Legislative “Report Cards” Unveiled During Event
Prince William, Virginia – The Prince William Chamber of Commerce’s recent Legislative Wrap Up Breakfast, held at Old Hickory Golf Club, gave business leaders an inside look into the decision making process of the members of the Prince William delegation to the General Assembly. The Chamber also unveiled “report cards” which reflect how the legislators’ votes aligned with priorities from the organization’s 2014 Legislative Agenda. The cards reflect a score for each member of Prince William delegation to the General Assembly based on their support of initiatives that the Chamber had identified as critical to economic opportunity and a high quality of life in the region. Senator George Barker and Delegate Jackson Miller each received scores over 100%.
“The policies set in Richmond have a direct effect on how business is done, and how we live, in Prince William. It is important that the Chamber encourage an open dialogue about policies that can support the success of our region,” said Chamber Vice President of Government Relations, Nancy Hiteshue.
“The Chamber’s legislative report card represents an extremely helpful snapshot for Chamber members, as it depicts a transparent and objective comparison of our delegation’s voting records as compared to those issues that are of greatest importance to local businesses,” said Mike Carlin, Chair of the Chamber’s Policy Committee.
“Through programs such as the “Wrap Up,” the Chamber continues to provide its members with unmatched access to our area’s leaders and policy drivers. Additionally, the report card serves a vital service in educating the business community about actions in Richmond which affect all of our businesses and as a baseline for evaluating progress,” said Carlin, who is also a Partner with Access Point Public Affairs. Carlin went on to explain that “each legislator received a letter grade of “I” for incomplete, because the work of the legislature is not done until a budget is passed.”
Senators Charles Colgan, Toddy Puller, George Barker, and Richard Black and Delegates Bob Marshall, Jackson Miller, Richard Anderson, and Michael Futrell each addressed the attendees, providing highlights from the legislative session.
A common theme was the delay in agreement on a state budget due to the debate over Medicaid expansion.
“We haven’t done our job [by not passing a budget],” said Del. Miller. Public trust for the General Assembly is at an all time low with the two legislative chambers in Washington, DC style gridlock over whether the state should include expansion of Medicaid in its budget.
The failure of the General Assembly to pass a budget by June 30th risks government shutdown and the loss of the state’s coveted Triple A bond rating, something that helps make Virginia one of the best states in which to do business.
“We [need to] to deal with the state budget and then [we came come back] in a special session [to debate] Medicaid expansion,” said Senator Colgan on the subject of the budget standoff. The Senator went on to say, “there are a lot of really good things in budget…a lot of good things for Prince William…but only if we pass a budget.” These “good things” include funding for complete restoration of the Lake Jackson Dam, funds for the renovation of buildings on the Woodbridge and Manassas campuses of Northern Virginia Community College, and assistance to local programs like Northern Virginia Family Services. The last time there was a standoff over the state budget, in 2012, Senator Colgan broke the gridlock with the tie-breaking vote in the Senate.
“While their work is not done, for the most part, members of our legislative delegation were very supportive of the Chamber’s positions on legislation this session,” said Carlin. “We look forward to working in partnership to enhance Prince William as a preferred community to live and work.”
The legislative report card can be found on the homepage of pwchamberadvocate.org. The Presenting Sponsor for the Wrap Up was Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian. Branch Daffan was the Associate Sponsor.