Virginia Tech Councils’ 2023 Policy Agenda
Innovation and Economic Development
Virginia has made great strides in laying the foundation for long term growth of our technology industry including restructuring our state level programs and creating the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority. Additionally, significant investments in education and workforce development continue to increase our potential for growth.
We support the following efforts to strengthen our efforts to grow and recruit Virginia-based IT businesses:
- Strengthen funding for the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority to promote early-stage entrepreneurship, capital support for high-growth startups, and expanded commercialization of Virginia higher education research. Increase funding for the Regional Innovation Fund to provide sustained support for entrepreneurial ecosystem development activities across the Commonwealth.
Expand and diversify key technology sectors including Cybersecurity, Smart Communities, Autonomous and Intelligent Systems, Biomedical, Clean Energy Technologies, and Electric Vehicles. The Commonwealth is home to several key existing and emerging technologies and our agencies and resources should be utilized to help these sectors expand and diversify.
Preserving key investment incentives such as tax credits for Research & Development and Angel Investors, which attract high growth companies to Virginia.
Strengthen Virginia’s competitive position as the global leader in the data center market by preserving the Data Center Retail Sales and Use Tax Exemption and ensuring that data centers, and all companies, have access to affordable, reliable, clean energy.
Education & Workforce Development
In order for Virginia’s businesses to grow and thrive, they need diverse, well-trained and highly skilled employees. In the technology industry, Virginia continues to experience a shortage of trained workers. Technology businesses want to locate in areas with an abundant workforce, and technologists want to locate where there are numerous job opportunities in their field.
We support the following efforts to increase our workforce:
Strengthening Virginia’s math standards to ensure that students are prepared to advance in areas such as computer science education and information technology.
Supporting diversity, equity and inclusion to bring more students into the workforce, including students for whom english is their second language.
Aligning the Commonwealth’s computer science education initiatives in K-12 schools to ensure that all students have access, and ensuring training and logistical support to all school divisions in compliance with the Virginia K-12 computer science Standards of Learning.
Increase funding for computer science teacher training and professional development, including support for increasing diversity among computer science educators.
Continue funding for apprenticeship programs, work experience internships, and other innovative approaches to education where students can earn while they learn. Virginia should dedicate resources to a comprehensive database for inventorying work-based learning opportunities, and for connecting schools, teachers and students to these opportunities.
Advancing laboratory schools dedicated to supporting education in computer science, cybersecurity, and other in-demand technology fields.
Utilizing technology to assist students in recovering from pandemic-related learning loss.
Aligning and consolidating workforce development programming to maximize the return on investment in all areas of education from Pre-K through adult learning, and to ensure that these investments are aligned with workforce needs.
Continue building on the success of initiatives like “grow by degrees” to increase the number of higher education degrees and credentials issued in Virginia and encourage those students to stay in the Commonwealth.
Universal access to affordable broadband is essential to every Virginia family and business in order to compete in today’s global economy, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made high-speed internet even more critical.
We support the following for increasing access to high-speed internet:
Preserve recently allocated state and federal funds for broadband deployment.
Ensure those resources are used efficiently and effectively to reach as many unserved Virginia families and businesses as possible in recognition of the critical role high-speed internet plays in supporting all levels of education and economic development.
Reduce unnecessary red tape and barriers that make deployment more difficult.
Support digital equity programs which complement the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program and aim to achieve affordable broadband options for low-income households.
Increasing access not only to high speed internet but to the devices and technologies needed to benefit from it.
Information Technology Procurement
The Commonwealth is home to a vibrant industry of technology companies employing thousands of Virginians. Many of these technology companies offer high-value, innovative solutions increasing access to and improving the efficiency of our state government.
Modernizing agency technologies to reduce risk to the Commonwealth and improve on the delivery of government services to our citizens, and the creation of a longer term roadmap for agency modernization.
Policies to ensure that the Commonwealth’s procurement processes are open, transparent and promote a culture of creativity and competition.
Agency solicitations requesting solutions to problems rather than prescribing the specific solution that they are seeking in order to promote innovation and competition.
Streamline IT procurement processes to better meet the needs of the citizens and the agencies of the Commonwealth, and keep burdensome regulations to a minimum, especially as additional costs ultimately get passed back to the Commonwealth in the form of higher priced procurement.
Legislation to have agencies address details surrounding contract terms and conditions to the negotiation phase of procurement, as has been done for other professional services.
January 1, 2020
Limitation of Liability Reforms in IT Procurement
Over the course of several years, RVATech has worked with stakeholders to reform and improve how VITA and other state agencies handle liability in IT contracting. Legislation passed in 2016 moved liability matters to the negotiation phase of a procurement, and then legislation passed in 2019 finally placed a 2x limitation on liability for the vendor in a Major IT Project with some exceptions.
January 1, 2020
Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority
RVATech supported successful efforts in 2019 and 2020 to create a consolidated entity to bring together various technology and startup based economic development programs and resources. This new entity will align programs previously at the Center for Innovative Technology and other agencies to oversee and support research, development, and commercialization, as well as related investment and seed-stage funding. The Authority will be headquartered in Richmond and play an active role in developing Virginia’s innovation ecosystem in all regions of the Commonwealth. This effort continued progress made in 2017 through legislation that strengthened the Virginia Research Investment Committee and its role in research and commercialization.
January 1, 2019
Protecting Data Center Tax Incentives
Virginia's tax incentives for data centers has put us on the map as one of the top locations in the world for data centers, further growing our local technology sector. While some elected officials have wanted to reduce or eliminate those incentives in recent years, RVATech and other advocates have successfully protected them to benefit our industry. We supported efforts to extend the incentives through 2035 during the 2016 session.
January 1, 2019
Tech Talent Investment Program
In 2019, we supported legislation to create the tech talent investment program that significantly increased the number of computer science graduates from Virginia colleges and universities in all regions of the Commonwealth. The legislation provided the framework for an additional 25,000 degrees by 2039 in computer science, computer engineering, and other closely related fields. This landmark legislation will grow our tech talent pipeline and help Virginia remain competitive for growing our technology industry.
January 1, 2018
Broadband Deployment Funding
Every year, RVATech advocates for increasing access to high speed internet both in urban and rural areas of Virginia. Our modern economy requires it in order for students to learn and businesses to grow. Through the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative, we have successfully advocated for funding to expand broadband access across Virginia, including an additional $70 million in funding for the 2020-2021 biennium.
January 1, 2016
Computer Science Teacher Training and K12 Curriculum
In recent years, RVATech has supported successful legislation and funding to boost K12 teacher training in computer science, to incorporate computer science education into the general curriculum, and to give students more options for meeting advanced degree requirements through computer science education.
January 1, 2015
Lighthouse Labs Seed Funding
RVATech worked with the General Assembly to secure funding in the state budget that helped launch Lighthouse Labs into the premier seed stage accelerator in Virginia.
January 1, 2014
Expansion of Technology Supporting R&D Tax Credits
RVATech supported successful efforts to expand the Research and Development tax credits that help recruit technology jobs to Virginia. These credits have been widely utilized by companies large and small to expand their footprint in Virginia, the majority of which has been in technology related jobs. Legislation was approved in 2014 and again in 2020 to increase their capacity in the Commonwealth.
Note From Policy Specialist Andrew Lamar
The 2022 session of the Virginia General Assembly convened on January 12th. The was the first legislative session for Governor Glenn Youngkin and a new House Republican majority, led by Speaker Todd Gilbert. The Senate is unchanged from last year, and Senate Democrats still hold a 21-19 majority. Roughly 2100 pieces of legislation were introduced in the House and Senate combined. The General Assembly adjourned as scheduled on March 12th, but with some unfinished business. A few dozen bills were carried over to a forthcoming special session, along with the new biennial budget. House and Senate negotiators had not finished their work by the deadline, so they decided to adjourn and come back at a later date, which has now been scheduled to resume on April 4th. In addition to the special session for the budget and remaining bills, the House and Senate are scheduled to reconvene on April 27th to vote on suggested amendments from Governor Youngkin and any vetoes.
This session, representatives from rvatech were involved in supporting a variety of initiatives related to the Policy Agenda as adopted last December. We were successful in passing legislation to support STEM education, increasing funding for work-based learning, investing more in workforce training programs, preserving Virginia’s status as a top state to invest in data centers, increasing funding for the Innovation Partnership Authority’s Regional Innovation Fund, increasing tech-industry input at VITA, allocating an additional $50 million into broadband deployment, and making tremendous new investments in state and local government cybersecurity. The House budget allocates roughly $150 million in cybersecurity upgrades at the state and local levels, and the Senate proposal is very similar. Many of these items will be finalized in the coming weeks, and we will keep you up to date when they are resolved.
Policy Committee Members
Twann Atkins - CHAIR,
Carrie Roth ,
John Barrar ,
Jonathan Bransky ,
Patrick Cushing ,
Thought Logic Consulting
Two Capitals Consulting
Dave Rudolph ,
Bob Stolle ,
Center for Innovative Technology
Cindy Sullivan ,
Mike Whitaker ,
Anthony Fung ,