Health Care Insurance Options for Small Businesses
The Hampton Roads Chamber has signaled support for several bills that attempt to address the challenge of rising health care costs for small businesses. SB 1689 (Dunnavant), SB 1351 and SB 1353 (Wagner) and SB 1712 (Vogel) will allow associations to sell benefit plans to their members through the formation of a benefits consortium. It is anticipated that such benefits consortiums will be able to expand access to health insurance plans and thus expand affordable health care coverage options for business owners. This effort is strongly supported by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and other local and regional Chambers in the Commonwealth.
Tort Reform for Business-to-Business Litigation
The Senate passed SB 1486 (Obenshain) on January 29 which will assist businesses with the challenges of frivolous lawsuits. SB 1486 will allow “summary judgements” during litigation involving business vs. business suits. This bill now will head to the House of Delegates for consideration. The Hampton Roads Chamber is strongly supporting this Tort Reform effort.
Moratorium on Fossil Fuel Projects and Clean Energy Mandates
The Hampton Roads Chamber is opposing HB 1635 (Rasoul) since it is an effort to stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project and places a moratorium on any new electric fossil fuel energy generators by January 1, 2020. Additionally, it mandates that 80% of the electricity in the Commonwealth be generated by “clean energy sources” or renewable energy by 2028. In 2017, natural gas fueled 50% of Virginia’s net electricity generation, nuclear power 33%, and coal almost 12%, while renewables provided approximately 6%.
Property Assessed Clean Energy
The Norfolk Division of the Hampton Roads Chamber has been a strong advocate for C-PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) and has expressed its support of SB 1559 at the Virginia General Assembly this week. Senate Bill 1559, introduced by Senator Lynwood Lewis (D-6th), expands the current Property Assessed Clean Energy legislation to allow any locality, by ordinance, to authorize contracts to provide loans for the initial acquisition and installation of resiliency improvements.
SB 1126 (Senator Louise Lucas) is one of seven separate gambling-related bills introduced in the Virginia legislature this session. On Wednesday, The Senate Finance Committee agreed with the plan by Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City, to stop any local referendums on casinos until the completion of a comprehensive. Senator Norment’s proposal modifies a bill (proposed by Senators Louise Lucas, Lynwood Lewis, and Bill Currico), that originally included a study but would have allowed cities to hold referendums in November.
Other tweaks of the legislation included the following: