Legislators, Chamber Share Goal of Enhancing Living, Working, in Prince William
Prince William, Virginia – The Prince William Chamber of Commerce’s recent “Legislative Wrap-up” 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 2013 Legislative Agenda. While the 2013 General Assembly had a busy legislative session, two issues were the “hot topic” at this week’s event: transportation and Medicaid expansion.
“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 Brian Gordon, Chair of the Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee. The Chamber prioritized the final passage vote of HB 2313, the transportation funding bill.
“For 20 years, we have been pushing for a major infusion of funding for transportation,” said Gordon. “We applaud our legislature for passing the funding bill.”
Matt Strader, Assistant Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth, was on hand to give a brief summary of the landmark transportation funding bill. He said that over the next five years, this package will generate approximately $3.4 billion for the Commonwealth, and an additional $1.4 billion for Northern Virginia, through the regional funding component.
The first delegation member to take the podium was Senator Toddy Puller. She said that while the bill may not have been perfect, she voted for it because it “had real funding behind it…we needed the money [for transportation].”
Puller also voted in favor of the bill that creates a pathway toward Medicaid expansion. She said the expansion will add jobs and help to get healthcare costs under control.
Senator George Barker also supported both measures. “What was phenomenal this year was the amount of leadership this year…within the assembly and the administration,” said Barker. Prince William County has the longest commute time and one of the highest uninsured rates in the Commonwealth, according to Barker.
According to Barker, the cost of treating the uninsured is passed on the businesses, in the form of higher premiums. “Without Medicaid expansion, we put [area]businesses at a competitive disadvantage,” said Barker.
Delegate Mark Dudenhefer said he looked forward to being able to “shift focus from how we will get the money [for transportation]to how we will spend it and how we will account for it.” He went on to outline his recommendations to develop a Transportation Accountability Report.
While Delegate Jackson Miller co-patroned the original transportation bill, he did not vote in favor of the final version, citing concern over the Northern Virginia component. He noted that creating a welcoming business environment is his niche. “[I supported] half a dozen bills that…made businesses more efficient,” said Miller, who added that he will continue to fight for his constituents in Prince William.
Delegates Rich Anderson and Tim Hugo said that while there may not always be agreement on specific issues, the Chamber and delegation share a common goal. “We will continue our collective efforts to make Prince William the best place in Virginia to do business,” said Anderson.
Delegate Luke Torian said he hopes to continue to work with his fellow legislators and Chamber members in creating a prosperous climate in Prince William.
“Though our delegation was divided on a few key policy issues this session, we enjoy a strong working relationship with all of our representatives,” said Gordon. “We look forward to continuing to work hand in hand to enhance Prince William as a preferred community to live and work.”
The legislative report cards can be found at issuu.com/pwchamber. The Wrap-up Sponsors were Access Point Public Affairs, R.E. Daffan, Inc. and Virginia Business Magazine. Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian is the Leadership Series Sponsor.