RD313 - 2018 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 2018 edition of the catalog published by the Commission on Local Government includes mandates identified as of July 1, 2018. (*2) The Commission examined all legislation passed by the 2018 General Assembly session, surveyed executive branch agencies, and obtained information from the local government associations (the Virginia Association of Counties and the Virginia Municipal League) 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: compulsory orders, conditions of financial aid, regulation of optional activities, and 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 took 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 2018 edition of the catalog is an online interactive mandates database that provides an inventory of all the State and Federal mandates on local governments in Virginia that had been identified as of July 1, 2018. Mandates are organized named according to their secretariat and agency and then assigned an entry number. There are some mandates that are administered by non-executive or independent agencies or have no state oversight. A mandate can be searched for by secretariat, agency, mandate type, mandate status, edition year of the catalog, or by a key word search.
(*1) Sec. 15.2-2903(7), Code of Va.
(*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 Va.
(*6) Sec. 2.2-613 and Sec. 15.2-2903(6), Code of Va.
(*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.