Editor's Note: The Virginia General Assembly kicks off its annual legislative session this week lasting for 46 days. Staying connected to legislators and policymakers is critical for the Northern Virginia business community to ensure that we have a voice in the legislative process. The Chamber’s Nick Clemente, Vice President of Government relations is representing the Northern Virginia business community every day, in person, in Richmond.
On January 18th, the Chamber will host our annual members-only Lobby Day, during which we have scheduled meetings with 12+ legislators as well as the Secretary of Labor, Bryan Slater, the Secretary of Commerce, Caren Merrick, and the Chief Transformation Officer, Eric Moeller. That evening, we will host our annual reception, Viva Virginia. Our guests for Viva Virginia include 55+ legislators and cabinet secretaries from Governor Youngkin’s administration.
We asked Nick to share how he will be spending his time, below:
The 2023 General Assembly session begins this week. As a result of 3 special elections, the General Assembly will be welcoming two new Delegates and one new State Senator. Democrats oversee the Senate, and Republicans are running the House and all three statewide offices. While I don’t expect significant policy changes, nonetheless, the Chamber will advocate for our positions as outlined in our Legislative Agenda. This includes protecting investments in our transportation network that are critical to the growth of our region; advocating for continued funding for students to be able to identify when classmates are enduring a mental health crisis; and supporting an effort to improve our workforce development systems so they are more efficient and produce the talent needed for our region’s employers. As a key to growing our economy, we are also pleased to support the Youngkin Administration’s initiative to provide $450 million to business-ready sites across the Commonwealth.
There are already more than 1,000 bills awaiting action in the House and Senate. Daily, I will be tracking legislation, attending committee meetings, and meeting with legislators to advocate for issues that grow our region and our members’ businesses. Members can contact me with requests or needs, and where helpful, I will testify at committees on their behalf. As in any year, the introduced bills cover a wide range, from the Governor’s budget amendments to sales tax exemptions, paid sick leave, and repealing low emission vehicle standards. Other noteworthy bills include establishing a retail marijuana framework, instruction for students on mental health, and forgivable loans for community college. All these bills and more will meet their fate in the next 46 days.
There is also a possibility of significant electoral change coming to Richmond later this year. Under the new legislative districts, there are several incumbent legislators versus incumbent legislator election battles, not only in general election matchups but in primaries as well. So, while the session might not have much monumental change, the election season will kick off once the session wrap-ups and is sure to bring a tremendous amount of change down the road. Your Chamber will continue to keep you up to date on the changing dynamics in Virginia, throughout the session, during the campaign, and into the future.
Nick holds weekly update calls on Friday mornings during the session, with the first one scheduled for January 20th at 8AM. If you would like to be added, please email Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org.