“There are a heck of a lot of great things still happening,“ said Senator Mark Warner, as he addressed an audience of over 400 Hampton Roads business leaders and dignitaries at the 2017 Hampton Roads Chamber Senatorial Forum. The forum held at the Hilton Norfolk-The Main on August 18th allowed business leaders and community members the opportunity to hear from Senator Warner on the issues important to the region and the Commonwealth. As an inspiring ignitor and impactful advocate, The Hampton Roads Chamber strives to provide opportunities, like the Senatorial Forum, for our members to dialogue with the decision makers in Washington.
Bryan Stephens, President and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber welcomed the audience to the event and explained Senator Tim Kaine’s absence. “Senator Kaine was unable to be here today. He is attending the funeral of State Police trooper Berke Bates, one of the officers who died in the crash outside Charlottesville on Saturday.” The crowd observed a moment of silence to observe the fallen troopers.
Senator Warner continued his remarks highlighting the positive future outlook of Virginia. The opening of a new VA facility on the Southside in the next few years and how by “2018 all schools in Virginia, from elementary to high school, will have to offer a computer science class.” Computer literacy and cyber security were consistent subjects of the Senator’s keynote address. As the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Warner addressed the Russian meddling investigation. “There is absolutely no doubt that the Russians massively interfered,” said Senator Warner, “we have to make sure this doesn’t happen again. This is the first sign of what 21st-century warfare looks like.” During a question and answer period, Senator Warner continued to expand on the subject. “The fact that we don’t have cyber doctrine is extraordinarily dangerous,” he said. “We have 217k unfilled cyber jobs in America. Why shouldn’t the cyber capital be right here in Hampton Roads?”
Infrastructure, tax reform, and the changing workforce were also topics of the Senator’s remarks. Senator Warner stated that “we need to get the FFA to give us that second runway,” noting the need for airport expansion in Hampton Roads. He also suggested that “we need to start experimenting with a portal benefit system,” since the workforce is moving away from traditional 30-year stints in one company to more transient and flexible work environment. “All of your social insurance is dependent on your work status,” said Senator Warner, “and 1/3 of our workforce doesn’t work in full-time employment.” Relatedly, Senator Warner mentioned he is a “strong advocate” of tax reform but doesn’t believe it can be done by reconciliation.
After Senator Warner finished his keynote address, the floor was opened for questions from the audience and the Senator answered questions on the debt ceiling, sequestration, offshore drilling, and the environment as it relates to the business community. “There are areas where we’re looking at resiliency and sea level rise and we can see we’re going to have a lot of our region under water and unusable,” said Senator Warner.
As he concluded his time at the Hampton Roads Senatorial Forum, Senator Warner reminded the attendees to remain optimistic. “Please don’t give up,” he said, “We still live in the greatest country in the world. For every problem, there is an answer. “
Thank you to our sponsors: Cox and Dominion Energy (Presenting Sponsors), Bon Secours (Platinum Legislative Affairs Partner), Clark Nexsen (Silver Legislative Affairs Partner), Hilton Norfolk-The Main (Platinum Sponsor), The Port of Virginia (Gold Sponsor), Klett Consulting Group (Bronze Sponsor), Sinclair Communications (Media Sponsor), RGB Imaging (Photography Sponsor).