2020 Session Update - Week 4
SB 426 , which would require employees to pay a “fair share” of union dues as a condition of employment at union shops, has been scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee this upcoming Monday, February 3. VA West stands strongly opposed to this bill and urges you to contact your Senators serving on this committee immediately to register your concerns with this legislation.

Draft language is included below, and we would encourage you to tailor it to your personal voice. Please contact Legislative Liaison Terry Durkin at tdurkin@roanokechamber.org if you have any questions, comments, or would like to testify in Richmond against this bill.

Dear Senator_____,
I write to you to respectfully request that you oppose Senate Bill 426, a policy that would repeal or otherwise alter Virginia’s current status as a “Right to Work” state. This is an issue of great regional importance and I hope you will carefully consider the impact this bill may have on our area’s businesses and employees.
Our status as a Right to Work state is a key factor in Virginia’s ranking as the #1 state in the nation to do business. Any weakening of our current Right to Work law would certainly place that rating in doubt and make it harder to attract investment into our local economy. Right to Work does not prohibit labor unions or prevent employee membership in them, but rather protects employees from being compelled to pay union dues or join a union as a condition of employment. SB 426 would require employees to pay a “fair share” of union dues as a condition of employment at union shops.
With our area competing with regional counterparts in West Virginia and North Carolina—both Right to Work states—it is of the utmost importance that Virginia does not create an environment that stifles economic growth and investment in our region. 
I appreciate your consideration of this important issue, and I hope you will oppose SB 426 and any other effort to weaken Virginia’s status as a Right to Work state.

Your Name (First, Last)
Your Home Address

The following Virginia senators represent the broader VA West region on the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee. Please use the link below to find the Senator who specifically represents not only your home, but also your business. Your correspondence will be given more serious consideration if you are a constituent of whom you contact.
Senator John Edwards
(804) 698-7521

Senator Steve Newman
(804) 698-7523

Senator Mark Obenshain
(804) 698-7526

Senator Creigh Deeds
(804) 698-7525
The Week in Review
Your Public Policy team was active this week lobbying and testifying in opposition to proposals that would increase the Commonwealth's minimum wage to $15 per hour. Unfortunately, legislation to do just that continues to advance through both the House and the Senate.

Particularly troublesome is House Bill 395 , which would raise Virginia's minimum wage to $15 per hour by year 2024, and increase tipped employees wages until they reach near the $10 per hour mark in 2024. This would have a significant negative impact on restaurants and their employees, and dozens of servers and bartenders were on hand in committee to show their opposition to this provision. No action was taken on this bill in full committee and we expect to see an additional hearing on it next week.

Senate Bill 7 would also increase the Commonwealth's minimum wage to $15 per hour, but with a few differences. The final increase to $15 per hour would occur in 2025, and employers can begin to credit healthcare offerings to employees against increases of the minimum wage above $11.75 per hour beginning in year 2023. So, if your business provides healthcare coverage to your hourly wage employees, you would not have to increase your minimum wage above $11.75 after year 2023 and beyond. This bill was also amended to include a directive that the Virginia Economic Development Partnership study the effects that a regional minimum wage might have across the Commonwealth and report their findings to the General Assembly in advance of the 2021 legislative session. SB 7 was re-referred to the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations for an additional hearing.

Both bills are still moving through the legislative process, and additional amendments to either bill can occur. While it has been stated publicly that the new majority intends to raise Virginia's minimum wage in some form or fashion, your Public Policy team will continue to advocate against legislation that would deter economic growth and jeopardize our region's workforce. If you agree, we strongly encourage you to contact your elected representatives to ask them to do the same.

More information on these bills can be found in an article listed under "Statewide" below.
In The News
General Assembly Bill Tracking
Economic Development & Regional Cooperation

Del. Lee Carter
Right to work; repeals provisions of Code that refers to denial or abridgement.

  • 01/28/20 House: Assigned L & C sub: Subcommittee #1


Del. Mark Levine
Establishes a procedure by which a local alternative minimum wage may be imposed in any locality.


Sen. Dick Saslaw
Minimum wage; increases to $10 per hour effective July 1, 2020.

  • 01/27/20 Senate: Rereferred to Finance and Appropriations


Del. Jeion Ward
Minimum wage, increases to $10 per hour effective July 1, 2020 (as amended)

  • 01/28/20 House: Subcommittee recommends reporting with substitute (5-Y 3-N)


Del. Terry Kilgore
Establishes the Virginia Brownfield Renewable Energy and Coal Mine Grant Fund and Program.

  • 01/28/20 House: Assigned L & C sub: Subcommittee #3


Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy
Paid family and medical leave program.

  • 01/30/20 House: Referred to Committee on Appropriations


Sen. Dick Saslaw
Fair share fees

  • 01/07/20 Senate: Referred to Committee on Commerce and Labor


Del. Mark Sickles
Commonwealth of Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority; created.

  • 01/27/20 House: Subcommittee recommends referring to Committee on Appropriations

Workforce Development & Education

Del. Hala Ayala
STEAM programs; establishes STEAM Education Fund

  • 01/29/20 House: Subcommittee recommends laying on the table (6-Y 1-N)

Del. Terry Kilgore
DOE; experiential learning and workforce development opportunities in high-demand fields, report.

  • 01/27/20 House: Assigned Rules sub: Studies


Sen. Bill DeSteph
Apprentice agreements; ratio of journeymen to apprentices

  • Senate: Failed to report (defeated) in General Laws and Technology (4-Y 10-N)


Sen. Bill DeSteph
Public institutions of higher education; State Council of Higher Education for Virginia; business advisory committee.

  • 01/30/20 Senate: Continued to 2021 in Education and Health (15-Y 0-N)


Del. Terry Austin
Transportation bonds; I-81. Authorizes issuance of bonds in an amount up to $2 billion for revenue-producing projects in the Interstate 81 corridor.

  • 01/14/20 House: Assigned App. sub: Transportation & Public Safety


Sen. Mark Obenshain
Interstate 81 Corridor; motor vehicle fuels sales tax. Limits the application of the additional motor vehicle fuels sales tax imposed under current law in all counties and cities in Planning Districts 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 to those counties or cities in Planning District 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 in which a portion of Interstate 81 is located

  • 01/07/20 Senate: Referred to Committee on Finance and Appropriations


Del. Sam Rasoul
Study; Department of Rail and Public Transportation; Commonwealth Corridor passenger rail service; report

  • 01/27/20 House: Assigned Rules sub: Studies


Sen. John Edwards
Virginia Tourism Authority; Governor's New Airline Service Incentive Fund

  • 01/15/20 Senate: Referred to Committee on Finance and Appropriations


Del. Chris Hurst
Health insurance; association health plans

  • 01/28/20 House: Reported from Labor and Commerce with substitute (18-Y 0-N)


Sen. Monty Mason
Group health benefit plans; bona fide associations; benefits consortium.

  • 01/23/20 Senate: Printed as engrossed 20103816D-E


Sen. John Edwards
Virginia Health Benefit Exchange

  • 01/15/20 Senate: Assigned C&L sub: Health Insurance

VA WEST Represents the Following Chambers:

Greater Augusta Regional, Bedford Area, Botetourt, Danville/Pittsylvania County, Harrisonburg-Rockingham, Lexington, Buena Vista, & Rockbridge County, Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance, Martinsville & Henry County, Montgomery County, Roanoke Regional, Shenandoah County, Smith Mountain Lake Regional, Two Virginias, and Wytheville, Wythe, and Bland.


Terry Durkin
Legislative Liaison
 VA West