Roanoke Regional Chamber
LEGISLATIVE NEWSLETTER
                                                                                              November 1, 2016

WHAT WE'VE BEEN UP TO
UPCOMING POLICY EVENTS (Click Link for more Information) 
Last Chance to Register for 2016 State of the County
Save the Date: State of the Commonwealth December 6 th at the Patrick Henry
RIGHT TO WORK CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT 
Virginia has a "Right-to-Work" Proposed Constitutional Amendment 1 on the ballot. The Right-to-Work (RTW) law says that union participation may not be a condition for employment. The amendment, if supported by a majority of voters, will embed this strong business policy in the state constitution. By embedding RTW in the constitution, it will make it more difficult for a future General Assembly or administration to reverse.  The Roanoke Regional Chamber asks you to join us in support of this constitutional amendment by VOTING YES!
 
Right-to-Work laws extend beyond protecting business and worker freedom. RTW states have traditionally seen strong job and wage growth. This is an opportunity to send a clear message that Virginia is serious about its business climate.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
The Virginia Growth and Opportunity Board is accepting public comment on the GO Virginia regional map.  The map was approved at the Growth and Opportunity board meeting on October 12, 2016. Our region is designated as Region 2 with an estimated population of 778,549. Click here to view the map. Send c omments to  GOVirginia@dhcd.virginia.gov by Friday, November 18, 2016.
 
The Roanoke Regional Chamber continues to strongly support the GO Virginia Initiative to encourage collaboration among businesses, the education sector and government in our region. We also support our proposed region in the map that includes the:
 
Counties of: Floyd, Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski, Alleghany, Botetourt, Craig, Franklin, Roanoke, Amherst, Appomattox and Campbell.  

Cities of: Radford, Covington, Roanoke, Salem and Lynchburg.
 
Towns of: Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Floyd, Narrows, Pearisburg, Pulaski, Rich Creek, Clifton Forge, Rocky Mount, Vinton, Altavista, Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford and Brookneal.
HEALTH CARE
The Roanoke Regional Chamber joined a coalition of chambers and business groups in support of the Small Business Health Care Relief Act (H.R. 5447/s. 3060). This important legislation would protect small businesses from fines for reimbursing employees for medical care and services through Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA). Currently, a small business owner who has been offering an HRA is subject to a $100 per day/employee fine. For example, a small business owner who has been offering an HRA to four employees since July 1, 2015 - when penalty was put into place - would owe the IRS $220,000. This is incredibly burdensome to employers trying to simply help their employees and already facing premium increases.
 
The Chamber views this as common-sense policy and will urge our Congressional delegation in Washington to act swiftly.   
WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
A 2016 legislative priority - New Economy Workforce Credential Grant - is starting to take shape. The Virginia Community College System has directed $5.3 million to community colleges across the commonwealth to start advancing credentials for high-demand jobs. The allocation of resources to workforce credentials is expected to generate 10,000 credentialed workers over the next two years.
 
The Chamber's Council on Workforce Innovations and Connections is looking for members from the business community to join our council and help shape the future of business and workforce partnerships in our region. If you're interested please email jbaumgartner@roanokechamber.org
ENERGY
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) staff will host two public sessions this week to take comments on the Mountain Valley Pipeline Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Both sessions begin at 5 PM. 

Wednesday, November 2nd : Franklin County High School 700 Taynard Rd. Rocky Mt. 24151
Thursday, November 3rd: Sheraton Hotel 2801 Hershberger Rd. Roanoke 24017

The Roanoke Regional Chamber continues to support the Mountain Valley Pipeline project and strongly encourages its development in accordance with laws and regulations and with the utmost safety and respect of the environment and region's beauty. We were pleased to see that the draft EIS recognized the economic impact of the pipeline and concluded that the project will have "limited environmental impacts". We also applaud MVP for working with groups like the Virginia Outdoors Foundation to adjust routes that would impact sensitive landscapes in our region. Click here to see the OpEd from Chamber Board Member, John D'Orazio, highlighting the economic benefits and MVP's commitment to serving our community responsibly. 
CAMPAIGNS ACROSS THE COMMONWEALTH
STAY CONNECTED:

Josh Baumgartner
VP Public Policy Roanoke Regional Chamber 
jbaumgartner@roanokechamber.org
540.983.0700