Final Week of the Virginia General Assembly Session

Final Week of the Virginia General Assembly Session
The Hampton Roads Chamber was engaged on a number of issues during the 2019 Virginia General Assembly session, which is slated to conclude on February 23. Check out this week's Legislative Review.

 

Energy

The Hampton Roads Chamber support efforts to develop and sustain safe, reliable and efficient cost-effective solutions in order to maintain a viable business environment and robust economy in Virginia.

Supported Legislation
Commercial Property Clean Assessed Energy (C-PACE)
C-PACE provides real estate developers and property owners with an innovative tool to finance construction projects and makes green energy upgrades accessible and affordable for existing buildings or new construction. Senate Bill 1559 (Senators Lynwood Lewis and Monty Mason), authorizes any locality, by ordinance, to authorize contracts to provide loans for the initial acquisition and installation of shoreline resiliency improvements with free and willing property owners of both existing properties and new construction. Current law authorizes such contracts only for clean energy improvements, but SB1559, strengthens the statute by expanding the types of improvements that can be financed to include resiliency improvements. The benefits to the real estate owner/developer are high-performing buildings with lower operating expenses, greater net cash flow and higher asset value. The benefits to communities include job creation through increased construction activity and a valuable tool that helps businesses and real estate owners - at no cost to local governments or citizens. The legislation passed both the house and senate unanimously.

Economic Development

The Hampton Roads Chamber is an advocate for economic development and job creation by supporting policies and initiatives that encourage business growth and expansion, and improve the business climate of the region.

Supported Legislation
Pilot Program
House Bill 1840 directs the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to establish pilot programs by Dominion Energy Virginia and Appalachian Power with the purpose of promoting economic development in opportunity zones for up to three business parks prior to the public announcement of a prospective occupant. Senate amendments agreed to by House (82-Y 18-N) (on 2/21/2019).

Business Facility Tax Credit
House Bill 2003 (Delegates Lashrecse Aird - D and Matthew James –D), passed on a vote of (89 – Y and 8 – N). This legislation extends the sunset date of the Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit from January 1, 2020, to July1 1, 2022 and requires the Dept. of Taxation to publish business information.

Opposed Legislation
Economic Development Investment Grant
House Bill 2348 increases the minimum wage requirements from 135 percent to 175 percent of the federal minimum wage for new jobs to be eligible for economic development incentives under the Small Business Jobs Grant Fund Program or the Virginia Jobs Investment Program. HB 2348 was left in House Appropriations.

Education and Workforce Development

One of the greatest challenges facing our state is preparing the workforce to meet the needs of business and industry in a variety of fields from complex manufacturing to high tech service sector operations. The Hampton Roads Chamber believes that aligning our educational and workforce development systems with business and industry demand is critical to our overall success and our ability to compete in today’s global economy.

Supported Legislation
Energy Career Cluster
House Bill 2008 (Delegates Glenn Davis - R; Gordon Helsel - R; Michael Mullin - D; and Brenda Pogge - R), requires the Department of Education, in consultation with representatives from pertinent industries such as renewable energy, natural gas, nuclear energy, coal, and oil, to establish an energy career cluster. This legislation passed the Senate on a vote of 40-Y 0-N.

High School Graduation Requirements; capstone project
In the 2022-2023 school year, House Bill 2662 would require students to complete a senior capstone project, portfolio, performance-based assessment, or structured experiment that relates to a work-based learning, service-learning, or community engagement activity.

Micro-credential Program
Senate Bill 1419 and House Bill 2217 (Delegates Michael Mullin- D; Cheryl Turpin – D and Roslyn Tyler – D), authorizes the Department of Education to establish a Micro-Credential Program. Public elementary or secondary school teacher (who holds a renewable or provisional license) would complete additional coursework in STEM endorsement areas, including computer science, for which there is a high need for additional qualified teachers.

Healthcare

The Hampton Roads Chamber continues to focus its efforts on promoting effective solutions to our health care challenges that will help control costs, expand access, and improve the quality of care.

Supported Legislation
Group Health Benefit Plans
Senate Bill 1689 (Senators Siobhan Dunnavant-R; Bill DeSteph -R; Frank Wagner-R; and Jill Vogel--R), authorizes associations to sell benefit plans to their members through the formation of a benefits consortium. These bills expands access to health insurance plans and thus expand affordable health care coverage options for business owners.

Opposed Legislation
Health Insurance
Under Senate Bill 1344, health carriers that offer or provide a health benefit plan, would be required to include preventative care coverage in accordance with regulations issued pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in effect as of January 1, 2019. This bill was (defeated) in Commerce and Labor (4-Y 11-N).

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