Legislative Newsletter - Pre-Legislative Session 2020
With the New Year now upon us, the Chamber’s public policy team has been gearing up for the 2020 legislative session by meeting with regional General Assembly members and tracking pre-filed bills that relate to the Chamber’s legislative agenda. With the increasing power dynamic in the legislature shifting towards northern Virginia and other urban centers, it will be important to work collaboratively towards regional goals to ensure that our area's business community still has a say in Richmond.
2020 Legislative Session to Convene on Wednesday
The 2020 legislative session officially begins this Wednesday, January 8th. Starting Friday the 10th, we will be sending out weekly public policy updates to keep you informed on the status of priority legislation being considered in Richmond. In addition to these updates, we will be sending Legislative Action Alerts when warranted to encourage direct member engagement with our regional delegation to the General Assembly to include phone calls, emails, legislator visits, or testifying before committees. Your direct participation will be particularly important when the General Assembly begins to consider controversial bills relating to raising the Commonwealth’s minimum wage and repealing and/or weakening our current right-to-work framework.   

The public policy team is looking forward to representing you in Richmond for what will likely be a very consequential legislative session. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns relating to pending legislation or anything else relating to session, please contact Vice President of Public Policy Terry Durkin at tdurkin@roanokechamber.org or (434) 989-5089.
VA West Annual Capital Reception
Registration for the annual VA West Capital Reception is now open, and invitations have been sent to the 14 VA West member chambers as well as 30 Delegates and Senators representing them in the General Assembly. We hope you will be able to join us at the Omni Richmond Hotel on Wednesday, January 22nd from 5:30pm to 7:00pm to meet with your representatives as session begins in earnest. This is a great opportunity to get some face time with your elected officials prior to their schedules being flooded with committee obligations and late nights on the House/Senate floors.  You can register on our website or by contacting Andrea Mason at amason@roanokechamber.org or (540) 682-2104.
In Case You Missed It:
The Roanoke Times published an article this week informing residents that Roanoke County is conducting a survey which seeks to determine currently unserved and underserved areas for broadband service. If you are a Roanoke County resident, we would encourage you to take this survey as it will help the County compete for grants that would be used to expand broadband access in our area. 

CSX Corp and the Commonwealth have agreed on a deal that will lead to increased rail service between Richmond and Washington, DC . The deal includes building a bridge parallel to the Long Bridge currently traversing the Potomac River as well as right-of-way acquisition south of Richmond toward North Carolina. Additionally, the deal includes "173 miles of right of way and 186 miles of track on the Buckingham Branch Line between Doswell and Clifton Forge for eventual cross-state passenger service." It has been said that this project has long been the top rail priority for the Commonwealth. With this endeavor now in its infancy, it is our hope that the Commonwealth will soon shift its focus toward strengthening connectivity between Roanoke and the New River Valley, Lynchburg, and Greensboro to include passenger rail service.

The Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization is soliciting public comment on it's Long Range and Transportation Improvement plans in the form of a survey (which can be found here) . The questions relate to I-81 priority project funding in our area and we strongly suggest you take the survey to make your opinions known. Please contact Rachel Ruhlen at the Roanoke Valley Allegheny Regional Commission at rruhlen@rvarc.org if you have any questions or additional comments.
Mark Your Calendar
January 8th: Session Begins
January 22nd: VA West Capital Reception
March 7th: Session Adjourns