2023 General Assembly Session is Underway
The first week in Richmond kicked off with special elections in two House districts and one Senate district. While there was no net gain or loss of seats for either party in the House of Delegates, the Senate gained one Democratic Senator - Aaron Rouse - who won election to the seat vacated by Republican Jen Kiggans as she takes her place in the US House of Representatives. This gives Democrats a 22-18 majority in the Senate, while Republicans maintain a 52-48 majority in the House. This means that both parties must work together in order to advance legislation through each body

Most committee hearings will begin in earnest next week, at which point the “sprint” of a 45-day legislative session really takes off. Committees will consider hundreds upon hundreds of pieces of legislation in a very short period of time, which makes the Capitol a bustling place. 

The Chamber tracks legislation of interest to the business community and advocates for policies that enhance our area’s business climate. This year, we are especially focused on:
  • Consolidation of workforce development programs to enhance efficiency
  • Continued exploration of funding to transform Catawba Hospital into a state of the art rehabilitation facility
  • Funding for an additional I-81 southbound lane near Salem
  • Protecting employers from burdensome and expensive mandates

If there is a bill, budget item, or regulation of interest to your business, please do not hesitate to share your thoughts with me. 
Advocacy 101 - How to be an Effective Advocate this Legislative Session

You can find information on all legislation at the website https://lis.virginia.govIf you know the bill number for the legislation you are tracking, you can enter it in “Bills & Resolutions” and you will be shown a summary of the bill, the bill text, its patron, and where it currently resides in the legislative process. If you are interested in finding a bill containing certain subject matter, you can do so in the same menu or by searching via keyword.


Among a ton of other information, you can find the House and Senate committee meeting schedules at https://virginiageneralassembly.gov under the “Members and Session” tab. At this webpage, you can also sign up to speak remotely at committee meetings and provide written comments. Since spoken testimony may be limited, I would highly recommend submitting written comment for each bill you intend to speak for or against.


If you are signed up to testify on a particular piece of legislation and are called on to speak in a committee meeting, start by thanking the committee chair, state your name, say where you are from, and inform the committee that you are a business owner or representative of your business. Briefly (and I mean briefly, testimony may be limited to 2 minutes or less) make a clear case for your position and then thank the committee members for their time. 


Many of the same guidelines I mentioned for testifying to legislation also apply here. You can find your legislator at https://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov and you will see the contact information for your representative. When calling or emailing your legislator in support or opposition to a bill, always state your name, your address, and that you are a business owner or representative residing in his or her district. Again, it is important to share your thoughts early and often.

Of course, feel free to contact me at any time if you have any questions on pending legislation or would like more information on how to get involved.
Coming January 20
Starting next week, this is where you'll find the Chamber's bill tracker. Created with guidance provided by the Chamber's 2023 Legislative Agenda, the bill tracker will be sent to our region's legislators to inform them of the priorities of our region's business community.
In the News
Terry Durkin
Vice President of Public Policy
 Roanoke Regional Chamber