Jan. 13, 2011

General Assembly to consider DMA legislation and funding  

By Cotton Puryear
Virginia Department of Military Affairs

RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia General Assembly began the 2011 legislative session Jan. 12 in Richmond, and the Virginia Department of Military Affairs has three pieces of legislation approved by the Office of the Secretary of Public Safety to be considered during the session. In addition, there are several budget amendments proposed by Gov. Bob McDonnell that could impact the Virginia National Guard and the Virginia Defense Force.

2011 General Assembly at a Glance

DMA legislation for 2011 General Assembly:

SB 891 / HB 1774: Allows the Governor to expend from sum sufficient funds for staging of the Virginia National Guard without declaring a state of emergency.

SB 1128 / HB 1994: Makes a failure to appear for Title 32 or State Active Duty a misdemeanor criminal offense.

SB 1334 / HB 1852: Modifies the existing military laws by deleting/changing outdated language.

Gov. McDonnell’s proposed budget amendments:

$2.4 million non-general funds in FY 2012 from federal funds for energy upgrades at National Guard and Air National Guard armories statewide.

$6.7 million in Virginia Public Building Authority bond financing for armory repairs, to be matched by an equal amount of federal funds.

$200,000 non-general funds in FY 2012 from federal funds for repairs to state-owned cottages and trailers at the State Military Reservation.

$17,735 non-general funds in FY 2012 from federal funds to purchase high-frequency network enabled radios for the Virginia Defense Force.

The following legislation will be considered by the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates:

SB 891 / HB 1774: Authorizes the Governor to allocate a sum sufficient for preparation of the Virginia National Guard and the Virginia State Defense Force to respond to certain enumerated circumstances, regardless of whether or not an official state of emergency is declared. However, the response preparation is limited to 300 personnel and five days, unless a state of emergency is declared.

SB 1128 / HB 1994: Amends the section of the Code of Virginia addressing a member of the Virginia National Guard’s failure to report for duty. Failure to report would be a Class 4 misdemeanor

SB 1334 / HB 1852: Makes several amendments to the military laws of the Commonwealth. Many of the changes are technical, such as updating references to the Virginia State Guard and Virginia State Defense Force to the Virginia Defense Force and deleting obsolete references. The bill also makes amendments to the appointment of officers of the National Guard, failure to attend training and special courts-martial.

The most significant budget proposals by the Governor include $6.7 million for armory repairs and $2.4 million for energy upgrades at facilities across the state. Funding from this appropriation would assist the Department of Military Affairs in repairing many critical deficiencies, including the following:

  • Repairing approximately 20 armory roofs that have exceeded their life expectancy. As they continue to fall in disrepair, it has the potential to cause damage to the overall structural integrity of the building.
  • Replacing approximately 10 armory boilers that have exceeded or are approaching their life expectancy.
  • Updating approximately 13 armories that require the installation of energy efficiency technology.
  • Renovating approximately 7 armories with structural damage.

“The average age of an armory in Virginia is 38 years old, with the oldest being more than 70 years old,” said Maj. General Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia. “Without significant repairs, many of these armories are at risk of being closed in the future due to energy and upkeep costs, which would mean removing the National Guard presence from communities where Guardsmen have resided for decades.”

The 46 armories operating throughout the state are the “home station” for Virginia Guard units and are vital to the training and readiness of more than 9,000 members of the Virginia Army National Guard and the Virginia Defense Force, Long said. These facilities are critical staging resources to respond to natural disasters, and well-maintained facilities also greatly enhance recruiting and retention, Long said.

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