This week, subcommittees and committees were busy with full dockets to hear and vote on bills to send to the floor for action before Crossover on Tuesday, February 7 (the last day for each house to act on its own legislation). Legislation that is not acted on before Crossover is dead and cannot be considered by the other chamber. On Sunday, February 5, the money committees will release their respective committee budgets. Next week, the Policy Team will carefully review each of the budget reports and provide a summary of budget amendments of interest to the business community.
HB2195 (Byron) and SB 1470 (Ruff/Barker), the workforce transformation bills, continued to make their way through the legislative process. The House version cleared the House Appropriations Committee on a 14-8 vote and is now headed to the floor for a vote. The Senate version reported from the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee on Wednesday, and unanimously from the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee yesterday. While the Commonwealth has numerous proven workforce development programs, the overall system is fragmented and cumbersome for job seekers and employers. The proposed legislation will combine several of the state’s workforce programs under a single agency to optimize workforce readiness for Virginia’s current and future jobs. While the specifics of which of the existing workforce programs will be transferred to the new agency is still being discussed, the proposed creation of the Virginia Department of Workforce Development and Advancement will provide more efficient program delivery for job seekers and employers. Data-driven insights and best practice will help improve the administration of workforce preparedness services, and program development to better align with the needs of businesses. The new agency will also create a centralized strategy for workforce development while preserving regional flexibility, ensuring programs and services are consistent with the needs of the region.
HB2341 (Davis) directs the Board of Education to create two pathways to the advanced studies high school diploma – one that requires advanced coursework in a career and technical education field but does not require coursework in world language, and another pathway that requires advanced coursework in world language but does not require coursework in a CTE field. The Board of Education’s current graduation requirements require students to complete an AP, IB, honors, or dual enrollment course, a high-quality work-based learning experience, OR earn a CTE credential to graduate with a standard or advanced studies diploma. Additionally, the advanced studies diploma requires three years of one language or two years of two languages for graduation. Providing flexibility to students who wish to take advanced CTE courses to earn industry credentials is important to strengthening Virginia’s talent pipeline and addressing significant workforce shortages. Access and opportunities for advanced CTE coursework will lead to more students earning valuable stackable credentials, increasing employability for in-demand jobs, and greater connections to postsecondary training following graduation.
Many energy bills were advanced this week by both the House and the Senate. SB 1477 (Lewis) and HB 2444 (Bloxom) will help improve Virginia’s production of both offshore wind energy and the components needed to produce such energy, respectively. Similarly, HB 2197 (Byron) is intended to spur the development of advanced nuclear technologies in Virginia, while HB 1643 (Kilgore) encourages the capture and use of coal mine methane which would otherwise leak into the environment. HB 2333 (Marshall) also seeks to diversify Virginia’s energy portfolio by directing the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to establish a pilot program for small modular nuclear reactors. SB 1477 has passed the Senate unanimously, and the House bills await floor debate and final passage.
House and Senate committees have also advanced legislation which would allow the SCC to lower base electric rates if the SCC determines current rates would produce excess revenues. SB 1321 (McClellan) reported from committee on Monday and passed the full Senate on Thursday. HB 1604 (Ware) reported from committee on Thursday and awaits action on the House floor.
Finally, the House and Senate have advanced legislation to require the SCC to act on electrical transmission improvements related to ‘Data Center Alley.' SB 1541 (Lewis) has passed the Senate unanimously, while HB 2482 (Fariss) has reported from committee and awaits action on the House floor.
This week, the House and Senate Committees on Agriculture and Natural Resources each considered legislation to prohibit certain foreign countries, including the People’s Republic of China, from purchasing agricultural land in Virginia. SB 1438 (Stuart) was heard in committee and reported with a substitute on Tuesday. Likewise, HB 2325 (Bloxom) was heard in committee and reported with a substitute on Wednesday. The substitute versions of these bills specifically prohibit purchase of agricultural land by the governments of countries deemed foreign adversaries by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Both bills are awaiting floor action in their respective chambers.
On Thursday, a House General Laws subcommittee voted to lay HB1491 on the table with a letter to the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity to further study what the appropriate numbers would be to best fit the definition of a small business. The bill, patroned by Delegate Davis, would have redefined what qualifies as a small business for programs for the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity and the Virginia Public Procurement Act. Under the current definition, a business qualifies as a small business if it has either 250 employees or less or an average annual gross receipt of $10 million or less averaged over the previous three years. The proposed change would have required that the business have both 250 employees or less and an average annual gross receipt, less the cost of goods sold by the business, of $10 million or less averaged over the three previous years. The bill also sought to define what would have qualified as “cost of goods sold” for small businesses that provide construction services. Those costs included “costs associated with all materials, contractor and subcontractor labor, and services performed at the construction site.”
HB 1805 (Bloxom) and SB 1401 (Lewis) have both advanced out of committee and await action on the floor of their respective chamber. These bills would allow the Virginia Resources Authority to finance community development projects related to the production and preservation of housing for persons and families of low and moderate income.
Public Comment Portal on RGGI Withdrawal Opens
On January 30, the Department of Environmental Quality began accepting public comments on the Air Pollution Control Board’s decision to withdraw Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Comments will be accepted through March 31, 2023 and may be submitted here.
The Virginia Talent + Opportunity Partnership (Virginia TOP) recently released the latest edition of its monthly newsletter. Follow the link below to review and subscribe!
The Virginia Chamber Foundation (VCF) and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), along with Virginia’s education stakeholders, are combining forces to significantly scale high-quality work-based learning in the commonwealth. The V-TOP newsletter is your source for news about V-TOP, profiles of exciting and innovative initiatives created by employers and educators, and articles from Virginia and around the nation about internships and experiential learning.
Please explore the V-TOP website to find resources such as contact information for Virginia’s public and private post-secondary institutions, a new Employer Readiness Toolkit, and more.
We hope you’ll join us on our journey to ensure Virginia remains a TOP state for business and becomes the TOP state for education and talent!
International Trade Resources and Webinars
Testimonial Videos: How Virginia Took Companies Global
These Virginia companies increased international sales and developed competitive export strategies after taking advantage of VEDP’s export development programs, services, and grants. Click here to watch their testimonial videos.
International Sales Training Webinar: How to Effectively Present Yourself In-Person & Virtually –
February 28, 2023
Virtual, hybrid, face-to-face. Never before have there been so many different channels to connect with potential buyers. It’s vital that you can adapt to each environment so that you can present yourself and your product well and engage in conversations that lead to successful international business relationships. To register for this free training, click here.
Follow VEDP - International Trade on LinkedIn
VEDP - International Trade is now on LinkedIn! Follow us to hear about upcoming events, see success stories from other Virginia exporters, and learn about international trade resources.
Ten Virginia Companies Graduate from the VALET Program
In January, ten companies graduated from the Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) Program, which now has over 350 graduates. Twelve companies were also accepted into the program, demonstrating their commitment to growing export sales. For more information, click here.
Upcoming International Events for Virginia Exporters
Trade Mission to Southeast Asia – April 24 – 28, 2023
The objective of this trade mission is to arrange and conduct quality meetings between Virginia businesses and potential sales partners and/or customers in Southeast Asia. VEDP’s ultimate goal is for these meetings to help you generate new sales in Southeast Asia and to provide you with market intelligence. Contact VEDP to verify that Southeast Asia is a good market for your company. We only want you to participate if we think there is good market potential in Southeast Asia for your company. We can perform exploratory market research within a short period of time to verify the market potential for you.
Trade Mission to Brazil – May 15 – 19, 2023
Brazil is the largest country in South America and represents an excellent market for experienced U.S. exporters across various sectors. In 2020, Brazil was the ninth-largest export market from the United States. Contact VEDP to verify that Brazil is a good market for your company. We can perform exploratory market research to confirm the market potential for your products or services.