2017 Legislative Session in Richmond Reaches Halfway Mark

Tuesday, February 7 marks crossover at the Virginia General Assembly, the deadline for each chamber to act on its own bills. Beginning Wednesday, February 8, the House will review and act on Senate bills and the Senate will review and act on House bills. Crossover marks the mid-point of the legislative session, and provides a clear look at legislation that was approved by at least one chamber as well as legislation that will not move forward this session. The 45 day session is scheduled to conclude on February 25.

Technology-related legislation that has been approved by the House of Delegates or the Senate of Virginia and continues to move forward includes legislation that:

  • 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 wireless communications infrastructure, including small cell facilities to support 5G and IoT applications (SB 1282)
  • Provides more transparency of taxpayer-funded broadband authorities by limiting Freedom of Information Act exemptions to such authorities (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, 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)
  • Prohibits public sector employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (SB 783)
  • 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)
  • States 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)
  • 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(c)(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)
  • Expands the definition of computer trespass to include actions taken through intentionally deceptive means and without authority and increases the penalties for targeting public sector computers (SB 1377, HB 1815)
  • Expands computer crimes legislation to include ransomware (HB 2288)
  • 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-related legislation that did not move forward included legislation to:

  • Phase out the Commonwealth's Research & Development Tax Credits (SB 1540)
  • 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)
  • 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 (HB 2047, HJ 692)
On Sunday, the Senate Finance Committee and House Appropriations Committee released their respective amendments to the Governor's introduced budget amendments. The full House of Delegates and Senate of Virginia will finalize and vote on their respective budgets on Thursday. Budget conferees will then work to finalize a budget that will go to the governor for his review and action.

To stay up to date, NVTC's members are invited to participate in weekly legislative conference calls with the NVTC advocacy team. Recurring each Friday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. through February 24. These calls offer a valuable opportunity to stay connected to what's going on in Richmond and provide advice and feedback to NVTC leaders and staff. Please send an email to NVTC's Public Policy Manager Troy Murphy for more information. In addition, click here to follow the General Assembly session, including NVTC's Bill Tracking Index, and click here to check out NVTC's 2017 Legislative Agenda.