At the half-way point of the 2012 General Assembly Session, a vast majority of Governor Bob McDonnell's legislative initiatives, which focus on strengthening the core functions of government to spur private sector job creation and get Virginia's economy back on track, have passed their respective houses with broad bipartisan support and will now be considered in the opposite chamber. Governor McDonnell's legislative initiatives are focused on eight major areas: jobs and economic development, K-12 education, higher education, pension system reform, government reform, transportation, public safety, and efforts to make Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in America:
"The Greatest Opportunity" jobs and economic development agenda to increase access to capital for business and implement greater coordination among economic development entities, along with budget items increasing the support of job creation funds and initiatives
"Opportunity to Learn" K-12 education reform agenda focused on raising standards for schools and teachers; reducing mandates on local school divisions; expanding educational options for Virginia students; enhancing teacher quality; and funding for critical education and training programs
Higher education reforms and investment to prepare Virginians for top jobs, boost job-creating research and innovation, make college degrees more affordable for students, and advance toward the governor's goal of having 100,000 more Virginians earn degrees in the next 15 years
"A More Efficient, Effective Government" reform measures that streamline and merge certain state agencies, boards and commissions; and, reduces unfunded mandates on localities
Virginia Retirement System (VRS) legislative reform initiatives to address the long-term unfunded liabilities of the system and a budget proposal to inject the largest employer contribution to VRS in history
Transportation measures that provide additional funding for maintaining Virginia's infrastructure and will continue the administration's efforts to ensure greater accountability and transparency in Virginia's transportation entities while delivering transportation projects more quickly and cost effectively
Public safety measures that provide tough mandatory minimum sentences for repeat drug dealers and life sentences for sex offenders who prey on children; further protect victims of crime; streamline procedures for Virginia's asset forfeiture laws; reduce recidivism; improve successful prisoner re-entry programs; and, strengthen the response to emergencies and ensure maximum protection for victims
Veterans measures that ensure that all members of the Virginia National Guard receive in-state tuition; improve absentee ballot access for overseas military; and guarantee that unclaimed remains of veterans receive honorable burials
Speaking about his 2012 legislative agenda, Governor McDonnell commented, "This session, we laid out bold initiatives all focused around a common goal of getting our economy back on track and helping spur private sector job growth. I am pleased to see that these major initiatives are advancing at the half-way point of session. We are focused on getting results on the major challenges facing our citizens. That means passing policies that help the private sector create good-paying jobs; increase access to higher education; further improve our high-quality K-12 education; build a transportation system that best serves its users; make government smaller and smarter; help our veterans here at home; and ensure our citizens are safe and secure. The General Assembly has rallied around our initiatives in these areas and passed them with bipartisan support, and I thank them for their partnership with us. These are initiatives that will greatly improve the quality of life in Virginians today while also investing in the future of the Commonwealth."
Governor McDonnell continued, "This year, we are on track to pass innovative education reform legislation that will increase educational options for our children and strengthen classroom learning so that every child has access to great teachers, high standards, and programs that will pave the road to success upon graduation. We are continuing to advance important jobs and economic development legislation that builds on this administration's top priority - ensuring that more Virginians can find good jobs. It is critical that we continue to invest in job creating measures and tools so that businesses are able to grow and thrive here in the Commonwealth. Making government smaller and more efficient and effective for all Virginians is an important initiative of this administration. We are advancing proposals to get the Virginia Retirement System in a stronger position both legislatively and through a budget proposal to make the largest employer contribution to VRS in history. Building off the good work of the Governor's Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring we are advancing legislation that will make government work better by consolidating duplicative state agencies, boards and commissions, eliminating outdated programs and reducing operating expenses. Also part of our government reform agenda is legislation to reduce burdensome unfunded mandates the state sends down to localities. Finally, we are advancing legislation that ensures that our streets remain safe so that businesses and families continue to choose to make the Commonwealth home, as well as legislation to help reach our goal of making Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in America."
Governor McDonnell concluded, "There is one central theme among all of this legislation - and that is job creation. By ensuring that our children are receiving a high-quality education so that they are prepared for the jobs of the 21st century, continuing to invest in private sector job creation initiatives, reducing the size and scope of government to best utilize tax-payers hard earned money, and making sure that we are best serving those who protect our freedom at home and abroad, we are setting Virginia on the right course today to get more Virginians back to work, while also preparing the Commonwealth for success in the future."
Governor McDonnell's 2012 Legislative Agenda at Crossover
Economic Development and Job Creation: "The Greatest Opportunity"
HB33/SB242-Requires state agencies to give equal, non-discriminatory opportunities for bidders on public works construction projects.
HB216/SB112-Expands the sales and use tax exemption for the purchase or lease of computer equipment or enabling software.
HB232/SB492- Encourages development of renewable thermal energy and includes landfill gas in the definition of renewable energy
HB243/SB338-Decreases from five to three years the legal presence requirement to be considered an existing Virginia manufacturer under the Virginia Investment Partnership Act.
HB292/SB405-Adds the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry and the Secretary of Technology as voting members of the board of directors of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority.
HB551/SB238-Extends the sunset for the telework expenses tax credit for employers.
HB559/SB511- Allows natural gas infrastructure expansion for the purpose of economic development projects where it is not already available and when a project developer commits to at least a five-year contract for natural gas use.
HB585/SB344-Creates tax credits for investors in small businesses.
HB587/SB418- Decreases timeframe for approval of a 138kv transmission line.
HB714/SB368-Extends the time for claiming a major business facility job tax credit.
HB737-Increases membership of the Modeling and Simulation Advisory Council.
HB766/SB128-Creates the Governor's Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund.
HB894/SB493- Increases energy efficiency programs by requiring the SCC to consider all four cost benefit tests.
HB996-Authorizes the Department of Minority Business Enterprise to accept applications for certification through electronic means.
HB1013/SB226- Extend the sunset date for making investments that qualify for the capital gains subtraction.
HB1016/SB485- Creates the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Conversion Fund.
HB1102/SB413- Encourages research and development of renewable energy technologies.
HB1234-Allows the Governor to appoint the President/CEO of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority.
HJ227-Memorializes the President of the United States and the Congress of the United States to adopt a national energy policy.
SB523-Allows the Department of Minority Business Enterprise to certify sheltered workshops.
Education: "Opportunity to Learn"
HB321-Establishes a tax credit for those organizations or nonprofits who provide scholarships to low-income students.
HB504/SB271- Requires the Virginia Center for School Safety to provide training on antibullying tactics to public school personnel.
HB576-Enhances teacher quality and strengthens professional development by replacing continuing contract status for teachers and administrators with term contracts.
HB578-Reduces Burdens on Virtual Schools by requiring the Board of Education to develop licensure criteria for virtual teachers.
HB756-Establishes the Innovation Technical Advisory Committee to review and give guidance during the planning process for charter schools, college partnership lab schools and virtual school programs.
HB765/SB475-Allows public and private institutions of higher education to operate a college partnership laboratory schools by partnering with local public schools.
HB947-Allows homeschooled students to try out for public school interscholastic organizations, such as sports programs.
HB1061/SB489-Modifies diplomas to ensure students graduate college or career ready.
HB1063-Eliminates the post-Labor Day opening mandate and makes local school boards responsible for setting the calendar.
HB1173/SB440-Strengthens public charter schools.
HB1179-Allows school boards to provide character education programs during the summer.
HB1181-Requires local school boards to provide reading intervention to those students who show deficiencies in third grade.
HB1184-Allows high school students to complete an associate's degree from a community college concurrent with a high school diploma.
HB1215-Streamlines regulations governing virtual schools.SB598-Establishes a funding formula for virtual public schools.
In his proposed 2013/2014 biennial budget, Governor McDonnell has proposed a new higher education funding package which includes significant new investment and reform to prepare Virginians for top jobs, boost job-creating research and innovation, make college degrees more affordable for students, and advance toward the governor's goal of having 100,000 more Virginians earn degrees in the next 15 years. The budget creates a new incentive based funding formula for colleges that invests in the goals set in law in the governor's landmark 2011 higher education reforms.
Government Reform: "A More Efficient, Effective Government"
HB637-Eliminates unnecessary steps in the grievance system for state employees.
HB293/SB253-Requires the Department of Conservation and Recreation to consult with the Department of Emergency Management in implementing the dam safety program.
HB455/SB495-Transfers the administration of the distribution of Wireless E-911 funds to the Department of Taxation.
HB481-Provides electronic submission of Statement of Economic Interests disclosure forms.
HB550-Provides for Agency reports to be submitted in electronic format.
HB739/SB599-Directs the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to oversee and evaluate the Virginia College Savings Plan on a continuing basis.
HB1034-Withdraws the Commonwealth from various unnecessary compacts.
HB1065/SB407-Integrates the Erosion and Sediment Control, Stormwater and Chesapeake Bay Preservation Acts.
HB1291/SB678-Governor's reorganization of the executive branch of state government.
HB1295/SB679-Eliminates several statewide mandates on local and regional government entities relating to procurement procedures, education and land use.
HJ49/SJ66-Resolution setting forth the Governor's Executive Reorganization Plan.
SB448-Allows all employers of domestic service individuals in the private home of the employer to pay unemployment taxes and file reports annually.
Virginia Retirement System
HB1129/HB1130-Implements numerous reforms to the Virginia Retirement System.
Governor McDonnell's proposed biennial budget recommends a total of $2.21 billion in employer contributions to state employee and teacher funds by state and local governments - the largest employer contribution to VRS in history.
HB601-Includes that the Secretary of Transportation as a principal member on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Board of Directors.
HB813/SB284 -Reorganizes and improves operations at the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority.
HB1183/ SB578- Improves governance at the Virginia Port Authority, creates the Route 460 Corridor Interstate 85 Connector Economic Development Zone to promote the use of the Port of Virginia, extends sunset provisions on several tax credits, and increases the number of eligible Commissioners serving from Hampton Roads.
HB1245/SB237-Changes the composition of the Metropolitan Washing Airports Authority, and improves accountability.
HB1248-Provides for the construction, maintenance, and funding of transportation by increasing the dedicated portion of the sales and use tax from 0.5 percent to 0.75 percent over a period of seven years, and makes important structural and operational improvements to the transportation system.
HB876/SB503-Transfers the administration and collection of the motor vehicle fuels sales tax imposed in certain transportation districts from the Department of Taxation to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
HB49-Provides that the punishment for DUI manslaughter is to include a one-year mandatory term of confinement and raises the mandatory minimum term for aggravated DUI manslaughter from one to five years.
HB212/HB348/SB325-Updates Virginia asset forfeiture laws.
HB718-Allows juveniles to be charged as adults for certain gang and drug offenses.
HB752/SB459-Provides that any person who strangles another is guilty of a Class 6 felony.
HB973/SB436-Imposes upon an adult offender a mandatory minimum life sentence for rape, forcible sodomy and object sexual penetration of a child under the age of 13.
HB1033/SB445-Provides a circuit court jurisdiction to hear petitions to modify, dissolve, or extend a permanent protective order if the circuit court issued the order.
HB523/SB369-Requires insurance policies that exclude coverage for earthquake damage to provide a notice that earthquake coverage is excluded.
HB624-Requires, in certain circumstances, registration on the sex offender registry for juveniles who were over the age of 13 at the time of the offense.
HB968/SB159-Significantly increases penalties for repeat drug trafficking offenders.
SB111-Creates the Sanctions with Unified Rapid Enforcement (SURE) probation program created to provide prompt sanctions for probation violation.
SB345-Increases penalties for criminal street gang recruitment.
SB431-Makes financial exploitation of incapacitated adults a Class 3 felony.
SB486-Makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor for a prisoner or a person acting on behalf of a prisoner to use a computer, computer network, or social networking site to intimidate or threaten a crime victim.
HB439/SB433- Provides that a funeral director must submit the name and any other identifying information for unclaimed remains to the Department of Veterans Services for the purposes of determining whether the unclaimed remains are those of a veteran.
HB730/SB297-Grants full voting privileges to the ex officio members of the Board of Veterans Services.
HB719/SB528-Allows veterans who are permanently disabled from a service-related injury to purchase discounted hunting and fishing licenses.
HB1121/SB254-Provides that the ratio of claims agents with the Department of Veterans Services to the number of veterans in the Commonwealth shall be one agent for every 23,000 veterans.
SB508-Provides that any member of the Virginia National Guard residing in Virginia shall be eligible for in-state tuition at a public institution of higher education.
HB384/SB527-Establishes a preference in state hiring for members of the Virginia National Guard.
SB565-Improves registration and absentee voting for overseas military voters.