On April 22, Virginia General Assembly members are expected to return to Richmond for the 2020 Reconvened Session, otherwise known as “veto session.” Legislators will have the opportunity to take final action on bills the Governor amended or vetoed since the legislature adjourned in early March. There have not been any changes to the Reconvene Session schedule due to the current COVID-19 outbreak and the Virginia Chamber will inform you of any changes if they occur.
While Governor Northam is currently reviewing legislation that passed this session, it is my hope that he will follow the bipartisan support from the General Assembly and approve Senate Bill 861 to help our small businesses afford comprehensive health insurance.
I encourage you to visit our coalition website to learn more about how Senate Bill 861 will support small businesses, their employees, and families across the Commonwealth.
Last week, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide emergency relief for American workers and businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Since that time, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration (SBA) have been working diligently to ensure this necessary relief gets into the hands of our most vulnerable businesses as soon as possible. Virginia is expected to receive $3.3 billion in direct relief aid from the CARES Act, which will go to state and local needs. Below you will find some of the latest resources released by both the U.S. Treasury Department and the SBA, such as this topline overview of the Paycheck Protection Program.
On Wednesday, I joined Senator Tim Kaine and Dr. Kerry Gateley, Health Director of the Virginia Department of Health, for a live webinar hosted by the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance to discuss the CARES Act and what it means for Virginia’s business community. You can view the webinar here.
On the State level, Governor Northam issued a Stay at Home Order (Executive Order 55) requiring all Virginians to stay home, with a few exceptions. Individuals are allowed to travel for essential services only, which includes going to the grocery store, picking up medication, caring for sick family members, and picking up items from restaurants and other essential retailers. The order is currently in effect and remains in place until June 10, 2020. More information on EO55 can be found on the Virginia Chamber’s COVID-19 Resource Center.
Earlier this week, I sent a letter to Governor Northam requesting that he strongly consider delaying the enactment of several legislative items passed during the 2020 General Assembly session that would create new burdens for employers when businesses face historic headwinds. These bills were passed by the legislature when the economic landscape of Virginia, and the country as a whole, were entirely different. In the letter, I also requested that the Governor consider allowing Virginia to conform to the new federal tax filing date of July, 15, 2020. We believe that by delaying enactment on these bills, conforming the Commonwealth’s tax filing date with the federal government’s, and by looking for ways to alleviate reporting and licensing requirements for businesses, Virginia stands a better chance at bouncing back quickly from these unprecedented medical and economic events. Read the letter here.
Last week, I expressed that the Virginia Chamber has been reevaluating our signature event schedule to be mindful of the current pandemic and prioritize the safety and health of our community. Today, I am formally announcing that the entire 2020 Virginia Chamber Signature Event schedule for the spring has been postponed. Our events team is working diligently to reschedule these events and additional updates will be provided as they become available.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the business community for taking this challenge seriously. Protecting the health and safety of our workforce and all Virginians and stopping the spread of this pandemic are crucial. We have been impressed by the ingenuity of the business community to do everything possible to maintain the stream of commerce, while keeping the health of Virginians as the top priority.