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For Immediate Release: March 10, 2014

Unemployment Insurance Bills

Two bills regarding unemployment insurance have passed the General Assembly. First, SB 110 (also known as the "work share" bill),  would create a voluntary program that gives businesses the option to reduce workers' hours by as much as 60 percent rather than lay them off during economic downturns.  The program benefits employers by allowing them to retain skilled workers when business is slow. Workers keep their jobs and benefits and collect a prorated share of the unemployment benefits they would have received if they had been laid off.  Work share programs are already an option for businesses in 26 other states.
 
The second, SB 18 (the "trailing military spouses" bill), will provide unemployment benefits to Virginians forced to leave their jobs because their spouses were reassigned by the military. SB 18 will help make Virginia a more military-friendly state. It was supported by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Patent Trolling

The General Assembly supported two bills on patent trolling, HB 375 and SB 150. These bills establish criteria for determining that a patent infringement claim is being made in bad faith, a practice that costs the United States' economy as much as $29 billion per year, according to a recent study. The bills also empower the attorney general to investigate cases of patent trolling and allow the attorney general and Commonwealth's Attorneys to bring actions to recover civil penalties and to force patent trolls to change their behavior. Both bills have passed the General Assembly, and Attorney General Mark Herring has weighed in on the issue to the Federal government, sending a letter with 41 other state and territorial attorneys general to the leadership of the U.S. Senate's Commerce, Science and Transportation and Judiciary committees expressing support for patent reform legislation that will crackdown on patent trolling.

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For Immediate Release: January 27, 2014 

The Dulles Regional Chamber
is supporting the following Education Bills:

HB 175 - School boards; annual workforce summit.
Requires each local school board to annually host a workforce summit at which members of the local business community, including representatives from the local Chamber of Commerce or other similar organization, shall provide information on the workforce skills necessary to meet the workforce demands of the local business community and ways in which elementary and secondary education can better foster such skills.

HB 28 - Public institutions of higher education; admission of students domiciled in Virginia.
Provides that the board of visitors or other governing body of each public institution of higher education, except for the Virginia Military Institute, Norfolk State University, and Virginia State University, must establish rules and regulations requiring that by the start of the 2019-2020 academic year at least 75 percent of students admitted and enrolled at the institution are domiciled in Virginia.

HB 324 - Virginia Virtual School; established, report.
Establishes the Board of the Virginia Virtual School as a policy agency in the executive branch of state government for the purpose of governing the online educational programs and services offered to students enrolled in the Virginia Virtual School. The Secretary of Education is responsible for such agency. The 13-member Board is given operational control of the School and assigned powers and duties. The bill requires the School to be open to any school-age person in the Commonwealth and provide an educational program meeting the Standards of Quality for grades kindergarten through 12.

HB 747 - Tuition, in-state; student eligibility, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
In-state tuition; Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Declares a student eligible for in-state tuition if (i) he has attended a public or private high school in the Commonwealth for at least three years; (ii) he has graduated from a public or private high school in the Commonwealth or has received a General Education Development (GED) certificate in the Commonwealth; (iii) he has registered as an entering student or is enrolled in a public institution of higher education in the Commonwealth; (iv) he has provided an I-797 Approval Notice stating that he has been approved for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and (v) he has submitted evidence that he or, in the case of a dependent student, at least one parent, guardian, or person standing in loco parentis has filed, unless exempted by state law, Virginia income tax returns for at least three years prior to the date of enrollment.

HB 865 - STEAM Summer Learning Center Fund; established.Creates the STEAM Summer Learning Center Fund to award competitive grants to local school divisions in certain regions to train public high school teachers in STEAM education and project-based learning and to provide teachers with skills to conduct workshops to engage public high school students in hands-on, project-based learning in science, technology, engineering, and applied mathematics, including design-build, manufacturing, and modeling and simulation.

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WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

 As we consider how best to create a 21st century workforce, we must invest and focus on conventional four-year degree programs, as well as highly-technical, specialized workforce training across the board, but with continued emphasis in the science, technology, engineering, math and health – or STEM-H – fields. 

The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce (DRCC) also recognizes that we cannot underestimate the importance of a globally competitive K-12 education system to our workforce development. The most important investment Virginia can make is in human capital. The jobs of the future and the ability of our businesses to compete rests in having a well-trained workforce. Beyond the skills and knowledge required of workers, we must be able to recruit the best and the brightest to Virginia and to do that, we need to offer the best schools to families looking to relocate. An excellent school should be a guarantee to every child. We all agree that every child deserves the chance to be college- or career-ready at graduation. Unfortunately, not every child in the Commonwealth is provided such an opportunity. Virginia must confront the inequities in our education system and ensure that all children have a chance for success.

This includes strengthening teaching in our classrooms, holding Virginia’s teachers to the highest standards, offering them regular opportunities to sharpen their skills, and rigorously evaluating and paying our teachers appropriately. 

We also must inject greater innovation into education. DRCC supports innovation in our classrooms and school divisions to ensure that our students are prepared at graduation for college or the workforce. Greater use of technology and consideration of charter schools to allow for greater flexibility with curriculum and student population are options that should be considered and utilized more often. We have one of the weakest charter school laws in the country and no real means for holding failing schools accountable.   Innovation also occurs through the partnership of our post-secondary and secondary institutions through dual enrollment courses, which allow for college-level coursework for college credit while in high school or through the establishment of college lab schools. These are all initiatives Virginia should be supporting to enable greater innovation in the classroom. DRCC also supports SOL reform to support the goals outlined above.

It is also a critical priority to DRCC that the full cost-of-competing funding for all public school employees in northern Virginia, including support staff be restored.  The Cost of Competing Adjustment (COCA) is an additional factor used in the state K-12 funding formula, recognizing the higher salaries required in certain high cost areas of the Commonwealth to attract and retain highly qualified teachers and support staff.  Public and private employers alike recognize the need to adjust salaries in northern Virginia to attract and retain high quality employees and to offset substantially higher costs of living.  The pay scale for state employees in NOVA is 20-30% higher, while federal pay scales include a 24.22% locality pay scale adjustment for Northern Virginia. 
The business community recognizes that restoring the cost of competing adjustment is critical to maintaining the high quality of our school systems and their employees in northern Virginia.

The Dulles Regional Chamber recognizes the importance of and supports all of the colleges and universities, both public and private, which provide high quality undergraduate, graduate and professional education to Northern Virginia’s residents. DRCC supports positioning the Commonwealth’s public and private higher education institutions to play a full role in shaping job creation in a global knowledge-based economy, and calls on the Commonwealth’s elected leaders to reverse a decade of reduction in state funding for higher education that has shifted the burden of funding to students and families.  DRCC also supports broadening dual enrollment opportunities and increasing slots for northern Virginia students at Virginia’s institution of higher learning but without limiting acceptance of out-of-state students.

January 2014 - The Dulles Regional Chamber’s priorities for the 2014 General Assembly session.

 

 

Education and Workforce
RELEASE DATE: August, 2013

 

Common Core Brings Benefits to Both Education and Our Economy

America's public K-12 education system isn't making the grade. It's not adequately preparing our students to succeed in college or the modern workforce. It's not delivering the skilled workers that businesses need to drive stronger economic growth. It's not helping advance America's ability to compete and lead in the global economy. In short, it's setting our nation up to fail.

Although there are exceptions, American public schools are generally producing fewer students with the skills they need for long-term success. Proficiency in fundamental disciplines is slipping.

Among the 34 leading industrialized countries, the United States ranks 14th in reading literacy, 17th in science and a dismal 25th in math. It should surprise no one that we've fallen from No. 1 in the world in the percentage of young adults with college degrees to No. 10.

The jobs of the 21st century are also becoming more specialized and technical. In fact, there are 3 million jobs going unfilled in this country because there aren't enough qualified candidates.

Ninety percent of the jobs in the fastest-growing occupations require postsecondary education and training. And by 2020, there will be 120 million high-skilled and high wage jobs. If we don't have the workers to fill them, we will risk our economic leadership in the world.

This is a looming national crisis that requires urgent action - and it must begin at the most fundamental level: K-12 education.
We believe that one major answer to this challenge is in our grasp - the Common Core State Standards. Common Core is a leading effort spearheaded by state leaders on both ends of the political spectrum with input from teachers, parents, school administrators and experts.

Common Core is an elevated set of standards - not a curriculum. It focuses on the building blocks of learning, such as reading and math, and is designed to be applicable in the real world - namely, college or career.

One of the key attributes of Common Core is nationwide clarity and consistency. Under our current system, the United States is a patchwork of disparate state standards and uneven expectations.

An A in one state may be equivalent to a C in another. But states that opt into Common Core adopt a consistent set of goals that puts them on equal footing. So far, 45 states and the District of Columbia have opted in, which helps provide clarity for students, parents, and teachers across the country.

Common Core is also on par with international standards. Currently, our young people are being outperformed by students in countries like South Korea, Finland, Canada, Poland and Australia. The initiative aims to solve this problem by raising our educational standards, enabling Americans to compete with global peers.

Here's what Common Core won't do: bureaucratize education or centralize authority over our schools. Opponents of the initiative are propagating the falsehood that these standards are a federal takeover of education. Some even suggest it is a top-down effort to indoctrinate students with slanted ideology.

This is flat-out wrong. Common Core was created at the state level - where our most innovative policies often originate - by governors and state officials. And no state is required to participate.

This common-sense initiative has earned the bipartisan support of state lawmakers. It also has the backing of the broader business community. Business leaders not only want to see U.S. students poised for personal success, we want to see them equipped with the skills to be productive employees and strong contributors to our economy.

Everyone who has a stake - parents, educators, labor, business and policymakers - must commit to working cooperatively toward our shared goal of strengthening U.S. education.

Our future is on the line. We urge governors and state legislators not to squander this opportunity to turn America's education system around.

ABOUT THE WRITERS
Thomas J. Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and John Engler is president of the Business Roundtable.

 

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 1, 2013
 

Governor McDonnell Ceremonially Signs
Landmark K-12 Education Reform Legislation

Teach for America, Opportunity Educational Institution and
A-F School Grading Legislation Becomes Law Today
 

RICHMOND - Surrounded by legislators and education policy leaders, Governor Bob McDonnell ceremonially signed today landmark K-12 education reform legislation. Governor McDonnell signed HB2084/SB1175: The Teach for America Act (Cox/Ruff), SB1324: Opportunity Educational Institution (McDougle) and HB1999/SB1207: A-F School Grading (Greason/Stanley).

Speaking today about the bill signings, Governor McDonnell remarked, “The legislation signed into law today establishes Virginia’s position as a national leader in innovative education reform. HB2084 and SB1175 will allow divisions in northern, southwest and central Virginia the opportunity to partner with Teach for America as an additional source for high-quality and diverse educators trained and supported to teach in our schools with the greatest needs. Since 1990, corps members have impacted the lives of more than 3 million children in low-income communities across the country. Teach For America has trained more teachers for low-income communities than any other organization or institution in the nation. Today, we are honored to welcome Teach For America to the Commonwealth.

“Because we believe that all children deserve access to an excellent education the Opportunity Educational Institution (OEI) will also become law today. In the year ahead the OEI will begin to develop relationships with school and community leaders in anticipation of eligible schools transferring to the institution in the fall of 2014. Today, I am pleased to announce that we will begin recruiting for the institution’s executive director. The OEI will transform our approach to failing schools.

“A-F school grading will allow parents to clearly understand how their local school is actually performing. A-F school grading will be a catalyst for parents and community leaders to get more involved in the success of their schools. I applaud the leadership of Delegate Greason, Senator Stanley and the General Assembly in making A-F school grading available to all parents and community members.”

Delegate Kirk Cox, former public school teacher and ALL STUDENTS co-chair, commented, “The ALL STUDENTS agenda passed with broad bi-partisan support during the 2013 General Assembly session. The Teach for America Act, Opportunity Educational Institution and A-F School Grading will ensure that regardless of ZIP code, Virginia’s children are provided an excellent education. I applaud Governor McDonnell and my colleagues in the General Assembly for their leadership.”

Former Virginia Secretary of Education Jim Dyke said, “It is time for Virginia's business, education and community leaders to drive the reform effort and enhance the global competitiveness of our future workforce. It is simply not enough for Virginia to be ranked 4th in a nation that is at the bottom of international rankings. As Will Rogers said, being on the right track is not enough. If you're not moving forward aggressively you'll still get run over. I applaud Governor McDonnell and the bipartisan cooperation in the General Assembly for taking action. If we build on and continue these reforms I am confident Virginia can lead the world in the quality and skills of our workforce.”

Eva Colen, Teach for America’s Virginia Community Engagement Director, adds that “As a native Virginian having led recruitment efforts for Teach For America in the Commonwealth for the last three years, I’m thrilled and honored to begin conversations with community leaders, school divisions, and philanthropists across the state to explore the possibility of joining ongoing efforts to help ensure that all students in our state have access to an excellent education. 

A description of the legislation ceremonially signed into law today is included below: 

  • HB2084 (K. Cox) / SB1175 (Ruff): Teach for America Act. A significant achievement gap still exists between our students. While the task will not be easy, TFA has been successful in working with schools to close the achievement gap. Teach for America recruits and trains the best and brightest recent college graduates from across the country to accept full-time teaching assignments in hard-to-staff schools. This legislation will allow for TFA to operate in Virginia and begin placing teachers in hard-to-staff schools starting in the 2013-2014 academic year.
     
  • SB1324 (McDougle): Opportunity Educational Institution (OEI). The OEI will focus on turning around chronically failing public schools in the Commonwealth. Consistent with the Constitution of Virginia, "it is desirable for the intellectual, cultural, and occupational development of the people of the Commonwealth . . . . to ensure that an educational program of high quality is established and continually maintained for all students throughout the Commonwealth," This law establishes a statewide Opportunity Educational Institution to provide a high quality education for children attending any failing public elementary or secondary school. The Opportunity Educational Institution will be uniquely positioned to turnaround failing schools and provide all students the opportunity they deserve. While this model is new to Virginia, it is proven nationally. States like Louisiana and Tennessee have created Recovery and Achievement districts and the results are positive.
     
  • HB1999 (Greason) / SB1207 (Stanley): A-F School Report Cards. Creates a pathway for the DOE to report individual school performance using an A-F grading system in addition to the standards of accreditation. The A-F report cards will make school performance clear and easily communicated to parents and the public. The new report cards will recognize schools for challenging all students to reach high levels of achievement. They will also give schools a tool to encourage more parental and community involvement. When parents and community members have a clear understanding of school performance, all students benefit.

 Governor McDonnell is hosting a K-12 Education Reform Summit on August 5, 2013 in Chantilly, Virginia.

 Registration  


2013 Legislative Session Outcome Overview on Workforce Development

Priorities:

 

  • Invest in and support conventional four-year degree programs, as well as highly-technical, specialized workforce training with continued emphasis in the science, technology, engineering, math and health – or STEM-H – fields.
  • Invest in and support efforts to ensure Virginia has a competitive K-12 education system to enable us to meet the workforce needs of the future through strengthening teaching in the classroom, injecting greater innovation into education, rewarding creativity and success, and ensuring accountability in our education system.

 

To advance the priorities listed above, DRCC actively supported a series of bills and budget amendments that focused on having excellent teachers, innovation and accountability in the schools, improve public school flexibility and choice, and ensure greater workforce training connectivity with the business community so that the focus is directed where the needs are. 

 

Legislation supported in this arena included: funding to recruit and retain high quality STEM-H teachers; development of strategic compensation grants that can be awarded to teachers who are innovative or otherwise going above and beyond what is expected; connecting teacher performance with contracts; providing intervention for grade 6, 7, and 8 students who need assistance with algebra which is key to success in most STEM-H fields; early intervention reading services for K-3 students; simplifying the current school accountability system to an easy to understand A-F grading system to ensure transparency; increasing the ability for local school systems to request waivers from certain state requirements; staffing flexibility in certain situations for public schools; and legislation to help struggling schools improve. 

 

 

For Immediate Release
February 4, 2013

Governor McDonnell’s “Educator Fairness Act”
Passes in the Senate on a 40-0 Vote

RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement regarding the passage of his proposed “Educator Fairness Act” in the Senate today on a unanimous 40-0 vote. The bill had previously been passed in the House of Delegates last week. The Educator Fairness Act was part of the governor’s All Students K-12 legislative agenda. The Educator Fairness Act extends the probationary window for teachers from 3 to up to 5 years, to allow for a more thoughtful examination of teachers being awarded continuing contract status, and to allow for an extended period of mentoring for new teachers. It also provides for a definition of incompetence to include one or more unsatisfactory performance evaluations and defines the relationship between the evaluation and the contract. This act will streamline the grievance procedure and will allow for an expedited decision to inform the teacher of the final outcome.

 “I am pleased that members of both parties came together in the House and Senate to support these key reforms to Virginia’s teacher contract and grievance system. We have incredible teachers in Virginia and these reforms will help ensure that our children always have the most effective educators possible in the classroom. Great teachers are the key to bright futures for our children. These reforms came together with the input and support of the VEA, the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals, the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals, the Virginia Association of School Boards, the Virginia Association of Counties, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and others. I thank these groups for working with me and with House patron Delegate Dickie Bell and Senate Patron Tommy Norment throughout the legislative process. The Educator Fairness Act, along with other key education reforms and investments we are making this year, will enable Virginia schools to better recruit, retain and reward excellent teachers, and ensure that our children get the world’s best education.”

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2013 Policy Paper

As we consider how best to create a 21st century workforce, we must invest and focus on conventional four-year degree programs, as well as highly-technical, specialized workforce training with continued emphasis in the science, technology, engineering, math and health – or STEM-H – fields. 

The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce (DRCC) also recognizes that we cannot underestimate the importance of a globally competitive K-12 education system to our workforce development. The most important investment Virginia can make is in human capital. The jobs of the future and the ability of our businesses to compete rests in having a well-trained workforce. Beyond the skills and knowledge required of workers, we must be able to recruit the best and the brightest to Virginia and to do that, we need to offer the best schools to families looking to relocate. An excellent school should be a guarantee to every child. We all agree that every child deserves the chance to be college- or career-ready at graduation. Unfortunately, not every child in the Commonwealth is provided such an opportunity. Virginia must confront the inequities in our education system and ensure that all children have a chance for success. 

This includes strengthening teaching in our classrooms, holding Virginia’s teachers to the highest standards, offering them regular opportunities to sharpen their skills, and rigorously evaluating and paying our teachers appropriately. 

We also must inject greater innovation into education. DRCC supports innovation in our classrooms and school divisions to ensure that our students are prepared at graduation for college or the workforce. Greater use of technology and consideration of charter schools to allow for greater flexibility with curriculum and student population are options that should be considered and utilized more often. We have one of the weakest charter school laws in the country and no real means for holding failing schools accountable. Innovation also occurs through the partnership of our post-secondary and secondary institutions through dual enrollment courses, which allow for college-level coursework for college credit while in high school or through the establishment of college lab schools. These are all initiatives Virginia should be supporting to enable greater innovation in the classroom. 

DRRC recognizes the importance of and supports all of the colleges and universities, both public and private, which provide high quality undergraduate, graduate and professional education to Northern Virginia’s residents. DRCC supports positioning the Commonwealth’s public and private higher education institutions to play a full role in shaping job creation in a global knowledge-based economy, and calls on the Commonwealth’s elected leaders to reverse a decade of reduction in state funding for higher education that has shifted the burden of funding to students and families.

 

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2012 Policy Position

HIGHER EDUCATION 

The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce (DRCC) recognizes the importance of and supports all of the colleges and universities, both public and private, which provide high quality undergraduate, graduate and professional education to Northern Virginia’s residents. DRCC supports positioning the Commonwealth’s public and private higher education institutions to play a full role in shaping job creation in a global knowledge-based economy, and calls on the Commonwealth’s elected leaders to reverse a decade of reduction in state funding for higher education that has shifted the burden of funding to students and families. 

DRCC believes, however, that any new state investment must be targeted toward specific goals that will provide the best return on investment for every dollar spent, including:

  • Awarding 70,000 more high quality degrees to Virginia residents over the next 10 years. Virginia’s economy needs more of its citizens prepared to take jobs in the diverse knowledge-based economy. Increasing the number of degrees awarded by 70,000 would mean that 50% of Virginia’s citizens would have an associate, bachelors or graduate degree.
  • Targeting new degrees in high income, high demand job sectors. Virginia’s economy will depend on increasing the number of workers able to take on jobs in high demand fields of technology, engineering, science and math, and in areas experiencing shortages, like healthcare, which is particularly important in Northern Virginia. 
  • Expanding job-specific training at community colleges. DRCC has long supported Northern Virginia Community College’s (NVCC) efforts in job-specific training and believe this unique resource should be expanded and enhanced via more consistent state funding.
  • Increasing public-private collaboration for university-based research. Innovation drives the Northern Virginia economy. Northern Virginia businesses need an expanded way to interact with the area’s higher education institutions to produce and commercialize original research. The Commonwealth remains one of the few states that do not have dedicated funding for technology transfer.  University-based research can only be brought to market quickly if the Commonwealth supports it.
  • Making colleges affordable for low- and middle-income students and families.  Northern Virginia enjoys a diverse citizen base. The Commonwealth and our higher education institutions must do more to encourage a greater number of students to seek education beyond high school. The cost of education should not be a barrier to getting a degree. Financial aid is a key ingredient in this affordability challenge.  Without increases in state-funded financial aid, access and affordability remain a problem.

EMPLOYMENT AND LABOR ISSUES 

The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce (DRCC) supports legislative and regulatory policies that stimulate economic growth and create jobs by allowing businesses to fairly manage their personnel resources without undue government or outside intervention. DRCC favors allowing free market conditions to determine important labor issues such as compensation and conditions of employment, while strongly advocating that all employers meet their legal and ethical obligations to their employees and the government. DRCC opposes expanded government regulation of the workplace, including legislation that would limit an employer's right to operate during a strike. 

Unionization and Right To Work Laws:  The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce (DRCC) opposes any local, state or federal laws or regulations that undermine Virginia’s Right To Work laws, which have played a historically significant role in the state’s nationally recognized economic and employment growth. DRCC opposes all federal legislative or regulatory proposals that undermine the rights of Virginia’s workers to secret ballot elections to decide whether to form a union.  DRCC also opposes legislative or regulatory proposals to authorize federal government officials to impose workplace rules, such as wage levels and work hours, in the absence of an agreement between management and employees. DRCC also opposes the imposition of additional sanctions, such as fines against businesses for violations during the union recognition process. 

Minimum Wage:  Because increases in the minimum wage fall disproportionately on small businesses, which are often the least able to absorb dramatic increases in labor costs the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce opposes increases in the minimum wage and believes that any increase must include provisions that lessen the cost and regulatory burden on Virginia’s small businesses. 

Unemployment Compensation:  The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce (DRCC) supports Virginia's unemployment compensation laws, which provide adequate and temporary financial assistance to employees who become unemployed through no fault of their own. DRCC opposes the extension of benefits to workers who, through their own actions or inactions, become unemployed, including as a result of an employer-initiated lockout or an employee strike. 

Wage and Benefit Mandates:  The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce opposes Living Wage proposals and other government mandates that establish wage and benefits levels as a condition for obtaining contracts with that government. 

Workers’ Compensation:  The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce opposes any changes to Virginia's workers' compensation law that would increase costs and regulatory burdens on businesses, or otherwise undermine the laws existing sound principles and purpose. 

Davis-Bacon Act: The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce supports the outright repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires businesses to pay employees in the construction industry government-determined prevailing wages and benefits on federal and federally assisted construction contracts exceeding $2,000 in total cost. Repeal of the archaic and wasteful Davis-Bacon Act would save the federal government an estimated $8.6 billion in construction costs and $100 million in administrative costs per year.  It would also save the construction industry $190 million in compliance costs.  Most importantly, repeal of the act would lead to more infrastructure improvements and the creation of 31,000 new construction jobs as the construction industry faces record-high unemployment. 

Project Labor Agreements: The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce opposes project labor agreements (PLAs) mandated by local, state and federal governments, and other entities on taxpayer-funded construction projects. Government-mandated PLAs end open, fair and competitive bidding on public works projects by discouraging competition from qualified nonunion contractors and their nonunion employees.  These agreements unfairly steer contracts to unionized contractors and create jobs only for unionized employees. Research indicates PLA mandates increase construction costs between 12% and 18% with no discernible benefit.  Added costs attributed to reduced competition could be even greater in Virginia, where just 3.9 percent of the construction industry is unionized. 

In-sourcing:  The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce opposes any federal, state, or local in-sourcing of private-sector labor positions to government-sector positions, unless the function being in-sourced is inherently governmental in nature and/or the in-sourcing decision is substantiated by a bona-fide cost-benefit analysis that shows that efficiencies and documented cost savings will result from the in-sourcing activity.  Any such cost-benefit analysis must reflect all true costs associated with both the private sector activity, as well as the government sector activity, to include items such as, but not all inclusively, direct labor costs, fringe benefit costs, retirement costs, overhead costs, general and administrative costs, and any other direct and indirect costs that would be incurred by either party.

WORKFORCE HOUSING 

The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce recognizes that housing policy is an essential factor in economic development and supports the following initiatives to address the workforce needs in Northern Virginia: 

  • Adopt the recommendations of Governor McDonnell’s Housing Policy task force to increase the availability of housing options to meet the needs of a growing regional workforce;
  • Use of federal, state and local incentives, such as tax credit programs, to maximize the production of affordable and workforce housing in high-density development and/or transit centers.


 

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2011 Policy Position

HIGHER EDUCATION

The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce recognizes the importance of and supports all of the colleges and universities, both public and private, which provide high quality under-graduate, graduate and professional education to Northern Virginia’s residents.   DRCC supports positioning the Commonwealth’s public and private higher education institutions to play a full role in shaping job creation in a global knowledge-based economy, and calls on the Commonwealth’s elected leaders to reverse a decade of reduction in state funding for higher education that has shifted the burden of funding to students and families.

DRCC believes, however, that any new state investment must be targeted toward specific goals that will provide the best return on investment for every dollar spent, including:

  • Awarding 70,000 more high quality degrees to Virginia residents over the next 10 years. Virginia’s economy needs more of its citizens prepared to take jobs in the diverse knowledge-based economy. Increasing the number of degrees awarded by 70,000 would mean that 50% of Virginia’s citizens would have an associate, bachelors or graduate degree.
  • Targeting new degrees in high income, high demand job sectors. Virginia’s economy will depend on increasing the number of workers able to take on jobs in high demand fields of technology, engineering, science and math, and in areas experiencing shortages, like healthcare, which is particularly important in Northern Virginia.
  • Expanding job-specific training at community colleges. The chambers in the Partnership have long supported Northern Virginia Community College’s (NVCC) efforts in job-specific training and believes this unique resource should be expanded and enhanced via more consistent state funding.
  • Increasing public-private collaboration for university-based research. Innovation drives the Northern Virginia economy. Northern Virginia businesses need an expanded way to interact with the area’s higher education institutions to produce and commercialize original research. The Commonwealth remains one of the few states that do not have dedicated funding for technology transfer.  University-based research can only be brought to market quickly if the Commonwealth supports it.
  • Making colleges affordable for low- and middle-income students and families.  Northern Virginia enjoys a diverse citizen base. The Commonwealth and our higher education institutions must do more to encourage a greater number of students to seek education beyond high school. The cost of education should not be a barrier to getting a degree. Financial aid is a key ingredient in this affordability challenge.  Without increases in state-funded financial aid, access and affordability remain a problem.

WORKFORCE HOUSING

The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce recognizes that housing policy is an essential factor in economic development and supports the following initiatives to address the workforce needs in Northern Virginia:

  • Adopt the recommendations of Governor McDonnell’s Housing Policy task force to increase the availability of housing options to meet the needs of a growing regional workforce;
  • Use of federal, state and local incentives, such as tax credit programs, to maximize the production of affordable and workforce housing in high-density development and/or transit centers. 

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