2018 Virginia General Assembly
Monday, January 29, 2018
The Senate Education and Health Committee heard three bills which would expand Medicaid; SB 282 (Barker D-39th), SB 158 (Edwards D-21st) and SB 572 (Hanger R-24th). Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Dan Cary testified and communicated Governor Northam's support. Following significant testimony and debate, the committee voted along party lines 8 to 7 to defeat the bills. There is some expectation that the expansion of insurance coverage may come through the budget procession in the weeks ahead. 20% of Virginia's budget goes to Medicaid currently and the program is growing by 9% annually.
Governor Calls for More Oversight and Regulation of Utilities
Speaking for the first time about newly introduced legislation from Senator Frank Wagner (R-7th) and Richard Saslaw (D 35th), Governor Northam said he wants state regulators to have greater oversight of utilities. The last major legislation in this area dates back to 2015. The 2015 legislation blocked the State Corporation Commission from reviewing electric utilities base rates while the utilities were recovering from federal regulations that heavily impacted their power generation capabilities and costs.
Election Laws to be Studied
At a press conference in Richmond, Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R-3rd) announced the creation of a joint subcommittee to study election issues and develop recommendations for 2019 General Assembly consideration.
Large Numbers of Bills Filed
State Senators have filed 983 bills and Delegates have filed 1606 bills that will be acted on by March 10. House and Senate bills must be acted on in their respective chambers by February 13th. On Monday, January 29th, one third of this year's 60 day legislative session will be completed.
Economic Developers State-Wide Join in Opposition to SB 714 (Chase R-11th)
The Economic Developers Association (VEDA) recently sent out an alert asking its members to opposed SB 714 (Chase-11th) that requires that any economic development expenditure be first approved by the local governing body. The association in asking its members to respond and indicated, "to require every expenditure to be subject to approval would bog down their efforts in unnecessary bureaucracy and limit the ability to respond at the speed of business."
Chamber President Signs on to Metro Coalition Letter
Hampton Roads Chamber President Bryan Stephens has signed on to a letter urging the General Assembly to invest in Metro by identifying a long-term, sustainable, dedicated and bondable revenue source with the Commonwealth's share at $154 million annually. More than 350,000 Virginians rely on Metro every day and the sales and income tax revenue impact for Virginia is more than $600 million annually. The letter was so-signed by several regional chambers and business associations as well as the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.
Teacher Shortage Resolution
The Hampton Roads Chamber recently joined a broad coalition of business interests aimed at addressing Virginia's teacher shortage. The group is supporting several bills that would positively impact the critical shortage including; HB 2 (Bell R-58th), SB 103 (Suetterlein R-19th), HB 215 (Knight R-81st), HB 317 and HB 320 (Ward D-92nd), SB 551 and SB 558 (Dunnavant R-12th) and HB 380 (Krizek D-44th).
Data Centers Receive Support from General Assembly
SB 268 (Dunnavant R-12th) was endorsed by the Senate Finance Committee. The bill allows local governments to create a separate category of personal property tax that would allow them to depreciate the value of equipment in computer data center.