2021 Session Update - Week 2
ADVOCACY 101 - How to be an Effective Advocate this Session
As you may already know, public engagement in this year’s session is limited nearly entirely to virtual means. Citizen testimony to legislation will take place over the internet, and phone calls/emails will more often than not be the only way to share your thoughts on legislation with your representatives. With all of this in mind, I thought it would be helpful to share some pointers on how to be an effective advocate on business issues this session. Feel free to tailor this information however you please to suit your own individual memberships.


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 plethora 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 chamber representative (or business representative for your members). Briefly make a clear case for your position and then thank the committee members for their time. Legislators are ordinary citizens like the rest of us and rely on testimony to make informed decisions on legislation. 


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 chamber representative or business owner serving his or her district. Again, it is important to share your thoughts early and often as the pace of this short session will be very fast.

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. I will be sending weekly updates starting this Friday on legislation of interest to our membership and would welcome your help in supporting our legislative agendaThank you for your advocacy in our public policy process – it is vital to ensure our business climate remains strong!
Week in Review
The pace of session began to pick up steam this week, with more bills starting to receive committee assignments and preliminary hearings. 

We are pleased to report that SB 1330, which would have mandated that many employers provide 12 weeks of paid medical leave to employees per year, failed in the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor on a 12-3 vote. This costly legislation would have forced businesses who already have a sick leave policy that works for them to participate, and we do not believe that a one-size fits all approach--especially for such a lengthy duration--is what's best for businesses and their employees.

We are hopeful for continued positive momentum of HB 2204, which would establish the "G3" program. G3, or "Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back" would provide an avenue for eligible low and middle income Virginians to receive financial support to attend a 2-year educational institution if the student is pursuing a career in an in-demand field. This is an innovative solution to help solve job shortages in the selected industries with Virginia citizens filling those jobs, and we are proud to support this initiative.
In the News
This session, we will be implementing a streamlined process where you can view our bill position sheet and track the legislation that interests you the most.

By clicking on a bill number contained within our bill tracker, you will be taken directly to the web page where you will find all information on the legislation, including where it resides in the legislative process.

We continue to keep an eye on legislation that works its way through the process, even for bills that may not be on this list. Please contact Terry if you wish to advocate for bills listed in our tracker or if you have any questions. 
VA WEST Represents the Following Chambers:

Greater Augusta Regional, Bedford Area, 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