House Republican Agenda to Improve the Economy

We are wrapping up the fourth week of the 2016 General Assembly Session. This was a busy week in the House as we focused on an issue that I know is very important to you and your family: jobs and economic growth.

The House is moving forward on several major pieces of legislation to foster private-sector job creation, encourage long-term economic growth, and protect small businesses. I continue to hear from constituents that these must be our top priorities. Be assured the House is committed to ensuring the Commonwealth’s economy will grow and provide good paying jobs in the 21st century.

In this Update, I note the General Assembly’s previous commitments to economic development, highlight some of the House Republican Caucus’ new jobs initiatives, and thank constituent groups for visiting my Capital office.
Presentation of the Commonwealth’s Spending Performance
Virginia’s economy has struggled. The Commonwealth is recovering at a slower rate than the national economy and registered zero percent growth in 2014. The slow growth rate reinforces why a comprehensive agenda to promote a pro-business climate, incentivize economic growth, and protect small businesses is necessary. My House Republican colleagues and I are introducing specific proposals that will help improve our economy and give your family a better opportunity to succeed.
Recently the House Appropriations Committee heard a presentation on the Commonwealth’s spending for performance and ongoing economic development incentives. Virginia has spent $679 million on economic development since 2010. The presentation noted that annual incentive payments grew 298 percent since the 2004-2006 biennium.
While this presentation detailed our commitment to improving the economy of the Commonwealth, it reminded us that we must responsibly invest taxpayer dollars. The committee is taking additional steps to carefully review all economic development spending and ensure that we are wisely investing your tax dollars.

GO Virginia Initiative 

Presenting my GO Virginia legislation in House Appropriations Subcommittee

We must ensure that proper oversight is part of every economic deal to protect scarce taxpayer dollars. Our partners in the private sector can help ensure bottom-up, free-market growth and opportunity. That’s why I’ve introduced HB834, the GO Virginia initiative. This partnership can help vet and secure our economic development dollars to ensure we invest wisely.
GO Virginia is a business driven initiative to facilitate more collaboration between the business community, higher education and local governments. There are two bills in the House to establish an innovative new economic development model and encourage local governments to work together to create jobs.
This legislation incentivizes localities, school divisions, and universities to work together on economic and workforce development. It builds on existing efforts and strengths of each region to attract new business, providing a business lens through which to examine economic, and workforce development proposals.
After regional councils vet proposals, start-up funding can be awarded, called GO! Grants, to be matched by local and private resources, for transformational projects that boost private-sector growth and reflect collaboration among business, education, and at least two local governments.
In addition to administering the GO! Grant program, this structure can be used to evaluate other state-funded economic initiatives. For example, the business-led state board provides a vehicle that could help vet research proposals for their likely economic impact, and the regional councils could help vet workforce training programs to make sure they address the region’s skills gap and align with employer demand.
The goal is to create good paying jobs in high demand fields and make our economic development dollars go further. This is not just another jobs program. It will establish the framework and infrastructure for real, long-term economic growth.

I’m proud to report this legislation passed out of the House Appropriations Committee unanimously.

Click here to me explain the legislation on the House floor.

Right-to-Work Constitutional Amendment 
This week the House passed a constitutional amendment to solidify Virginia’s right to work status. The amendment, carried by Delegate Dickie Bell (R-Augusta), prohibits union membership as a condition of employment. Virginia already has a right to work statute, but including right to work in the Constitution solidifies this important pro-business policy. This legislation will protect hard working Virginians from being forced to join a union. The Senate also approved the amendment this week, meaning it will be on the ballot for voters to consider this fall.
Veteran’s Employment 
The House is focused on helping our veterans find the jobs they need and are trained to do. Introduced by Delegate Chris Stolle (R-Virginia Beach), HB825 establishes a pilot program in which military medical personnel may practice medicine under the supervision of a licensed physician. Military medics and corpsmen receive extensive health care training while on active duty. Once they transition to civilian life, their military health care experiences do not easily translate into comparable certifications and licenses required for health care jobs. As a result, many veteran medics are unable to gain employment.

Virginia has already made progress on efforts to translate veterans’ military experience into academic credit. However, significant hurdles still exist with health care licenses. This legislation will create a pilot program to help military medics smoothly transition to a medical career in the private sector without having to go through additional training they already received in the military.  

Visitors to the Capitol

Thursday, Febraury 4th, was Hokie Day at the Capitol. I was pleased to meet with a student group led by Colonial Heights resident Haley Slaybough. During the day’s session, we honored retiring Coach Frank Beamer for his leadership and dedication to students in the Commonwealth. Go Hokies!

President of John Tyler Community College, Dr. Ted Raspiller, brought a group of local business leaders to discuss workforce development with me.

Chesterfield educators were in full force on Monday, February 1st! I enjoyed saying hello to Delta Kappa Gamma, the teachers international society, members led by Chesterfield educator Teresa Dombrowski. I also met with Chesterfield PTA representatives to discuss K-12 education legislation.