Legislation aimed at speeding recovery

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By Delegate Kathy Byron

Are there 1,840 things wrong with Virginia?  That’s how many bills legislators filed for this year’s General Assembly session.  Every one of those bills proposes some change to the Code of Virginia, the laws that govern our commonwealth.  Every bill, however, will not become law.

    If you think the number of bills is particularly high, you may want to know that the total is actually 20% lower than it was in 2007, the last previous 46-day “short session.”  In fact, you have to go all the way back to 1995 to find a session where legislators submitted fewer bills than they have for this session.  The reason for the reduction is the new House of Delegates policy that limits to 15 the number of bills each delegate can submit. 

    So, are there 1,840 things wrong with Virginia?  Ultimately, the number of bills passed won’t approach that number, so I’m fairly certain the answer is “No.”

    While elected officials in Washington are debating the latest effort to revive our economy with a stimulus plan consisting largely of increased government spending, the Virginia House Republican Caucus unveiled a package of legislation designed to speed the Commonwealth’s recovery.  And, I am the chief patron of one of the seven bills that comprise the economic recovery and prosperity agenda.

    Regular readers of this column will recall my sponsorship of legislation last year to allow manufacturers to choose to apportion their state income tax based upon their sales, rather than the traditional three-factor formula.  This bill, collectively with the other economic measures that were presented, goes right to the heart of job retention and creation of new jobs.   The bill was a recommendation of a joint study committee that met for the past year examining this issue.  Twenty-two other states, including many with which Virginia competes to the south, have already taken action to implement some form of single sales because they recognize that the key to economic development, job retention, and growth is done by encouraging companies to build infrastructure in their states not by penalizing them for bringing jobs to their state.  The formula for manufacturers will be phased-in, as an elective, between 2010 and 2014.  This bill will allow Virginia to be the recipient of business consolidation as the economy recovers.

    Other bills in the package include a proposal by Delegate Merricks, HB 2583, that which would require 10% of the state’s Local Government Investment Pool’s (LGIP) funds be kept in the Commonwealth, keeping Virginia’s funds closer to home to aid in local lending, and a bill to better position Virginia to make the infrastructure improvements necessary to attract major new employers.

    Unlike the federal government, Virginia cannot run a deficit.  As a consequence, any recovery measures we enact must be paid for in the budget.  Ours are, and they are designed to make the Commonwealth a more attractive to place to locate a business and to create jobs.

    This coming week should be a very busy one.  The majority of our bills are now coming to the House floor for consideration and debate.  I look forward to reporting back next week the results of our actions. 

    If you’ll be visiting Richmond during this year’s session, make sure to stop by our office, located in Room 811 of the General Assembly Building.  You can contact us here by sending an e-mail to DelKByron@house.virginia.gov or by sending a letter to me at PO Box 406, Richmond, VA 23218-0406.  Or, if you just want me to know your opinion on a particular issue, you can call on the toll-free Constituent Viewpoint Hotline at 1.800.889.0229.