Chamber Blog

The Virginia General Assembly is in full swing, here's what we are watching right now

Posted by Theodosius Zotos,February 12, 2019

The Virginia General Assembly is in full swing right now. This week, these are the bills that we are actively watching and advocating for to improve our regional economy.

Transportation 
HJ - 581 Interstate 95 Corridor Improvement Plan; Commonwealth Transportation Board to study.

Requests the Commonwealth Transportation Board to study the portion of the Interstate 95 corridor bet-ween Exit 118 and the Springfield Interchange and financing options for improvements to the corridor.

The Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce supports House Joint Resolution 581, introduced by Delegate Mark Cole, as it advances our region’s agenda in combating increased traffic congestion. Transportation is listed as the most important policy issue for the Chamber this 2019 Virginia General Assembly session. Currently, HJ - 581 has passed the House and now resides in Senate Committee on Rules.

Workforce Development 
HB - 2551 Commercial driver's licenses; military service members.

Requires the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles to waive certain knowledge and skills tests required for obtaining a commercial learner's permit or commercial driver's license or a commercial driver's license endorsement for certain current or former military service members, as authorized by federal law.

The Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce supports House Bill 2551, introduced by Delegate Robert “Bob” Thomas, Jr., as it reinforces our region’s commitment to veterans and workforce development. Streamlining the process to receive industry-specific certifications, such as commercial driver licenses, allows for increased employment of our veterans and eliminates any redundant training.

Broadband 
HB - 2691 Electric utilities; provision of broadband services to unserved areas.

Requires the State Corporation Commission to establish pilot programs under which Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power may submit a proposal to provide or make available broadband capacity to non-governmental internet service providers in areas of the Commonwealth that are unserved by broadband. The costs of Dominion Power's proposal are capped at $60 million annually. The provision of such broadband capacity is declared to be in the public interest. The measure authorizes the utilities to recover the net costs of the pilot program from customers through a rate adjustment clause. The measure authorizes such utility to become licensed to own or lease broadband capacity equipment. The measure requires the Commission to conduct proceedings to determine whether an area is unserved by broadband.

The Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce supports House Bill 2691, introduced by Delegate Israel D. O'Quinn, because it prioritizes the desperate need for broadband improvements throughout the Commonwealth.   Not only is broadband expansion a matter of quality of life and education, but it is a policy of business and workforce development. This bill explores partnering with regional businesses to provide internet service to unserved areas, which is declared to be “in the public interest”.

HB – 2141 Local services districts; broadband and telecommunications services.

Authorizes a local governing body, with respect to a service district, to contract with a broadband service provider who will construct, maintain, and own communications facilities and equipment required to facilitate delivery of last-mile broadband services to unserved areas of the service district, provided that the locality documents that less than 10 percent of residential and commercial units within the project area are capable of receiving broadband service at the time the construction project is approved by the locality.

The Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce supports House Bill 2141, introduced by Delegate Robert “Bob” Thomas, Jr., because it prioritizes the desperate need for broadband improvements throughout the Commonwealth.   Authorizing local governing bodies to contract service providers moves the needle in the pursuit of making sure all Virginia’s have access to quality internet service. 

Questions?

If you have any questions about what we are watching, please contact either myself or Kyle Allwine, Community Advancement Manager, at the Chamber office at 540-373-9400.

- Theodosius Zotos, Member Engagement Coordinator