88% of Governor McDonnell’s 2012 Legislative Agenda Passes General Assembly

Broad Bipartisan Support for “Kitchen Table” Agenda Focused on: Job Creation, K-12 Education, Higher Education, Pension System Reform, Transportation, Veteran’s Issues, Public Safety, Energy, and Government Reform Additional Reforms and Improvements Pending Budget Action

RICHMOND — Governor Bob McDonnell’s 2012 legislative agenda received broad bipartisan support with 88 percent of his initiatives passing the General Assembly. The governor’s 2012 agenda builds on the common-sense, results-oriented conservative agenda of the past two sessions and advances initiatives that center around the governor’s top priority of spurring private-sector job creation and getting Virginia’s economy back on track.

Governor McDonnell’s legislative agenda as outlined in the State of the Commonwealth speech 60 days ago focused on nine core areas that impact the lives of all Virginians and the economic vitality of the Commonwealth: jobs and economic development, K-12 education, higher education, pension system reform, government reform, transportation, public safety, energy, and efforts to make Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in America. The following legislation was approved by the General Assembly:

· “The Greatest Opportunity” jobs and economic development agenda to increase access to capital for small businesses and implement greater coordination among economic development entities, along with budget items increasing the support of job creation initiatives. Legislation improving the competitiveness and governance of the Port of Virginia and the commercial spaceport at Wallops Island will also help bolster these economic engines of the Commonwealth.

· “Opportunity to Learn” K-12 education reform agenda focused on raising third grade reading standards for children, increasing incentives for schools and teachers, reducing mandates on local school divisions, expanding educational options like tuition tax credits, charter schools, and virtual schools for Virginia students, and funding for critical education and training programs

· Higher education reform and investment to prepare Virginians for top jobs, boost job-creating research and innovation, make college degrees more affordable for students, and advance toward the governor’s goal of having 100,000 more Virginians earn degrees in the next 15 years

· “A More Efficient, Effective Government” reform measures that merge and eliminate certain state agencies, boards and commissions, cut costly organizational memberships, reduce agency spending, and reduce unfunded mandates on localities saving millions of dollars

· Virginia Retirement System (VRS) initiatives to permanently and dramatically reform the long-term unfunded liabilities of the system, and a generally agreed to budget proposal to inject the largest employer contribution to VRS in history

· Transportation measures that provide additional funding for Virginia’s transportation infrastructure and continue the administration’s efforts to ensure greater accountability and transparency in Virginia’s transportation entities while delivering transportation projects more quickly and cost effectively, building off the 2011 reforms to put nearly $4 billion of new money to bid in the next three years

· Public safety measures that provide tough new mandatory minimum sentences for repeat drug dealers and life sentences for sex offenders who prey on children, further protect victims of crime, streamline procedures for Virginia’s asset forfeiture laws, reduce recidivism with successful prisoner re-entry programs and probation violation initiatives, and strengthen the response to emergencies

· Energy initiatives encouraging development of renewable thermal energy and including landfill gas in the definition of renewable energy, improving the approval process for 138kv transmission lines, increasing energy efficiency programs by requiring the SCC to consider all four cost benefit tests, Creating the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Conversion Fund to assist in the conversion of the state fleet, encouraging research and development of renewable energy technologies

· Veterans measures that improve absentee ballot access for overseas military, guarantee that unclaimed remains of veterans receive honorable burials and, providing a state hiring preference for members of the National Guard

Speaking about the 2012 General Assembly session, Governor McDonnell commented, “The focus of this session has been getting Virginians back to work, putting our economy back on track and enacting significant reforms. That is what the overwhelming majority of the bills considered by the General Assembly were about. It was the focus of my legislative agenda. Virginians will be able to look back on this session as one in which we increased access to college, made government smaller and smarter, ensured a well educated workforce, and put in place the resources our job creators need to grow their operations and employ more of our citizens. It has been a bipartisan effort. It has made Virginia a better place. It has been a continuation of the efforts that began on our very first day in office. 88 percent of our legislation was approved by the General Assembly this year and I thank them for their support. It was approved because these were common-sense measures designed to improve the lives of all Virginians, in all regions. It is this bipartisan, innovative approach to responsible governance that is helping the Commonwealth emerge from an extremely difficult economic downturn. In our first full month in office, unemployment was 7.2 percent. Today it is down a full point at 6.2 percent. Our work in Richmond is helping employers create more work for Virginians. We are getting results and I am confident that these initiatives will continue to reduce unemployment and create new revenue for Virginia.”

Governor McDonnell continued, “Our legislative agenda focused on the core areas of government. It started with our job creation agenda, which continues to promote investments in public policies that will help businesses start and grow in the Commonwealth. Through our K-12 education reforms, we will ensure that our children are receiving the high-quality education they must have to be ready for the top jobs of the 21st century. We are investing in higher education to increase access and affordability so that more Virginians can attend our world-class universities. By enacting dramatic long-term pension system reforms, and by making the largest investment into VRS in history, we have taken a great step toward ensuring the system’s long-term solvency, so that the retirements of thousands of hard-working Virginians will be there in the future. Our successful transportation legislation ensures that we continue the path of reform and new funding so we have the infrastructure needed to move goods across the Commonwealth and get our citizens to work and home on time. We have continued to make government more efficient and effective for Virginia’s taxpayers through legislation to streamline and eliminate certain state entities and reduce unfunded mandates on our localities. We have advanced initiatives to achieve our goal of having Virginia be the Energy Capital of the East Coast, by making it easier to develop and provide energy to our growing businesses and all residents of the Commonwealth. Finally, we are near our goal of being the most veteran-friendly state in America, by increasing job opportunities for members of the military who choose to make Virginia home. We have continued to keep our streets and communities safe through strong legislation that will make our citizens and communities more secure by new legislation targeting repeat drug dealers.”

Government McDonnell concluded, “Job creation is the top priority of this administration. My team comes to work every day focused on helping the private sector create more work for our citizens. The unemployment rate is falling. We continue to have budget surpluses. More Virginians are working, but there are far too many Virginians out of work. That is unacceptable. It is imperative that state government be a partner our private-sector employers can depend upon, not a burden they are restricted by. Our successful, legislative agenda makes state government a partner. It will help the private sector create good jobs, better prepare our students for the workforce, and position Virginia for economic growth and success in the future.”

Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling added, “During this year’s legislative session, we had a great deal of success in advancing an aggressive agenda to create jobs in Virginia. I am pleased that the members of the General Assembly joined with us in supporting legislation to enhance our economic development infrastructure, increase access to capital for small businesses and support strategic economic sectors such as technology, manufacturing and agribusiness. During the past three years we have invested nearly $100 million in proven economic development and job creation programs, and these investments have made us more competitive in the global economic marketplace. It has propelled us to the top of the list of the most business-friendly state in the country according to CNBC and Pollina Research. As a result, we have helped to close more than 750 economic development deals, created 67,500 net new jobs and reduced our unemployment rate from 7.2 percent to 6.2 percent. While we still have a lot of work left to do, we can be pleased with the fact that our economy is now among the strongest in the nation.”

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said, “I am delighted that after seven years of hard work, the resolution for a property rights constitutional amendment passed again this year and now goes to the voters for approval in November. The amendment will protect Virginia's families, farmers, and small businesses from governments who want to seize their land just to turn it over to private developers for private uses. Enshrining property rights in the Virginia Constitution will finally ensure this fundamental right of the people is protected. Additionally, the passage of the law authorizing the immediate release of death benefits for families of those killed in the line of duty will ease the financial burdens suffered by the families of fallen heroes. The last thing families need to worry about is how they are going to find the money to pay for funeral costs while they wait for benefits to be paid out. We need to honor the fallen by helping their families in their time of greatest need.”

Speaker of the House William Howell said, “The 2012 Session not only has been busy but productive, and Governor McDonnell’s bold reform agenda on job creation, education, public safety and many other public policies that people care about contributed so much to the success we have been able to achieve for all Virginians. Republicans have continued to lead a broad-based effort to transform state government in a forward-looking and fiscally responsible manner. This year, we adopted House Bill 1291 and Senate Bill 678, the most significant legislation to reorganize the executive branch of state government in a generation. Our goal is, and remains, to improve the delivery of government services, maximize the return on investment of limited taxpayer dollars, and minimize the costs of government wherever possible. The General Assembly also passed HB 1295 and SB 679 which eliminated various state mandates on local and regional governments. Streamlining the operations of government at all levels helps sharpen our competitive edge for attracting and retaining job-creating businesses. And, we passed landmark reform legislation that strengthens and puts Virginia's retirement system once and for all on a positive, long-term financial footing. I consider today's passage of HB 1130, which I patroned, and SB 497/498 to be one of the most important legislative achievements of my 25-year career. VRS reform also has been a high priority of the Governor for many years. Like so many, I commend Governor McDonnell’s strong leadership which has helped lawmakers work cooperatively and in a bipartisan manner to enact common sense legislation on so many fronts.”

Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment added, “Governor McDonnell's ‘Greatest Opportunity’ initiative to create jobs and grow our economy met with tremendous success this session. The governor's proposals to spur business growth and economic development won strong bipartisan support in both houses, and will build upon the substantial progress we've already made under his leadership. We will continue to expect good results from these investments.”

Delegate Rosalyn Dance said, “I applaud the great work of my colleagues in the General Assembly and Governor McDonnell to advance important legislation in Virginia that will position Virginia for economic success now and in the future. Most importantly, we have increased access to a great education for children in every region of the Commonwealth. Getting a good education is the best building block we can give Virginia’s children to be successful down the road. This legislation, and the many other ‘kitchen table’ bills that passed with bipartisan support this year, will truly make Virginia a great place to live, work and raise a family.”

Below is a full breakdown of the governor’s 2012 legislative agenda. Items with an asterisk (*) next to it are dependent on the FY 2013/2014 budget.

Governor McDonnell’s 2012 Legislative Agenda at Session End

Economic Development and Job Creation: “The Greatest Opportunity”

HB33/SB242—Requires state agencies to give equal, non-discriminatory opportunities for bidders on public works construction projects

HB216/SB112—Expands the sales and use tax exemption for the purchase or lease of computer equipment or enabling software

HB243/SB338—Decreases from five to three years the legal presence requirement to be considered an existing Virginia manufacturer under the Virginia Investment Partnership Act

HB292/SB405—Adds the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry and the Secretary of Technology as voting members of the board of directors of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority

HB551/SB238*—Extends the sunset for the telework expenses tax credit for employers

HB585/SB344*—Creates a Small Business Investment Grant Fund

HB714/SB368*—Extends the time for claiming a major business facility job tax credit

HB737—Increases membership of the Modeling and Simulation Advisory Council

HB766/SB128*—Creates the Governor's Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund

HB996—Authorizes the Department of Minority Business Enterprise to accept applications for certification through electronic means

HB1013/SB226*— Extend the sunset date for making investments that qualify for the capital gains subtraction

HB559/SB511— Allows natural gas infrastructure expansion for the purpose of economic development projects where it is not already available

SB523—Allows the Department of Minority Business Enterprise to certify sheltered workshops

Education: “Opportunity to Learn”

HB321*—Establishes a tax credit for those organizations or nonprofits who provide scholarships to low-income students or students with disabilities

HB504/SB271— Requires the Virginia Center for School Safety to provide training on anti-bullying tactics to public school personnel

HB578—Reduces burdens on virtual schools by requiring the Board of Education to develop licensure criteria for virtual teachers

HB756—Establishes the Innovation Technical Advisory Committee to review and give guidance during the planning process for charter schools, college partnership lab schools and virtual school programs

HB765/SB475—Allows public and private institutions of higher education to operate a college partnership laboratory schools by partnering with local public schools

HB1061/SB489—Modifies diplomas to ensure students graduate college or are career ready

HB1173/SB440—Strengthens public charter schools by protecting the funding, personnel and infrastructure needs for existing charter schools

HB1179—Allows school boards to provide character education programs during the summer

HB1181—Requires local school boards to provide reading intervention to those students who show deficiencies in third grade

HB1184—Allows high school students to complete an associate’s degree from a community college concurrent with a high school diploma

HB1215—Streamlines regulations governing virtual schools

Higher Education*

In his proposed 2013/2014 biennial budget, Governor McDonnell proposed a new higher education funding package which includes significant new investment and reform to prepare Virginians for top jobs, boost job-creating research and innovation, make college degrees more affordable for students, and advance toward the governor’s goal of having 100,000 more Virginians earn degrees in the next 15 years. The budget creates a new creative incentive-based funding formula for colleges that invests in the goals set in law in the governor’s landmark 2011 higher education reforms. Both houses adopted the governor’s general recommendations for $200 million in new funding and the innovative new funding model.

Government Reform: “A More Efficient, Effective Government”

HB637—Eliminates unnecessary steps in the grievance system for state employees

HB293/SB253—Requires the Department of Conservation and Recreation to consult with the Department of Emergency Management in implementing the dam safety program

HB455/SB495—Transfers the administration of the distribution of Wireless E-911 funds to the Department of Taxation

HB481—Provides electronic submission of Statement of Economic Interests disclosure forms

HB550—Provides for agency reports to be submitted in electronic format

HB739/SB599—Directs the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to oversee and evaluate the Virginia College Savings Plan on a continuing basis

HB1034—Withdraws the Commonwealth from various unnecessary compacts

HB1065/SB407—Integrates the Erosion and Sediment Control, Stormwater and Chesapeake Bay Preservation Acts

HB1291/SB678—Governor’s reorganization of the executive branch of state government

HB1295/SB679—Eliminates several statewide mandates on local and regional government to eliminate boards, commissions and agencies to increase efficiency and save money

SB448—Allows all employers of domestic service individuals in the private home of the employer to pay unemployment taxes and file reports annually

Virginia Retirement System*

HB1129/HB1130/SB 498—Implements numerous reforms to the Virginia Retirement System to permanently reduce future unfunded liabilities and providing stability to the pubic workforce after years of turmoil in their retirement programs. The bi-partisan VRS agreement will create a 5 percent contribution for teachers and other local government employees along with commensurate pay raises for teachers and local government employees, a 1.65 percent multiplier for Plan 2 members for periods of service on or after Jan. 1, 2013, a COLA capped at 3 percent for Plan 2 members, a deferred COLA for early retirees who retire prior to their unreduced retirement date unless they are within five years of that date by Jan. 1, 2013, a 60-month AFC for anyone with less than five years of service as of Jan. 1, 2013, a phase in of a 7 percent rate of return on investments in VRS, and a mandatory hybrid plan that includes general state and local employees, and teachers hired on or after Jan. 1, 2014.

Governor McDonnell’s proposed biennial budget recommends a total of $2.21 billion in employer contributions to state employee and teacher funds by state and local governments – the largest employer contribution to VRS in history. The bills make permanent, important changes to the retirement system.


HB601—Requires the NVTC to appoint the Secretary of Transportation or his designee as a principal member on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Board of Directors and implements new WMATA governance reforms

HB813/SB284—Reorganizes the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority to make it a world-class spaceport

HB1183/ SB578— Improves operational efficiencies at the Virginia Port Authority to increase competitiveness, extends sunset provisions on several tax credits, and reforms the Authority’s governance structure

HB1245/SB237—Changes the composition of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to improve accountability and get the spending and governance of major projects back under control

HB1248/SB639*—Expands the revenue sharing program to include maintenance, enhances transportation planning to better integrate with land use to improve transparency and accountability, and increases funding for transportation infrastructure

HB876/SB503—Transfers the administration and collection of the motor vehicle fuels sales tax imposed in certain transportation districts from the Department of Taxation to the Department of Motor Vehicles

SB686—Allows the Department of Motor Vehicles to establish an electronic titling program for new vehicles

Public Safety

HB348/SB325—Updates Virginia asset forfeiture laws

HB718—Allows juveniles to be charged as adults for repeat drug dealing

HB752/SB459—Provides that any person who strangles another is guilty of a Class 6 felony

HB973/SB436—Imposes upon an adult offender a mandatory minimum life sentence for rape, forcible sodomy and object sexual penetration of a child under the age of 13

HB1033/SB445—Provides a circuit court jurisdiction to hear petitions to modify, dissolve, or extend a permanent protective order if the circuit court issued the order

HB523/SB369—Requires insurance policies that exclude coverage for earthquake damage to provide a notice regarding earthquake coverage

HB624—Requires registration on the sex offender registry for juveniles who were over the age of 13 at the time of the offense

HB968/SB159—Significantly increases penalties for repeat drug dealers

HB1298/SB685—Provides the authority and procedure for law enforcement officers to apply for a search warrant permitting the use of a GPS tracking device.


HB232/SB492—Encourages development of renewable thermal energy and includes landfill gas in the definition of renewable energy

HB587/SB418— Improves the process for approval of a 138kv transmission line

HB894/SB493— Increases energy efficiency programs by requiring the SCC to consider all four cost benefit tests

HB1016/SB485—Creates the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Conversion Fund to assist in the conversion of the state fleet. Virginia is currently evaluating private-sector solicitants received to convert the state vehicle fleet to an alternative fuel, one of the first states in the nation to do so

HB1102/SB413— Encourages research and development of renewable energy technologies


HB439/SB433— Provides that a funeral director must submit the name and any other identifying information for unclaimed remains to the Department of Veterans Services for the purposes of determining whether the unclaimed remains are those of a veteran

HB730/SB297—Grants full voting privileges to the ex officio members of the Board of Veterans Services

HB719/SB528—Allows veterans who are permanently disabled from a service-related injury to purchase discounted hunting and fishing licenses

HB1121/SB254—Provides that the ratio of claims agents with the Department of Veterans Services to the number of veterans in the Commonwealth shall be one agent for every 23,000 veterans

HB384/SB527—Establishes a preference in state hiring for members of the Virginia National Guard

SB565—Improves registration and absentee voting for overseas military voters