RD298 - 2016 Catalog of State and Federal Mandates on Local Governments

Executive Summary:

In response to increasing interest in the effect of mandates on localities, the 1993 General Assembly enacted legislation directing the Commission on Local Government to compile and annually update a catalog of State and Federal mandates imposed on the Commonwealth’s local governments, including, where available, a summary of the fiscal impact of any new mandates.(*1) This 2016 edition of the catalog published by the Commission on Local Government includes mandates identified as of August 2016.(*2) The Commission examined all legislation passed by the 2016 General Assembly session, surveyed executive branch agencies, and contacted the local government associations (the Virginia Association of Counties and the Virginia Municipal League) for information on new mandates and mandates not previously identified.

In the development of this document, the Commission adhered to the definition of “mandate” originally adopted by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) and reconfirmed in Executive Order 58 (2007), which defines a mandate as a State or Federal constitutional, statutory, or administrative action that places a requirement on local governments.(*3) This definition encompasses the four types of mandates classified in Executive Order 58: (1) compulsory orders, (2) conditions of financial aid, (3) regulation of optional activities, and (4) state fiscal preemption. Under this classification scheme, “compulsory orders” require local government compliance regardless of receipt of aid or other circumstances. Mandates termed “conditions of financial aid” require compliance only if the locality accepts the State or Federal assistance in question. Mandates classified as “regulation of optional activities” result from State or Federal regulation of activities that local governments undertake voluntarily. Finally, mandates termed “state fiscal preemption” involve measures that result in a net reduction of revenues collected by a locality or a restriction on the locality’s authority to collect such revenues. This last type of mandate was introduced by Executive Order 58 and was not considered for inclusion in the catalog prior to the 2008 edition.


In addition to requiring that mandates be cataloged, the General Assembly has taken several other steps to monitor the effects of mandates on Virginia’s local governments.(*4) For example, the legislature has directed the Division of Legislative Services to refer to the Commission any bills introduced in the General Assembly that may require one or more local governments to render a new service or expand an existing service, or require a net reduction in revenues by any county, city, or town.)(*5) The Commission must then conduct an investigation of such bills and prepare fiscal impact estimates to be filed with the Clerk of the House of Delegates for distribution to legislators considering those measures. These fiscal impact statements alert legislators to any adverse fiscal impacts that might result from the proposed legislation.

Further, in order to examine the fiscal as well as other impacts of existing mandates on localities, all State executive branch agencies are required to review mandates that they administer on local governments, and to report which, if any, might be altered or eliminated without interruption of local service delivery or undue threat to the health, safety, and welfare of citizens of the Commonwealth.(*6) The Commission is responsible for coordinating the scheduling of the assessments and for notifying the Governor and the General Assembly when an agency assessment recommends the alteration or elimination of a mandate.

The assessment of mandates by executive agencies is governed by Executive Order 58 that went into effect in October 2007, superseding Executive Memorandum 1-98, which had guided the assessment process since October 1998.(*7) Executive Order 58 eliminated the previous requirement to periodically reassess all mandates in the catalog, and limited assessment activities to four types of mandates: (1) new mandates; (2) newly identified mandates; (3) mandates that have been so substantially modified as to create a new mandate; and (4) mandates that the Commission, after duly considering input from local governments, state agencies, interest groups, and the public, has determined should be reassessed. In any case, no such mandate becomes subject to assessment until it has been in effect for at least twenty-four months, and no mandate can be reassessed more than once every four years unless it has been so substantially modified as to create a new mandate. The Commission annually establishes a schedule that state agencies must follow in assessing the types of mandates described above.



The 2016 edition of the catalog provides an inventory of all the State and Federal mandates on local governments in Virginia that had been identified as of August 2016. The catalog is organized into two parts. Part A contains those mandates administered by the executive agencies of the Commonwealth, and Part B lists the remaining mandates which either are administered by nonexecutive agencies or exist without State administrative oversight. In all, 693 mandates are included in the catalog. Of the total, 521 mandates subject to critical review by executive agencies are included, as opposed to 513 mandates listed in the 2015 edition.(*8)

Part A

Part A of the catalog lists those mandates administered by executive branch agencies and subject to assessment pursuant to the provisions of Executive Order 58 (2007). They are cataloged according to administering agency. Each mandate has a separate entry containing standardized data, including a short title; a unique code number; a brief description of the mandated action; identification of the type of mandate; the name of the administering agency and the relevant secretariat; the statutory, regulatory, or constitutional authority on which the mandate is based; the mandate assessment period, if applicable; the assessment finding, where available; and additional applicable comments.(*9)

Part B

Part B lists those mandates not subject to assessment because they are administered by nonexecutive branch agencies or because there is no State administrative oversight of the required action. Each entry for the mandates listed in Part B includes the same general information as that in Part A, but in this section references to the secretariat, assessment period, and assessment finding have been omitted.


Detailed supplementary materials are provided in the appendices. Appendix A includes a copy of Executive Order 58 (2007) which governs the mandates assessment process and contains a sample of the standardized format that agencies are required to follow in conducting their assessments. Appendix B offers a complete listing of the current schedule of assessment periods. Appendix C provides a separate listing of the changes in mandates since the publication of the previous edition: (1) new mandates, (2) newly identified mandates, (3) those mandates which have been expanded, (4) mandates which have been eliminated, (5) mandates which have been removed from the catalog, (6) other changes, and (7) minor edits.(*10) Appendix D provides a separate listing of the principal Federal mandates that affect Virginia’s localities, with a brief description of the mandate and a listing of the authorizing measure. Examples of all of these Federal mandates can be found with complete entries in Parts A and B of the catalog. Appendix E provides a table showing the number of mandates by type and by administering agency and secretariat. Finally, Appendix F includes a summary of the provisions of the Code of Virginia that apply to mandates, followed by the precise wording of the statutes.
(*1) Sec. 15.2-2903(7), Code of Virginia.
(*2) As was the case with previous editions, this most recent update is founded upon the prior research of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission published in its two catalogs of mandates: the 1992 study, Catalog of State and Federal Mandates on Local Governments (H. D. 53/1992) and the 1993 Update: Catalog of State and Federal Mandates on Local Governments (H. D. 2/1994; hereinafter referred to as the 1993 Update).
(*3) 1993 Update. It is important to note that, as a result, this catalog does not include those requirements imposed on local governments by judicial decision nor by burden resulting from a reduction of State or Federal financial assistance without a corresponding decrease in required services, which arguably also constitute mandates that can significantly affect localities.
(*4) For a complete listing of the Virginia statutes regarding mandates on localities, see Appendix F.
(*5) Sec. 30-19.03, Code of Virginia.
(*6) Sec. 2.2-613 and Sec. 15.2-2903(6), Code of Virginia.
(*7) EM 98-1 required periodic reassessments of every state agency mandate listed in the Catalog, but no more frequently than once every four years. Executive Order 58 (2007) revised the process so that assessment is limited only to mandates that are (1) new or previously unreported, (2) have been so revised that they constitute new mandates, or (3) that the Commission deems to be worthy of reassessment based on input from the public and interested groups.
(*8) See Appendix C, Changes in Mandates since Issuance of 2015 Catalog of State and Federal Mandates on Local Governments.
(*9) Code numbers for mandates administered by executive agencies and subject to assessment are derived from the official abbreviations for the secretariat, followed by the official abbreviation for the administering agency and a three-digit number. Mandates not subject to review are identified as follows: judicial branch mandates begin with the letters “JUD,” followed by the official abbreviation for the appropriate court, and a three-digit number; legislative branch mandates begin with the letters “LEG,” followed by the official abbreviation of the agency, and a three-digit number; independent agency mandates begin with the letters “IND,” followed by the official abbreviation for the agency, and a three-digit number; mandates without State oversight begin with the letters “NSO,” followed by a three-digit number.
(*10) Expanded mandates are those which, by legislative or regulatory action, have been broadened with respect to the requirements placed on local governments. Eliminated mandates are those which, by legislative or regulatory action, have been repealed. Mandates which have been removed from the catalog are those which have been removed for some non-legislative or non-regulatory reason.