Key pieces of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s 2015 “New Virginia Economy” legislative agenda are among the nearly 800 pieces of legislation that take effect today. This year the McAuliffe administration passed 150 bills, amounting to a 70% success rate. From reforming workforce development and transportation planning to enhancing economic development and standing up for Virginia veterans, the Governor’s legislative accomplishments represent his efforts to lay a foundation for the new Virginia economy.
“Growing and diversifying Virginia’s economy requires smart policy changes that strengthen our economic infrastructure and enhance our Commonwealth’s standing as the best place to locate and grow a business. My administration and I are committed to working in a bipartisan way to attract new businesses, strengthen our education and workforce development systems and make this Commonwealth a place where everyone is welcome to live healthy and productive lives,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “We won’t build a new Virginia economy overnight, but the laws taking effect today will boost our efforts to grow and diversify significantly.”
The below list highlights some key McAuliffe administration legislative accomplishments taking effect today:
- HB 1570 / SB 1168 – Protects Virginia’s children by requiring: (1) any caregiver of five or more children to have a state license; (2) fingerprint-based background checks for licensed day centers and family day homes; (3) employees and volunteers to report if they are convicted of a barrier crime or a founded complaint of child abuse or neglect; and (4) child day centers and family homes that receive state subsidies to comply with federal safety and health standards.
- HB 1886 – Reforms Virginia’s public-private transportation partnership program to ensure that public dollars are not wasted. HB 1886 requires a finding of public interest before VDOT or Department of Rail and Public Transportation projects may move forward as a public-private partnership. It also requires VDOT to establish a process for identifying high-risk projects and procurement processes and guidelines to protect taxpayer dollars.
- HB 1887 – Adds transparency and efficiency to the transportation funding process by: (1) overhauling the old funding formula to give localities more influence over transportation projects; (2) requiring the Governor to show proper cause before removing a Commonwealth Transportation Board member; and (3) increases funding for buses, trains, and other transit services.
- HB 2354 / SB 1335 – Helps Virginia’s veterans attain an education. This requires the Commonwealth’s community colleges to award academic credit for completion of military training courses that is applicable to the student’s degree requirements.
- SB 930 – Allows members of the Virginia National Guard and Virginia residents who are in the U.S. Armed Forces reserves to receive benefits from the Virginia Military Family Relief Fund, after they have been on missions in support of Virginia civil authorities for over thirty days. This law will help Virginia veterans and their families cover household expenses while they continue to serve the Commonwealth.
SB 931 – Extends the definition of veteran in the Code of Virginia to include men and women who served in Virginia’s National Guard. This change will allow these men and women to access much-deserved benefits already available to other Virginia veterans.
Commerce & Trade
- HB 1986 / SB 1372 – Promotes a healthy workforce by redirecting $4.5 million in funding to support workforce training and establish a pay for performance program to incentivize workforce credential attainment. The law also requires each local workforce board to allocate a minimum of forty percent of Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WOIA) adult and dislocated worker funds that leads to postsecondary education and workforce credentials.
- HB 1822 / SB 1024 – Promotes apprenticeships in Virginia by consolidating agency responsibility for apprenticeships to the Department of Labor and Industry. This administrative streamlining will make it easier for businesses to establish apprenticeships and individuals seeking apprenticeship opportunities.
- HB 2330 / SB 1440 – Strengthens the Virginia Tobacco Identification and Community Revitalization Commission by improving management and oversight of the fund so that it can continue to create jobs long into the future. Specific reforms include: (1) requiring a dollar-for-dollar match from entities receiving grants; (2) establishing a public database of grant awards; and (3) requiring each project to demonstrate how it will lower unemployment.
K-12 & Higher Education
- $537,000 for school breakfast program– $537,000 was included in the budget to aid localities in pursuing alternative models to expand student access to nutritious school breakfasts. This extra five cents per meal will help more schools provide breakfast and ensure that our students are ready to learn.
- HB 1490 / SB 874 – Offers students who fall short of passing a Standards of Learning assessment by only a few points the option to retake the test. This reform will give Virginia’s students the opportunity to improve their knowledge base and reduce the anxiety of high-stakes testing.
- HB 1873 / SB 1320 – Directs the Board of Education to take progress and growth into account for school accreditation. For the first time, schools will be recognized when they make significant progress from year to year and demonstrate significant growth for a majority of students.
- HB 2373 / SB 1354 – Requires schools to identify newly enrolled students who have a parent in the armed services. This legislation will help direct much-needed resources to military members and their families.
- HB 1785 – Makes Virginia’s college campuses safer. This legislation requires either the campus police force or police agency (with which it has established a mutual aid agreement) to inform the local Commonwealth Attorney within 48 hours of any investigation involving a sexual assault on campus or other property related to the institution. This law will improve coordination among police agencies while balancing the need to investigate with the victims’ wishes.
- HB 2267 / SB 1099 – Creates the Virginia Solar Energy Development Authority to facilitate and support the development of the solar industry and solar-powered facilities in the Commonwealth. It will also collaborate with higher education institutions and other entities to develop Virginia’s solar industry workforce.
- HB 1950 / SB 1395 – Incentivizes more renewable energy by increasing the cap for net metering from 500 kilowatts to one megawatt.