NVTC's 2017 Legislative Session Overview

On February 25th, the Virginia General Assembly adjourned sine die concluding the 2017 Legislative Session. During the 46-day short session, the General Assembly heard more than 2,000 bills related to a broad array of issues and policies. More than 800 bills were approved and sent to the Governor for his review and action. The General Assembly will convene for a one-day Veto Session on April 5th to act on bills that are vetoed or amended by the Governor. NVTC's specific legislative priorities for the 2017 Legislative Session were outlined in a letter to policymakers before the session began and NVTC maintained a full-time presence in Richmond throughout the session to actively advocate on behalf of the technology community.

Technology business-related legislation that has been approved by the General Assembly and sent to the Governor for review and action:

  • Provides for an income tax subtraction for taxpayers who invest in venture capital funds in Virginia that invest a majority of their capital in Virginia businesses (HB 2074)
  • Encourages more broadband deployment by providing for a more uniform and streamlined process across local governments for the approval of small cell facilities to support 5G and IoT applications (SB 1282)
  • Provides more transparency of taxpayer-funded broadband authorities by mandating they maintain records concerning the fixing and revision of rates, fees, and charges and make them available to the public via Freedom of Information Act (HB 2108)
  • Expands Virginia's criminal prohibition against peeping to include the use of drones and other electronic devices (HB 2350)
  • Implements the federally-mandated Metro Safety Commission to oversee Metro safety and maintenance efforts, implement necessary WMATA Compact and personnel reforms, and ensure continued federal and statewide transit funding (SB 1251, HB 2136)
  • Reorganizes and shifts authority of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) (SB 1574, VEDP) (HB 2471)
  • Moves responsibility for the development of the Commonwealth Research and Technology Strategic Roadmap from the Center for Innovative Technology to the Virginia Research Investment Committee (SB 1371, HB 2245)
  • Allows, but does not mandate, schools systems to include in contracts with school service providers a provision that parents can access student personal information in machine readable format (SB 951)
  • Allows fiduciaries to manage digital property like computer files, web domains, and virtual currency, and restricts a fiduciary's access to electronic communications such as email, text messages, and social media accounts unless the original user consented to such access in a will, trust, power of attorney, or other record (SB 903, HB 1608)
  • Requires employers to notify the Attorney General after discovery of a security breach of payroll information utilizing same process as used in other security breaches (SB 1033, HB 2113)
  • Requires that any contract for information technology entered into by the Commonwealth's executive, legislative, and judicial branches and independent agencies require compliance with applicable federal laws and regulations pertaining to information security and privacy (HB 2360)
  • Expands the Virginia Solar Energy Development Authority and renames it the Virginia Solar Energy Development and Energy Storage Authority. Expands the purposes of the authority to include positioning the Commonwealth as a leader in research, development, commercialization, manufacturing, and deployment of energy storage technology (SB 1258)
  • Directs the Northern Virginia Community College to contract with a § 501(3) nonprofit organization to develop, market, and implement high-quality and effective computer science training and professional development activities for public school teachers throughout the Commonwealth (SB 1493, HB 1663)
  • Increases the penalty for computer trespass crimes if the computer targeted belongs to a state or local government agency or public utility (SB 1138, HB 1815)
  • Allows localities to require individuals seeking to offer property for short term rental through Airbnb and other platforms to first register with that locality and authorizes localities to impose fees and penalties on persons who violate a registry ordinance (SB 1578)
Technology business-related legislation that did not move forward included legislation to:

  • Phase out the Commonwealth's Research & Development Tax Credits (SB 1540)
  • Prohibit public sector employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (SB 783)
  • Provide new criminal and civil causes of action that could negatively impact the commercial use of UAVs/drones (HB 2197, HB 1602)
  • Expand the territorial limits of subpoena power in Virginia to compel out-of-state discovery from nonresident, non-parties to a civil case (SB 814)
  • Modify Virginia's angel investment tax credit by increasing funding by $2.5 million per year with the new funding dedicated exclusively to cyber investments (HB 1806)
  • Provide in the budget that all state offices and agencies shall modernize and protect the Commonwealth's IT information systems, where appropriate, by expeditiously leveraging commercial cloud computing services that comply with rigorous security requirements throughout state government while driving cost savings and achieving new efficiency (Senate Budget Amendment, House Budget Amendment)
  • Expand the definition of computer trespass to include actions taken through intentionally deceptive means and without authority (SB 1377, HB 1815)
  • Expand computer crimes legislation to include ransomware (HB 2288)
  • Direct the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to evaluate the Commonwealth's current policies, procedures, and standards for assessing cybersecurity risks and protecting the electronic information state government (HJ 692)
Technology business- related budget amendments sent to the Governor for review and action:

  • Reverses $4 million in funding to fully fund targeted investment in life sciences and personalized medicine through the Global Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Institute at the new Inova Center for Personalized Health to leverage Virginia's life sciences and health assets, the data analytics and cyber capabilities of our technology sector, and the strengths of our universities
  • Restores $7.5 million of $15 million in proposed funding cuts to the GO Virginia initiative, which is a bipartisan and business-led effort focused on creating economic incentives for localities and regions to collaborate together to make meaningful progress on infrastructure and other regional investments. Specifically, Go Virginia will incentivize localities and public and private sector entities to collaborate and act together, and money from the state would only go to those localities or projects where there is significant public sector and/or private sector collaboration.
  • Eliminates an additional $1 million in proposed funding to support the "New Economy Workforce Credentials Grant Fund" with the aim of focusing the alignment of workforce training programs with the needs of business and industry
  • Eliminates $480,000 in proposed spending to support summer cyber camps
  • Eliminates $1 million in proposed funding designated for cybersecurity public service scholarships
  • Reduces funding for the Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation (VBHRC) by $1.3 million
  • Aims to increase transparency at WMATA and directs the Secretary on Transportation to identify potential reforms as part of the preparation for the renegotiation of the multistate WMATA Compact
Budget conference report link can be found here.