The Newsletter of TechPAC and NVTC

February 13, 2009


In This Issue
2009 Session Passes Halfway Mark
Transportation
House Approves Budget Proposal, Senate Waits

To track the legislation NVTC is monitoring this session, visit NVTC's legislative tracking page.


2009 Session Passes Halfway Mark
Wednesday, February 11 marked crossover at the General Assembly, the deadline for each house to act on its own bills.

Crossover not only marks the mid-point of the legislative session, but it also gives a clear look at all the legislation that was left behind or killed in each house. This year, slightly more than half of the 2300 bills under consideration did not survive crossover.

Among the bills that did not survive crossover: proposals mandating that state contractors and subcontractors use the federal E-Verify Program, a proposal to enlist Virginia in a multistate Internet sales tax collection effort, and a pair of House and Senate bills seeking to revive the homestead tax exemption which would shift local real estate tax burdens from residential to commercial properties.

In addition to the bills we reported on last week, other bills that survived crossover include legislation passed by each body providing that Virginia will not participate in the compliance of any provision of the federal Real ID Act that would compromise the economic privacy or biometric data of any resident of the Commonwealth, and a house-approved measure seeking to fix Virginia's anti-spam statute in response to a Virginia Supreme Court ruling that it is unconstitutional.

For a closer look at the mid-point disposition of bills of interest to NVTC's membership, check out NVTC's legislative tracking page.

The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on Saturday, February 28. The House will spend the final two weeks of the session deliberating on Senate bills, as the Senate does the same with House bills.


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Transportation
Although dozens of bills were introduced this session seeking to tackle Northern Virginia's transportation funding crisis and statewide transportation funding challenges, only one survived crossover.

The House of Delegates passed legislation dedicating a portion of future economic revenue growth to transportation in five regions in the Commonwealth. The Northern Virginia portion of House Bill 1579 dedicates 30% of all future growth of personal and corporate income taxes, as well as sales and use and insurance registration taxes, generated in Northern Virginia (Planning District 8) to fund road, transit and rail projects in the region. While the revenue impact of the bill is speculative, unknown, and dependant on sustained economic growth, the legislation would permit up to $600 million of revenue growth each year to be routed to regional transportation projects in Northern Virginia, rather than to Virginia's General Fund. The legislation passed the House 67-31 and is currently in the Senate Finance Committee. Senate leaders have indicated the legislation will not move forward in the Senate for a variety of reasons including concerns with reducing the amount of future tax revenue which would otherwise support education, health care, public safety and other General Fund priorities.

The House and Senate each also approved separate bills amending the governance agreement regarding Metro to ensure eligibility to receive $150 million per year in federal matching funds. The legislation amends the Metro compact relating to board membership, officers, and payments, pursuant to the new federal law which authorizes $150 million in federal funding per year for 10 years for WMATA to purchase Metro rail cars and buses. The federal law first requires, however, that the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia each dedicate $50 million per year to match the federal funding and add certain federal oversight provisions to the Compact.


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House Approves Budget Proposal, Senate Waits
The House of Delegates yesterday gave final approval to the House 2008-2010 Biennial Budget proposal by an 88 to 11 vote, after spending more than six hours on the House floor debating and voting on various line amendments.

While the Senate Finance Committee approved its budget proposal last Sunday with a 9-4-3 vote, the full Senate decided to forego the Assembly's self-imposed deadline for budget consideration and postpone final consideration of the proposal until later next week. Senators want to provide time to react and incorporate changes due to Governor Kaine's revised revenue forecast, and also to permit time for final passage and additional analysis of the federal stimulus package. Governor Kaine is expected to announce additional revenue shortfalls on Monday, and analysis of the federal stimulus package and its potential impact on Virginia is ongoing.

>>Review the highlights of the House proposal and the Senate Finance Committee proposals

One point of contention between House and Senate appropriators is funding for the relatively small but important Technology Research Fund. This Fund currently provides critical matching funds to support the state's effort to attract corporate directed research. NVTC-supported legislation, still making its way through the Assembly, revamps the Fund to provide for matching funds to universities, to leverage federal and private dollars for the commercialization of qualified research, to leverage public-private partnerships, to build out wet lab space at universities, and for state SBIR/STTR matches to anchor private-sector research in Virginia. By leveraging state funds in support of private investment and public-private partnerships, NVTC hopes to expand wet lab capacity at George Mason University and to support the placing in Virginia of one of five national Nanotechnology Research Institute facilities. The NRI facility would partner with University of Virginia, VA Tech, GMU, VCU, and William & Mary Schools of Engineering to focus on research in nanostructures.

While Senate budget cuts would reduce the Fund size from $2 million to $1.5 million, the House proposes zeroing out the Fund altogether. NVTC is working to restore full funding for the Technology Research Fund.


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NVTC's public policy team is in Richmond for the duration of the session advocating for the needs of the Northern Virginia technology community.

Please direct any questions, feedback or concerns with legislation to: publicpolicy@nvtc.org


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