The 2021 Regular Session of the Virginia General Assembly convened this week with extra precautions in place to conduct business during the pandemic. As was done during the 2020 special session, the House of Delegates is meeting in a fully virtual environment for both committee meetings and daily floor sessions. The Senate of Virginia will meet in person at the Science Museum of Virginia, socially distanced, and receive public comment virtually.

On Wednesday, the House and Senate adopted a schedule to complete their business no later than Thursday, February 11th, though the governor is expected to call a special session to extend the session for an additional 16 days if necessary. Delegates were allowed just 7 bills each and Senators were allowed to introduce no more than 12 bills each. This unusually low bill limit is necessary given the difficulty of legislating in a virtual format.

RVATECH is proud to join our peer organizations from across the Commonwealth in support of a technology policy agenda. We remain focused on increasing computer science and information technology educational opportunities to address shortages in our available IT workforce, supporting key innovation and economic development programs, maintaining a strong IT procurement business environment, and increasing access to high-speed internet for families, schools, and businesses.

The General Assembly session gaveled in less than a week ago, and legislation is already beginning to move. RVATECH is following more than thirty pieces of legislation related to workforce issues, innovation and economic development, broadband, public procurement, and more.

On Monday, CEO Nick Serfass testified in committee in support of SB1405 from Senator Saslaw to create the Virginia G3 program, which was included in our 2021 Policy Agenda. That legislation will provide a free or low-cost community college education for low-income students who pursue a degree in specific high-demand fields, including those related to information technology. The bill was reported from the subcommittee on a vote of 3-1. Nick also spoke in favor of Delegate Simonds’ HB1885 to have the Department of Education conduct a review of statewide implementation of the computer science curriculum and her HB2058 to create the STEM Education Advisory Board.

Items from the RVATECH Policy Agenda are moving quickly. The legislature will continue its rapid pace in this virtual and shortened session. The “crossover” deadline for each chamber to act on their own legislation is Friday, February 5th. That is just over two weeks away and considered the half-way mark in the session. The regular session is technically scheduled to adjourn on February 11th though it will likely be extended for a few days longer.