2020 General Assembly Update: Week 4

As Virginia’s General Assembly nears the halfway point, the Senate and House of Delegates are working quickly to complete work on their respective bills prior to the February 11th cross-over deadline.

Over the past week, the General Assembly heard several pieces of legislation important to Virginia’s technology community including legislation NVTC supports related to Virginia’s research and development tax credits, the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (VIPA), employment nondiscrimination and computer trespass legislation among others. The General Assembly also heard legislation that NVTC had concerns with including right to repair legislation, procurement legislation related to software verification for hours worked, and legislation seeking to advance the sunset date for Virginia’s solar development tax credit.

Below you will find updates to select legislation of interest to Northern Virginia's technology community. NVTC has also compiled an expansive bill tracking index for select bills of interest to NVTC members. Data is provided by The Division of Legislative Automated Systems (DLAS) and will be updated weekly during session.

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) which consolidates the Virginia Research Investment Committee and the Innovation Entrepreneurship Investment Authority (CIT), creates new division for entrepreneurship ecosystem building; enhances existing divisions for research commercialization and investment; and consolidates two existing commercialization funds into a single fund and creates a new fund to support regional innovation, tech-based initiatives, infrastructure, and programming.

Delegate Sickles HB 1017 passed the House Communications, Technology and Innovation Committee unanimously and was referred to the Committee on Appropriations.

Senator Howell’s SB 576 is scheduled to be heard in the Committee on Finance and Appropriations on 2/4.

For additional information on the new innovation authority, please visit: https://www.commerce.virginia.gov/innovation/

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 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, and increased funding and the per company cap on the R&D tax credit for small businesses.

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, such as Texas and Indiana, both are aggressive in incentivizing R&D through a robust tax credit. The Research & Development tax credits serve as an important tool in attracting new employers and this type of credit also incentivizes existing Virginia companies to grow and expand their footprint.

In order to keep Virginia’s R&D credits competitive, NVTC has joined a collation led by Raytheon this session 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.

SB 110 passed the Senate of Virginia on a vote of 39-1. After amendments, this legislation raises the cap on the small R&D Tax Credit from $7M to $8.4M and the Major R&D Tax Credit from $20M to $24M. In addition, the legislation sunsets both credits in 2030.

HB 748 passed out of House Finance Subcommittee on a vote of 9-0. The legislation in the House was amended to increase the cap on the small R&D Tax Credit from $7M to $7.7M and the Major R&D Tax Credit from $20M to $22M. In addition, the legislation sunsets both credits in 2025. The legislation will be before the full House Finance Committee on 2/4.

Employment Nondiscrimination/Virginia Values Act

SB 868 (Sen. Ebbin)

HB 1663 (Del. Sickles)

Over the past several years, NVTC has worked to support legislation which would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. This legislation fosters fair treatment in the workplace, benefits technology employers by promoting employment 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. 

SB 868 passed the Virginia Senate Committee on General Laws by a 12-to-0 vote on January 29 and the House version of the bill, HB 1663, passed the House Committee on General Laws by a 15-to-6.

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.

HB 68 was heard in the House Communications, Technology and Innovations; Communications Subcommittee on January 29th 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 year.

Delegate LaRock’s HB 680 and HB 685 were heard in the House General Laws Committee and failed to move forward this year.

Digital Privacy and Related Bills

Several pieces of legislation were introduced this year related to digital privacy, including:  

SB 641 (Sen. Surovell)
Civil action; sale of personal data.

HB 473 (Del. Sickles)
Personal data; 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 on February 3rd 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 during the January 27th House Communications, Technology and Innovation Committee hearing 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 opposes 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. Since 2014, Virginia utility scale solar has grown from 17 MW to more than 4,000 MW online or under development. Last year, Virginia policymakers established a goal of providing 5,000 MW of solar capacity over the next several years. 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.

SB 800 bill is working its way through the committee process and has not received an official vote.

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 which passed the House of Delegates unanimously on January 31.

Right to Work/Fair Share

HB 153 (Del. Carter)
Right to work

SB 426 (Sen. Saslaw)
Fair share

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 has joined 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.

Senator Saslaw’s SB 426 and Delegate Carter’s HB 153 have not yet been heard in committee.

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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.

Troy Murphy
Director of Policy
NVTC
tmurphy@nvtc.org
703-946-3757

Myles Louria
Senior Director of Government Affairs
Hunton Andrews Kurth
mlouria@HuntonAK.com
804-788-736