Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Del. Mike Watson - Legislative Update 10/01/2013





Virginia is back on top!


Legislative Update

October 1, 2013


Dear Friends,

I recognize that many newsletter subscribers do so to keep up with my official duties and may not be interested in the campaign.  Because I’m actively engaged with both and there is a lot happening on both fronts, I will send two different updates, with this one focused on my ongoing role as legislator.  That said, this first topic is applicable for both.  


“Virginia Tops 2013 List of the Best States for Business”

Forbes’ Magazine’s just released its ‘best state for business’ edition.   The article describes the continued weak economy across the nation then goes on to say, “pockets of the U.S. are primed for growth thanks to pro-business regulatory environments, educated workforces and reasonable business costs. Leading the way is Virginia which tops Forbes’ eighth annual Best States for Business.


This is exactly as it should be as we have worked to ensure a climate for economic growth through competitive tax and sound regulatory practices, improved infrastructure, and a quality education, all of which are geared towards promoting opportunity and quality of life in the Commonwealth. 


I am proud to have contributed to improvement in these areas.  Because voters have sent more entrepreneurs, people who have actually started businesses and created jobs, to the General Assembly, we've had a notable influence on pro-business legislation and these results have helped Virginia regain the number one spot.  Among our efforts was the 2012 formation of the General Assembly’s first ever ‘Business Development Caucus', which sponsors pro-growth legislation.  Just last session, we worked on unemployment insurance reform, home based businesses, tort reform, workforce development, regulatory reform, and more.   On a broader scale, the Governor and General Assembly have placed high priorities on issues of transportation and education, both key components of building opportunities for our citizens.


Being the # 1 state for business is huge and the recognition from Forbes will certainly make growing companies and start-ups look our way, but we can't be complacent.  We must continue our focus on these important issues, see what others are doing around us, and just as I have done in my own business, work to ensure that we stay on top.  To that point, I am already working on numerous 2014 initiatives, all designed to promote jobs and a quality workforce.


Folks, it always great to get recognition for doing the right thing and Virginians, not just the ones in Richmond but all of us, deserve to be commended.  We have a beautiful state with pristine assets, an abundance of natural resources, a top of the line education system, and hard-working citizens who care about their neighbors.  This is what makes Virginia # 1 in my book.  So, congratulations on being named ‘The Best.





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Friends of Mike Watson

PO Box 6628

Williamsburg, VA 23188


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I-64 Widening update

As you’re aware, I was able to vote twice to support the widening of I-64 on the Peninsula, once in the General Assembly with the passage of HB2313 and then again as a member of the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization to authorize moving the project forward. Preliminary design work is now underway with surveying taking place along the roadway and proposed lanes.  I'll offer time-line updates soon based on discussions with VDOT and will let you know the date of the next public forum.  I will also be working with VDOT and the Transportation Secretary on strategies for traffic advisory signage and alternate routing for travelers between Richmond and Hampton Roads.  For those of you that face the drive along I-64 every day, I know it can’t come soon enough, but rest assured that it is indeed coming.


Business Development Caucus – on the road again

As a co-founder of the bipartisan Business Development Caucus (BDC), I met with over 130 business leaders in Hampton Roads and across the state in 2012, gathering ideas for legislation.  As a result, the BDC drafted 17 pieces of pro-growth legislation, 10 of which are now law. This summer, we’re on the road again and have already hosted meetings in Front Royal, Lynchburg, Williamsburg, and Sterling.  With two more to go, we are on track to exceed last year for the number of companies attending.  The August 23rd Williamsburg event at Busch Gardens’ employee training center hosted over 50 attendees, including Republican and Democratic legislators and representatives from the Governor’s office.   I picked that date and venue to demonstrate how important the last two weeks of August are for Virginia tourism as some legislators seek to start the school year earlier.  We discussed this issue and many others and after just four meetings we've got great plans for pro-growth initiatives in 2014.  Our next meeting is Oct. 24 in Roanoke .  Once all are completed and the election behind us, the BDC will meet to compare notes and develop our legislative agenda for the coming session.  I look forward to sharing more of our BDC initiatives with you as we reach that point.


Joint Commission studies SOLs & NC Tax Reform

On September 18th, I participated in a joint meeting of the Small Business Commission and Manufacturing Development Commission held in Stafford, VA (I sit on the Manufacturing Development Commission).  One of the key topics discussed was a subject that I’ve been working on with the Department of Education (DOE), SOL reform for students on a Career & Technical path.  I’ve met with DOE representatives several times over the summer as we strive to engage more students in these quality career training programs.  One initiative I plan to promote is to expand a career bound student’s ability to utilize specific Industry Certifications as an alternative to certain SOLs.


The joint commission also reviewed details of recently adopted tax reform in North Carolina.  This comprehensive tax restructuring lowers both corporate and individual income tax rates, repeals many tax credits, broadens the retail sales tax base to include services, repeals the estate tax, increases standard deductions, and simplifies the overall state tax code.  Under the NC plan, the corporate income tax rate of 6.9% could incrementally drop to 3% if revenue targets are met.  By comparison, Virginia’s corporate rate is 6%.  Another comparison, North Carolina’s gas tax is capped at 37.5 cents per gallon compared to Virginia’s approximate 11 cents following the passage of our transportation plan.  As of today, Virginia has the lowest price at the pump on the east coast and the fifth lowest in the nation.  These are all important statistics as we compare Virginia’s competitiveness with its neighbors.  Because my company has facilities in both VA and NC and is taxed by both states, I will experience a first-hand comparison of the two and be able to share real-life analysis with my colleagues in Richmond as I will with you.  It's too early to know what reforms will be proposed in 2014, but it's wise to know what your competition is up to.


HB2198 status

Following our first round of BDC town-halls, I introduced HB2198 in the 2013 session.  Its goal, to provide businesses, particularly small businesses, the tools to ensure the information provided about them to potential creditors is accurate.  HB2198 provides just a few of the protections to companies that consumers already enjoy, a move that is strongly opposed by the credit reporting industry.  In February, the Committee on Commerce and Labor referred the bill to the Small Business Commission (SBC) to determine if it had merit.  In June, arguments were heard from both sides by the full commission who recommended a workgroup be established.  At the workgroup session, both sides again presented their case, this time including empirical evidence from local businesses demonstrating how the current process negatively affects them and their employees.  It reported back to the full commission on Sept. 10th, recommending that the bill move forward. I plan to have follow up meetings with stakeholders to develop language that is acceptable to both sides, which, with the SBE recommendation, will make the bill move through session more easily.  Additionally, several local Chambers are now rallying behind HB2198. The next SBC hearing on HB2198 is in November. 


Virginia Business at its Best

I’d like to take a moment to recognize one of Virginia’s great manufacturers, McKee Foods.  Earlier this year I met with Randy Smith, VP at its Stuarts Draft facility.  McKee recruits from our community colleges and has hired several graduates of the Control Automation & Instrumentation curriculum at NRCC.   We discussed a scholarship program I helped start 6 years ago that benefits students entering technology fields.  In today’s economy, there is much need for expanding programs like this.  Last month I traveled with Mr. Smith to Dublin, VA where he presented a very generous check on behalf of McKee Foods to the NRCC Educational Foundation, furthering educational opportunities for Virginia students.  We are fortunate to have McKee Foods in Virginia, demonstrating what it means to be a great corporate citizen. 


My Campaign for Reelection     

As stated in the introduction, I will be sending a campaign update in another message.  However, as

my legislative duties going forward are somewhat dependent on the results of November 5th, I am compelled to remind you of this important date and to ask for your vote.   By way of this newsletter and other means, you know that I’m working hard to address important issues in Virginia, but many do not.  So I would like to ask four favors of you:

1. Please forward this newsletter to your 93rd district friends. 

2. Please remind your neighbors that their vote is important.

3. Please email us to request a bumper magnet and/or a yard sign

4. Please consider making a small donation to my campaign at:           http://delegatewatson.com/contribute/       

A $10 contribution will help me get information to 20 voters. 


Thank you for taking time to read this update.  Please contact my office with any questions or comments.

Contact Delegate Watson

District Phone: (757) 645-5298                                

Email: Allison@DelegateWatson.com                      

Mail: PO Box 6628 Williamsburg, VA 23188                

This message was sent to alexanderofyork@ofva.us from:

Mike Watson | PO Box 6628 | Williamsburg, Virginia 23188

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