February 8th, 2016
It was a busy week at Mr. Jefferson's Capitol. The 2016 General Assembly Session is approaching its halfway point. Consequently, elevator waits are getting longer; the hallways in the General Assembly Building resemble an Olympic track meet and standing room only in committee meetings. However, there is something to be said for the efficiency of our part-time legislature in conducting the people's business. This week's newsletter will highlight legislation in economic development, transportation and workforce development. Also, in honor of Super Bowl 50 last night, we've added a special section on football! As always, if you have a question on a specific bill not listed, contact us at the information provided at the end of this newsletter. 

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Two weeks ago GO Virginia legislation was introduced. Last week the legislative package was voted on and easily advanced out of Appropriations. The initiative would allocate approximately $40 million in grants and is an incentive opportunity for regional business leaders to step up and implement strategies to rejuvenate Virginia's economy. The Chamber supports the GO Virginia Initiative and will continue to monitor the legislation to ensure the competitive nature of the initiative is fair for less populous regions in western Virginia.

On Wednesday, HB834 introduced by Delegate Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) and HB846 introduced by Delegate Tim Hugo (R-Centreville) reported from Appropriations (20-Y 0-N). The bills separately address the organizational structure of GO Virginia and how funds would be allocated.

HB834 Virginia Growth and Opportunity Board and Fund will establish a board to administer grants and regional councils to submit applications for collaborative projects in respective regions. The Board will have 21 members (7 legislative from House and Senate, 11 non-legislative members and 3 ex officio) and regional councils will be a public body of business leaders certified by the board representing a region of one or more planning districts.

HB846 Virginia Collaborative Economic Development Act
establishes the grant fund. In short, regions would get up to half of the income tax revenue for new jobs created. The funds would apply to regions that successfully grow or recruit businesses that create at least 200 new jobs with salaries 25 percent above the average wage and make a capital investment of $25 million.

Last Monday morning Senator John Edwards, Delegate Chris Head and Delegate Sam Rasoul sat down with Inside Richmond and talked about the Session and GO Virginia. 



We Advocate  for support of the GO Virginia Initiative and for results-oriented economic development programs that encourage regional cooperation. 

TRANSPORTATION

We will provide analysis of our region's Commonwealth Transportation Board's project scoring in next week's newsletter.   Tolling is still the hot-button issue in the House Transportation committees and sub-committees. However, this week action was taken on several pieces of legislation important for our region. 

On Tuesday, the Chamber spoke at the Senate Transportation Committee meeting against SB258 introduced by Senator Scott Surovell (D-Mt.Vernon). This bill would have weighed the non-legislative votes on the Commonwealth Transportation Board for populous regions in the Commonwealth and adversely affected less populous regions. We are happy to report that the bill was defeated with a (13-Y 0-N) vote and passed by indefinitely.

We continue to closely monitor Senator Bill Stanley's (R-Moneta) SB197 and Senator Ben Chafin's (R-Russell) SB365 SB197 would reallocate US Route 58 Corridor Development Fund and Program to Interstate 73. Currently approximately $40 million is annually allocated to the Rt. 58 Corridor Fund. The Chamber continues to support the construction of I-73 from Roanoke to the North Carolina border - the bill was reported from the Senate Finance committee on Tuesday and is currently on the Senate floor.

SB365 provides that projects on U.S. Route 460 and U.S. Route 121 are not subject to the prioritization process that the Commonwealth Transportation Board applies to projects eligible for state funding. Removing the Coalfield Expressway from the normal HB2 funding process will allow the project to use alternative funding options and have money in place quickly to move project forward. 


We Advocate for alignment of transportation funding to meet the needs of our region. 

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATION

We group Workforce Development and Education together in our Legislative Agenda. The Chamber believes formal, non-formal and informal learning are all important and necessary for a qualified workforce. With current trends in the workforce and the areas of jobs that remain unfilled, we are advocating for policies that will assist in filling jobs in career and technical fields.

HB279 introduced by Delegate Kathy Byron (R-Lynchburg) Directs the Board of Education to establish a Virginia STEM adjunct faculty provisional license and a Virginia STEM adjunct faculty renewable license for qualified individuals to teach high school STEM courses on a part-time basis and stipulates requirements for such licenses. The bill has passed the house with a 98-Y 0-N vote and heads to the Senate.

HB682 introduced by Delegate Chris Peace (R-Mechanicsville) permits district superintendant to apply for teacher licensure waivers for individuals whom the local school board seeks to hire to teach career and technical education if the individual has at least 4,000 hours of relevant employment experience in the field they would be teaching. The legislation awaits its fate in the House Subcommittee Elementary and Secondary Education.

HB792 and SB575 continue to have the strong support of the Chamber. Virginia's Pathway to the Middle Class is one of our top priorities during this Session. Streamlining the path to noncredit workforce credentials is a key component of filling skilled jobs that are desperately needed by employers in our region. 

We Advocate for necessary enhancements to Pre K-12 and higher education to prepare all students for careers and all regional businesses with a skilled workforce.

FOOTBALL

Probably the first time football has made it into our legislative newsletter. However, Super Bowl 50 was last night and there is relative legislation surrounding the sport. 

On Thursday, former Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer was honored in the House and Senate Chambers. House Joint Resolution 75 and Senate Resolution 17 were resolutions presented to Coach Beamer commending him on his successful coaching career at Virginia Tech.

SB646 and HB775 are bills that will officially legalize fantasy sports in Virginia and put measures in place to protect consumers. Patrons of the bill argue that over a million Virginians are playing fantasy sports in the state and are doing so on a recreational basis. Guidelines are also in place to prevent users under the age of 18 and insider sharing tactics.

The infamous "Tebow Bill" legislation is back this Session. Named after former quarterback Tim Tebow, this legislation would allow home-schooled students to participate in public school sports. SB612 and HB131 have each passed through their respective chambers. 


The Campaign Corner



Roanoke Regional Chamber | 540-983-0700 | jbaumgartner@roanokechamber.org
| http://www.roanokechamber.org
210 S. Jefferson St.
Roanoke, VA 24011