News and Notes from the Virginia General Assembly

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News and Notes from the Virginia General Assembly
The Chamber is an advocate in local and state government for businesses and works closely with elected officials to create economic prosperity and enhance the quality of life. Virginia's 2015 General Assembly session convenes on January 14, 2015.

Throughout the session, the Chamber will send these “Legislative News & Notes,” emails, as well as “Legislative Call-to-Action Alerts” on key issues impacting the local business community. 

The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Williamsburg Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Alliance have adopted legislative priorities for use in the 2015 legislative session of the Virginia General Assembly. Read the 2015 State Legislative Priorities.  

 

The Port of Virginia - A study conducted by the College of William and Mary released December 29, 2014 focused on the significant state-wide economic impact of the Port of Virginia.

The study conducted by the Raymond A. Mason School of Business measured the Port's fiscal impact from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013.

The study referenced three ways the Port relates to Virginia's economy, the transportation of export and import cargo within Virginia and across it from other states and countries, the export of goods made in Virginia and the added processing and distribution of imports retained in the Commonwealth.  The total economic impact in Virginia in FY2013 directly and indirectly attributable to the Port of Virginia was $60.3B in spending.

The following chart reflects the significant growth in the Port's impact since 2006:

                                                2006                2013                Change

  • Spending                           $41.1B $           60.3B                 47%
  • Employee                          $13.5B              $17.5B               30%
         Compensation
  • Selected Va Taxes              $1.2B               $1.4B                  17%
  • Employment                      343,001            374,646             9%

Selected Highlights from the Study

  • $17.5B was paid to 374,646 employees who are residents of Virginia (9.4% of the resident Virginia workforce)
  • The Port moved nearly 18 tons of cargo valued at $53.2B
  • Made in Virginia cargo totaled 4.5M tons worth $10.9B
  • The Port's contribution to the Commonwealth's Gross State Product was $30.5B which is equal to 6.8% of the estimated $444.8B in GSP in 2013

 

Governor Proposes $28M for Voting Equipment

Governor Terry McAuliffe has proposed that the state cover the cost of purchasing new voting machines for 2,166 precincts across the state.  The funding would pay for digital-scan machines that have a paper trail.  49 localities reported voting equipment issues in the 2014 election.

Virginia and U.S. Economic Growth Projections

                                    Virginia                                    U.S.

2013                            1.0%                                        1.9%
2014                            1.5%                                        2.4%
2015                            2.3%                                        3.2%
2016                            2.6%                                        3.5%
2017                            2.7%                                        3.2%
2018                            2.7%                                        2.7%

Governor McAuliffe's Budget Recommendations made to the Joint Money Committees of the Virginia General Assembly

In the summer of 2014, it became clear that the Commonwealth would face a budget shortfall due to declining revenues of an estimated $2.4B in the 2014-2016 budget.  By September, the Governor and lawmakers had closed the shortfall by cutting $192M from state agencies, $90M from higher education, $60M in local government aid.  The leaders also agreed to use $705M in reserves.

The 2015 session will require the Governor and General Assembly to cut another $322M.  The Governor's proposals include $114M in savings from cuts to tax breaks including coal and conservation credits.

Additional Issues Facing the 2015 Virginia General Assembly

The Virginia Opportunity Fund - The Governor is asking for an additional $10M each year for the economic development deal closing fund.  Governor McAuliffe has pointed to $5B in capital investment and 19,000 new jobs created in his first eleven months.

Ethics Reform - In the 2014 session, ethics reform legislation was passed that limited tangible gifts from a lobbyist or person seeking government business to $250 a year but left no limits on non-tangible gifts such as tickets, meals, entertainment and travel.  The 2014 legislation also lowered disclosure requirements for many financial interests from $10,000 to $5,000.

An ethics panel created by the Governor recently recommended expanding the $250 gift limit to include gifts of any type.  It also recommended the creation of an ethics review commission with investigative authority.

Medicaid Expansion - Governor McAuliffe included Medicaid Expansion in 2014 and made it a major emphasis throughout the legislative session.  The approach from the administration on Medicaid Expansion appears to be much less of a "push" in 2015.

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