Regional priorities advance, House and Senate differ on
tax relief
Week 3 in the General Assembly session has wrapped up, and as expected, committee meetings and floor sessions in the House and Senate are starting to lengthen as both bodies deliberate on hundreds of bills. We saw positive momentum on regional priorities this week, as well as the defeat of a burdensome mandate on small business owners. Some of the week’s highlights include:

  • Continued positive momentum for legislation that would make the Virginia Museum of Transportation a state agency and therefore eligible for enhanced funding and support. Delegate Chris Head is carrying this legislation in the House, while Senator John Edwards has the Senate version (HB 1861 & SB 1020)

  • An initial hearing for Delegate Sam Rasoul’s HB 2192, which would transform Catawba Hospital into a state of the art substance abuse and mental health treatment facility

  • Defeat of a costly and mandatory 12-week paid family medical leave program (HB 2035), which would have been funded by employer and employee premiums
  • In 2022, the Chamber successfully advocated for bipartisan legislation that created paid family leave insurance policies that businesses can purchase to cover such circumstances. We are pleased that this offering will remain optional (and we encourage interested business owners to explore those policies!)

The discussion around business tax relief has had its ups and downs so far, as the House of Delegates passed measures introduced by Delegate Joe McNamara to lower the corporate and income tax (HB 2138 & HB 2319), while similar measures were defeated in the Senate this week (SB 1355 & SB 1451). 

Much of the debate to this point has been about how to best spend Virginia’s budget surplus dollars: tax relief, or additional spending on education, public safety, and other core government functions. The House and Senate have differing ideas on how to spend these state dollars, and these discussions will continue throughout the legislative session.
Legislation We're Watching
Created with guidance provided by the Chamber's 2023 Legislative Agenda, our bill tracker has been sent to our legislators from Virginia's Blue Ridge region to inform them of our business community's priorities.

We encourage Chamber members to contact their General Assembly members in support of legislation that improve's our region's business climate. If you have any additional questions on how best to reach your legislator, please email Terry at tdurkin@roanokechamber.org.
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.
In the News
Terry Durkin
Vice President of Public Policy
 Roanoke Regional Chamber