The 2012 General Assembly Convened on January 11 for a 60-Day Budget Adoption Session. The Commonwealth’s legislators will adopt a two-year, $86 billion balanced budget and consider nearly 2,400 bills and resolutions during the session.
The Chamber’s top legislative priority is funding and developing our transportation infrastructure. Governor McDonnell’s 2012 transportation initiatives include increasing funds from the sales tax for the highway maintenance fund and dedicating a greater percentage of any annual surplus to transportation. These initiatives and a number of others that strengthen public-private transportation projects are contained in SB639 patroned by Senator Frank Wagner.
The top environmental issue in 2012 is the consideration of lifting the moratorium on uranium mining in Virginia. This issue will not be decided until 2013 to allow state government more time to draft proposed regulations and evaluate scientific studies.
The hospitality industry has united this session to oppose measures that abolish the current Labor Day school start law. HB1063 (Tata) would allow school divisions to open two weeks prior to the Labor Day holiday. Tourism interests have documented significant economic damage from changing the law and urge alternative options for increasing instructional time.
An increase of $100 million in Higher Education funding is supported by the Chamber. Bills that further reform Business Professional & Occupational License (BPOL) and Machinery and Tools taxes are also being lobbied by Chamber staff in Richmond.
An additional $40 million is proposed to support economic development in Virginia. This will provide additional funding for marketing and tourism, mega-site development and the Governor’s Opportunity Fund.
The Chamber opposes a budget item (HB30/SB30/Putney/Colgan) that would implement a surcharge on each employee in unemployment insurance fees. The Hampton Roads Chamber favors (HB33/SB242/Comstock/Obenshain) that prohibits state agencies from mandating Project Labor agreements on public works projects. This will create a “level playing field” for non-union contractors.
In the legal reform area, the Chamber supported a bill that would allow for motions for summary judgment to be based in the whole or in part, upon depositions. This measure will be studied and will return for the 2013 session.
The 2012 Virginia Legislative Session is scheduled to end on March 10. All bills must “crossover” to the other legislative chamber on February 14. During the General Assembly session, the Chamber will update members weekly through a “News and Notes” e-newsletter and engage the membership with “Action Alerts.” Please contact our governmental affairs team with any business issues or concerns. Ira Agricola can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 757-664-2570 and Candace Reid at email@example.com, 757-664-2572.