From Your Prince William Chamber 

February 2016

Chamber Advocate,

On Wednesday, January 13, the 2016 Legislative Session began in Richmond.  The legislature is quickly approaching the mid-point of the session known as "cross-over" where bills that have been heard in the House will head to the Senate, and bills that have passed the Senate will head to the House. Please see below for an update on our 2016 priorities!

Thank you to the Chamber members and legislators that participated in our annual "Day on the Hill" on January 26.  We had an exceptional turnout both during the day, and at the reception held that evening.   
If you have any questions about legislation or are just generally interested in what is happening in Richmond, please get in touch with me by sending an email to I am always happy to assist!  

Prince William Chamber Goes to Richmond

On Tuesday, January 26, members of the Prince William Chamber made their annual visit to the Virginia Capitol for "Chamber Day on the Hill".  The day long event is meant to strengthen existing bonds between members of the business community and local legislators as well as to inform legislators of the Chamber's legislative priorities. The group was able to meet with many members of our local General Assembly delegation and experienced first-hand, the legislative process.  

Thank you to all of the Chamber members and legislators that were able to participate!

Chamber members receive legislative briefing

Delegate Torian reviewing his notes prior to voting

Chairwoman Dalena Kanouse chats with Delegate Mark Dudenhefer

Senator Jeremy McPike

Governor McAuliffe Announces Bipartisan Compromise to Address Gridlock Inside the Beltway

Project includes funding to immediately widen I-66 eastbound, improved transit service and conversion to express lanes

RICHMOND - Governor Terry McAuliffe and members from both parties and both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly announced today a bipartisan agreement to move forward on a plan to reduce congestion on I-66 inside the beltway by widening a four mile stretch from the Dulles Connector Road to Ballston, improving transit, and adding new options for single drivers. 

The agreement will be reflected in the House amendments to Governor McAuliffe's budget proposal after extensive negotiations between the Governor's office, Delegate Jim LeMunyon and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Chris Jones. Republicans in the House of Delegates have also agreed to table legislation that would have precluded an optional toll for single drivers on I-66 inside the beltway, a key revenue source for planned transit improvements.

"This agreement is a big win for Virginia's economy and for the commuters who spend too much time on the most congested road in the most congested region in the country," said Governor McAuliffe. "After a spirited political debate last fall, and a series of productive discussions after the General Assembly convened, we are proud to announce a compromise that will move our plan to transform I-66 inside and outside the beltway forward. This multi-pronged strategy will increase options and reduce commute times through improved transit, smarter management of the lanes we already have and a new agreement for a wider roadway both inside and outside the beltway. I want to thank the bipartisan group of leaders who worked together to advance this important project so that we can unlock I-66, grow our economy and improve the quality of life of the commuters who use this road every day."  

Project description:
  • Converts I-66 inside the beltway to Express Lanes during rush hours in the peak directions, widens I-66 eastbound from the Dulles Connector Road and improves transit service throughout the corridor. 
  • If you carpool today (two or more people in a vehicle), you will continue to ride the lanes for free when dynamic tolling is scheduled to begin in 2017 during morning and evening rush-hours (5:30 am to 9:30 am eastbound and 3 pm to 7 pm westbound).  Solo drivers can ride the lanes in exchange for paying a variable toll based on the distance they travel. Average toll is expected to be $6 a trip.   
  • In 2020, lanes will be free to vehicles with three or more people during rush-hours (carpoolers, vanpools and buses) and motorcycles per adopted regional policy.  All others will pay a variable toll.
  • The lanes will remain free to all traffic during off-peak periods.  There will be no tolling in the reverse commute.
  • All of the revenues raised from the tolls will be used by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission for improvements in the corridor such as new transit service and carpooling incentives.  Estimated toll revenue in 2018 is $18 million.
  • Toll revenues will finance the environmental work and construction to widen I-66 eastbound from the Dulles Connector Road to Ballston - eliminating the current bottleneck inside the beltway. 
  • Estimated cost of construction is up to $140 million and will be funded with increased revenues from the recently passed FAST Act and improved state revenues. No revenues will be taken from the HB2 recommended projects released in January.
The expected benefits of the project include the following:
  • Reduce more than 26,000 person hours of delay a day in the future.
  • Move more than 40,000 additional people through the I-66 corridor a day in the future.
  • Provide reliable travel speeds of at least 45 mph during rush hours in the peak direction.
  • Provide increased travel choices for single-occupant drivers and better transit service.
Extensive studies performed over the past several administrations in Virginia show a combination of dynamic tolling and multi-modal improvements will provide a faster and more reliable trip on I-66 inside the beltway during peak travel times, providing a minimum reliable speed of at least 45 miles per hour.

Legislative Update

2016 Chamber Priorities move through the House and Senate

With the General Assembly session well underway, many of the Prince William Chamber's priorities have been heard in committee and have been passed out of the Senate or House. Next week is known as "cross-over" where bills that have passed the House head to the Senate and bills that have passed the Senate will head to the House.  If they pass the other respective body, they will head to the Governor for final approval. 

Check out what the Chamber has been working on below! 

For more information, attend our Policy Committee meeting next Tuesday, February 16.


Research and development initiatives for major innovators. 

These bills s eek to establish a Research & Development tax credit for major innovators while also making strategic enhancements to the existing Research & Development tax credit first established in 2011 for small, innovative businesses.
  • Current credit is expanded by $1 million 
  • New $20 million credit created
  • Increases the amount of R&D investment companies can expense encouraging innovation
  • Offers incentives for companies that partner with Virginia universities
HB 884 passed unanimously out of House Finance Subcommittee #3 and will be heard a final time next week.
SB 58 passed unanimously out of the Senate Finance Committee earlier this week and is currently awaiting its final vote on the Senate floor. 

Extension of sunset date for sales and use tax exemption for certain data centers.

This legislation extends the sales and use tax exemption for certain data centers to 2035.  This is one of the fastest growing industries in the Commonwealth. In 2014, the data center industry was responsible for supporting approximately 928 jobs, $54.6 million in wages, and $181.9 million in economic output in Prince William County. 
  • Exempts computer equipment or enabling software purchased or leased for the processing, storage, retrieval, or communication of data
  • Qualifications to utilize the tax exemption include:
    • Computer equipment or enabling software must be purchased or leased for use in a data center that is located in a Virginia locality
    • Project results in a new capital investment of at least $150 million
    • Results in the creation of at least 50 new jobs 
    • Jobs created by the data center pay at least one and one-half times the prevailing average wage in that locality
HB 872 passed the House floor 95-1 earlier this week and will head to the Senate next week.
SB 64 passed the Senate floor 40-0 and has been sent to the House for committee referral. 

GO Virginia Initiatives.

This initiative seeks to create state financial incentives, technical support, and other assistance that will encourage collaboration on private-sector growth and job creation by business, education, and government in each region. 

HB 834 passed the House 93-7 and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.
SB 449 passed the Senate 34-5 and has been sent to the House for committee referral.

HB 846 passed the House 93-5 and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.
SB 459 passed the Senate 38-2 and has been sent to the House for committee referral. 

Cash Proffer Reform.

These bills change the current vague limitations on residential rezoning conditions (proffers) from those "roughly proportional" and "bears a reasonable relation" to impacts of new residential development to a new standard that would be "specifically" attributable to a residential rezoning. This legislation also prohibits localities from requesting "unreasonable" residential proffers allowing homebuilders to continue to provide housing opportunities for all residents, while ensuring that local infrastructure needs directly resulting from new residential rezoning are met. While certain off-site proffer conditions would be  disallowed, localities could still request proffers for impacts on schools, transportation, public safety facilities, and parks.  

HB 770 passed the House 68-27 and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Local Government. 
SB 549 passed the Senate 29-8 and has been referred to the House Committee on Counties, Cities, and Towns. 

Virginia's General Assembly 
Follow Online

In  order to stay engaged with the policy making process, here are several helpful links:

General Information 

Find your legislator
View Live Voting

Track Legislation

Check out 'A (Mon)Day in the Life' on the Prince William Chamber's blog  The BizSource  to learn about what goes on behind the scenes to advocate for our local business community in Richmond.

If you are wondering about the Chamber's position on specific legislation please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.   To view our 2016 policy priorities please click here. 

Get Involved
Join Our Next Policy Committee Meeting

The next policy committee meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 16 at 9:30am at the Prince William Chamber of Commerce Headquarters.  The committee typically meets for an hour. 
Since the legislative session is underway in Richmond, I will be giving an extensive update on the legislation we are following and its progress through the House and Senate.  

As a reminder, we are continuing to ask that members help to identify areas where we can work together and initiate change on various levels of government. If you are interested in participating please come prepared to address your issue and we will do our best to assist!

I hope you can join us for what is sure to be a productive meeting. 


   Director, Government Relations 


Special thanks to Advocacy Vision Partner