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For Immediate Release:
March 25, 2014

Improving Access to Dulles Airport
Loudoun County Public Hearing

Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 6:30-8:30 PM

Liberty Elementary School
25491 Riding Center Drive, South Riding, VA 20152

Access to dulles airport public hearing.

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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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Governor McAuliffe Pushes for Offshore Drilling

Governor McAuliffe joined Governors from Mid-Atlantic and Gulf states last week to urge Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to finalize rules to allow expanded offshore oil and gas drilling. Expanded drilling could draw millions of dollars in new tax revenue to the Commonwealth and bring jobs to coastal communities.

Last Friday, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) published a final environmental review of geological and geophysical (G&G) survey activities off the Mid- and South Atlantic coast. This is a key step forward for offshore energy exploration.
 
Blueprint Virginia endorses an "all of the above" energy strategy that supports economic development and job growth while meeting the growing needs of our population and business community. We will continue to monitor the progress of expanded offshore oil and gas drilling.

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 For Immediate Release: March 5, 2014

McAuliffe Announces Completion of
Major Milestone in Medicaid Reform

Virginia ready to take next step to close the coverage gap.

Governor McAuliffe today announced the launch of Commonwealth Coordinated Care (CCC), a program that will blend and coordinate Medicare and Medicaid benefits for approximately 78,000 eligible Virginians. As only the third state to implement this type of coordinated care for Medicare-Medicaid enrollees, Virginia has pioneered an innovative, responsive program to provide health care and long-term services and supports to people who often have very complex needs.

CCC is Virginia’s response to years of national research that shows the current structure of the two separate health programs results in cost inefficiency and poor health outcomes due to uncoordinated care.  Governor McAuliffe said “Nationwide, individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid typically have the highest and most complex medical needs but are often underserved by the misaligned rules and financial incentives of the two separate programs.  CCC will blend all of the benefits currently provided under Medicare and Medicaid into one plan with a designated care manager who will ensure person-centered and efficient health care services are provided. This will not only make it easier to manage the system from the beneficiary’s perspective, this innovative program will bring greater efficiencies and cost savings to the state’s overall healthcare delivery system.”

The development of Commonwealth Coordinated Care began in 2011 when the Virginia General Assembly directed the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) to develop a program that would better meet the needs of Virginians receiving both Medicare and Medicaid benefits. Achievement of this program represents a major reform to Medicaid in Virginia, signifying the readiness of Virginia’s healthcare system to take the next step and accept federal funds to close the coverage gap.

Speaking about the accomplishment, Governor McAuliffe stated, “Now we must continue to improve our healthcare system by bringing $2 billion of taxpayer funds per year back to the Commonwealth to cover hundreds of thousands of Virginians. Every day that we wait, we forego over $5 million in taxpayer funds that could be used towards ensuring that more of our friends and neighbors have access to the quality healthcare they deserve.”

Three Medicare-Medicaid health plans, Anthem Healthkeepers, Humana, and Virginia Premier have contracted with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and DMAS to provide services under CCC for the four-year demonstration.  The contract commits the parties to a new model of care for Medicare/Medicaid beneficiaries that will provide efficiencies and improve the delivery of services to some of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens.  The contract includes provisions for person-centered care planning, interdisciplinary care teams, care coordination services, provider credentialing, access to services, unified appeals and grievances, and closely monitored quality of services.

Virginians presently eligible for CCC include those who are full Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries (meaning entitled to benefits under Part A and enrolled under Medicare Parts B and D, and receiving full Medicaid benefits), are aged 21 or older, and live in designated regions around the Commonwealth.  For the first time in Virginia, individuals receiving long-term supports and services through nursing facilities and the Elderly Disabled and Consumer Direction (EDCD) Waiver will also be eligible to participate in a managed care program through CCC. 

Secretary of Health and Human Resources, William A. Hazel, Jr., MD, said “CCC will offer enrollees the opportunity to combine all of their existing Medicare and Medicaid benefits into one plan.  That one plan will go beyond the Medicaid and Medicare benefits and provide a care manager from the health plan who will complete a comprehensive evaluation to understand the enrollee’s situation and work directly with the enrollee to develop a plan of care that is tailored to their needs and preferences.”  In addition, plans will offer supplemental benefits that are currently not available in the Medicaid or Medicare programs.  

Eligible individuals will receive letters in the coming weeks notifying them of their eligibility for CCC and providing information on how to enroll in the program.  Letters will include comparison charts of the three health plans and contact information to speak with a trained enrollment representative.  The Virginia Insurance Counseling Assistance Program (VICAP) can provide information and insurance counseling for beneficiaries seeking additional education and support with CCC enrollment.  In the demonstration phase, CCC is available to Virginians in five regions of the Commonwealth: Tidewater, Central, Northern Virginia, Charlottesville, and Roanoke.  For a full list of localities you may visit http://www.dmas.virginia.gov/Content_atchs/altc/altc-anst6.pdf.  CCC enrollment will be phased in by region.  Voluntary enrollment into Commonwealth Coordinated Care for the Tidewater and Central Virginia regions begins March 1, 2014, with CCC coverage starting April 1, 2014.  For the full CCC implementation timeline, please visit the DMAS website at http://www.dmas.virginia.gov/Content_atchs/altc/mmfa-imme2.pdf.

Townhall meetings are scheduled in Tidewater and Central VA for community members and providers to hear more about the CCC program and to speak with representatives from the three available health plans.  This will be an excellent opportunity to learn more about CCC and have questions answered. 

The Tidewater Townhall will be:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Community Member Session 10am-12pm
Providers Session 12pm-2pm
Pincus Paul Social Hall at Beth Sholom Village
6401 Auburn Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23464

The Central Townhall will be:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Providers Session 10am-12pm
Community Members Session 12pm-2pm
Fick Conference Center located on the Mary Washington Hospital Campus
1301 Sam Perry Boulevard, Fredericksburg, VA 22401

Future Townhall events will be scheduled in all CCC regions.  For more information, visit the CCC website at http://www.dmas.virginia.gov/Content_pgs/altc-home.aspx.

Contact: Matthew Moran at (804) 698-1228

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 For Immediate Release: February 11, 2014

Governor McAuliffe Applauds House
Passage of SOL Reform Legislation

Governor Terry McAuliffe and Secretary of Education Anne Holton released the following statement today applauding the unanimous passage of House Bill 930, which would reform the Standards of Learning (SOLs) by reducing the number of tests to focus students and teachers on key areas in each grade level and establishing a process to review remaining SOL assessments in order to maximize their effectiveness:

“I am pleased that the House of Delegates has acted in a bipartisan fashion to pass this bill, which represents a meaningful step toward reforming the Standards of Learning to continue to evaluate students and teachers, without stifling innovation and creativity in the classroom.

“This legislation was the product of the leadership of Delegates Tag Greason and Rob Krupicka, who worked alongside Secretary of Education Anne Holton and my policy team to craft a bill that will allow the Commonwealth to track student performance while better freeing teachers to teach and students to learn. As the legislation moves to the Senate, my team and I will continue to engage actively with the process to bring legislation to my desk to reform the SOLs and strengthen Virginia’s ability to prepare our students to lead in the 21st Century economy.”  

Secretary Holton added:

“I want to thank Delegates Greason and Krupicka and their colleagues in the House for working so closely with Governor McAuliffe’s team to get this important legislation passed. This bill will improve the quality of the instruction Virginia students receive in the classroom, and should serve as an example of what we can achieve when we work together in a bipartisan way.”


Office of Governor Terry McAuliffe
Contact: Brian Coy, (804) 225-4260

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For Immediate Release: January 30, 2014

Fairfax County Approves 6-Year Transportation Plan

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recently approved the Fairfax County 6-Year Transportation Plan, a $1.4 billion plan to fund transportation projects that will widen roads, improve intersections, enhance transit and construct pedestrian and bicycle facilities across the County.
 
Less than one year ago, the Virginia General Assembly passed the Virginia Transportation Plan (HB 2313).  The 6-Year Transportation Plan is a consequence of that bill and was enacted after a year of intense dialogue with citizens on what they perceived to be the neediest projects.

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For Immediate Release: January 23, 2014

 

The Dulles Regional Chamber supports the
following Economic Development bills.

HB 115 - Enterprise Zone Grant Program; re-designation of certain joint enterprise zones.
Removes the requirement that a locality contiguous to an existing multi-locality, joint enterprise zone must have lost at least 900 jobs in a 12-month period to be eligible to join the joint enterprise zone, and removes the restriction that such existing multi-locality enterprise consist of only two localities.

HB 321 - Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program; created.
Creates the Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program, a pilot program administered by the Secretary of Commerce and Trade to improve outreach by state government to the private sector. The objectives of the program are to (i) strengthen coordination and interaction between state government and the private sector on issues relevant to entrepreneurs and small business concerns and (ii) make state government programs and operations simpler, easier to access, more efficient, and more responsive to the needs of small business concerns and entrepreneurs.
The Dulles Regional Chamber supports the following fiscal and tax reform bills.

HB 375 - Patent infringement; assertions made in bad faith.
Prohibits any person from making in bad faith an assertion, allegation, or claim that a resident of the Commonwealth is infringing a patent. The measure creates a cause of action for damages and an injunction against a person threatening to bring legal action for alleged patent infringement.

HB 687 - Building Revitalization Grant Fund; created.
Establishes the Building Revitalization Grant Fund administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development to award grants of up to $100,000 to businesses that make a capital investment of $1 million in revitalizing or retrofitting existing buildings to serve as a new place of business.

SB 593 - Urban county executive form of government; disclosure in land use proceedings.
Alters disclosure provisions for land use proceedings in counties with the urban county executive form of government (Fairfax County).

HB 94 - Business permits, etc.; assistance and documentation required from localities.
Provides that in any instance in which a person is seeking a business permit, a license, or an application for any similar local government approval from a locality, the locality shall provide documentation and instructions that outline all steps necessary to obtain the permit, license, or approval. The locality shall also specify any further permit, license, or other approval that may be required to complete the original project or business activity and shall disclose the expected time required by the locality for the completion of each step of the process to obtain the permit, license, or other approval.

HB 384 - Local mandates; identification of sources of funding.
Requires the assessment performed by state agencies to include the identification of sources of funding for the mandate

HB 431 - Tax reform, state and local; creates joint legislative subcommittee to perform a two-year study.
Creates a joint legislative subcommittee to perform a two-year study on reforming state and local taxes. The joint subcommittee will assume the tasks of the Joint Subcommittee to Evaluate Tax Preferences, which the bill dissolves.

HB 497 - BPOL; appeal of business license tax classification.
Permits a taxpayer to appeal to the Tax Commissioner or request a written ruling from him with regard to the classification of the business for BPOL tax purposes, regardless of whether the locality has conducted an audit, issued an assessment, or taken any other action.

HB 884 - Virginia Infrastructure Grant Fund; established.
Creates, from such funds as may be appropriated by the General Assembly and any gifts, grants, or donations from public or private sources, the Virginia Infrastructure Grant Fund, to be administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development. The bill requires the Department to establish criteria for making grants from the Fund, including procedures for determining the amount of a grant and the required local match, if any. The Fund is intended to help localities make investments in roads, bridges, smarter electrical grids, upgraded water and sanitation systems, mass transit systems, clean energy and more energy-efficient buildings, and the provision of broadband.

HB 236 - Health benefit plans; renewal and offer of nonconforming plans.
Authorizes any health carrier to offer to renew, or to offer, any health benefit plan that would otherwise be required to be canceled, discontinued, or terminated, or would otherwise not be allowed, because it does not meet the requirements of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The authorizations apply to the extent and under the terms that federal authorities have suspended enforcement of provisions of the federal Act. The measure has an emergency clause.

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For Immediate Release: January 23, 2014

Senate Bill 593  (Marsden): Disclosure in Land Use Cases

The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce supports this bill because it ensures that the boards of supervisors in Loudoun and Fairfax counties are treated the same as other jurisdictions across the Commonwealth with regard to accepting gifts and contributions, disclosure of those gifts and contributions, and the ability to vote on land use and related matters. This is critical to ensure Fairfax and Loudoun counties are not at an unjustified disadvantage relative to their peers and to enable those elected to serve on the Boards to vote on these critical issues. In addition, restrictions with regard to voting when gifts and contributions are received by local elected leaders should be no more onerous than those imposed on elected officials who serve at the state level.

We urge your support for this important economic development bill. Please contact me with any questions.

Eileen Curtis  |  President
Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce
3901 Centerview Drive, Suite S |  Chantilly, VA  20151
Tel:  571.323.5301 | Fax:  703.787.8859

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it | DullesRegionalChamber.org
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For Immediate Release: December 16, 2013

Governor Bob McDonnell Unveils 2015-2016 Budget

Selected Highlights of the Governor's Biennial Budget:

  • Triples the Rainy Day Fund from beginning of governor’s term; Fund will reach $1 billion by 2016
  • Allocates $183.1 million in additional, new higher education funding; Brings new administration investment in Virginia’s colleges and universities to nearly $600 million
  • Provides $38.3 million in new funding for mental health priorities
  • Leaves unappropriated balance of $50.9 Million in general fund to provide for greater budget flexibility and latitude for General Assembly and incoming McAuliffe Administration; Largest unappropriated balance since 1991
  • Identifies $261 million in targeted savings
  • Provides for another performance bonus payment of up to 3% for state employees before Christmas 2014; Bonus contingent upon satisfactory employee performance and savings generated at end of current Fiscal Year equal to twice cost of bonus
  • Includes $582.6 million in increased funding in biennium for K-12 and Pre-K
  • Dedicates $16.2 million to cover biennial cost of providing foster care and adoption payments. Includes 3% increase in foster care payment rates; Beginning in FY 2016, provides funds to expand foster care and adoption subsidies to age 21 for the most vulnerable youth
  • Makes available $6.5 million to address study requirements that must be met to allow additional dredging at Norfolk Harbor, as well as for the deepening of the Elizabeth River channel
  • Supplies additional $1.5 Million for Port of Virginia Economic and Infrastructure Development Zone Grant Fund to encourage private-sector companies to locate along transportation corridors leading to Port
  • Presents additional $196.7 million to fund debt service on all capital projects previously authorized by General Assembly, as well as debt service on select new projects
  • Fully funds pension reform commitment of phasing-in increases to state and teacher retirement contributions to reduce future unfunded liabilities
  • Provides additional $315.3 million for the general fund share of state and teacher pension benefits representing funding at 80 percent of the full pension contribution rates, as well as funding for the 10-year scheduled payback of deferred employee retirement contributions from fiscal years 2011 and 2012.
  • Dedicates $55.3 million To Support Public Safety Efforts; Includes $22.2 million for Sheriffs, Commonwealth's Attorneys, and Circuit Court Clerk Deputies to fund new hires, reduce overcrowding in jails, fund long overdue pay increases, and support other critical operations; Also $21.3 million in additional funding to assist local law enforcement through the "599" program
  • Directs $11 million to the City of Richmond for the development, creation, and enhancement of the Slavery and Freedom Heritage Site
  • Continues governor’s commitment to improving Virginia’s prisoner re-entry process with $2.8 million in new funding to help prisoners successfully rejoin society; additionally appropriates nearly $450,000 for additional staffing to further streamline and expedite the state’s restoration of rights process
  • Ensures $4 million for oyster restoration efforts; $2 million each year of the biennium. Virginia’s recent efforts to revitalize the state’s historic oyster industry have resulted in 2012 seeing the largest harvest in the Commonwealth since 1987; the oyster industry had an economic impact of $42.6 million last year
  • Dedicates over $31 million from the FY2013 budget surplus to the Water Quality Improvement Fund
  • Provides $7.2 million for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program to provide access to life-saving medications for the treatment of HIV and related illnesses for low-income clients
  • Directs $8 million over the biennium to the Virginia Housing Trust Fund, and $500,000 in additional revenue each year to Virginia’s rapid re-housing program, all designed to continue the administration’s homelessness prevention and reduction efforts. Over the last four years, overall homelessness in Virginia has declined by 16%
     

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 2013

VIRGINIA CONSIDERS ITS OWN HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN

The administration of Gov. Bob McDonnell is considering a “Virginia way” for providing health insurance to the poorest Virginians that relies on private insurance instead of expanding the state’s Medicaid program.

Secretary of Health and Human Resources William A. Hazel Jr. outlined a possible “private option for low-income adults” on Monday that would use billions in federal funds under the Affordable Care Act to buy them health coverage under managed-care contracts with commercial insurers.

The private option follows a path outlined recently by Senate Finance Chairman Walter A. Stosch, R-Henrico, as an alternative to expanding the state’s Medicaid program for almost 400,000 uninsured Virginians who earn less than 133 percent of the federal poverty threshold — less than $16,000 a year, for an individual.

The approach would use private brokers to enroll uninsured adults — primarily parents and childless adults not covered by Medicaid now, no matter how poor they are — in private health plans with commercial benefits at per capita rates that shift the risk of managing their care to insurers.

“This is all doable in a fairly short order of time,” Hazel told the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission at the end of a more than four-hour meeting in Richmond.

The commission could meet again as early as next month — after the gubernatorial election — to determine whether the state has made sufficient progress in reforming its current Medicaid program to allow its expansion or another approach to extending health care coverage to the poor.

McDonnell and the General Assembly created the commission as part of a state budget compromise this year that requires three phases of reforms to be accomplished as a condition for expanding the program to take advantage of more than $23 billion in federal funding to the state over the next 10 years.

The first phase, involving reforms already underway or approved by federal health officials, is expected to save Virginia $118 million to $127 million in state general funds in the next two-year budget — and twice that amount including federal matching funds.

Most of the expected savings will come from the beginning of a managed-care contract in December to administer Medicaid benefits for community behavioral health programs that have been delivered through uncoordinated fee-for-service payments to providers. The behavioral health services administrative contract with Magellan Health Services will save the state alone $67 million over two years.

The full savings estimated in the first phase of reforms will depend on the level of enrollment in a new, federally approved program to coordinate the care of people who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare benefits — one of the biggest cost-drivers in a system that spends two-thirds of its money on the elderly and disabled.

Other reforms underway include moving foster care children into Medicaid managed care insurance — the process will begin in this region on Nov. 1 — bolstering protections against fraud and saving money on a new eligibility and enrollment system paid for primarily with federal funds.

The Department of Medical Assistance Services, the state’s Medicaid office, “if pushed today … could arguably say it has met all the requirements of the budget,” Hazel said.

The legislative commission could vote as early as December on whether to expand Medicaid or some variation of its coverage. Expansion would require approval by three of the five members from the Senate, who generally favor it, and the House of Delegates, who generally do not.

Hazel said the second phase of reforms — aimed primarily at requiring Medicaid recipients to share some of the cost of their care and to take responsibility for preventive care to avoid more costly medical treatment later — also are underway through changes in contracts with seven Medicaid managed care providers.

The final phase will take the longest because it will attempt to manage the care of elderly and disabled people, including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities who require expensive community services.

“For the purpose of the budget language, it said we have to have plans (for those reforms),” Hazel said. “It doesn’t say they have to be done.”

Opponents of Medicaid expansion insist on carrying out all of the reforms and measuring the results before even considering extending the program to poor parents, childless adults and some people with disabilities not covered now.

“I believe Virginia should not expand Medicaid no matter how perfect we can make the program,” said Christie Herrera, vice president of policy at the Foundation for Government Accountability, one of several groups that pushed Monday for alternatives for insuring the poor that don’t rely on federal dollars.

“You become more dependent on the federal government, and that is not an option to us,” said Craig DiSesa, representing a Mechanicsville-based advocacy group that held a news conference with other conservative policy organizations before the commission meeting on Monday.

But Hazel is concerned that Virginians would not benefit from $26 billion in new taxes under the Affordable Care Act without expanding Medicaid in addition to an estimated $6 billion in federal subsidies for insurance on the new marketplace. “Absent of Medicaid expansion, we have no way to get our money back,” he said.

Commission Vice Chairman R. Steven Landes, R-Augusta, and other opponents of expansion argued that the federal government cannot afford to keep its commitment under the law to full funding of expansion in Virginia for the next three years and no less than 90 percent of the cost thereafter.

Landes told a representative of private health plans that they also would stand to lose if the federal government backed off the commitment, along with hospitals and providers. “If the funds aren’t there, somebody’s ox is going to be gored,” he told Doug Gray, executive director of the Virginia Association of Health Plans.

Gray responded that insurers are not daunted by the possibility of having to disenroll participants in Medicaid managed care plans, as would be required under the budget language if the government reduces its share of funding.

“We win and lose enrollment on a daily basis,” he said. “To us, it’s not the end of the world to cut some people off.”

Politically, however, the prospect of rolling back benefits alarms lawmakers who fear they would take the blame.

“Who gives them the notice, the state or feds?” asked Del. Johnny S. Joannou, D-Portsmouth. “I’m sure it’s the state sending a letter saying, ‘I’m not insuring you anymore,’ and that’s not right.”

Stosch received an assurance from Gray that contracts between the state and Medicaid health plans would require them to drop coverage if the money isn’t there. “That’s absolutely possible,” Gray said.

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 For Immediate Release: October 2013

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN RESOURCES 

 During this time of confusion and concern over the ongoing government shutdown, we wanted to share some resources that may be helpful to your business or nonprofit - many of these sites are being updated as more information becomes available:

HuffPost's blog called "Shut Down, Not Shut Off" asks what we can learn from the shutdown's impasse.

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 For Immediate Release: July 2013

The Airports Authority is announcing today that the expected substantial completion of Phase 1 of the Metrorail Silver Line Project could be delayed by approximately eight weeks. The additional time is needed for further testing to assure safety and performance prior to transferring the rail line to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). The delay in substantial completion is expected to have an impact on the start of revenue service, the date of which will be set by WMATA.

Press release with further details.

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For Immediate Release: July 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 

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For Immediate Release: May 21, 2013

2013 Retail Sales & Use Tax Guidelines

Effective July 1, 2013, House bill 2313 (Acts of Assembly 2013, Chapter 766) increases the rate of the statewide Retail Sales and Use Tax and imposes an additional state Retail Sales and Use Tax in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads Regions.

2013 Retail Sales and Use Tax Guidelines

CONTACT:
Eileen Curtis, Dulles Regional Chamber: (571) 323-5301

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For Immediate Release: January 15, 2013

Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership Identifies
Transportation, Economic Development, Workforce
and Healthcare
as Key Priorities for
2013 Legislative Session

The Dulles Regional, Greater Reston and Loudoun County chambers of commerce, otherwise known collectively as  the Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership, identified transportation investment, economic development, workforce and healthcare as the priority issues they will focus on during the 2013 session on behalf of their members. The Partnership represents more than 2,800 employers and 100,000 jobs.

Eileen Curtis, President and CEO of the Dulles Regional Chamber, stated: “We are very pleased our organizations will be building on our previous successes by continuing to serve as a strong, coordinated voice for Northern Virginia businesses through the Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership.”

The Partnership chose its focus for 2013 by identifying the areas that provide the greatest opportunity to promote a strong, pro-business environment to enhance Virginia’s and the Northern Virginia region’s economic competitiveness, cultivate growth in all segments of our economy, and ensure adequate access to critical business infrastructure and resources.

"While there are a wide range of bills and budget items that may impact the business community in some form or fashion, we thought it was critical that, this session, we really zero in on those issues where we can have a real impact on those issues that most effect our members,” said Mark Ingrao, President and CEO of the Greater Reston Chamber. He continued, “This is particularly important given the dynamic and challenging business environment in which we are all operating.”

As in previous years, the individual chambers within the Partnership each possess a broad and comprehensive public policy agenda. Beyond those, the following makes up the collective priorities for the 2013 session: 

  • Secure new, sustainable, reliable, long-term regional and statewide transportation funding to meet our critical transportation construction and maintenance needs.
     
  • Secure additional state funding to support completion of the Dulles Corridor Rail Project in order to minimize the impact of increasing tolls for Dulles Toll Road users and ensure that one of the Commonwealth’s major economic development drivers remains affordably accessible.
     
  • Maintain support for the vast array of economic investment and policy tools that enable the Commonwealth to attract and retain jobs and employers to Virginia.
     
  • Support making Virginia’s legal system as business-friendly as possible through a series of reform bills that will provide additional economic development tools to attract and retain businesses to Virginia.
     
  • 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.
     
  • Protect employers and their employees from any negative impact federal healthcare reform legislation may create as state-level policy and regulations are developed.

Well known as long time leaders in the business community, Mindy and Michael Carlin of Access Point Public Affairs, LLC, have once again been retained to represent the Partnership during the 2013 legislative session.

“The top priority of every member of the Virginia General Assembly and the Governor’s Administration must be the creation of good, high paying jobs and on investing in the workforce and infrastructure that is absolutely necessary to keep our economy strong,” said Tony Howard, President and CEO of the Loudoun County Chamber. He continued, “There is really no area where this is more critical than transportation investment. We cannot wait any longer to implement a transportation solution to address our critical needs that are crippling our economy and our businesses.”

The leading business organizations in the Dulles Region (including the Dulles Corridor, western Fairfax, Reston and Loudoun County), the Commonwealth’s most vibrant economic market, formed the Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership to ensure the needs of area businesses are represented before Virginia’s key public policy decision makers in state government. “When you consider the pure number of employers and jobs represented by our Partnership, it is clear we are providing an unparalleled voice for Northern Virginia’s business community in Richmond at a time when supporting pro-business policy is more critical than ever,” said Ingrao.

Now in its fifth year of investing significant resources and time into building a strong business advocacy program at the state level, the Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership has become a credible, known entity in the halls of the General Assembly building and Capitol in Richmond. “Our work with our state policy makers translates into real value for our members on the issues that truly impact their bottom line,” said Curtis.

“We are committed to working not just with our own delegation members, but with members throughout the Commonwealth,” said Howard. “Generally, what is good for businesses in Northern Virginia is good for businesses statewide, so we look forward to working with legislators and our business colleagues to make the Commonwealth as business-friendly as possible.”

CONTACT:
Eileen Curtis, Dulles Regional Chamber: (571) 323-5301

 (Updated January 2013)

# # #


Bill to Change Cost of Competing Could Reduce School Funding

Link

(Updated January 2012)

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 2012 Policy Position Paper

EMINENT DOMAIN 

The Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce (DRCC) specifically supports responsible use of eminent domain authority in instances when the rights of property owners are fairly balanced with the rights of entities with existing eminent domain authority; however, DRCC strongly opposes efforts to amend the Virginia Constitution with regard to the issue of eminent domain or definition of public use, given these issues are clearly addressed and defined in the Virginia statute.

(Updated January 2012)

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Governor McDonnell Unveils 2013 - 2014 Budget

Link

(Updated December 2011)

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Phase 3 Work Begins on Route 7 Eastbound June 12th

Eastbound traffic will be shifted to the new Route 7 eastbound bridge over the Capital Beltway on or about June 12.  Fluor-Lane will then begin work on the center section of the old bridge.  Crews will begin removing the old center section during overnight hours.  This work will take several weeks to complete.  Once the old span is removed construction will begin on the final section of the new Route 7 span over I-495.

(Updated June 2011)

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GOOD NEWS FOR TRANSPORTATION

It wasn’t quick. It wasn’t easy. And for some time the outcome was in doubt.

However, at the end of a very long day, the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) voted to establish a new Northern Virginia North-South Corridor of Statewide Significance (CoSS).

This is the first time in over a decade that the Commonwealth has acknowledged the need for a new multi-modal transportation corridor in Northern Virginia. Previously, CoSS designation had been awarded only to existing corridors.

This is indeed an important historic step. By itself it does not guarantee a Bi-County or Tri-County Parkway or any other specific multi-modal improvement. Only our continued persistence can do that. However, it does place an important state imprimatur on it and makes certain that this long-neglected corridor is neglected no more.

(Updated May 2011)

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The Chamber’s Economic Development Committee recently had a presentation from Rail to Dulles Director Patty Nicoson.  Discussion then followed on the current perils facing the Rail to Dulles project.  Items to note included the following.

  • The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is threatening to renege on the Rail to Dulles Project if costs don’t go down.
  • Congressman Wolf and several chambers, including ours, have sent letters to MWAA’s Chairman expressing disappointment with MWAA’s decision to elect the costlier below-ground station option at the Airport.
  • Congressman Wolf has proposed legislation to add five Virginia members to the MWAA Board and give local governments a say in the selection of those members.
  • Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood recently cited the Rail to Dulles Project as the #1 transportation project in the nation.
  • There is $1.7 Billion of Federal monies involving a TIFEA bond that might be applied to this project.   This would significantly reduce the burden on toll road commuters.
  • The price of labor for Phase 2 will be the same as Phase 1.  MWAA’s decision to use the PLA (union labor) process will not raise costs and will allow the quality work done on Phase 1.
  • Parking at the Loudoun stations could be private.
  • MWAA should seek other funding sources.
  • The funding of other roads not directly related to the toll road should not be funded with toll road money.
  • New mechanisms such as peak pricing and distance tolling are being considered.

(Updated May 2011)

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 On April 13th Learn Why Federal Transportation Funding Reauthorization

and 2010 Census Results Really Matter for Northern Virginia.

Virginia is far more dependent upon federal transportation dollars than most states and the 2010 census offers real insight into how people travel and where future dollars should be spent.

Federal funding reauthorization has been in limbo for two years. When and for what purposes funds are reauthorized will have a major impact on Virginia's transportation program. So too will the extent to which future transportation funds are focused in areas with the greatest needs.
 
Noted transportation expert and Commuting in America series author Alan Pisarski will address and take questions on these topics on April 13th.
 
This is a must attend event for those concerned about the wise investment of our ransportation dollars.

What:     Future Federal Transportation Policy and Travel Trends

When:    April 13, 2011 - 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
                7:30 a.m. - Registration
                8:00 a.m. - Breakfast
                8:30 a.m. - Program begins

Where:   Waterford at Fair Oaks
              12025 Lee Jackson Memorial Highway
               Fairfax, Virginia  22033

For more information call: 703-883-1830; email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

(Updated April 2011)

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Fairfax County Board Votes 8 - 2 to

Extend Trash Incinerator Service Agreement

Business Coalition in Opposition to Purchase Praises Decision

This afternoon the Board of Supervisors voted 8 - 2 to extend the service agreement with Covanta Fairfax, Inc. rather than purchase the I-95 Waste-to-Energy plant. The Dulles Regional Chamber and other members of the business community defended this public-private partnership in opposition to the county borrowing and spending $417.5 million plus about $400 million in interest to buy the facility. The business coalition represented more than 2,400 businesses with more than 200,000 employees in Fairfax County

The Coalition's evaluation concurred with County staff's conclusion that it was more cost effective for the County to extend the service agreement for at least the next 17 years than it was for the County to borrow and spend millions to buy the facility.

Today's decision is a great victory to promoting and sustaining public private partnerships.  The business community praises the efforts of all those who have negotiated this great deal for the citizens and businesses of Fairfax County.  We thank the Board of Supervisors for bringing forward a good business decision.

(Updated March 2011)

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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of Governor Bob McDonnell


Governor Directs State Agencies to Implement E-Verify Check of Immigration Status for New Hires 18 Months Ahead of Schedule
~ Order Accelerates Implementation from December 2012 to June 2011~


RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell officially ordered today that all executive branch state agencies implement the E-Verify system to verify employment eligibility based upon immigration status for all new hires by June 1, 2011, a full 18 months ahead of the legislated deadline of Dec. 1, 2012.

The 2010 General Assembly passed legislation (HB737) requiring all state agencies to use E-Verify, an Internet-based system that allows an employer to determine the eligibility of an employee to work in the United States. The E-Verify system is operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration.

“Federal law rightly requires that companies and governments only employ individuals who may legally work in this country — either U.S. citizens or foreign citizens who have the necessary authorization.” Governor McDonnell said. “My administration has focused on enforcing the nation’s immigration laws to ensure that all of those working in Virginia’s public and private sectors are legally eligible to do so. The General Assembly passed legislation last year instructing our state agencies to use this federal resource to check employment eligibility based upon immigration status, and I felt strongly that we should implement this policy as quickly as possible. By working closely with our state agencies and the Department of Human Resource Management, we have accelerated this change to begin a year and a half earlier than we had anticipated. We must consistently and correctly enforce the laws of this nation; our country is based on the rule of law. E-Verify will ensure that every state job is held by a legally authorized worker.”

E-Verify supplements procedures in place in the Commonwealth since November 1986 to ensure that state agencies are maintaining a legal workforce. Since Sept. 8, 2009, those state agencies receiving federal contracts requiring the use of E-Verify have been using the system.

“Virginia employs more than 100,000 people, so it is incumbent upon us to remain vigilant in ensuring the legal status of all who are on our payroll,” said Lisa Hicks-Thomas, secretary of administration. “Virginia’s state agencies will lead by example as we strive to have all Virginia companies participate in this free, easy-to-use program that ensures Virginia’s workers are legally eligible for jobs in the U.S.”

Nationwide, more than 238,000 employers are enrolled in the program, with over 16 million queries run through the system in fiscal year 2010.

Office of the Governor
Contact: Jeff Caldwell
Phone: (804) 225-4260
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

(Updated 03/2011)

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Help Forge Two Missing Links Designate Bi- and

Tri-County Parkways Corridors of Statewide Significance

On March 16, 2011, the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) is scheduled to determine whether to designate the Bi-County and Tri-County Parkways as Corridors of Statewide Significance (CoSS).

A major factor in Northern Virginia becoming the nation's most traffic-congested region is the failure to build many parkways, particularly north-south, planned decades ago to support today's land use patterns and traffic demands. In many cases local governments took planned facilities off their maps.

In 2009 the Virginia House and Senate by unanimous vote authorized the CTB to designate corridors of statewide significance and initiate necessary studies to help advance them as public-private sector partnerships or conventional projects. To date the CTB has awarded such designation only to existing corridors such as I-66 and I-95.

The Bi-County and Tri-County Parkways represent badly needed north-south links to Washington Dulles International Airport and Northern Virginia employment centers.

Forces with a history of opposing the 2002 Bond Referendum, the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge, new Potomac River Crossings, I-66 improvements, Governor McDonnell's bond package and virtually every other regional improvement of significance are railing against this designation.

To register your support for CoSS designation for the Bi-County and Tri-County Parkways, use the document below to send a letter on your letterhead to Secretary Connaughton. THANK YOU!

The Honorable Sean T. Connaughton, Chairman
Commonwealth Transportation Board
1111 East Broad Street, Room
Richmond, Virginia

Dear Secretary Connaughton:

The undersigned (or individual organization) request that the Commonwealth Transportation Board designate the Bi-County and Tri-County Parkways as Corridors of Statewide Significance and to initiate the necessary studies and actions to protect required rights of way and ultimately construct both facilities.

The need for additional north-south multi-modal capacity and the benefits of both Parkways have been well-documented by the Commonwealth’s 2005 Tri-County Parkway Location Study and other analysis. Both parkways appear on local comprehensive land use and transportation plans.

Northern Virginia is the nation’s most congested region in large part due to the failure to complete a previously planned transportation grid. Most planned radial connections to our metropolitan region’s core have been completed; many essential north south links have not. The result, as recently confirmed by a national study, is that our radial corridors are overwhelmed by traffic for lack of alternatives.

Washington Dulles International Airport is widely acknowledged to be a major economic engine for the Commonwealth and, in particular, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Counties. However, the Airport’s ability to fulfill its potential is heavily dependent upon improved accessibility for passengers, freight and workers from the north and south. The Bi-County and Tri-County Parkways are key missing links. 

Job creation and sustained regional prosperity are heavily dependent upon a mobile and accessible work force. Loudoun and Prince William Counties are among Virginia’s fastest growing communities. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments projects that much of the region’s future population and job growth will occur in or adjacent to these counties. Attracting and keeping cutting edge employers requires improved north-south connectivity.

Such facilities also will help move people out of harm’s way in the event of homeland security emergency

In short, Corridor of Statewide Significance designation for the Bi-County and Tri-County Parkway is essential to improved regional mobility, quality of life, long-term prosperity and security. The (name) respectfully requests the Commonwealth Transportation Board to award such designation at its March 16, 2011 meeting.

(Updated 03/2011)

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Bipartisan Advisory Commission on Redistricting

The Independent Bipartisan Advisory Commission on Redistricting has scheduled four public forums around the state this month as part of its goal to ensure bipartisan citizen involvement in the General Assembly and the Congressional redistricting process.  The public is invited to attend the Northern Virginia forum scheduled for Tuesday, March 15th at 7:00 pm at George Mason University.  The forum is the public’s opportunity to present its ideas about how new political district boundaries should be drawn in keeping with population changes recorded by the 2010 Census.

With broad public input and with the assistance of impartial experts, the Commission has been charged to make recommendations about new district maps for the 100 seats in the House of Delegates, 40 seats in the state Senate and Virginia’s 11 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Commission will present its report April 1, 2011 to allow for full consideration of its recommendations prior to the reconvened session at which the General Assembly will hear from its own committees and vote on new districts.

(Updated 03/2011)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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