Contributed by Prince William Chamber of Commerce
Prince William, VA – Business leaders had the opportunity to gain insight on key issues for the 2014 General Assembly session during the Prince William Chamber of Commerce’s Annual “Legislative Kick-off.” The event, which was held at Old Hickory Golf Club on December 13, featured members of the Prince William delegation to the Virginia General Assembly. Senators Colgan, Puller, Barker, Black and Delegates Marshall, Lingamfelter, Hugo, Miller and Futrell each had an opportunity to talk about where their efforts will be focused in the coming session, which begins January 8, 2014. The delegation also received copies of the Chamber’s 2014 Public Policy Agenda.
“As a key partner in helping to create economic opportunity and prosperity, it is no surprise that the chamber’s priorities are largely around keeping our economy strong and competitive, continuing to improve our transportation network, investing in and requiring accountability from our schools and workforce training programs, and maintaining a healthy workforce, which is essential to productivity and maintaining better management of the availability and costs of healthcare,” said Mike Carlin, chair of the Chamber’s Policy Committee and Partner at Access Point Public Affairs. He also expressed the need for strong partnerships between the business community and our elected officials, stressing that “If we are going to be successful, the people who help create economic prosperity and opportunity and the people who help set public policy must be committed to open communication and a strong partnership. We want to continue to build on the relationships we have now.”
In summarizing the Chamber’s 2014 Public Policy Agenda Carlin noted that the Chamber urges government policies that help grow the economy and “make it easier for job creators to create and sustain jobs,” such as making reforms to the Commonwealth’s tax code and better aligning workforce training programs with current and future workforce needs. The Chamber also supports education reforms that provide our schools with the needed resources while incentivising greater efficiency and focusing resources in the classroom, and examining the work of the Virginia Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission to support concurrent reform and expansion of Medicaid as appropriate.
In addressing the Chamber’s position on transportation issues, Carlin noted that “We need a transportation infrastructure that will make highly successful companies want to come to Prince William and stay here.” The Chamber urges transportation funding to be prioritized on projects that relieve congestion and support economic development. The Chamber also reiterated its support of the Bi-County Parkway along with its desire to find common ground on this project, noting that providing better connection to the Dulles Corridor, the fastest growing employment corridor in the region, is critical to growing the economy and successfully recruiting the kinds of jobs we want in Prince William. The full 2014 policy agenda can be found at pwchamberadvocate.org, where site visitors can also view legislation tracked by the Chamber, provide input on issues and contact their representatives.
In their comments, the members of General Assembly delegation all stressed the importance of continuing to focus efforts on keeping Virginia the best state in which to business. Education reform, potential reform of Virginia’s campaign ethics laws, and reform and possible expansion of Medicaid in Virginia were all topics each of the delegates and senators expected to discuss during the upcoming 60-day legislative session.
Both Senator Colgan and Delegate Lingamfelter noted that the legislature will also be grappling with a new biennial budget for the Commonwealth and that a number of structural issues in the state budget, such as its commitments to the Virginia Retirement System, must be addressed in order to maintain the state’s economic competitiveness. Governor McDonnell will release his proposed two year budget on December 16. Governor-elect McAuliffe will then propose his amendments to the budget after his January inauguration.
Transportation was also a hot topic of the day. Following the successful passage last year of a new transportation funding mechanism, focus now shifts to funding transportation projects to provide congestion relief and help improve the economy.
Senator Colgan noted that while he has concerns over the possible closing of Rt 234 business, that it is “important to build the road [Bi-County Parkway]…for the future of Prince William.” Delegate Hugo and Senator Black both noted unease with the proposed parkway, stressing the need to work together to address all concerns.
Senator Puller focused on the importance of continued improvement and widening of Route 1 through Prince William and exploring transit alternatives through the corridor.
“This event is an opportunity to see how the priorities of the business community and those of the Prince William delegation align,” said Nancy Hiteshue, Chamber Vice President of Government Relations, “While we might not always agree, through open communication and building mutual respect and trust, we can work together to get things done together that are important to the success of our community. We look forward to working together with our legislators to achieve that goal.” The Chamber will host its annual “Prince William Chamber Trip to Richmond” on January 28, taking business leaders to the state capital to meet with policymakers.
To learn more about the trip, visit the “Events” tab on pwchamber.org or call 703.368.6600. Kick-off sponsors include Lockheed Martin, Micron Technology and Access Point Public Affairs. Transurban is the Chamber’s Advocacy Vision Partner.
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