-Extensive Package of Bills Focused on Job Creation, Education Reform, Energy Independence, Economic Development, Public Safety and Good Government-
**Nearly 80% of Governor’s Initiatives to Become Law**
McDonnell is Successful in Top Three Priorities for First Session: Balanced Budget Passed Without Tax Increase; Job Creation Investments Made; Education Reform Achieved
RICHMOND- Governor Bob McDonnell’s 2010 legislative agenda enjoyed strong bipartisan support in his first session as Virginia’s Chief Executive, with nearly 80% of his initiatives passing the General Assembly.
Upon taking office McDonnell identified three top priorities for his inaugural session of the legislature. The Governor stressed in his January 18, 2010 remarks to the General Assembly the importance of ensuring a balanced budget was passed on time without a tax increase; making substantive and smart investments in job creation and economic development; and implementing substantive education reform in the Commonwealth. All three priorities have been accomplished. Further, the Governor’s legislative agenda also included successful initiatives to help position Virginia to become the “Energy Capital of the East Coast”; improve public safety and protect victims of domestic violence; honor Virginia’s veterans; conduct audits of major state agencies; and increase the speed limit to 70mph on stretches of Virginia’s interstates. In addition the General Assembly approved virtually all of McDonnell’s $50 million job creation and economic development investment package.
Speaking about his first-session legislative agenda the Governor remarked, “This has been one of the most challenging legislative sessions I have witnessed in 19 years of serving in Richmond. We confronted an unprecedented budget shortfall in the middle of the most severe recession in generations. The General Assembly faced the largest budget deficit in history, and I presented the largest amount of budget amendments ever by a Governor. These tough fiscal circumstances placed a premium on prioritization and bipartisan cooperation in our work. With the passage of the budget today, Republicans and Democrats have come together to make the very difficult decisions the voters sent us to Richmond to make, and to balance the budget through responsible reductions in spending, not tax increases. This session was always going to be judged on our ability to timely meet the budgetary challenges in front of us. We have done that. I thank the members of the House and Senate money committees, especially the conferees, for their strong, fiscally responsible, leadership.”
McDonnell continued, “Even while the budget demanded a large part of our time over the past two months, we also were able to successfully move forward with a broad legislative agenda. Our nearly 75 pieces of legislation represent one of the most ambitious legislative efforts by a first-session Virginia governor. Nearly 80% of our initiatives will become law, and it’s because of the same bipartisan cooperation that characterized the work on the biennial budget.”
He further noted, our “Jobs and Opportunity” Agenda will provide the state, localities, entrepreneurs and business owners with the resources and policies they need to make Virginia a job-creation leader as the nation emerges from this historic economic downturn. We have invested, wisely, in the future prosperity of our Commonwealth and citizens. Similarly, the “Opportunity to Learn” education reform agenda we put forward will position our public school students for success in the future, and help bring more educational resources to every community in the state, and will be particularly beneficial for at-risk and disadvantaged students. We have added new protections for victims of domestic violence, helped traffic move a little faster on our interstates, reopened closed rest stops, stepped-in to serve Virginia’s veterans who have given so much serving us, and positioned Virginia to reap the benefits of environmentally-safe offshore energy exploration and development and become the “Energy Capital of the East Coast.” I thank the members of the General Assembly for working with us this year. Together, we have done good things, even in a tough time, for the people of Virginia.”
Speaking about the Governor’s “Jobs and Opportunity” agenda, Delegate Danny Marshall (R-Danville) commented, “I was honored to join the Governor in his effort to position the Commonwealth for job creation and economic development in the years ahead. The measures that we passed, specifically bills to better utilize the Governor’s Opportunity Fund and expand our Enterprise Zones, are proactive policies that will help every region of Virginia prosper. The number one issue facing the citizens in my district, and Virginians statewide, is the need for good-paying jobs. In a tough economy, we have taken important steps to help in this effort, and it was the result of the Governor bringing together Democrats and Republicans to make it happen.”
Senator Steve Newman (R-Lynchburg), who played a the lead role in ushering the Governor’s “Opportunity to Learn” education reform agenda through the General Assembly, stated, “When we provide new learning opportunities for our public school students, we give them greater opportunities for future success. That is what we did this year in Richmond, by working across party lines. The “Opportunity to Learn” legislation put forward by the Governor will lead to the creation of more high-quality public charter schools, improve and expand virtual learning, and promote positive partnerships between our world-class colleges and universities and our local public education systems. Virginia’s students, parents and teachers will all benefit from this bipartisan education reform legislation championed by the Governor.”
Senator Janet Howell (D-Reston) patroned the Governor’s domestic violence bills in the State Senate and added, “Domestic violence is a tragedy. It tears families apart and destroys the lives of thousands of women and children every year. I joined with Governor McDonnell this session to pass two important reforms that will help to better protect our citizens. We will conform Virginia’s protective orders with those from neighboring states and extend protective orders for domestic violence victims who are still threatened. These common-sense measures were met with bipartisan support, and will provide additional protections to Virginians in every city and county.”
Below is a full breakdown of the Governor’s 2010 legislative agenda.
Governor Bob McDonnell’s 2010 Legislative Agenda
Job Creation/Economic Development
SB475 (Watkins)/ HB380 (Edmunds) – Strengthens the criteria for Governor’s Opportunity Fund
· Provides that criteria to be used in awarding grants and loans from the Governor's Development Opportunity Fund shall include (i) job creation, (ii) private capital investment, and (iii) anticipated additional state tax revenue expected to accrue to the state and affected localities as a result of the capital investment and jobs created.
SB554 (Puckett)/ HB1244 (D. Marshall) – Allows the Governor discretion regarding the local match for the Governor’s Opportunity Fund
· Provides that the guidelines for the Governor's Development Opportunity Fund may require an affected locality or localities to provide matching funds, which may be cash or in-kind, at the discretion of the Governor. In addition, the Governor may waive the cap on the amount of money that may be provided to any individual project if the project for which the waiver is granted is of regional or statewide interest.
· Incorporates HB602 (O’Bannon) and HB1371 (Lewis)
SB472 (Watkins)/ HB624 (Kilgore) – Expands the Major Jobs Facilities tax credit
· Amends the Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit, lowering the threshold to 50 full-time jobs (Current law provides a $1,000 tax credit for major business facilities that create at least 100 qualified full-time jobs).
· In enterprise zones or economically distressed areas, the base or threshold is lowered from 50 newly created jobs to 25.
· Incorporates SB481 (Hurt) and HB853 (Morefield)
SB739 (Stosch/Whipple)/ HB1396 (Putney) – Expands economic development incentive programs to attract major businesses to locate in Virginia
· Allows the use of funds from the Governor’s Development Opportunity Fund for construction or build-out of privately owned buildings
· Changes the caps for eligible projects awarded a Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant (VEDIG) as follows: for eligible projects awarded grants prior to July 1, 2010, the aggregate amount of economic development incentive grants payable under this section in any fiscal year shall not exceed $6 million, and the aggregate amount of such grants outstanding at any time shall not exceed $30 million; and for eligible projects awarded grants on or after July 1, 2010, the aggregate amount of economic development incentive grants payable under this section in any fiscal year shall not exceed $6 million and the aggregate amount of such grants outstanding at any time shall not exceed $30 million.
SB 730 (Reynolds)/ HB1381 (Armstrong) – Establishes a major employment/investment project site planning grant fund
· Establishes the Major Employment and Investment Project Site Planning Grant Fund to award grants to political subdivisions to assist in site development work for certain prospective projects.
· This fund will support efforts to improve site location development to encourage large businesses to locate to the Commonwealth and create new jobs.
HB555 (D. Marshall) – Expands Enterprise Zones and reinvests surplus into real property grants
· Changes the eligibility for enterprise zone job grants in areas with an unemployment rate that is one and one-half times or more than the state average to positions paying at least 150 percent of the federal minimum wage including health benefits.
· Currently positions paying less than 175 percent of the federal minimum wage are not eligible for the job grants.
· Also provides that when the sum of grants for job creation and real property investment exceeds the total annual appropriation for payments, allocations shall be prioritized to fully fund the grants for job creation with any remaining funds to be allocated to the real property investment grants.
· Incorporates HB660 (Armstrong) and HB1299 (Crockett-Stark)
SB623 (Hanger)/ HB803 (Poindexter) – Creates a Green Jobs tax credit
· Allows a $500 tax credit for the creation of "green" jobs for taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2010.
· Each taxpayer is allowed a credit for up to 350 new green jobs and may qualify for the Enterprise Zone Grant program if the job is located in an enterprise zone.
· Incorporates HB268 (Englin) and HB1132 (Keam)
SB257 (Lucas)/ HB861 (Cline) – Creates a motion picture film production tax credit
· Provides a refundable credit for any motion picture production company with qualifying expenses of at least $250,000, in an amount equal to 15 percent of the production company's qualifying expenses or 20 percent of such expenses if the production is filmed in an economically distressed area of the Commonwealth.
SB474 (Watkins)/ HB792 (LeMunyon) – Provides for temporary business licenses
· Authorizes the regulatory boards within the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation to issue a temporary license or certification to an applicant who holds a comparable license or certification issued by another state. A temporary license or certification shall be valid for not more than 45 days.
SB237 (Watkins)/ HB588 (Landes) – Dedicates a portion of the wine liter tax to wine promotion
· Requires the portion of the wine liter tax collected from the sale of wine produced by farm wineries to be deposited in the Virginia Wine Promotion Fund for use by the Wine Board.
SB428 (Herring)/ HB523 (Nixon)– Grants income tax exemption on capital gains related to investments in science based or bio-tech start-ups
· Grants an income tax deduction for any income taxed as a long-term capital gain for federal income tax purposes or any income taxed as investment services partnership interest income that is related to a qualified investment in a technology and science start-up business having a principal office or facility in the Commonwealth and less than $3 million in annual revenues in the fiscal year prior to the investment. The deduction would relate to investments made between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2013.
SB644 (Howell)/ HB677 (May) – Establishes a biotech research performance grant program
· Establishes the Specialized Biotechnology Research Performance Grant Program for nonprofit entities engaged in research, development, and production related to molecular diagnostics and drug development that enter into a performance-based memorandum of understanding with the Commonwealth prior to June 30, 2010.
· Grants will be paid to an eligible entity based in Fairfax County that commits in the memorandum of understanding and fulfills its obligation to (i) make a new capital investment of at least $200 million, (ii) create at least 415 new full-time jobs, and (iii) meet any other criteria set forth in the memorandum of understanding.
· Grants from the program to a qualified entity shall not exceed $22 million in the aggregate.
HB928 (Bell) – Creates the Universities Clean Energy Development and Economic Stimulus Foundation
· Creates the Virginia Universities Clean Energy Development and Economic Stimulus Foundation as a body corporate and a political subdivision of the Commonwealth.
· The Foundation shall identify, obtain, disburse, and administer funding for (i) research and development of alternative fuels, clean energy production, and related technologies; (ii) support of economic development projects in disadvantaged rural areas; and (iii) the provision of assistance in the commercialization of alternative fuels and clean energy technologies.
· Funding shall be awarded only to those proposed projects that best meet the established criteria and purposes of this act.
SB473 (Watkins)/ HB604 (Merricks) – Adds the Lieutenant Governor and Commerce and Trade Secretary to Center for Rural Virginia Board of Trustees
· Would add the Lt. Governor (or designee) and Secretary Of Commerce & Trade (or designee) as ex-officio members to the Board of Trustees of the Center for Rural Virginia.
· Lt. Governor and Secretary of Commerce & Trade would have voting privileges.
· Increases total membership from 18 members to 20 members.
· With the Lt. Governor taking an increased role in job creation and economic development, particularly in Southside and Southwest Virginia, it’s important for him to be as engaged as possible in boards and commissions that deal with economic development. Adding the Secretary of Commerce & Trade who has a vested interest, and actual experience in job growth and creation is an asset this Board could fully utilize.
HB1372 (Comstock) – Changes the title of VEDP Executive Director to CEO
· Changes the title of the Executive Director of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to the Chief Executive Officer.
· This change is important because when VEDP is engaged in negotiations with companies, having VEDP represented by someone with the same title as the person with whom he is negotiating enhances Virginia’s bargaining position instead of a title that could contribute to the appearance that he is governmental and does not understand their business concerns. Often in such negotiations, subtle things like this can make a significant impact and we expect this legislation to help VEDP recruit new jobs and investment to Virginia.
HB756 (Stolle) – Requires 80% of revenue and royalties from offshore oil and natural gas production to go to transportation and 20% to go to the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium
· Requires that all revenues and royalties paid to the Commonwealth as a result of offshore natural gas and oil drilling shall be distributed 70 percent to the Transportation Trust Fund, 20 percent to the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, and the remaining 10 percent to localities for improvements to infrastructure and transportation.
SB455 (Hurt/Stosch)/ HB262 (Sherwood/Greason) – Waives fees for veterans starting a small business
· Exempts veterans from paying the Department of Business Assistance's handling fee when establishing a small business through the one-stop small business permitting program.
SJ13 (Puller/Stuart)/ HJ33 (O’Bannon) – Advances a Constitutional Amendment for tax exemptions for veterans
· Grants exemption from taxation on real property that is the principal residence of a veteran (or widow or widower of a veteran) if the veteran has been determined by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or its successor agency pursuant to federal law to have a 100 percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability.
HJ137 (Cosgrove )– Designation of Honor and Remember Flag as state emblem
· Designates the Honor and Remember Flag as the Commonwealth's emblem of service and sacrifice by the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces who have given their lives in the line of duty.
HB1198 (Iaquinto) – Expands list of offenses for sex offender registry and requires residency verification by State Police
· Provides that offenses for which a condition of registration is that the offense was committed against a minor, a physically helpless person or a mentally incapacitated person, the court shall determine by agreement of the parties or by a preponderance of the evidence, whether the victim of the offense was a minor, physically helpless or mentally incapacitated
· Also provides that the residency of those offenders under the supervision of the Department of Corrections or Community Supervision pursuant to § 37.2-919 shall be verified by the State Police
· The Department shall give notice to a sex offender committed to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, prior to his release, of his requirement to register with the State Police as a sex offender; and that the Department shall give notice to the State Police immediately if such an offender escapes from custody. The bill also
· If a sex offender escapes from a jail, the jailer shall notify the State Police immediately of an escape.
SB467 (Howell)/ HB931 (Bell) – Conforms Virginia’s protective orders with those of neighboring states
· Requires the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court, on an annual basis, to consult with the appropriate judicial authorities of adjacent states concerning the forms used in the issuance of protective orders. The Executive Secretary shall coordinate the contents of such protective order forms with other states in order to facilitate the enforcement of foreign protective orders in the Commonwealth and the enforcement of Virginia protective orders in other states.
SB468 (Howell)/ HB930 (Bell) – Extension of protective orders when a domestic violence victim is still under threat
· Allows a petitioner who has obtained a protective order in cases of family abuse or stalking to obtain an extension of such order for a period of two years.
· There is no limit on the number of extensions that may be requested.
SB486 (Hurt)/ HB1121 (Gilbert) – Strengthens the sharing of juvenile criminal information related to gang activity
· Places an affirmative duty on the Department of Juvenile Justice to provide information to law-enforcement that may aid in initiating or furthering an investigation of a criminal street gang.
· The bill also requires, rather than allows, the Department or locally operated court services unit to release to law enforcement information on a juvenile's criminal street gang involvement and the criminal street gang-related activity of others
· Incorporates HB254 (Miller) and HB255 (Miller)
HB682 (J. Miller) – Creates Gang Free Zones
· Expands current "gang-free school zones" to the broader "gang-free zones" and includes any publicly owned or operated community center or recreational center.
SB520 (Norment)/ HB934 (Bell) – Expands death penalty to include murder of auxiliary police office
· Adds auxiliary police officers and auxiliary deputy sheriffs to the capital murder statute so that the death penalty can be imposed for their murder.
HB485 (Lingamfelter) – Authorizes a financial audit of several large state agencies
· Directs the Governor to initiate on July 1, 2010, an operational and programmatic performance review of (i) the agencies under the Secretary of Health and Human Resources and the Secretary of Public Safety, (ii) the Department of Education, including primary and secondary education funded by the Commonwealth, and (iii) any other department, agency, or program of the Commonwealth in the executive branch of state government that the Governor deems necessary to effect savings in expenditures, a reduction in duplication of effort, and programmatic efficiencies in the operation of state government.
· The review shall be concluded by December 1, 2011 and conducted by a private management consulting firm.
SB506 (Smith) – Bans political contributions to Governor during large procurements
· Provides that neither the Governor, his political action committee, nor any pertinent Secretaries shall knowingly solicit or accept a contribution, gift, or other item with a value greater than $50 from any bidder, offeror, or private entity who has submitted a bid or proposal pursuant to the Virginia Public Procurement Act, the Public-Private Transportation Act, or the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act during the bidding period. Furthermore, no bidder, offeror, or private entity who has submitted a bid or proposal under such acts shall offer or promise to make such a gift to the Governor, his political action committee, or any of his pertinent Secretaries. The restrictions only apply if the stated or expected value of the contract is $5 million or more and do not apply to contracts awarded as the result of competitive sealed bidding.
SB201(Blevins) / HB42 (Oder) – Authorizes a performance audit of VDOT
· Requires JLARC to administer a performance audit of the Commonwealth's transportation programs.
· The audit will be paid for by savings realized from the audit.
SB537 (Newman)/ HB856 (Carrico) – Increases speed limit from 65 to 70 mph
· Increases the general highway speed limit on interstate highways where it is presently 65 mph to 70 mph.
SB737 (Newman)/ HB1390 (Lingamfelter/Dance) – Improves the quality of charter school applications
· Requires the public charter school applicant to submit its proposed charter application to the Board of Education for review, comment, and a determination as to whether the application meets approval criteria developed by the Board, prior to submission to the local school board.
· Provides a public charter school applicant with an opportunity to petition the local school board for reconsideration after seeking technical assistance from the Department of Education and receiving public comment.
SB738 (Newman)/ HB1388 (Richard P. Bell) – Develops criteria for Virtual School programs
· Requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop, and the Board of Education to approve, criteria for approving and monitoring multi-division providers of online courses and virtual school programs.
· Also allows local school boards to enter into contracts with approved private or nonprofit organizations to provide such courses and programs.
SB736 (Newman)/ HB1389 (Peace/McClellan) – Establishes College Partnership Laboratory Schools
· Allows for the establishment of college partnership laboratory schools by any public institution of higher education that operates an approved teacher education program. Such schools shall be public schools established by a contract between the governing board of the school and the Board of Education. Teachers working in such schools shall be employees of the institution of higher education and shall either be licensed by the Board or eligible for such license.