2020 Virginia General Assembly Update: Week 3

Over the past week, Virginia’s General Assembly has heard several pieces of legislation important to Virginia’s technology community including legislation on the establishment of the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (VIPA), digital privacy, net neutrality, and unmanned aerial systems, among many others. Below you will find updates to select legislation of interest to Northern Virginia's technology community.

As of January 28th, the House of Delegates has approved 166 pieces of legislation, the Senate has approved 218 and 220 bills have failed to move forward for the year. There are currently 2,783 pieces of legislation still pending. All pending legislation must be considered by their respective chambers by the February 11th crossover deadline. The crossover deadline marks the mid-point of the legislative session, and provides a clear look at legislation approved by at least one chamber as well as legislation that will not move forward this session.

Additionally, both the House and Senate will be working through their amendments to Virginia's biennial budget. The House and Senate money committees will announce their competing budget proposals in mid-February. Budget conferees will then spend the final few weeks of the legislative session negotiating and reconciling budget priorities and approving a budget bill that will be sent to Governor Northam for his review and action. The 60 day session is scheduled to conclude on March 7th.

NVTC has 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.

Establishment of Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (VIPA):

SB 576 (Sen. Howell)

HB 1017 (Del. Sickles)

NVTC strongly supports legislation approving the establishment of the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (VIPA) which:

  • Consolidates the Virginia Research Investment Committee and the Innovation Entrepreneurship Investment Authority (CIT)
  • Creates new division for entrepreneurship ecosystem building;
  • Enhances existing divisions for research commercialization and investment;
  • Provides a structure for justification, implementation, and oversight of current or future Centers of Excellence.
  • Commonwealth Cyber Initiative, Virginia Catalyst, Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, Commonwealth Center for Advanced Logistics, Unmanned Systems, and Smart Communities would become subdivisions of the new authority;
  • Consolidates two existing commercialization funds into a single fund and creates a new fund to support regional innovation, tech-based initiatives, infrastructure, and programming;

Delegate Sickles HB 1017 was heard in the House Communications, Technology and Innovation; Communications Subcommittee on January 27th and reported unanimously. The bill is expected to be heard in full committee next week.

Senator Howell’s SB 576 has not yet been heard in committee.

For additional information on the new innovation authority, please visit: https://www.commerce.virginia.gov/innovation/

Digital Privacy and Related Bills

Several pieces of legislation were introduced this year related to digital privacy, including:  

HB 473 (Del. Sickles)

Personal data; Virginia Privacy Act

HB 884 (Del. Subramanyam)

Safe destruction of records containing personal identifying information

HB 952 (Del. Ayala)

Digital services; protection for minors

HB 954 (Del. Ayala)

Cybersecurity; care and disposal of customer records; security for connected devices

HB 955 (Del. Ayala)

Children's online privacy protection

HB 956 (Del. Ayala)

Virginia Consumer Protection Act; advertising or offering for sale of Internet-connected devices targeting children; prohibition

HB 1215 (Del. Tran)

Biometric data; employer policy on storage, protection, and destruction; civil penalty

These bills were heard en bloc during the January 27th House Communications, Technology and Innovation Committee hearing and were carried over to the 2021 General Assembly session with a recommendation that the Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS) study the legislation in the interim.

Net Neutrality

HB 70 (Del. Carter)

Delegate Carter’s HB 70 would have prohibited a provider of broadband services from offering or renewing services to consumers within any locality in the Commonwealth in which certain media is throttled, blocked, or prioritized on the basis of its content, format, host address, or source.

HB 70 was heard in the House Counties, Cities and Towns Land Use
Sub-Committee and was laid on the table, which means that the bill will not move forward this year.

Right to Work/Fair Share

HB 153 (Del. Carter)

Right to work

SB 426 (Sen. Saslaw)

Fair share

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.

Senator Saslaw’s Fair Share legislation (SB 426) is expected to be heard during the Feb. 3 Senate Commerce and Labor committee meeting.

Delegate Carter’s HB 153 has not yet been scheduled in committee.

Right to Repair/Deactivation or Alteration of Embedded Software

HB 68 (Del. Carter)

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.

HB 68 is expected to be heard in the House Communications, Technology and Innovations; Communications Subcommittee on January 29th.

Unmanned Aerial Systems

HB 311 (Del. Gooditis)

HB 742 (Del. Bulova)

HB 1227 (Del. LaRock)

This legislation authorizes a political subdivision to adopt time, place, or manner restrictions regarding the takeoff or landing of unmanned aerial systems on property owned by the political subdivision.

A substitute was adopted which includes provisions to protect commercial operators in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

HB 311, HB 742, and HB 1227 were heard in the House Communications, Technology and Innovations Committee on January 27th. Del. Gooditis’ HB 311 and Del. LaRock’s HB 1227 were incorporated into Del. Bulova’s HB 742 which passed the committee unanimously.

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. 

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