Richmond- Senator Mark Herring (D-Loudoun and Fairfax) today announced his legislative agenda for the 2011 General Assembly session, which began this past Wednesday. To this point, Senator Herring has introduced 17 bills and anticipates introducing several more before the January 21st deadline.
Among the highlights of Senator Herring’s legislative package is SB 1326, which creates a Research and Development Tax Credit in Virginia. This legislation is the top priority of the Northern Virginia Technology Council and the Virginia Biotechnology Association, with whom Senator Herring has worked closely in the past, including last year on the passage of the Virginia Innovation Investment Act. For his efforts to promote science and technology based economic development, Senator Herring was named “Legislator of the Year” in 2010 by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
This legislation was also included among Governor Bob McDonnell’s “Opportunity at Work” legislative proposals. The Governor thanked Senator Herring for carrying this legislation during his State of the Commonwealth address delivered this past Wednesday.
“This legislation will build on the great strides we have made in recent years to make Virginia more competitive with our neighbors and more attractive to bioscience and technology industry,” Herring said. “Our Commonwealth, and Northern Virginia in particular, is perfectly suited for the kinds of high-paying, high growth potential jobs that science and technology industry brings with it. I’m grateful for the Governor’s support on this important initiative.”
Virginia is currently one of only 12 states that do not offer an R&D tax credit as part of its job creation strategy.
Senator Herring will also offer a budget amendment to allocate $25 million to the Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF). The CRCF was created through legislation authored by Senator Herring in 2009, and is designed to better focus the moneys available under the program to key areas of research and development in the Commonwealth. The CRCF emphasizes the importance of commercializing research and development through matching-fund programs, leveraging private and federal funds, and providing a loan program for the construction of facilities utilized in commercializing qualified research.
Transportation will be one of the top issues on the General Assembly’s plate in 2011, and Senator Herring continues to be focused on ways to generate new revenue for transportation.
“The Governor campaigned on having a detailed plan to fix transportation without raising taxes. While his proposals have fallen short of expectations thus far, I remain committed to working constructively with the Governor to see if he can find a way to make good on his promise,” Herring stated.
“As a demonstration of that commitment, I responded to the Governor’s request last year for ideas and input on how to raise revenue for transportation. One of the ideas I shared with the Governor was to consider changes to the state’s revenue sharing program, which directs state funding to projects where localities are willing to share in the cost of highway construction. The Governor has embraced that proposal and has included it in his 2011 transportation legislative package.”
The bill, SB 1329, removes the $1 million cap for individual allocations and gives funding priority to projections focused on congestion relief. The bill also increases the minimum appropriation from $15 million to $50 million.
Senator Herring plans to continue to push the Governor, the Secretary of Transportation, and the Commonwealth Transportation Board, to allocate available state funds to construct the Route 7/Belmont Ridge Road interchange and Sycolin Road overpass. These projects continue to be top priorities for Loudoun County, and Senator Herring’s Route 7 Task Force has also identified obtaining funding to construct these projects as critical to alleviate congestion along the Route 7 corridor.
Also on the agenda is SB 1335, which establishes a telework tax credit for Virginia employers, a bill included among bi-partisan package of government reform bills resulting from the Governor’s Commission of Government Reform and Restructuring.
Continuing his efforts to expand transparency and accountability in state government, Senator Herring introduced SB 1338, the Virginia Responsible Budgeting and Spending Control Act.
“This past election, voters in Virginia and around the nation sent a message to lawmakers reminding us that it is our responsibility to be careful stewards of their tax dollars,” Herring stated. “The Virginia Responsible Budgeting and Spending Control Act provides that the Governor submit a financial plan to the General Assembly that includes projections for total state debt and projected future expenditures over periods of six and ten years. We need to know precisely the fiscal consequences that spending and borrowing decisions will have on our state budget over the long term.”
“I am optimistic that members of both parties in both chambers will come together around these important pieces of legislation I am introducing in 2011, and I am confident that the tone in the General Assembly will be one of civil and constructive debate as we consider how to best move our Commonwealth forward into the future.”