The big news in Richmond this week, beyond the end of session, isthe announcement from Speaker William J. Howell that he will not seek re-election and will retire after 15 years as Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates and a career that has spanned four decades in the House. The Speaker has been a strong and effective leader of the House, and someone with whom The Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce has enjoyed a long working relationship. Speaker Howell’s leadership has helped enhance the business climate in the Commonwealth of Virginia over the past fifteen years, and we wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement.
With much of committee work concluding early this week, attention draws to the budget and how the House and Senate will reconcile differences in their budget bills. A conference committee to address those differences was called last week, and as in past years Senators Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) and Janet Howell (D-Fairfax), as well as Delegates Tag Greason (R-Loudoun) and Luke Torian (D-Prince William), will represent Northern Virginia on the conference.
In a letter to the budget conferees, the Northern Virginia Chamber voiced its perspective on a number of budget priorities the Chamber has been advocating for throughout the session.
House Joint Resolution 693, patroned by Delegate Dave LaRock (R-Loudoun), is a constitutional amendment that would require the General Assembly to maintain permanent and separate Transportation Funds and limits the ability of the General Assembly to use the fund monies for purposes other than transportation– i.e., a transportation funding lockbox. The Chamber supports this effort as it is consistent with our position to protect funding dedicated to transportation, particularly now as our region is raising funds specifically for that purpose. In the case of an emergency, however, the amendment does allow the General Assembly to borrow from transportation funds for other purposes by a vote of two-thirds plus one of the members voting in each house, requiring the loan to be repaid with reasonable interest within four years. This is a good policy for funding that is so critical to the well-being on our region.
House Bill 1981, School Divisions of Innovation, sponsored by Delegate Tag Greason (R-Loudoun) requires the State Board of Education develop regulations for the designation of School Divisions of Innovation in which the local school board in the local school division, pursuant to a plan of innovation, shall be exempted from certain state-level regulatory provisions. The local school board shall permitted to adopt alternative policies for school administrators, teachers, and staff to meet the diverse needs of students and to improve student learning; educational performance; and college, career, and citizenship readiness skills in the local school division or any portion thereof. The Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce supports this bill because it will allow school divisions the flexibility to better prepare students for the 21st century workforce.
The Northern Virginia Chamber supports House Bill 1708 sponsored by Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) which is also up for consideration in the Senate of Virginia this afternoon. House Bill 1708
requires the Board of Education to consider for inclusion in the student outcome measures included in the Standards of Accreditation the number of industry certification credentials, as defined by the Board, obtained by high school students. House Bill 1708 is an important tool to help students develop the diverse skillsets needed to succeed in the future, and ensure that public schools are given credit for their work in supporting students whose career pathway requires an industry certification.
To keep up to date on the Chamber’s efforts in Richmond, be sure to follow the weekly recap and Doing Business newsletters, as well as participate in the weekly General Assembly update conference call each Friday morning at 8:00 AM. Call in information is below:
Call-in number: (641) 715-3580