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Press Release: 2010 Bipartisan Budget and Legislative Agenda Gains Broad Support
Tuesday, March 16, 2010

For Immediate Release:
March 16, 2009
Phil Tran
(703) 209-3787
[email protected]

2010 Bipartisan Budget and Legislative Agenda Gains Broad Support

Extensive Package of Bills Focused on Job Creation, Education Reform, Energy Independence, Economic Development, and Public Safety

RICHMOND- On Sunday, Delegate Comstock joined a bipartisan majority (73-23) of her colleagues in the House of Delegates and a strong majority in the Senate (34-6) in passing the final budget bill. She released the following statement:

“I am pleased with the strong bipartisan support for this budget. Not only did about half of the Democrats in the House join most Republicans in providing a strong bipartisan majority for this budget, but a majority of the Northern Virginia delegation, including a majority of Democrats, as well as all Republicans, supported this budget. The Senate also overwhelmingly voted for this budget.

“The successes we achieved in the General Assembly this year included: A balanced budget passed without tax increases; job creation investments; and restoration of education money to Fairfax County schools.

“We also passed a strong 2010 jobs-centered legislative agenda which enjoyed strong bipartisan support. I was pleased to join the Governor in promoting his successful initiatives to help position Virginia to become the “Energy Capital of the East Coast” by passing an offshore drilling bill that dedicated future revenues to our transportation needs. I was also pleased that the General Assembly approved virtually all of the Governor’s $50 million job creation and economic development investment package that I supported including such measures as the tax exemption of capital gains for science and bio-tech start-ups and establishing a biotech research performance grant program.

“This year, clearly, was one of the most challenging legislative sessions that anyone had seen in decades in Richmond. We had an unprecedented budget shortfall in the middle of the most severe recession in generations. The General Assembly faced the largest budget deficit in history.

“We had an extraordinary level of bipartisan cooperation that was focused on jobs and getting results in improving our economy. With the passage of the budget on Sunday, Republicans and Democrats have come together to make the very difficult decisions the voters sent us to Richmond to make, and to balance the budget through responsible reductions in spending, not tax increases.

“The ‘Jobs and Opportunity’ Agenda we passed also will provide the state, localities, entrepreneurs, and business owners with the resources and policies they need to make Virginia a job-creation leader as the nation emerges from this historic economic downturn.

"Below is a breakdown of some of the key bills we passed as part of the 2010 legislative agenda."

2010 Legislative Agenda

Job Creation/Economic Development

SB475 (Watkins)/ HB380 (Edmunds) – Strengthens the criteria for Governor’s Opportunity Fund

• Provides that criteria to be used in awarding grants and loans from the Governor's Development Opportunity Fund shall include (i) job creation, (ii) private capital investment, and (iii) anticipated additional state tax revenue expected to accrue to the state and affected localities as a result of the capital investment and jobs created.
SB554 (Puckett)/ HB1244 (D. Marshall) – Allows the Governor discretion regarding the local match for the Governor’s Opportunity Fund
• Provides that the guidelines for the Governor's Development Opportunity Fund may require an affected locality or localities to provide matching funds, which may be cash or in-kind, at the discretion of the Governor. In addition, the Governor may waive the cap on the amount of money that may be provided to any individual project if the project for which the waiver is granted is of regional or statewide interest.
• Incorporates HB602 (O’Bannon) and HB1371 (Lewis)
SB472 (Watkins)/ HB624 (Kilgore) – Expands the Major Jobs Facilities tax credit
• Amends the Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit, lowering the threshold to 50 full-time jobs (Current law provides a $1,000 tax credit for major business facilities that create at least 100 qualified full-time jobs).
• In enterprise zones or economically distressed areas, the base or threshold is lowered from 50 newly created jobs to 25.
• Incorporates SB481 (Hurt) and HB853 (Morefield)
SB739 (Stosch/Whipple)/ HB1396 (Putney) – Expands economic development incentive programs to attract major businesses to locate in Virginia
• Allows the use of funds from the Governor’s Development Opportunity Fund for construction or build-out of privately owned buildings
• Changes the caps for eligible projects awarded a Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant (VEDIG) as follows: for eligible projects awarded grants prior to July 1, 2010, the aggregate amount of economic development incentive grants payable under this section in any fiscal year shall not exceed $6 million, and the aggregate amount of such grants outstanding at any time shall not exceed $30 million; and for eligible projects awarded grants on or after July 1, 2010, the aggregate amount of economic development incentive grants payable under this section in any fiscal year shall not exceed $6 million and the aggregate amount of such grants outstanding at any time shall not exceed $30 million.
SB 730 (Reynolds)/ HB1381 (Armstrong) – Establishes a major employment/investment project site planning grant fund
• Establishes the Major Employment and Investment Project Site Planning Grant Fund to award grants to political subdivisions to assist in site development work for certain prospective projects.
• This fund will support efforts to improve site location development to encourage large businesses to locate to the Commonwealth and create new jobs.
HB555 (D. Marshall) – Expands Enterprise Zones and reinvests surplus into real property grants

• Changes the eligibility for enterprise zone job grants in areas with an unemployment rate that is one and one-half times or more than the state average to positions paying at least 150 percent of the federal minimum wage including health benefits.
• Currently positions paying less than 175 percent of the federal minimum wage are not eligible for the job grants.
• Also provides that when the sum of grants for job creation and real property investment exceeds the total annual appropriation for payments, allocations shall be prioritized to fully fund the grants for job creation with any remaining funds to be allocated to the real property investment grants.
• Incorporates HB660 (Armstrong) and HB1299 (Crockett-Stark)
SB623 (Hanger)/ HB803 (Poindexter) – Creates a Green Jobs tax credit (Comstock Co-Patron)

• Allows a $500 tax credit for the creation of "green" jobs for taxable years beginning on and after January 1, 2010.
• Each taxpayer is allowed a credit for up to 350 new green jobs and may qualify for the Enterprise Zone Grant program if the job is located in an enterprise zone.
• Incorporates HB268 (Englin) and HB1132 (Keam)
SB257 (Lucas)/ HB861 (Cline) – Creates a motion picture film production tax credit
• Provides a refundable credit for any motion picture production company with qualifying expenses of at least $250,000, in an amount equal to 15 percent of the production company's qualifying expenses or 20 percent of such expenses if the production is filmed in an economically distressed area of the Commonwealth.
SB474 (Watkins)/ HB792 (LeMunyon) – Provides for temporary business licenses
• Authorizes the regulatory boards within the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation to issue a temporary license or certification to an applicant who holds a comparable license or certification issued by another state. A temporary license or certification shall be valid for not more than 45 days.
SB237 (Watkins)/ HB588 (Landes) – Dedicates a portion of the wine liter tax to wine promotion (Comstock Co-Patron)
• Requires the portion of the wine liter tax collected from the sale of wine produced by farm wineries to be deposited in the Virginia Wine Promotion Fund for use by the Wine Board.
SB428 (Herring)/ HB523 (Nixon)– Grants income tax exemption on capital gains related to investments in science based or bio-tech start-ups (Comstock Co-Patron)
• Grants an income tax deduction for any income taxed as a long-term capital gain for federal income tax purposes or any income taxed as investment services partnership interest income that is related to a qualified investment in a technology and science start-up business having a principal office or facility in the Commonwealth and less than $3 million in annual revenues in the fiscal year prior to the investment. The deduction would relate to investments made between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2013.
SB644 (Howell)/ HB677 (May) – Establishes a biotech research performance grant program (Comstock Co-Patron)
• Establishes the Specialized Biotechnology Research Performance Grant Program for nonprofit entities engaged in research, development, and production related to molecular diagnostics and drug development that enter into a performance-based memorandum of understanding with the Commonwealth prior to June 30, 2010.
• Grants will be paid to an eligible entity based in Fairfax County that commits in the memorandum of understanding and fulfills its obligation to (i) make a new capital investment of at least $200 million, (ii) create at least 415 new full-time jobs, and (iii) meet any other criteria set forth in the memorandum of understanding.
• Grants from the program to a qualified entity shall not exceed $22 million in the aggregate.
HB928 (Bell) – Creates the Universities Clean Energy Development and Economic Stimulus Foundation
• Creates the Virginia Universities Clean Energy Development and Economic Stimulus Foundation as a body corporate and a political subdivision of the Commonwealth.
• The Foundation shall identify, obtain, disburse, and administer funding for (i) research and development of alternative fuels, clean energy production, and related technologies; (ii) support of economic development projects in disadvantaged rural areas; and (iii) the provision of assistance in the commercialization of alternative fuels and clean energy technologies.
• Funding shall be awarded only to those proposed projects that best meet the established criteria and purposes of this act.
SB473 (Watkins)/ HB604 (Merricks) – Adds the Lieutenant Governor and Commerce and Trade Secretary to Center for Rural Virginia Board of Trustees
• Would add the Lt. Governor (or designee) and Secretary Of Commerce & Trade (or designee) as ex-officio members to the Board of Trustees of the Center for Rural Virginia.
• Lt. Governor and Secretary of Commerce & Trade would have voting privileges.
• Increases total membership from 18 members to 20 members.
• With the Lt. Governor taking an increased role in job creation and economic development, particularly in Southside and Southwest Virginia, it’s important for him to be as engaged as possible in boards and commissions that deal with economic development. Adding the Secretary of Commerce & Trade who has a vested interest, and actual experience in job growth and creation is an asset this Board could fully utilize.
HB1372 (Comstock) – Changes the title of VEDP Executive Director to CEO
• Changes the title of the Executive Director of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to the Chief Executive Officer.
• This was a Governor’s bill, requested by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, to help VEDP enhance its bargaining power when engaged in negotiations for bringing jobs to the state. VEDP considered it important to be represented by someone with the same title as the person with whom he is negotiating to enhance Virginia’s ability to bring more jobs and investment to Virginia.
HB756 (Stolle) – Requires 80% of revenue and royalties from offshore oil and natural gas production to go to transportation and 20% to go to the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium (Incorporates Comstock HB 900 and Comstock Co-Patroned HB 756)
• Requires that all revenues and royalties paid to the Commonwealth as a result of offshore natural gas and oil drilling shall be distributed 70 percent to the Transportation Trust Fund, 20 percent to the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, and the remaining 10 percent to localities for improvements to infrastructure and transportation.





SB455 (Hurt/Stosch)/ HB262 (Sherwood/Greason) – Waives fees for veterans starting a small business
• Exempts veterans from paying the Department of Business Assistance's handling fee when establishing a small business through the one-stop small business permitting program.
SJ13 (Puller/Stuart)/ HJ33 (O’Bannon) – Advances a Constitutional Amendment for tax exemptions for veterans
• Grants exemption from taxation on real property that is the principal residence of a veteran (or widow or widower of a veteran) if the veteran has been determined by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or its successor agency pursuant to federal law to have a 100 percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability.
HJ137 (Cosgrove) – Designation of Honor and Remember Flag as state emblem
• Designates the Honor and Remember Flag as the Commonwealth's emblem of service and sacrifice by the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces who have given their lives in the line of duty.
HB 128 (Kirk Cox) - Special Fishing License to issue free to disabled, active duty military personnel. (Comstock Co-Patron)
• Authorizes the Department of Game and Insland Fisheries to issue free fishing licenses to disabled, active duty military personnel who are receiving inpatient or outpatient medical treatment from a veterans or military hospital in Virginia, an adjoining state, or the District of Columbia. There is no cost for the license, and it is valid for one year.



Public Safety

HB1198 (Iaquinto) – Expands list of offenses for sex offender registry and requires residency verification by State Police
• Provides that offenses for which a condition of registration is that the offense was committed against a minor, a physically helpless person or a mentally incapacitated person, the court shall determine by agreement of the parties or by a preponderance of the evidence, whether the victim of the offense was a minor, physically helpless or mentally incapacitated
• Also provides that the residency of those offenders under the supervision of the Department of Corrections or Community Supervision pursuant to § 37.2-919 shall be verified by the State Police
• The Department shall give notice to a sex offender committed to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, prior to his release, of his requirement to register with the State Police as a sex offender; and that the Department shall give notice to the State Police immediately if such an offender escapes from custody. The bill also
• If a sex offender escapes from a jail, the jailer shall notify the State Police immediately of an escape.
SB467 (Howell)/ HB931 (Bell) – Conforms Virginia’s protective orders with those of neighboring states
• Requires the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court, on an annual basis, to consult with the appropriate judicial authorities of adjacent states concerning the forms used in the issuance of protective orders. The Executive Secretary shall coordinate the contents of such protective order forms with other states in order to facilitate the enforcement of foreign protective orders in the Commonwealth and the enforcement of Virginia protective orders in other states.
SB468 (Howell)/ HB930 (Bell) – Extension of protective orders when a domestic violence victim is still under threat (Comstock Co-Patron)
• Allows a petitioner who has obtained a protective order in cases of family abuse or stalking to obtain an extension of such order for a period of two years.
• There is no limit on the number of extensions that may be requested.
SB486 (Hurt)/ HB1121 (Gilbert) – Strengthens the sharing of juvenile criminal information related to gang activity
• Places an affirmative duty on the Department of Juvenile Justice to provide information to law-enforcement that may aid in initiating or furthering an investigation of a criminal street gang.
• The bill also requires, rather than allows, the Department or locally operated court services unit to release to law enforcement information on a juvenile's criminal street gang involvement and the criminal street gang-related activity of others
• Incorporates HB254 (Miller) and HB255 (Miller)
HB682 (J. Miller) – Creates Gang Free Zones (Comstock Co-Patron)
• Expands current "gang-free school zones" to the broader "gang-free zones" and includes any publicly owned or operated community center or recreational center.
SB520 (Norment)/ HB934 (Bell) – Expands death penalty to include murder of auxiliary police office
• Adds auxiliary police officers and auxiliary deputy sheriffs to the capital murder statute so that the death penalty can be imposed for their murder.



Ethics/Good Government

HB485 (Lingamfelter) – Authorizes a financial audit of several large state agencies
• Directs the Governor to initiate on July 1, 2010, an operational and programmatic performance review of (i) the agencies under the Secretary of Health and Human Resources and the Secretary of Public Safety, (ii) the Department of Education, including primary and secondary education funded by the Commonwealth, and (iii) any other department, agency, or program of the Commonwealth in the executive branch of state government that the Governor deems necessary to effect savings in expenditures, a reduction in duplication of effort, and programmatic efficiencies in the operation of state government.
• The review shall be concluded by December 1, 2011 and conducted by a private management consulting firm.
SB506 (Smith) – Bans political contributions to Governor during large procurements
• Provides that neither the Governor, his political action committee, nor any pertinent Secretaries shall knowingly solicit or accept a contribution, gift, or other item with a value greater than $50 from any bidder, offeror, or private entity who has submitted a bid or proposal pursuant to the Virginia Public Procurement Act, the Public-Private Transportation Act, or the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act during the bidding period. Furthermore, no bidder, offeror, or private entity who has submitted a bid or proposal under such acts shall offer or promise to make such a gift to the Governor, his political action committee, or any of his pertinent Secretaries. The restrictions only apply if the stated or expected value of the contract is $5 million or more and do not apply to contracts awarded as the result of competitive sealed bidding.




SB201(Blevins) / HB42 (Oder) – Authorizes a performance audit of VDOT
• Requires JLARC to administer a performance audit of the Commonwealth's transportation programs.
• The audit will be paid for by savings realized from the audit.
HB 214 – Extends use of HOV Lanes for clean special fuel vehicles
• Extends until July 1, 2011, the sunset on use of HOV lanes by clean special fuel vehicles, regardless of the number of occupants.


SB737 (Newman)/ HB1390 (Lingamfelter/Dance) – Improves the quality of charter school applications (Comstock Co-Patron)
• Requires the public charter school applicant to submit its proposed charter application to the Board of Education for review, comment, and a determination as to whether the application meets approval criteria developed by the Board, prior to submission to the local school board.
• Provides a public charter school applicant with an opportunity to petition the local school board for reconsideration after seeking technical assistance from the Department of Education and receiving public comment.
SB738 (Newman)/ HB1388 (Richard P. Bell) – Develops criteria for Virtual School programs
• Requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop, and the Board of Education to approve, criteria for approving and monitoring multi-division providers of online courses and virtual school programs.
• Also allows local school boards to enter into contracts with approved private or nonprofit organizations to provide such courses and programs.
SB736 (Newman)/ HB1389 (Peace/McClellan) – Establishes College Partnership Laboratory Schools
• Allows for the establishment of college partnership laboratory schools by any public institution of higher education that operates an approved teacher education program. Such schools shall be public schools established by a contract between the governing board of the school and the Board of Education. Teachers working in such schools shall be employees of the institution of higher education and shall either be licensed by the Board or eligible for such license.


Paid for by Friends of Barbara Comstock.