January 21, 2024 Updates
2024 General Assembly Concludes Week 2
Over the past two weeks, Access Point Public Affairs has been busy reviewing legislation as bills have been introduced. As of today, there have been 2,464 bills and resolutions introduced. Of these, 27 have been passed in the House and 48 have been passed in the Senate. The deadline to submit all legislation was Friday, January 19th, at 3:00 p.m. As we continue our review of legislation of potential interest and impact, we will be updating our bill tracker. Click below for the latest updates.
The tracker is listed in order of the Prince William Chamber’s current priorities as follows:
• ECONOMIC GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
• DATA CENTERS
• LAND USE
• FISCAL STABILITY/TAXES/REGULATIONS
• EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
• OTHER BUSINESS-RELATED ISSUES
Push To Increase Minimum Wage Advances
Policymakers have proposed a number of bills this session to increase the minimum wage.
HB 1 (Ward) and SB 14 (Lucas) seek to increase the minimum wage from $12/hour to $13.50/hour, with
an effective date of January 1, 2025. This bill also will increase the minimum wage from $13.50 to
$15/hour with an effective date of January 1, 2026.
Last week, HB 1 was passed unanimously by the House Labor and Commerce Committee and referred to
the House Appropriations Committee. The Senate version of the bill, SB 1, also advanced with a Senate
Commerce and Labor vote of 9 to 6. This bill was also referred to Finance and Appropriations.
Range of Anti-Data Center Bills Introduced
As discussed on our recent Friday call, the General Assembly will consider a number of anti-data center bills. The Chamber is on the record recognizing the tremendous positive impact data center development has brought to the greater Prince William community. The establishment and growth of data centers have not only bolstered the County’s economic landscape but have also significantly contributed to the area’s social fabric.
The presence of data centers has sparked an upsurge in job creation, providing employment opportunities across a spectrum of skills and expertise. From construction and maintenance to highly specialized technical roles, the data center industry has become a vital source of employment for Prince William County residents. Additionally, data centers attract ancillary businesses and services, creating a multiplier effect that ripples through various sectors, benefiting local restaurants, hospitality, and retail establishments.
The infusion of data centers has also elevated the County’s technological infrastructure, enhancing its connectivity and attracting other tech-related enterprises. This progress has positioned the region as an innovation hub, drawing attention and investment from both domestic and international businesses seeking a robust digital infrastructure.
Beyond the economic advantages, the Chamber has been outspoken on how data center development has also contributed to the community’s social fabric. Companies investing in data centers often engage in corporate social responsibility initiatives, supporting local educational programs, environmental conservation efforts, and community development projects. These partnerships foster a sense of shared responsibility and solidarity, fortifying the bond between businesses and residents.
The Chamber’s strong voice in support of data centers will be critical in defeating the barrage of anti-data center legislation as it is considered at the state level. Below is a list of the legislation introduced to date:
• HB 116 (Sullivan)/SB 192 (Subramanyam) seek to require data center operators to meet certain energy efficient standards in order to be eligible for the sales and use tax exemption for data center purchases.
• HB 337 (Thomas)/SB 284 (Roem) seek to limit areas on where data centers are allowed and state that any local government land use application required for the siting of a data center shall only be approved in areas where the data center will have a minimal impact on historic, agricultural, and cultural resources and not be within one-half mile of a national park, state park, or other historically significant site.
• HB 388 (Thomas)/SB 285 (Roem) seek to require a site assessment to examine the effect of the data center on water usage and carbon emissions as well as any impacts on agricultural resources within the locality before approving the siting of a data center.
• HB 340 (Thomas)/SB 286 (Roem) seek to require construction or reconstruction of any underground electrical transmission lines along a highway right-of-way where a data center proposal is under construction is in the public interest. (Note: This legislation was introduced and defeated last session.)
• HB 910 (Srinivasan) seeks to require each data center located in the Commonwealth to make a quarterly energy source report to the Department of Energy that identifies the amount of energy, disaggregated by the source of energy, consumed by the data center in the previous quarter. The bill also directs the Secretary of Commerce and Trade to convene a work group to estimate the future energy demands of the data center industry in the Commonwealth. The Secretary is required to report the findings of the work group to the General Assembly by November 30, 2024.
• HB 1010 (Lovejoy) requires that any local government land use application required for the siting of a data center be approved only for areas that are one-quarter mile or more from federal, state, or local parks, schools, and property zoned or used for residential use.
• SB 288 (Roem) seeks to provide that any local government land use application required for the siting of a data center shall be approved only in accordance with certain notice and noise abatement requirements.
Chamber Supports Making Cocktails To-Go Permanent
The Prince William Chamber has partnered with the Distilled Spirits Council; the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association; Virginia Spirits Organization; and the R Street Institute in supporting legislation that will make cocktails to-go permanent for ABC-licensed restaurants in Virginia.
HB 688 (Leftwich) and SB 635 (Rouse) seeks to:
•Expand permanence for restaurants from sunset extension for third-party delivery services.
•Establish permanence of cocktails-to-go for restaurants as of July 1, 2024.
•Extend the sunset for third-party delivery service until July 1, 2026.
As this legislation moves through the process, further updates will be provided.
Recycling Legislation Supported By The Chamber
The Prince William Chamber has joined the Coalition for Consumer Choices, a coalition that focuses on successful recycling of plastics and opposes the banning of necessary or convenient consumer products needed for our strong economy. The Coalition for Consumer Choices is supporting HB 316 (Bulova) and HB 1227 (Willett).
HB 316 seeks to establish the Virginia Recycling Development Center for the purposes of furthering the
development of markets and processing for recycled commodities and products. This piece of legislation
also creates the Virginia Recycling Development Center Advisory Committee, establishes reporting requirements, and creates the Recycling Market Development Fund to be used to fund the Center. The bill would require the Advisory Committee to make recommendations on the sources of potential funding for and detailed qualifying uses of the Fund and report its recommendations to the Secretary no later than
October 1, 2024.
HB 1227 seeks to establish the Virginia Recycling Infrastructure Improvement Fund for the purpose of
supporting local government recycling programs. The bill will require the Department of Environmental Quality to administer the Fund as a grant program to encourage the establishment of physical infrastructure and equipment necessary to start or improve local government recycling operations.
Updates to come as they are available.
Virginia Legislative Black Caucus Publishes Legislative Agenda
Over the past few years, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC) has advocated for and enacted significant policy reforms focusing on justice, access, civil rights, and equity. As the 2024 session convened, the VLBC released its plans to safeguard and promote legislation in the following policy areas:
Civil Rights and Democracy for All: The VLBC continues to fight for a Virginia where everyone’s rights are protected, and everyone has equal access to the ballot box. Since 2020, Virginia made unprecedented progress in voting rights, moving from the 49th to 11th state in ease of voting rankings. This is in large part due to work done by members of the VLBC.
Justice Reform: The VLBC has been at the forefront of justice reform work in the General Assembly for decades. Too many disparities still exist based on race, gender, and economic status. The VLBC continues to stand in support of comprehensive justice reform in order to deliver on the promise of “liberty and justice for all.”
Economic Opportunity and Workers: The VLBC knows that economic security is foundational to good health and wellbeing. The members of the VLBC are committed to dismantling economic systems and policies that hurt working Virginians and their ability to provide for their families.
Housing: Housing is a fundamental human right. Too many Virginians across the Commonwealth still are struggling to pay their mortgage or purchase a home, are facing eviction or experiencing homelessness, or are in need of stable, safe, and affordable housing.
Healthcare: The Commonwealth is experiencing a health and mental health crisis. The VLBC believes that we must invest in our care-giving systems. The health of every individual is critical, especially within our vulnerable populations.
Education and Supporting Virginia’s Children: The VLBC knows that education continues to be the “great equalizer” and will fight efforts to undermine our public school system. In addition, the VLBC will fight for the truth to be taught about our history. Every student deserves access to a quality education, a pathway to success, and support along their educational journey.
Environment and Climate Action: The effects of global climate change and environmental degradation are already being felt across our Commonwealth and disparately impacting Black Virginians and Virginians of Color. The VLBC is committed to fighting global climate change, protecting the environment, and addressing inequities in environmental policy.
Public Safety: The VLBC will continue to work to ensure a safe and secure Virginia for all of its residents, and will continue to work to address preventable harm, violence, and death.
Legacy Reforms: The VLBC is dedicated to preserving African American cemeteries, celebrating our community’s history and achievements in Virginia, and ensuring accurate historical education.
To read the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus’s full 2024 Legislative Agenda, click here.