Week 62022 Legislative Session | February 21st - 25th
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Week 6 Summary
Just about half the bills survived crossover and began making their way through the House and Senate this week. On Sunday (Feb. 20), the House and Senate “money” committees released their versions of the biennial budget which, due to a number of differences between the two, will need to be negotiated in a conference committee. This is standard every year, but is always very consequential.
The results from the money committees are mixed from the Chamber’s perspective. Both budgets include significant funding for the Virginia Business Ready Sites program – one-time infusions of $150 million in the House and $100 million in the Senate version, both include higher annual contributions to the fund and move it out of VEDP and under the Economic Development Incentive Payment fund. This is a very impactful infusion of capital for Virginia, particularly in areas struggling to attract manufacturing operations. VEDP has found for years Virginia is lagging behind competitor states in having project-ready sites around the Commonwealth and this boost to the fund will put us on much better footing. Both budgets also keep flat the employer unemployment insurance tax rates related to continued pandemic-related claims.
On education, both the House and Senate budgets ramp up funding for the Virginia Talent + Opportunity Partnership, make Virginia State and Norfolk State students pursuing high-demand certifications or degrees eligible for tuition assistance, and add funding for TAG recipients at private HBCUs.
The Chamber remains concerned about the long-term impacts of the grocery tax repeal. In the short term, due to a high-performing economy and high-quality planning by state, local and regional transportation agencies, the loss in revenue will not have a major immediate impact. However, should the economy take a wrong turn and future revenues fall short of estimates, we will need to act quickly to replace that funding. We cannot afford to wait a decade or more before replacing that dedicated source of revenue for transportation and continue to invest in infrastructure. The legislation implementing the tax cut is headed to conference this week with one key difference between them. The Senate version keeps the local option in place for education while the House version full repeals the state and local grocery taxes. The House budget backfills the $1 billion to localities, while the Senate budget is in line with the Senate legislation that keeps in place the local option.
Both the House and Senate budgets put more ARPA funding in the Rebuild Virginia business relief program. Unfortunately, the spending falls short of the dedicated funding for hospitality and tourism relief the Chamber sought alongside other industry groups.
Each year the Commonwealth Institute releases a detailed side-by-side of the House and Senate budget proposals. It is a helpful guide for those looking for a detailed look at the budgets before conference.
This week, Gov. Younkin put out a statement applauding the General Assembly action on Paycheck Protection Program loan deductibility. As a reminder, what the General Assembly did was extend full deductibility for business expenses paid for by PPP loans taken in 2021. What the General Assembly did not do was raise the deductibility threshold from $100,000 for 2020 when the bulk of PPP loans were taken. Extending full deductibility to 2021 is a good step, but did fall short of what the Chamber and other business groups advocated for early in the session.
Most of the bills the Chamber has watched during the 2022 Session have either been killed or conformed or are headed to conference to work out the details. This means there has not been much action on our legislation since crossover. A quick update on a few bills:
Family Leave Insurance: Del. Byron’s version was approved by the Senate on Thursday and Sen. Favola’s version was headed for the same in the House.
Charter Schools: Del. Tata’s bill aimed at easing the process for establishing regional charter schools met the same fate as Del. Obenshain’s in the Senate, being passed by indefinitely in Committee.
Limitation on duration of executive orders: This bill is awaiting action in the House Rules Committee after being approved by the Senate 29-11. Its fate in unclear at this point after its somewhat surprising success in the Senate (after being perhaps mistakenly referred to, and approved by, the Finance Committee).
Biogas: The House bill was approved by the Senate on Thursday (Feb. 24) but the Senate bill is awaiting action at the Commerce and Energy Committee. However, the bills are conformed and the House cognate is expected to pass.
Data center taxing: Like the biogas bills, the House and Senate versions are conformed and expected to pass.