Legislative Alert - There are a number of major business related issues on the horizon for the 2017 General Assembly Session.
2017 Virginia General Assembly Session
- Structure of Commonwealth’s Economic Development Initiatives – Virginia Economic Development Partnership is now an “old” model with Ohio, Florida and Texas representing the “new” model. Problems are deeper than expected and have taken place through a number of administrations.
- Fiscal Distress in Localities – Possible development of formal protocol to monitor using Auditor of Public Accounts.
- House of Delegates –With the House of Delegates standing for election in November of 2017, there is an expectation that we will see a number of President-Elect Trump inspired bills such as a rollback of clean power legislation, new immigration bills, Sanctuary City legislation, and other bills related to over regulation at the state level.
- Incentives and Tax Breaks for Business – Incentives for business and tax breaks will be under intense scrutiny given the JLARC findings relative to VEDP.
- Regulations – Lowering the economic burdens in the regulatory area will be a key driver in the 2017 Session.
- Pension Reform – Expect further movement towards a private sector model.
- Higher Education – Funding levels and the appropriate levels for tuition will be “on the agenda.” There will also be pressure to reduce aid for out of state tuition.
- Short Term Rentals – The debate will be over what powers should be retained by local governments.
- State Police – Expect the driver registration fee to increase to pay for more State Police and increase compensation.
- Procurement –There is an ongoing debate about our current procurement laws and the potential to move to a “hard bid” process versus the current “construction management” model.
- TORT Reform – The introduction of legislation or study legislation is targeting the 2018 session.
- Right to Work – With the failure of the “Right to Work” constitutional amendment in November, expect legislation to strengthen the laws in the Code of Virginia.
- Democratic Caucus – Expect the Democratic Caucus to refocus and restructure to a more “business friendly” agenda in 2017.
- Reaction to the Governor’s plan for budget cuts has been largely negative. Expect the legislature to depart from Governor McAuliffe’s recommendation for an across the board cut of 7.5%.
- There is some optimism that the federal government may fund infrastructure again and the Commonwealth will need to prepare with a state match to receive funds.
- The state tax code is linked to the federal tax code. If changes are made on the federal side, it will impact the Commonwealth and there may be a requirement for a “Special Session” to react.
- There are sales tax exemptions and corporate income taxes being lowered in bordering states. Many are also changing BPOL and eliminating machinery and tool taxes. This area may provide the most significant contrast in the upcoming Governor’s race.
- Rates are frozen in Virginia which should work in favor of business in uncertain regulatory environment.
- There is a greatly enhanced effort underway to assist Virginia’s poorest citizens.
- Energy costs are the third lowest in the U.S. currently.
- Renewables – likely that Washington will establish the overall policy in this area.
- Atlantic Coast Pipeline – critical to future electrical production costs and supply of natural gas to the region.
- Economics are eliminating the use of coal at this juncture.
- Dominion is likely to submit additional legislation to drive more underground service to increase reliability. Goal is for 400 miles underground beyond the SCC approved Pilot program.
COPN – Expect some movement/compromise on areas of agreement. Senate and House are far apart on this issue. Most engaged in the issue do not expect significant change in this area in 2017.
Nurse Practitioner – There is consensus that scope of practice rules may be relaxed in this area.
Behavioral Health – Legislation is expected in the area of opiates in order to combat addiction.