Produced by the Hampton Roads Chamber
Friday, January 13, 2017
The State of the Commonwealth address was delivered by Governor Terry McAuliffe on January 11th. The Governor gave a strong nod to bipartisanship touting success over the last three years and making a call for cooperation in the months ahead. He stressed the need to work collaboratively and build a thriving economy that can withstand outside pressures including Washington.
Sounding a warming to lawmakers, the Governor pointed out that the state’s economic progress could be severely hampered by conservative social legislation on abortion or transgender issues.
During the State of the Commonwealth address, the Governor announced that Navy Federal Credit Union had selected Frederick County, Virginia to invest $102 million dollars and create 1,400 new jobs.
Significant news was also announced regarding Fort Monroe and Hampton. The state and the Army have finalized a land exchange. The agreement will turn over control of the fort’s marina and the North Gate parcel. This was necessary before the areas can be developed.
Virginia’s 2017 Legislative Session Underway
Leadership in the House and Senate have pledged to focus on the state budget – ($1.2 billion shortfall) and on easing regulations in an effort to boost jobs. The Governor said his top issues are increasing funding for mental health reforms and addressing the state’s opioid drug overdoses.
Budget Shortfall – Overcoming more than a $1 billion shortfall in the state budget will not be easy. The gap represents about 2 percent of the state’s $50 billion budget. It will require the General Assembly to cut expenses and generate new revenues.
An early budget divide between the Governor and the legislature is focused on state police funding. The Senate Finance subcommittee on public safety made clear on January 11th that they do not support additional positions for the Board of Corrections.
Port Breaks Record
The Port of Virginia broke its annual record for container cargo volume in 2016. The port moved 2,655,705 containers measured in 20 foot units. This is a 4.2 percent increase over 2015.
Delegate Ron Villanueva is asking for a joint legislative group to study the feasibility of creating a regional mega-airport in Hampton Roads. The new airport would draw passengers from North Carolina, the Peninsula, South Hampton Roads and Richmond.
School Calendar Legislation
The Hampton Roads Chamber is OPPOSED to bills that would require a uniform start to school prior to the Labor Day holiday. Bills introduced to date include: HB 1983 (Delegate Greason R-32nd) and HB 2031 (Delegate Adams R-16th). Also, in the Senate, SB 1111 introduced by Senator Edwards (D-21st).
Hampton Roads Chamber, Chamber RVA and the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce SUPPORT the installation of a minimum floor in the regional gas tax. A letter was sent this week to members of the General Assembly in support of this initiative:
To view the joint letter, click here.