2020 Virginia General Assembly Update: Week 2

Virginia’s General Assembly is well underway having completed their first full week of the 2020 legislative session. On January 17th, legislators crossed the deadline to introduce new legislation for this session.  In total, 3,086 pieces of legislation were introduced this year which will be heard prior to conclusion of session which is scheduled for March 7th.

The Northern Virginia Technology Council’s (NVTC) specific legislative priorities for the 2020 legislative session were outlined in our legislative agenda which was sent to policymakers before the session began and NVTC maintains a full-time presence in Richmond throughout the session to actively advocate on behalf of 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. Legislation can be found by category, including:

Select Legislation of Interest to Northern Virginia's technology community: 

Establishment of New Innovation Authority

SB 1372 (Sen. Howell)

HB 1017 (Del. Sickles)

NVTC supports legislation approving the establishment of a new innovation authority as described in the Secretary of Commerce and Trade's Virginia Innovation Report 2019 which includes consolidation, alignment, coordination and oversight over Virginia’s programs and investments related to research, commercialization, intellectual property transfer, entrepreneurship and startup formation, and capital investment.

We believe this new authority should:

  • Maximize and leverage the existing resources, structure, and institutional expertise of the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) and the Virginia Research Investment Committee (VRIC).

  • Maintain and grow targeted initiatives, incentives and tax policies that have a successful track record in driving research and pre-company research grants, seed money to grow innovative companies and the funding ecology and support that is critical for a sustainable, entrepreneurial technology ecosystem. These include the CIT GAP Funds, Commonwealth Research and Commercialization Fund, Virginia Research Investment Fund, Angel Investment Tax Credit, capital gains tax exemption, income tax subtraction for Virginia venture capital accounts, Virginia’s R&D Tax Credits, the Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation, MACH37, and the Smart City Actuator.

  • Develop a coordinated marketing campaign for Innovation and entrepreneurship.

  • Establish a streamlined process for businesses to engage with Virginia universities on research and intellectual property commercialization and technology transfer partnerships.

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 NVTC member company 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 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.

Employment Nondiscrimination

SB 23(Sen. Ebbin)

HB 23 (Del. Lindsey)

SB 159 (Sen. Boysko)

NVTC has worked to support legislation which would prohibit public sector 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. In that effort, NVTC supports SB 23 and HB 23 and SB 159, which aim to prohibit public sector employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Support to Restore Funding of the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI)

Budget Item 135 #2h (Del. Hurst)

Budget Item 135 #1s (Sen. Favola)

The General Assembly created and invested in the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) in 2018 to serve as an engine for research, innovation, and commercialization of cybersecurity technologies in Virginia. As well as to help power Virginia's cybersecurity workforce by providing additional advanced and professional cyber degrees with the goal of positioning the Commonwealth as a world leader in cybersecurity.

Since that time, 39 institutions of higher education and 65 Virginia business leaders and organizations have worked together in support of a blueprint to operationalize CCI, which now includes an anchoring “hub” in Northern Virginia and four regional nodes around the Commonwealth. Additionally, the team has already submitted roughly $60 million in research proposals. 

Unfortunately, funding for CCI was proposed to be significantly reduced in the Governor’s budget.  Year one of the budget proposes a cut in half from $10 million each for the hub and nodes ($20M total) to $5 million each ($10M total).  Year two of the budget proposes another cut in half to $2.5 million each for the hub and nodes ($5M total).

NVTC strongly supports budget amendments that have been filed by Senator Barbara Favola (Item 135 #1s) and Delegate Chris Hurst (Item 135 #2h) to restore full funding for the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative. 

Right to Work

HB 153 (Del. Carter)

SB 426 (Sen. Saslaw)

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.

Right to Repair/Deactivation or Alteration of Embedded Software

NVTC opposes HB 68, which aims 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.

Public Policy Updates

During Virginia's General Assembly Session, NVTC will be providing weekly legislative updates from the NVTC advocacy team. These updates offer a valuable opportunity to stay connected to what's going on in Richmond, please send an email to NVTC's Director of Policy, Troy Murphy (tmurphy@nvtc.org) if you or anyone on your team would like to receive NVTC's legislative updates.

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

Myles Louria
Senior Director of Government Affairs
Hunton Andrews Kurth