Virginia General Assembly Update

Virginia General Assembly Update
The 46-day Virginia General Assembly session adjourned sine die on February 25th. Over 1,800 bills were considered in a legislative session highlighted by the adoption of a $107 billion dollar budget. The Hampton Roads Chamber was represented throughout the session with staff and volunteer leadership providing key testimony and lobbying daily in support of the business agenda. Check out this week's "Legislative Review" and be sure to follow us on Facebook.

 

 

Produced by the Hampton Roads Chamber
Monday, February 27, 2017

Chesapeake Bay Cleanup – Seven of the Commonwealth’s U.S. Representatives have signed a letter asking President Trump to include $73 million for the Chesapeake Bay Program in his budget request next year.  The regional partnership has managed the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed since 1983.  Virginia is a member along with Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Virginia’s Airbnb Hosts Made $41 Million in 2016

The Virginia General Assembly has passed legislation that places some restrictions on short-term rentals and places the oversight under the control of localities.  Recent data from San Francisco based Airbnb reflected $41.4 million in income from 280,000 guests in 2016.  The company indicated that the numbers represented a 111 percent increase over 2015.  6,800 hosts were active in 2016.

In Virginia Beach there were 16,900 guest arrivals in 2016 generating $2.6 million in revenue.  Norfolk had 7,000 guest arrivals creating $1.1 million in host income.

Federal Hiring Freeze May Hurt Region

Professors Bob McNab and Vinod Agarwal from Old Dominion University have recently indicated that Hampton Roads could lose approximately $140 million annually in salaries if the freeze remains.  The region is home to about 46,000 federal workers and approximately 40 percent of the region’s gross domestic product is linked to federal spending.

Compromise Reached on Economic Development Reform

With input from House, Senate and administration negotiators, a compromise was reached on economic development reform which allowed some current board members to remain and it ensured regional representation moving forward.  A number of new mechanisms were put into place that will ensure accountability moving forward.  The legislation comes after a negative Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission report that reflected operational challenges and lack of oversight.  The legislation will establish a new division with the partnership to oversee financial incentives.  Another key development will place International trade under the VEDP instead of making it an independent corporation.  The Chamber SUPPORTS separating the International trade function.  The Chairman of GO Virginia will now serve on the VEDP board.

Legislators Approve $107 Billion Budget

This year’s reset of the Commonwealth’s two-year budget includes significant pay raises for state police, a 3% pay raise for teachers and raises for hard to fill positions.

The legislators restored $10 million in funding for a series of events marking the 400-year anniversary of Jamestown.

The Veto-Session has been scheduled for Wednesday April 5th.  The Governor can offer budget amendments at that time for consideration.

Speaker Bill Howell Retires

The Speaker announced recently that he will not seek re-election and will retire after serving 30 years in the House of Delegates.  The House Republican caucus elected Kirk Cox as Howell’s successor as Speaker.

Noteworthy Budget Items

  • VEDP’s Business-Ready sites program was reduced by $562,500.

  • The Governor has authorization to award grants not to exceed $4 million to eligible companies under the VEDP grant program.

  • Reduced funding by $500,000 for the Tourism Grant Incentives program.

  • Provided $1.35 million to measure land subsidence in Hampton Roads.
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