2021 General Assembly Session Wrap-up

On March 1, 2021, the Virginia General Assembly adjourned sine die concluding their 2021 legislative session. Much of the session was conducted virtually this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In total, 1,092 bills were introduced related to a broad array of issues and policies. This is a substantial decrease from the traditional bill total due to bill limits placed on legislators stemming from the virtual nature of this legislative session. At the conclusion of session, more than 600 bills were approved and sent to Governor Northam for his review and action. The General Assembly next met for a one-day reconvened session on April 7, 2021 to act on bills that were vetoed or amended by the Governor.

NVTC's specific legislative priorities for the 2021 legislative session were outlined in a legislative agenda sent to policymakers at the beginning of session and NVTC maintained an advocacy presence throughout the session to actively advocate on behalf of the tech community./p>

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 or bills of interest to NVTC members.


Specific legislation of interest to Northern Virginia's technology community that was approved by the General Assembly

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G3: ‘Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back’

SB 1405 (Sen. Saslaw)

HB 2204 (Speaker Filler-Corn)

NVTC supports the G3 program which seeks to make tuition-free community college available to low- and middle-income students who pursue jobs in high-demand fields such as information technology. It will provide financial support to cover tuition, fees, and books for eligible students at the Commonwealth’s two-year public institutions, as well as wraparound assistance for students at the lowest income levels.

The legislation was approved by the General Assembly and has been signed by Governor Northam. The General Assembly allocated $36 million to the G3 program in the approved budget.

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Technology Development Grant Fund

SB 1156 (Sen. Howell)

SB 1156 originated from the Microsoft expansion in Reston. The legislation will create the Technology Development Grant Fund. The fund will issue grant payments when a qualified technology company makes a capital investment of at least $64 million at a facility in Fairfax County and creates at least 1,500 new full-time jobs at the facility. The bill allows the company to be eligible for an aggregate of $22.5 million in grants paid over four years.

The legislation was approved by the General Assembly and is awaiting Governor Northam’s signature.

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Consumer Data Protection Act

SB 1392 (Sen. Marsden)

HB 2307 (Del. Hayes)

During the 2020 regular session of the General Assembly, the House of Delegates referred several bills dealing with data privacy issues to the Virginia Joint Commission on Science and Technology (JCOTS) for study. Following that study effort, Senator Dave Marsden and Delegate Cliff Hayes introduced SB 1392 and HB 2307 respectively which will create the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act.

The legislation will establish a framework for controlling and processing personal data in Virginia and will apply to entities controlling or processing personal data on at least 100,000 consumers, or entities deriving more than 50% of gross revenue from the sale of personal data and controlling or processing data on more than 25,000 consumers.

The bill provides that the Attorney General will have exclusive authority to enforce violations of the act. The act will become effective January 1, 2023.

The legislation was approved by the General Assembly and has been signed by Governor Northam.

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Workforce Development Data Sharing

HB 1876 (Del. Subramanyam)

NVTC supports HB 1885 sponsored by Delegate Simonds which will require the Department of Education to perform a comprehensive review of the ongoing implementation of mandatory computer science standards in elementary schools and middle schools and the alignment of middle school and high school computer science courses and course pathways.

The legislation was approved by the General Assembly and has been signed into law by Governor Northam.

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Review of Computer Science Standards

HB 1885 (Del. Simonds)

NVTC supports HB 1885 sponsored by Delegate Simonds which will require the Department of Education to perform a comprehensive review of the ongoing implementation of mandatory computer science standards in elementary schools and middle schools and the alignment of middle school and high school computer science courses and course pathways.

The legislation was approved by the General Assembly and has been signed into law by Governor Northam.

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Office of Data Governance and Analytics

SB 1365 (Sen. Barker)

NVTC supports SB 1365 sponsored by Sen. Barker which will create the Office of Data Governance to be directed by the Chief Data Officer of the Commonwealth. The office will be charged with overseeing general data governance in the Commonwealth, as well as developing and managing the Commonwealth Data Trust, a multi-stakeholder data exchange and analytics platform. The bill will also establish the advisory Virginia Data Commission to advise the Office on issues relating to data sharing.

 

The legislation was approved by the General Assembly and has been signed by Governor Northam.

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Data Center Sales and Use Tax Exemption

SB 1423 (Sen. McPike)

>HB 2273 (Del. Morefield)

SB 1423 and HB 2273 seek to reduce the job creation requirement to qualify for the sales and use tax exemption for data centers in a distressed locality from 25 to 15 jobs. The bill also redefines what criteria are used to identify a distressed locality. Under the bill, a locality qualifies as distressed if it has an unemployment rate that is greater than the statewide unemployment rate and a poverty rate that exceeds the statewide poverty rate. The bill requires all data centers claiming the exemption to report certain information to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority (VEDP).

The legislation was approved by the General Assembly and has been signed by Governor Northam.

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Remote Work

SB 1418 (Sen. McPike)

Senator McPike’s SB 1418 seeks to reduce the requirements needed for grants from the Commonwealth's Development Opportunity Fund and allows for capital investment and local match requirements to be reduced or waived based on the creation of telework jobs that pay an average wage of at least 1.2 times the Virginia minimum wage.

The legislation was approved by the General Assembly and has been signed by Governor Northam.

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Unemployment Among Veterans

SB 1279 (Del. Bell)

SB 1279 will require the Virginia Department of Veterans Services to develop a comprehensive program to assist military service members, veterans, and their spouses in making a successful transition from military to civilian life in Virginia.

The legislation was approved by the General Assembly and has been signed by Governor Northam.

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Automatic Expungement

HB 2113 (Del. Herring)

SB 1339 (Sen. Surovell)

This legislation establishes automatic sealing for non-conviction records as well as a set of nine misdemeanor offenses after seven years without a subsequent conviction. The legislation has a delayed effective date of July 1, 2022. Additionally, a workgroup will be established to determine implementation of the law.

The legislation was approved by the General Assembly and has been signed by Governor Northam.

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Unmanned Aerial Systems

HB 1851 (Del. Delaney)

SB 1098 (Sen. Favola)

SB 1098 and HB 1851 is legislation that seeks to exempt an owner of an unmanned aircraft from the requirement to register if the aircraft is brought into the Commonwealth solely for the purpose of major maintenance or major repair.

The legislation was approved by the General Assembly and has been signed by Governor Northam.


Specific legislation of interest to Northern Virginia's technology community that is no longer moving forward includes:

Right to Work

HB 1755 (Del. Carter)

Delegate Carter’s HB 1755 sought to repeal Virginia’s Right to Work statute.

NVTC opposed this legislation and advocates for policies that ensure Virginia maintains its status as a strong state for business by minimizing taxes and regulation, preserving our right to work status, and avoiding negative signals that drive private enterprise away from the Commonwealth.

The legislation failed to move forward in the House Labor and Commerce Committee prior to the cross-over deadline.

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Mandatory Time Tracking Software in State IT Contracts

HB 2246 (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.

The legislation was not heard in the House General Laws Committee prior to the cross-over deadline and failed to move forward this session.

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Green New Deal Act

HB 1937 (Del. Rasoul)

Del. Rasoul introduced HB 1937 which seeks to accelerate the initiative to make Virginia’s electric utilities carbon free. The bill would have required the commonwealth’s electric utilities to produce 80% of its energy from renewable sources by 2028. By 2036, 100% of the energy would have to come from renewable sources. Legislation signed by Governor Northam last year requires these utilities to reach 100% renewable energy by 2045 for Dominion Energy and 2050 for Appalachian Power.

The legislation did not receive a hearing in the House Labor and Commerce Committee prior to the cross-over deadline and failed to move forward this session.

Virginia Digital Equity Pilot Program

SB 1462 (Sen. Mason)

SB 1462 seeks to establish a pilot program to provide a fixed reimbursement for the costs of broadband services to households currently participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Following approval in the Senate, the legislation failed to move forward in the House Appropriations committee and was not approved.

Data Center Sales and Use Tax Exemption

SB 1425 (Sen. Ruff)

SB 1425 would allow a data center operator who qualifies for the sales and use tax exemption in one locality and seeks to qualify in another, to meet a reduced job creation requirement of 25 jobs for purposes of qualifying in the other locality. Under current law, the reduced threshold only applies to data center operators seeking to qualify in a distressed locality.

The legislation failed to move forward in the House Finance Committee and was not approved.


Stay Connected with NVTC's Public Policy Team

NVTC maintains a full-time advocacy presence during the General Assembly session. If there is anything we can do to help you 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
804-788-7362