2020 Legislative Session Recap - June 1, 2020

The 2020 legislative session was productive and successful for RVATech and other technology sector advocates. Legislation that we supported became law and budget priorities were funded. RVATech tracked and provided weekly updates on more than 60 pieces of legislation, 26 of which became law.

Here are a few key pieces of legislation that were approved this session:

1 - The Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority
RVATech and other advocates have long envisioned 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. The Authority is governed by an eleven member Board, consisting of the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, six citizen members appointed by the Governor, and four citizen members appointed by the Joint Rules Committee. (HB1017/SB576)

2 - Transparency in IT Procurement Contracts
RVATech supported legislation from 2019 legislator of the year, Delegate Betsy Carr (D-Richmond), to require online public posting of any executed contracts and modifications to them. This legislation will increase transparency and empower technology vendors to be as competitive as possible in doing business with the Commonwealth’s agencies. (HB544)

3 - Research & Development Tax Credits
RVATech supported legislation to increase the cap for Virginia’s two research and development tax credit programs. This initiative will increase capacity for the program which helps bring private sector technology jobs and investments to Virginia. The programs received a combined roughly $5 million increase in allowable credits per year. (HB748/SB110)

4 - Computer Science Credits for Advanced Diploma
Senator George Barker introduced legislation this year to allow any student who is pursuing an advanced studies diploma to meet the requirements by substituting two standard units of credit in computer science for two standard units of credit in a foreign language. Virginia has made great progress in recent years to incorporate computer science education into the curriculum and to increase computer science training for public school teachers. (SB323)

5 - Locating Broadband in Public Utility Easements
Delegate Carroll Foy and Senator Lynwood Lewis advanced legislation to make it easier for broadband to be deployed along existing electric and communications easements. The legislation will enable broader deployment of broadband and reduce costs by enabling providers to utilize existing easements under certain conditions. (HB831/SB794)

The General Assembly as a whole considered nearly 4,000 bills and resolutions during the traditional 60-day session, which was extended by five days to complete work on the new biennial budget. In all the governor approved 1289 pieces of legislation and vetoed just four. By the time the legislature reconvened to act on gubernatorial amendment and vetoes the pandemic had taken hold and unprecedented measures were put in place for the House to meet on the capitol lawn and the Senate to convene in a more spacious room at the Science Museum of Virginia. The legislature is expected to reconvene for a special session in August or September to reassess the budget based on an updated revenue forecast, which will be significantly lower due to the economic fallout of COVID-19. We will monitor this process and look forward to updating you as things progress.