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Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership Releases its 2014 General Assembly Legislative Scorecard
July 17, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Eileen Curtis (Dulles) - 571.323.5301
Tony Howard (Loudoun) – 571.209.9020
Mark Ingrao (Reston) - 703.930.6518
Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership Releases its
2014 General Assembly Legislative Scorecard
Partnership of Dulles, Reston, Loudoun Chambers Created Scorecard to Track General Assembly Member Votes on Key Business, Economic Priorities
Northern Virginia – The Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership today released its inaugural Virginia General Assembly Legislative Scorecard, a report that details the voting records of the Partnership’s Senate and House of Delegates members on the bills that address the issues outlined in the Partnership’s 2014 Legislative Agenda.
Comprised of the Dulles Regional, Greater Reston and Loudoun County chambers of commerce, the Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership recently completed its fifth year of working in Richmond to represent the economic and quality of life interests of the businesses and residents in Loudoun County and western Fairfax County.
“As the voice of business for our region, our Partnership actively engages our legislators on issues such as education reform, economic development, job growth, transportation, and other pro-business issues. As a follow-up to the General Assembly, the Partnership decided to do a Legislative Scorecard to keep Northern Virginia employers and citizens informed about how our legislators are voting on the issues that matter to business. As we expected, we were very pleased to see that our General Assembly delegation, as a whole, has been extremely supportive of the Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership’s economic prosperity and quality of life agenda," said Dulles Regional Chamber President and CEO Eileen Curtis.
The Scorecard only reflects votes taken during the regular General Assembly session and only those votes that took place on the floor of the House and/or Senate. Many members of the Partnership’s delegation provided leadership in defeating legislation that was in conflict with the Partnership’s priorities, which is not reflected in the Scorecard in most cases given those bills did not receive a floor vote. Prior to all floor votes, the Partnership communicated its position on each bill and reminded the legislators that these bills would be included in the Scorecard.
“Scorecards are a valuable tool to communicate how our legislators are voting on those bills that do make it to a floor vote in each respective body in a quantifiable way. That being said, they are imperfect as they don’t take into account factors such as: sponsoring bills, speaking for or against bills, votes in committee and offering pro-business amendments. But we do believe this format is the most straightforward way of identifying legislator’s support for the Partnership’s initiatives,” said Greater Reston Chamber President & CEO, Mark Ingrao.
In addition, while not included in the Scorecard as an actual vote that could be scored, the Partnership considers every legislator’s work “incomplete,” given they failed to pass a budget during the regular General Assembly session, and did not resolve the issue of providing health insurance to 400,000 uninsured Virginians.
“We are proud to unveil this Legislative Scorecard to provide our members and the communities we represent with a better understanding of how our state legislators are voting on the issues that will impact the economy and quality of life in Northern Virginia. While most legislators earned high marks for their voting records on the Partnership’s priorities, each of them deserves an incomplete grade for failing to leverage billions in Federal aid to adopt a market-based approach to expanding health care coverage for all Virginians,” said Loudoun County President & CEO Tony Howard.
The purpose of the Scorecard is to help Northern Virginia’s business leaders recognize those legislators who support the Partnership’s efforts to improve the business climate and quality of life in Northern Virginia and to promote a dialogue with those legislators whose votes don’t align with Partnership priorities.
To view the complete Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership 2014 Scorecard, please click here.
To view the Scorecard criteria, please click here.
The Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership is a collaboration between the Dulles Regional, Greater Reston and Loudoun County chambers of commerce. The Partnership collectively represents more than 2,800 businesses and 100,000 jobs, providing an unparalleled voice for Northern Virginia’s business community in Richmond.
New Veterans Initiative Lines Up With Chamber's Efforts
One group’s growing need may well be addressed by another group’s growing need.
The healthcare IT field is expected to grow jobs by over 20 percent in the next six years. At the same time, returning military service members need to find meaningful careers as they transition back to civilian life. With a quarter-million troops currently seeking employment, a natural opportunity is evolving.
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is working with other groups to offer the Veterans Career Services Initiative in order to bring military veterans into the healthcare IT field.
This is the type of program that the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce supports through its T3 (Training, Transitioning, and Teaming for Veterans) Committee.
“We are delighted to hear of such a strong push to bring employment opportunities to our veterans,” said Dulles Regional Chamber President Eileen Curtis. “Through our T3 and GovCONnection Committees we always are looking for all avenues to assist our returning military.”
“This year, InNOVAte, the chamber’s annual conference on cutting-edge technologies, will focus on healthcare innovation and we see the HIMSS initiative as a model for how those technologies will help the community,” Curtis said.
The chamber will be offering its own T3 programs this winter to bring together veterans and those organizations around the DC Metro area that need qualified workers. Details of the T3 initiatives will be available soon at DullesChamber.org.
Click here to read the complete HIMSS article.
Waning Interest In Meals Tax Is Good For Chamber Members
Currently Fairfax County does not have a meals tax and it appears that there won’t be such a tax for the foreseeable future. Cities and towns in Virginia have the authority to enact a meals tax by vote of the jurisdiction’s governing body. However, counties in the Commonwealth, including Fairfax County, can only establish a meals tax if a referendum is approved by voters.
A task force met over several months in Fairfax County to determine the advisability of placing such a referendum on the ballot for voter consideration. The report was delivered to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in June.
Dulles Regional Chamber President Eileen Curtis and Advocacy Committee Chairman Dave Cordingley of MainStreet Bank participated in the meals tax task force along with close to fifty representatives of interested groups around the county. Headed by Kate Hanley, former chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and former U.S. Congressman Tom Davis, the task force recognized that there were numerous issues in support of or in opposition to a meals tax.
“The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce steadfastly opposes the imposition of any single industry tax such as a meals tax,” Curtis said.
Those favoring the proposed tax said that it would allow the county to provide a new revenue stream for a budget that is stretched by the needs of infrastructure improvements, education demands and other county services. On the con side, a meals tax sends an anti-business message and impacts the already-fragile restaurant industry, which ultimately could negatively impact jobs in the county.
There were further concerns about the best time to place the question on the ballot. Each of the next three years posed unique problems. If presented in 2014, there would be little time to educate the public on the pros and cons of the issue. In 2015, proponents would face an off-year election, historically yielding low voter turnout. Also the potential revenue from 2014 would be lost. If presented in 2016, two years of potential revenue would be lost and the current board could not bind the future board to such a move.
Ultimately the task force did not make a recommendation regarding the meals tax but did forward a document outlining the positions, nearly equal pro and con, for having a meals tax; the timing in which such an issue might appear as a referendum; and the dedication the new potential revenues could address. Without a firm recommendation there seems to be little interest in presenting a referendum to the voters. According to The Washington Post, Board Chairman Sharon Bulova believes that any meals tax referendum would happen after the 2016 elections at the earliest.
STEM education is critical to Virginia’s economic future
For Immediate Release:
June 26, 2014
Virginia, along with private industry, must continue their efforts to increase the number of students and workers trained in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. While much has been achieved to advance this initiative, more work is needed.
This is the thrust of a recent op-ed piece by Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce President Eileen Curtis published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on May 29th. Reflecting on an April forum co-sponsored by the chamber and We Work for Health Virginia, Curtis shared the views of U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a forum speaker, who believes STEM education is a key to the growth of Virginia’s life sciences industry.
Solid programs like SySTEMic Solutions help students to engage in STEM subjects, but the demand for STEM-educated workers continues to grow at a rapid pace. Nationally, projections call for one million STEM graduates in the next decade to keep up with demand. While millions of Americans remain unemployed, jobs for STEM-educated workers go unfilled.
In Virginia, the biopharmaceutical worker averages $97,000 annually, about 70% higher than the average wage in the state. Increasing the STEM-educated workforce will bring more business and more high-paying jobs into the state.
As Curtis concludes, “Our elected officials such as Kaine are right to support policies that will make us more competitive. STEM education is a vital ingredient to enhancing Virginia’s economic opportunity.”
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