On February 8th, the 2021 General Assembly session adjourned sine die. Nearly immediately thereafter, the General Assembly convened a Special Session on February 10th which adjourned sine die on March 1st.  The General Assembly considered 1,476 pieces of legislation, which is well short of the 2,000-3,000 bills typically considered. This decrease was due to the bill limits set by each body, 7 bills for each House member, and 12 bills for each Senate member.

This General Assembly session was unique in other ways as well. For example, the House of Delegates adopted an entirely virtual format, which had members participating remotely from their home districts. The Senate of Virginia opted for a hybrid model and conducted in-person floor sessions and committee meetings at the Science Museum of Virginia. For both bodies, public participation in committee and subcommittee meetings was limited to virtual testimony. This means that lobbying consisted solely of communication through text messaging, calls, and videoconferences.

Week after week, you saw the bills that we were actively engaging and monitoring. As such, this article will focus on the three main legislative victories for our organization this session.

Defeat of HB 2259 – Governor; issuance of licenses to persons denied by regulatory board

This bill provides that the Governor may issue a license of the kind granted by a regulatory board under the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation or the Department of Health Professions to any person whose application for such license to such board has been denied. AIA Virginia believes that the process in place for regulating architecture should not be circumvented. It has successfully served in protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the general public as it takes into consideration the education, experience, and examination required for licensure. We actively opposed this legislation and it was successfully defeated.

An active stakeholder on HB 5002Establish Small Business & Women-owned & Minority-Owned Business Procurement Enhancement Programs.

Governor Ralph Northam announced the results of the Commonwealth’s disparity study, which demonstrate the need for the narrowly tailored race – and gender-conscious measures to increase equitable opportunities for women – and minority-owned businesses in state contracting. The outcomes of the study will guide the Northam Administration’s ongoing work with General Assembly leaders to increase supplier diversity and equity in the state procurement process. Read the executive summary of the 2020 disparity study here.

AIA Virginia supported this legislation, however it did not pass in its current form. Due to our support, the Administration has committed to giving AIA Virginia a seat at the table during the discussions to retool the legislation for reintroduction.

That’s right.

We will be at the table on this very important piece of the equity discussion.

Tax Conformity via HB 1935 and SB 1146

Each year the General Assembly decides which federal tax provisions the Commonwealth will conform to so Virginians know which provisions apply when filing their state income tax returns. Because of the pandemic, Congress passed numerous federal tax changes in the CARES Act and Consolidated Appropriations Act to provide immediate relief to struggling employers.

Specifically, two tax provisions were provided to PPP loan recipients 1) forgiven loans would not be taxable and 2) business expenses paid with those loan proceeds could be deducted.

Both bills included the income exclusion provision. There was a question regarding what to include regarding deductibility [$25,000 in one bill vs. $100,000 in the other bill]. AIA Virginia was part of a 43-Member Coalition that successfully advocated for the $100,000 deduction cap. This provides full deductibility to almost 80% of Virginia businesses who received a PPP loan.

These three victories are quite substantial in any legislative environment, notwithstanding a virtual General Assembly. Please continue to support our efforts by investing in our PAC at www.aiavapac.org.

Every investment matters!

If you have any questions, please reach out to Executive Vice President, Corey Clayborne, FAIA at cclayborne@aiava.org