February 20, 2023

The General Assembly is working rapidly to complete its work by the scheduled Saturday, February 25th adjournment date. Both chambers adopted competing revisions to the introduced budget last week and all committees will complete action on legislation by Monday, February 20th.  While roughly 2000 pieces of legislation were introduced this session, so far only 370 of them have passed both chambers.  Many more will work through the legislative process this week. Budget negotiators have begun their work, though there is a great difference between the two spending plans, and last week some legislative leaders expressed doubts of reaching an agreement on time. The biggest disagreement between the House and Senate is over whether to reduce individual and corporate taxes this year. 


This year, rvatech has engaged the General Assembly on several pieces of legislation. The list below highlights a few specific policy areas in which we have engaged.  At the conclusion of the session, we will provide an update with the final actions from this year’s legislative session, including the final budget agreement. 


Procurement Reform

Senator Ruff introduced SB912 at the request of the state’s technology councils. Unfortunately, the legislation was referred to a procurement working group at the Department of General Services for review and recommendations for the 2024 session. This bill would have removed consideration of terms and conditions from the proposal stage and moved their consideration to the negotiation phase of the procurement. This is how liability provisions are currently handled in IT procurement, and would have resulted in treating all terms and conditions the same way.


Workforce Development 

SB1470 and HB2195 from Senators Ruff and Barker, and Delegate Byron, call for the consolidation of Virginia workforce development programs under a newly created Department of Workforce Development and Advancement. The centralized agency will utilize data-driven insights to improve delivery of skill-building and workforce preparedness services to get workers in good paying jobs. In addition, the legislation directs the Secretary of Labor to review all workforce development programs and make recommendations to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of them. Both bills have passed their respective chambers and various changes have been made to address concerns from various stakeholders, and the legislation is expected to be approved by the end of the coming week.


STEM Education

Senators Stanley, Dunnavant and Hashmi sponsored SB806 to create a Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Computing (STEM+C) Competition Team Grant Program. The legislation encourages interest in STEM+C related subject areas and supports STEM+C-related extracurricular team-building activities in public schools by providing grants to qualified schools for use in establishing or supporting STEM+C competition teams. SB806 reported from the House Education Subcommittee with unanimous support, but was unfortunately defeated in the House Appropriations Committee on Friday. 


The Senate included $250,000 in the budget to provide funding for Advanced Placement computer science course startup and expansion costs for public high schools in Virginia. 


Broadband Development

Senator Stanley and Delegate Head introduced SB1029 and HB1752 to speed up broadband deployment by standardizing the process for broadband railroad crossings. The legislation puts in place requirements around the maximum waiting period and fees that railroad companies can require before broadband is allowed to cross a track. Both bills have passed their respective chambers and are expected to be on final passage in the coming week.


The House budget includes language directing the Broadband Office of the Department of Housing and Community Development to support localities in permitting and siting of projects to ensure that federally funded broadband projects meet the required deadline.


Economic Development

House (HB1405) and Senate (SB796) legislations have passed both chambers to allow a group of affiliated corporations to elect whether to file taxes in a consolidated form or separately, regardless of whether it reduces their overall tax liabilities. This legislation will make the Commonwealth more business friendly, including for many businesses in the technology sector. Both pieces of legislation have passed the General Assembly and are being communicated to the Governor.


Both the House and Senate are providing significant additional funding for site acquisition to recruit major new economic development projects to Virginia, which could include technology related businesses. The Senate budget provides $250 million and the House budget provides $450 million for this purpose.


The House budget authorizes the Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation at the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority to repurpose for other related investments roughly $2.4 million that was originally intended for COVID-19 treatment R&D. The project that was originally funded was subsequently canceled, making these funds available.