2020 General Assembly Update:
Legislative Session in Richmond Reaches Halfway Mark
Tuesday, February 11th is crossover at the Virginia General Assembly, the deadline for each chamber to act on its own bills. Beginning Wednesday, February 12, the House of Delegates can only review and act on Senate bills and the Senate can only review and act on House bills.
Crossover marks the mid-point of the legislative session and provides a clear look at legislation that was approved by at least one chamber as well as legislation that will not move forward this session. In total, more than 3,200 bills and resolutions were introduced this session.
On Sunday, February 16, both the House of Delegates and Senate will reveal their proposals to the biennial budget that Governor Northam introduced in December. After both chambers pass their budget bill, they will begin the negotiations that will ultimately determine what Virginia’s budget plan will be for the next two years.
Below you will find updates to select legislation of interest to Northern Virginia's technology community and the legislation’s status at crossover. NVTC has also compiled an expansive bill tracking index for select bills of interest to NVTC members.
The 60 day session is scheduled to conclude on March 7th.
Specific legislation of interest to Northern Virginia's technology community that is currently moving forward:
Establishment of Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (VIPA)
SB 576 (Sen. Howell)
HB 1017 (Del. Sickles)
NVTC strongly supports legislation approving the establishment of the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (VIPA). VIPA will support the entire life cycle of innovation, from research, to entrepreneurship, to growth and commercialization, enhancing Virginia’s tech-based economic development by fueling company formation and creating new jobs.
VIPA’s structure is a consolidation of two current initiatives: the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority that governs the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) and the Virginia Research Investment Committee (VRIC) which was created four years ago to fuel higher education research in emerging technologies with strong commercial potential. VIPA will be made up of three divisions as follows:
- The first division is for entrepreneurial ecosystems. Many communities across Virginia are in need of backbone services ranging from marketing to venture networks to funding for programming. It’s important that this division have flexibility to serve a wide range of needs. Virginia’s economies are diverse, and the needs of Northern Virginia are not the needs of Norfolk. A new fund – the Regional Innovation Fund – will be created to help support these services, but also to fund a competitive grant program similar to the current Regional Entrepreneurship Initiative at GO Virginia.
- The second division will be for direct and indirect investments. CIT currently has a family of seed funds known as the Growth Acceleration Program or GAP Funds. GAP Funds have been investing in Virginia businesses for over 15 years. Under VIPA, GAP Funds will continue, in addition to new investment opportunities through money generated from the sale of CIT's building in Herndon. These proceeds will be used for indirect investments like creating fund of funds and sidecar deals.
- The third division will be for the commercialization of research. VIPA consolidates two existing funds – the Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund at CIT and the Virginia Research Investment Fund at VRIC – into a new single fund called the Commonwealth Commercialization Fund. This single consolidation will simplify an inventor’s pathway through government services and connect a business’ growth runway by eliminating the need to jump from one agency to another. This division will also work closely with university tech transfer offices to support proof-of-concept funding, programs to connect investors with inventors, the establishment of a central IP library, as well as other opportunities. These offerings are not mandated. The intention is to be a partner with higher education, to collaborate, and ensure Virginia is a founder-friendly state. VIPA will review existing economic development centers of excellence and initiatives like the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing or the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative and develop a system to evaluate and recommend to the Governor and General Assembly implementation and oversight plans. All three divisions are supported by Advisory Committees established by the Authority Board. The Authority Board is made up of the Secretary of Commerce and Trade and eight well defined subject matter experts who are non-legislative citizens of Virginia. VIPA will be headquartered in Richmond with a presence in Northern Virginia and ideally throughout the Commonwealth in the years to come.
For additional information on the new innovation authority, please visit: https://www.commerce.virginia.gov/innovation/
Delegate Sickles’ HB 1017 passed the House of Delegates 94-5 and now moves to the Senate of Virginia.
Senator Howell’s SB 576 passed the Senate unanimously and now moves to the House of Delegates.
Enhancing Virginia’s Research and Development Tax Credits
SB 110 (Sen. Howell)
HB 748 (Del. Jones)
NVTC led the effort in 2011 to establish Virginia's refundable Research & Development tax credit (R&D tax credit) for small businesses and has worked since then to strengthen it. In 2016, NVTC worked with a coalition led by Raytheon to pass legislation that established a new R&D tax credit for larger businesses with Virginia research and development expenses in excess of $5 million.
NVTC believes that both of these credits are important tools in enhancing Virginia's competitiveness as a preferred location for research investment and activity, and that incentivizing research and development is critical for a healthy economy. Nearly eighty percent (80%) of states have an R&D tax credit and among the states that compete with Virginia, many are aggressive in incentivizing R&D through a robust tax credit. The R&D tax credits serve as an important tool in attracting new employers and incentivizing existing Virginia companies to grow and expand their footprint.
In an effort to keep Virginia’s R&D credits competitive, NVTC has again joined a collation led by Raytheon seeking to:
Increase the cap for the Major Innovator R&D Tax Credit;
Increase the cap for the R&D tax credit for small businesses; and
Extend the sunset date for both credits to Jan. 1, 2027.
Sen. Howell’s SB 110 passed the Senate of Virginia on a vote of 39-1. After amendments, the caps on the Major Innovator R&D Tax Credit was increased from $20M to $24M and the caps on the small business R&D Tax Credit was increased from $7M to $8.4M. In addition, the legislation sunsets both credits in 2030.
Del. Jones’ HB 748 passed the House of Delegates 91-8. After amendments, the caps on the Major Innovator R&D Tax Credit was increased from $20M to $22M and the small business R&D Tax Credit was increased from $7M to $7.7M and the. In addition, the legislation sunsets both credits in 2025.
Given the differences between the House and Senate, it is possible that the legislation will be placed go to conference committee. We will continue to monitor and report on this bill as the session progresses.
Employment Nondiscrimination/Virginia Values Act
SB 868 (Sen. Ebbin)
HB 1663 (Del. Sickles)
SB 868 and HB 166 make up the Virginia Values Act which seeks to grant non-discrimination protections to Virginians on the basis of sexual orientation and other characteristics.
Over the past several years, NVTC has worked to support legislation which would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. We believe this fosters fair treatment in the workplace, benefits technology employers by promoting job creation and retention of a critical talent pool, and benefits higher education institutions in their recruitment and retention of faculty and researchers who train the workforce and help drive our innovation economy.
Sen. Ebbin’s SB 868 passed the Senate of Virginia 30-9 and now moves to the House of Delegates.
Del. Sickles’ HB 1663 passed the House of Delegates 59-35 and now moves to the Senate of Virginia.
SB 378 (Sen. Bell)
SB 844 (Sen. Mason)
NVTC supports SB 378 which seeks to adjust Virginia's computer crimes laws by updating the standard of intent from actions that are “malicious” to include those that are “intentionally deceptive and without authority”.
This legislation originated from a recommendation by Governor McAuliffe’s Cybersecurity Commission. Virginia’s current computer crimes laws (including the “malicious intent” standard) resulted from the recommendation of a study conducted by the Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS) and the Virginia State Crime Commission in 2004; these laws have remained largely unchanged since adopted by the General Assembly.
Governor McAuliffe’s Cyber commission undertook a comparative analysis of Virginia’s computer crimes laws, in partnership with other states and those on the federal level, and concluded that Virginia’s computer crimes laws are “antiquated, ineffective and out-of-step with a majority of other states.” They observed that Virginia is an outlier with the “malicious intent” standard and recommended lowering the standard.
This is the fourth attempt at passing this legislation, which is a result of a team of stakeholders that has included NVTC, industry representatives and the Attorney General’s office.
Importantly, this legislation also includes a safe harbor provision which clarifies that the prohibitions under Virginia's computer trespass laws are not intended to proscribe legitimate commercial activity.
Sen. Mason’s SB 844 was incorporated into Sen. Bell’s SB 378.
Sen. Bell’s SB 378 passed the Senate of Virginia unanimously and now moves to the House of Delegates.
Virginia Data Commission
SB 400 (Sen. Dunnavant)
SB 400 establishes the Virginia Data Commission as a permanent legislative commission that will study, report, and make recommendations on all areas of data governance and analytics in the Commonwealth. This will ensure that Virginia is a National leader in data-driven policy and evidence-based decision making. The Commission will develop standards, guidelines, and best practices related to data and will seek to coordinate agency efforts to prevent duplication of data and efforts.
Sen. Dunnavant’s SB 400 passed the Senate of Virginia unanimously and now moves to the House of Delegates.
Unmanned Aerial Systems
HB 311 (Del. Gooditis)
HB 742 (Del. Bulova)
HB 1227 (Del. LaRock)
This legislation authorizes a political subdivision to adopt time, place, or manner restrictions regarding the takeoff or landing of unmanned aerial systems on property owned by the political subdivision.
A substitute was adopted which includes provisions to protect commercial operators in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
Del. Gooditis’ HB 311 and Del. LaRock’s HB 1227 were incorporated into Del. Bulova’s HB 742.
Del. Bulova’s HB 742 passed the House of Delegates unanimously and now moves to the Senate of Virginia.
Tax Incentives for Solar Projects Greater than 20 Megawatts
SB 763 (Sen. Barker)
NVTC supports SB 763 which seeks to extend the sunset date of the real property tax exemption for solar projects greater than 20 megawatts from 2024 to 2030. NVTC believes that access to renewable energy is increasingly critical to Virginia’s statewide economic development efforts and competitiveness and that incentives have been an important factor in developing access to renewable energy across Virginia.
Sen. Barker’s SB 763 passed Senate of Virginia 40-0 and now moves to the House of Delegates.
Public Posting of Contract Information
HB 544 (Del. Carr)
NVTC supports HB 544 which would require the Department of General Services to post executed contracts (and any modifications to such contracts) on its central electronic procurement system. The bill also would require agencies that use the Department's central procurement website to post the same information.
Del. Carr’s HB 544 passed the House of Delegates 98-0 and now moves to the Senate.
Annual Survey of Certain Employers
HB 624 (Del. Hurst)
HB 624 would require any company over 100 employees to provide the following information for each employee to the Division of Human Rights annually: (i) gender, (ii) race, (iii) job title, (iv) department, (v) job grade or level, (vi) hire date, (vii) job location, (viii) hours worked over the past 52 weeks, (ix) base wage or salary, (x) overtime pay and bonuses or other forms of compensation, (xi) applicable performance scores or ratings, (xii) level of education, and (xiii) years of experience in the relevant field or industry.
NVTC believes that if enacted, this legislation may be onerous and expensive to employers in Virginia. The additional reporting mechanisms of HB 624 can potentially lead to numerous hours of additional work for employers to track, review, and verify the information required in order to comply annually.
Del. Hurst’s HB 624 passed the House of Delegates 54-44 and will next be heard in the Senate.
Specific legislation of interest to Northern Virginia's technology community that is no longer moving forward includes:
Right to Work/Fair Share
HB 153 (Del. Carter)
Right to work
SB 426 (Sen. Saslaw)
NVTC advocates for policies that ensure Virginia maintains its status as a strong state for business by minimizing taxes and regulation, preserving right to work, and avoiding negative signals that drive private enterprise away from the Commonwealth.
This session, NVTC is a member of the Virginians for Employee Free Choice coalition, which is a coalition of employers and employees from businesses large and small from across the Commonwealth dedicated to preserving Virginia’s Right-to-Work law.
Del. Carter’s HB 153, which would have fully repealed the Right to Work statute, passed the House Labor and Commerce Committee 12-9 but was not heard in the House Appropriations Committee prior to the cross-over deadline and thus dies for the year.
Sen. Saslaw’s “Fair share” bill (SB426) was passed by indefinitely on a 12-3 vote in Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, which means the bill will not move forward this session.
HB 70 (Del. Carter)
Delegate Carter’s HB 70 would have prohibited a provider of broadband services from offering or renewing services to consumers within any locality in the Commonwealth in which certain media is throttled, blocked, or prioritized on the basis of its content, format, host address, or source.
Del. Carter’s HB 70 was heard in the House Counties, Cities and Towns Land Use Subcommittee and was laid on the table, which means that the bill will not move forward this year.
Right to Repair/Deactivation or Alteration of Embedded Software
HB 68 (Del. Carter)
NVTC opposed HB 68, which aimed to prohibit the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of a digital device from deactivating embedded software in the digital device or altering embedded software so as to substantially alter the functioning of the digital device as a response to it being repaired by an independent repair provider or owner.
NVTC believes that if enacted, this legislation would have led to unintended consequences to the operation, security and safety of those products and would have prevented OEM’s from altering embedded software potentially violating federal copyright protections.
Del. Carter’s HB 68 was heard in the House Communications, Technology and Innovations; Communications Subcommittee and failed to move forward on a 2-6 vote.
Mandatory Time Tracking Software in State IT Contracts
HB 133 (Del. Miyares)
HB 680 (Del. LaRock)
HB 685 (Del. LaRock)
NVTC opposed legislation which would have required state agencies contracting for professional and IT project services to include provisions in their contracts that would require contractors to install software to allow for the verification of the number of hours worked on a project using a computer.
NVTC believes that if enacted, this legislation would be overly onerous and expensive to IT service providers and also would increase the costs of services to the Commonwealth.
Delegate Miyares struck HB 133 prior to it being heard in committee and it will not move forward this session.
Delegate LaRock’s HB 680 and HB 685 were heard in the House General Laws Committee and failed to move forward this session.
Digital Privacy and Related Bills
There were several pieces of legislation introduced this year related to digital privacy and data protection, including:
SB 641 (Sen. Surovell)
Civil action; sale of personal data.
HB 473 (Del. Sickles)
Virginia Privacy Act
HB 884 (Del. Subramanyam)
Safe destruction of records containing personal identifying information
HB 952 (Del. Ayala)
Digital services; protection for minors
HB 954 (Del. Ayala)
Cybersecurity; care and disposal of customer records; security for connected devices
HB 955 (Del. Ayala)
Children's online privacy protection
HB 956 (Del. Ayala)
Virginia Consumer Protection Act; advertising or offering for sale of Internet-connected devices targeting children; prohibition
HB 1215 (Del. Tran)
Biometric data; employer policy on storage, protection, and destruction; civil penalty
Senator Surovell’s SB 641 was heard in the Senate Judiciary Civil Law Subcommittee and was carried over to the 2021 General Assembly session with a recommendation that the Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS) study the legislation in the interim.
The House bills were heard en bloc in the House Communications, Technology and Innovation Committee and were carried over to the 2021 General Assembly session with a recommendation that the Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS) study the legislation in the interim.
Ending Tax Incentives for Solar Projects Greater than 20 Megawatts
SB 800 (Sen. Lewis)
NVTC opposed SB 800 which would advance the sunset date of the real property tax exemption for solar projects greater than 20 megawatts from 2024 to 2020.
Access to renewable energy is increasingly critical to Virginia’s statewide economic development efforts and competitiveness. NVTC believes that incentives have been an important factor in developing access to renewable energy across Virginia and that it would have been detrimental to Virginia’s economic development efforts to roll back the incentives as proposed in this legislation.
Sen. Lewis’ SB 800 did not receive a vote in the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations prior to the cross-over deadline and therefore will not move forward this year.
Relocation of call centers to a Foreign Country
HB 439 (Del. Heretick)
HB 439 would have required certain call centers that intended to relocate operations from the Commonwealth to a foreign country to give the Commissioner of Labor and Industry at least 120 days' prior notice. The measure also would have required the Commissioner to compile a semiannual list of all employers that relocate a call center from the Commonwealth to a foreign country and to distribute the list to state agencies. Subject to exceptions, an employer that appears on the list would be (i) ineligible for five years for any direct or indirect grants of state funds, any loans from or guaranteed by the state, or any tax credit or reduction in tax liability and (ii) required to repay any financial incentives the employer has previously received. The measure also required new state agency contracts for the performance of state business-related call center and customer service work to provide that such work will be performed entirely within the Commonwealth.
Del. Heretick’s HB 439 was approved in the House Labor and Commerce Committee; however it was not heard in the House Committee on Appropriations prior to the cross-over deadline and thus will not move forward this year.
Stay Connected with NVTC's Public Policy Team
NVTC maintains a full-time presence in Richmond during the General Assembly session. If there is anything we can do to help you this session or any feedback we can provide, please feel free to contact NVTC Director of Policy Troy Murphy, or Myles Louria of Hunton Andrews Kurth.
Director of Policy
Senior Director of Government Affairs
Hunton Andrews Kurth