in place or until at least 60 days after the declared state of emergency ends. The budget includes protections for utility providers dealing with revenue shortfalls and establishes a repayment plan to give customers the opportunity to pay off back debt over a longer period.
The budget prohibits evictions for non-payment of rent through December 31, 2020, which is stronger than current federal protections. Landlords and tenants must cooperate and apply for rental assistance through the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development. After January 1, 2021, the budget requires landlords and tenants to work together to access rent assistance, including through the RMRP, before proceeding with an eviction.
A full list of legislation signed by the Governor during the special session can be found here.
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