HB2101: Elections; statewide bond referendum to include fiscal impact statement for voters.

Offered January 10, 2007
Prefiled January 8, 2007
A BILL to amend and reenact § 30-19.10 of the Code of Virginia, relating to fiscal impact statements for proposed statewide bond referenda and distribution to voters.
Patron-- Orrock

Committee Referral Pending

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1.  That § 30-19.10 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:

§ 30-19.10. Distribution of information on proposed questions to be submitted to voters.

Whenever a statewide referendum on a matter other than a constitutional amendment is submitted to the voters by the General Assembly, the State Board of Elections shall cause to be printed and distributed to the general registrar of each county and city, not less than ninety days prior to the election, copies of an explanation of information about the referendum to be placed at each registration site in sufficient number to provide a copy to any interested person, and to election officials to be posted at the polling places on the day of the election. The State Board of Elections also shall cause the explanation information to be published by paid advertisement in each daily newspaper with an average daily circulation of more than 50,000 in Virginia, and published in Virginia or in a contiguous state or district, once during the week preceding the final day for registration and once during the week preceding the referendum.

The explanation information shall contain the ballot question and either (i) a statement neutral explanation of not more than 500 words on the proposed question, or (ii) for any bond referendum, a fiscal impact statement. The neutral explanation or the fiscal impact statement shall be presented in plain English, shall be limited to a neutral explanation, and shall not present arguments by either proponents or opponents of the proposal. The fiscal impact statement shall include descriptions of the need for and anticipated uses of the bond proceeds, the projects to be financed by the bonds, the total estimated cost of the bonds over the life of the bonds, the annual estimated costs of the bonds, and any anticipated encumbrance on future budgets. The Division of Legislative Services, in consultation with such agencies of state government as may be appropriate, including the Office of the Attorney General, shall prepare the neutral explanation as part of the legislation authorizing the referendum.The staff of the House Appropriations Committee or Senate Finance Committee shall prepare the fiscal impact statement for any bond referendum as part of the legislation authorizing the referendum.

The explanation shall be approved for distribution as to form and content by the Committee on Privileges and Elections of the house of introduction of the legislation authorizing the referendum. For purposes of this section and § 30-19.9, "plain English" means written in nontechnical, readily understandable language using words of common everyday usage and avoiding legal terms and phrases or other terms and words of art whose usage or special meaning primarily is limited to a particular field or profession.

Any failure to comply with the provisions of this section shall not affect the validity of the statewide referendum.