A strong lobbying effort by the Hampton Roads Chamber and other associations concerned with maintaining Virginia's 20 year law prohibiting K-12 schools from opening prior to the traditional Labor Day without a State waiver prevailed on Thursday, January 27 when five bills that would have changed the law were defeated or withdrawn.
The lobbying effort involved direct contact with members of the General Assembly, an electronic "Call to Action" Legislative Alert to secure Chamber member involvement, and the recruitment of several speakers from the region to testify in committee. Speakers included James Ricketts, City of Virginia Beach’s Director of Convention and Visitors Bureau, and members of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance and Colonial Williamsburg.
One bill that did survive (HB 1480) Cleaveland, was reported by House Education on Monday January 31 on a 13 to 8 vote. This bill applies to Roanoke City and potentially four other school divisions. The Chamber spoke against the bill in committee, but was not on the prevailing side of the vote. Our legislative strategy will now shift to efforts to have the bill re-referred to House Appropriations from the floor so that fiscal implications may be considered. We believe that ultimately we will prevail and this measure will be defeated during the legislative process.