January 29, 2024 Updates
To date, of the 2,598 bills and resolutions introduced, 265 have been passed in the House and 265 have been passed in the Senate. The legislature has chosen not to advance 180 bills, continued 149 bills to the 2025 session, and 2,140 are still pending action. As the session proceeds, we will continue to update our bill tracker with the most up-to-date information. Click below for the latest updates.
As the 4th week of the Virginia General Assembly session concludes, the focus continues to be primarily on moving legislation through subcommittees and full committees. In the coming 10 days, we’ll see a shift to action on the floor of the House and the Senate for the legislation that is advanced at the committee level. In addition, we expect to also see more action on legislation with a fiscal impact and budget amendments in the coming week.
The deadline for each body to complete action on the bills in the body of origin, with the exception of the Budget bill, is February 13, otherwise known as “crossover.” Following that, on Sunday, February 18, the money committees will vote on their respective budgets.
Between now and then, we expect to be in meetings that begin early in the morning and that continue well into the evenings. Updates to come as we have them. In the meantime, below is some other news from the past week.
BUSINESS READY SITES BILLS ADVANCE IN HOUSE & SENATE
HB 233 (Campbell) and Senate companion bill SB 135 (Head) seek to reduce the minimum number of contiguous acres required for a site development grant from the Virginia Business Ready Sites Program Fund from 100 acres to 50 acres.
This program is designed to promote development and characterization of sites to enhance Virginia’s infrastructure and promote its competitive business environment. these grants are available to assist with costs associated with either the initial assessment or the development required to increase a site.
HB 233 passed the House by a unanimous block vote on Tuesday and has already been referred to the Senate Committee on Local Government. Its Senate companion bill passed with a unanimous block vote as well in the Senate on Wednesday.
BILL TO INCREASE FUNDING FOR TRANSPORTATION SAFETY MEASURES PASSED SENATE
SB 282, introduced by Prince William delegation member, Sen. Danica Roem, will require that, beginning in 2025, 10% of any surplus revenues be deposited to the Virginia Highway Safety Improvement Program for the purpose of funding projects consistent with objectives of the Program.
Sen. Roem expressed during the hearing for her bill, that the goal is to make sure there are dedicated funds to make infrastructure improvements that are focused on improving public safety without raising taxes and other fees.
The Chamber testified in support of this bill, acknowledging the importance of investing in our transportation infrastructure, not just for economic opportunity and convenience, but for public safety purposes as well. SB 282 was passed by the members of the Transportation Committee and was re-referred to Finance.
HOUSE RECYCLING BILLS MEET MIXED FATES
As previously reported, the Prince William Chamber 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.
As a member of the Coalition, the Chamber supports HB 316 (Bulova) and HB 1227 (Willett).
As a refresher, HB 316 creates the Virginia Recycling Development Center to further the development of markets and processing for recycled commodities and products.
This bill 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. Last week, HB 316 advanced this week by a vote of 10-Y 0-N from the Natural Resources Subcommittee and the recommendation was made to re-refer the bill to the House Appropriations Committee.
The bill’s patron, Del. David Bulova, also introduced a budget amendment, which will provide $750,000 each year to accomplish what is described in the bill (Item 113 #5h).
Unfortunately, HB 1227, which would have established a Recycling Infrastructure Improvement Fund, failed to advance in the Commerce Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.
Further updates on the Coalition’s bills to come as the session proceeds.
DATA CENTER BILLS BEGIN TO BE CONSIDERED
As previously reported, there have been a number of bills introduced relating to data centers this session. This past week, a number of these bills were defeated.
HB 340 (Thomas) and SB 286 (Roem), provided that the construction or reconstruction of any underground electrical transmission lines along a highway right-of-way in Planning District 8’s Department of Transportation that is located within a half mile of a National Battlefield Park or within one mile of a state forest is in the public interest.
Members of the Labor and Commerce Subcommittee #3 voted to defeat the House version of the bill on Tuesday by a vote of 7-3, and the Senate version failed to report out of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on Monday by a vote of 4-Y 9-N 2-A.
HB 910 (Srinivasan) would have required each data center that is located in Virginia to make a quarterly energy source report to the Department of Energy that identifies the amount of energy the data center consumed in the previous quarter. This bill was continued to 2025 in the Rules Committee last week.
SB 192 (Subramanyam) would have required data center operators to meet certain efficient standards in order to be eligible for tax exemptions. This bill was continued to 2025 in Finance and Appropriations on Tuesday by a vote of 14-1. Its companion House bill, HB 116 (Sullivan) has not yet been heard in the Finance Committee.
And finally, SB 288 (Roem) sought to require that any local government land use application required for data center siting shall be approved only in accordance with certain notice and noise abatement requirements. The Senator amended the bill to remove the noise abatement portions of the bill, leaving the language regarding public notice requirements. Even with this change, there were still significant concerns by industry, which the Chamber shared, about the extremely detailed and prescriptive nature of the requirements proposed. This bill failed to advance with a vote of 7-8.
Looking at the week ahead, we expect the remaining data centers to be considered in their respective committees. All remaining data center bills are being carried by members of the Prince William delegation. These include:
• HB 337 (Thomas) is related to the siting of data centers and their impacts on resources and historically significant sites.
• HB 338 (Thomas) seeks to require a locality to perform a site assessment to examine the effect of the data center on water usage and carbon emissions before approving the site.
• HB 1010 (Lovejoy), which is related to the siting of data centers near parks, schools, and residential areas.
Highlights from the week are listed below.
GOVERNOR GLENN YOUNGKIN ANNOUNCES RELEASE OF VIRGINIA PERMIT TRANSPARENCY WEBSITE
(January 31, 2024) Governor Glenn Youngkin announced the release of the Virginia Permit Transparency (VPT) website to bring increased transparency and efficiency to the Commonwealth’s permitting processes.
“Our administration is committed to increasing transparency in the permitting process. The Virginia Permit Transparency website allows Virginia to continue to lead the country by bringing greater visibility to the regulatory and permitting processes,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “Virginia is demonstrating how a transparent permitting process can continue to attract top-quality business and job opportunities.”
VPT provides the public a centralized platform to track the daily status and timeline of critical steps for Commonwealth of Virginia’s permits. Users can search permit applications or filter results by fields such as agency, application number, locality, and more. VPT can be accessed at Permits.Virginia.Gov.
Today, the permits of three agencies are available on the website: Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Virginia Energy (ENERGY), and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC). Additional agencies will be added in the coming months. The program was first launched as a pilot program last year at DEQ and has won several awards including the “2023 State Program Innovation Award” from the Environmental Council of the States.
“The Commonwealth of Virginia continues to drive innovation in transparency and accountability for government. VPT is another example of Virginia setting the standard for the rest of the country,” said Director of the Office of Regulatory Management Andrew Wheeler, whose office is leading the VPT development and expansion.
ATTORNEY GENERAL MIYARES ANNOUNCES $350M SETTLEMENT WITH PUBLICIS FOR OPIOID MARKETING
(February 1, 2024) Attorney General Jason Miyares announced a $350 million national settlement with Publicis Health to resolve investigations into the global marketing and communications firm’s role in the prescription opioid crisis.
In agreeing to the terms of the settlement, Publicis recognized the harm its conduct caused, and that the agreement will provide communities hit the hardest by the opioid epidemic more financial support for treatment and recovery, establishing lasting infrastructure, and, ultimately, saving lives. The company will also disclose on a public website thousands of internal documents detailing its work for opioid companies, like Purdue Pharma, and will stop accepting client work related to opioid-based Schedule II or Schedule III controlled substances.
“The opioid epidemic has impacted every community in Virginia, destroying relationships and tearing apart families. Although it is impossible to quantify the value of the lives lost, I’m glad that my office has secured $7.82 million to go towards education, prevention, and recovery efforts,” said Attorney General Miyares.
Today’s filings illustrate how Publicis’ work contributed to the crisis by helping Purdue Pharma and other opioid manufacturers market and sell opioids. Court documents detail how Publicis acted as Purdue’s agency of record for all its branded opioid drugs, including OxyContin, and even developed sales tactics relying on farming data from private recordings of personal health-related in-office conversations between patients and providers. The company was also instrumental in Purdue’s decision to market OxyContin to providers on patient’s electronic health records.
To date, Virginia has secured over $1 billion in legal settlements with drug manufacturers and others for their roles in the crisis.
Colorado led the multistate group during this investigation and was joined on an executive committee by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Idaho, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont. They are joined by the attorneys general from all states, territories, and the District of Columbia.
VIRGINIA’S FIRST LADY AND ATTORNEY GENERAL JOIN STATE AND LOCAL LEADERS TO LAUNCH FENTANYL AWARENESS PILOT PROGRAM IN ROANOKE
(January 30, 2024) First Lady Suzanne S. Youngkin and Attorney General Jason Miyares announced the launch of their Fentanyl Awareness Pilot Program at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute in Roanoke, VA.
The first-of-its-kind, Virginia Department of Health awareness initiative is being implemented with support from the First Lady of Virginia and the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth (VFHY) in partnership with Attorney General Miyares’ ‘One Pill Can Kill’ campaign.
The campaign strives to warn parents and caregivers that “It only takes one.” One bad decision, one counterfeit pill can cost a life. An average of five Virginians die from fentanyl poisoning every day, becoming the leading cause of unnatural death in the Commonwealth. Since 2019, deaths have more than doubled in the Roanoke region.
“Fentanyl is killing our young people and hurting families across the Commonwealth,” said First Lady Suzanne S. Youngkin. “By bringing attention to the dangers of this illicit drug, while giving a voice to victims, we aspire to save lives. Ultimately, caring for one another is our higher calling.”
First Lady Suzanne S. Youngkin, Attorney General Miyares and Roanoke City Mayor Sherman Lea spoke to the importance of increased education on the dangers of fentanyl at the press conference, along with others who have been personally impacted by the crisis.
“As our family approaches the one-year mark from when we lost our only child, Cayden Foster, we wholeheartedly support this initiative. Addressing this issue requires a comprehensive approach that includes removing dealers from our neighborhoods and schools, spreading awareness, treating addiction and more,” said Afrodita and Sean Foster. “This initiative will help greatly with that effort, and we look forward to continued partnership with the First Lady and Attorney General to push back and eliminate the flood of this deadly poison into our communities.”
Fentanyl can be mixed with marijuana or made to look like prescription pills such as Xanax, Adderall or Percocet. Unsuspecting young adults often turn to these pills to help themselves cope with stressor pain, unaware that they are not legitimate pharmaceuticals. To combat this, the multi-media campaign will distribute targeted messaging in the Roanoke area to spread awareness of the drug and provide a web-based resource platform for Virginians to access information on where to get help.
“Our teens and college-aged kids often don’t realize that one pill can kill unless a friend or loved one is impacted by fentanyl,” said Attorney General Jason Miyares. “Educating parents, teachers and friends about the threat is a simple but powerful way to fight fentanyl before it ever has a chance to harm our loved ones.”
For more information and additional resources, visit ItOnlyTakesOneVA.com.
IMPORTANT DATES AND MILESTONES
Upcoming dates and deadlines are listed below.
•February 13th – Crossover (otherwise known as the half-way point of the session when all bills must be acted on in their body of origin).
•February 18th – “Budget Sunday,” when the House and Senate money committees will recommend their proposed budgets.
•March 9th – Final day of session, otherwise known as Sine Die.
•April 17th – Reconvened/Veto session, where legislature returns to act on Governor’s amendments and vetoes.
•July 1st – Effective date for legislation and budget unless otherwise specified.