Week 7 of the 401st Session of the Virginia General Assembly started with the release of the House and Senate budgets on Sunday. These version provided some mixed results for our priorities but overall were positive.

The Northern Virginia Chamber will continue to maintain a full-time presence in Richmond during the session, this year aided by additional contracted lobbyists from Williams Mullen. For more information regarding the Chamber’s business advocacy efforts and to see our 2020 Legislative Agenda, please visit the Chamber’s website at https://novachamber.org/2020-legislative-session.html.

The House and Senate budgets retain $22 million in base operating support for George Mason University. Our current Chairman joined with 23 past chairs in an effort to support this additional funding. The House also includes an addition $5 million for research equipment at Mason.

Both the House and Senate budgets include a reduction in the amount appropriated to Gov. Northam’s G3 program. The G3 program – Get a Skill, Get a Job, Give Back – would make community college more affordable and accessible to individuals pursuing a career in high demand fields like IT and health care. The introduced budget included $72.5 million in both years. The House version appropriates $69 million to G3 while the Senate appropriates $96.3 million. The Senate also reduces the income eligibility level to 200 percent of the federal poverty level from 400 percent, which would harm Northern Virginia’s ability to take advantage of the program. The Senate budget also includes $60.5 million in need-based financial aid for undergraduate students while the House includes $45.4 million.

In pre-K-12, both versions include over $1 billion in direct aid to localities. The budgets also include teacher raises (which need to be matched by localities), increased funding for the Virginia Preschool Initiative ($81 million in the Senate and $98 million in the House), funding for more ESOL teachers, and cost of competing increases (House only).

Other Provisions:

  • Funding for a study of a paid family leave program
    • Legislation that would have established this program was not successful prior to crossover
  • Full funding of the Tech Talent Investment Program
  • Creation and funding of the Virginia Innovative Partnership Authority
  • Virginia Business Ready Sites
    • $10m in House
    • $11.2m in Senate
  • Housing Trust Fund
    • $70m in House
    • $60m in Senate

Dual Enrollment and Work-Based Learning:
The House and Senate this week approved HB516 (Bulova) which require the Board of Education to include in its high school graduation requirements the options for students to complete a dual-enrollment course or high-quality work-based learning experience in place of an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate course. HB516 incorporates SB112.

Earned Sick Leave
Only one required leave bill remained after crossover – Sen. Favola’s SB481 which would require employers to grant employees one hour of leave per 30 hours of work, up to 40 hours per year. That bill was referred to Approps where its House companion was left prior to crossover. Sen. Favola is unsure of its fate at this time.

The Chamber continues to be engaged on several bills that are headed to conference to resolve differences between the House and Senate. In particular, we are engaged on the Transportation Omnibus bills that following the incorporation of Del. Watts’ HB729 replace $70 million of the $102 million diverted from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority in 2018. With funding included in legislation last session dealing with I-81, that brings the total replacement to $90 million.

Status of Other Bills:
Minimum Wage

  • Senate rolled House version in Saslaw bill and approved Thursday
  • House L&C hasn’t heard it

Virginia Energy Plan/Clean Economy Act

  • Nothing since crossover

Research & Development Tax Credits

  • Waiting on conference

These weekly updates are meant to provide a snapshot of how the Chamber is advocating on behalf of our members at the General Assembly. If you would like to know how the Chamber is engaging on a topic not included in this update, please contact Vice President of Government Relations Clayton Medford (cmedford@novachamber.org).