Post by Government Relations Manager, Eric C. Johnson
Did you know that the legislative body of Virginia dates to 1619, when it was called the House of Burgesses? Now called the Virginia General Assembly, it is the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World.
This year the Virginia General Assembly convened on Wednesday, January 11th. By the time they adjourned Sine Die (meaning that they were done for the year) on Saturday, February 25th, more than 2,900 pieces of legislation had been filed and considered!
There are a few items of interest I wanted to mention – if you want to see the full details of every piece of legislation filed in 2017, you can visit Virginia’s Legislative Information System website.
First, I should tell you that GO Virginia funding currently stands at slightly more than $28,000,000, thanks to a budget amendment restoring $7,500,000 the Governor had cut. The GO Virginia budget allocates money for various regions of the Commonwealth to undertake an economic growth and diversification planning process and invest in capacity-building activities. GO Virginia is designed to be a long-term benefit to the economy. The financial assistance provided by this program will help fund economic development projects around the Commonwealth. GO Virginia has been a bi-partisan project since its inception, and positive results for our region should soon start to bloom.
The final budget passed by the General Assembly this year protects the $4,000,000 in funding allocated for FY17 to allow the workforce credentials program to continue. While the additional $1,000,000 proposed by the Governor was not included in the budget amendments, we look forward to working to expand this successful program in next year’s budget.
A great bit of news that came out of Richmond this year is that funding for our schools, teachers and staff here in Loudoun was sustained! The budget factored in the increased cost to hire and train qualified support positions to support our public-school system. While Loudoun schools did not get as much as our Senators and Delegates pushed for, we do consider it to be a success that the Cost of Competing Adjustment was kept in the budget, as opposed to being removed altogether, as it had been prior to the 2016 session. In addition to this, the budget also included funding for the state’s share of a 2% salary increase for instructional and support positions.
The final item I wanted to mention is two pieces of legislation introduced by Delegates Jim LeMunyon and Randy Minchew. The first bill (HB2136) establishes a Metro Safety Commission. The Metro Safety Commission is going to be an independent body that will oversee and monitor safety for the WMATA Metrorail system to ensure the long-term safety and reliability of Metro, as well as to protect approximately $6,000,000 statewide in annual federal transit funding. The other legislation I wanted to mention (HJR617) directs the Governor to review the WMATA Compact and enter discussions with his counter parts in the District of Columbia and Maryland to identify possible improvements to the agreement, particularly about the governance, financing, and operation of Metro. The entire Loudoun delegation to the General Assembly supported both measures.
To see a list of other legislation that the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce and the Northern Virginia Partnership were tracking, click here.
The Loudoun Chamber advocates for policies that create and promote a world-class business climate and quality of life in Loudoun County and Virginia. The Chamber will continue our long-standing efforts to ensure that our elected officials, at all levels of government, hear the business community’s perspective on these important issues, and work with the business community to advance pro-business, pro-growth, pro-quality of life solutions for our local, state, regional and national challenges.
To get more involved in the Loudoun Chamber’s Public Policy Committee, contact Eric Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Upcoming PolicyMaker Series Event:
The State of Housing in Loudoun, May 3rd, 8 – 10 a.m., Belmont Country Club