Legislative Policy 2022
Bedford Area Chamber Supports:
• Investment in job training, education, and in-demand skills as means to higher earning potential, while balancing the implications of higher minimum wage mandates on jobs and small business operations.
• Proposals that will simplify the tax code and reduce the cost of compliance on businesses and individuals, including tax reform measures to strengthen and defend Virginia business climate.
• Opposition to requirements that mandate collective bargaining, require binding arbitration, or repeal Virginia’s right-to-work law.
• Protection of Virginia’s existing Right-to-Work laws so that employees are not compelled to pay union dues as a condition of employment.
• Delaying further minimum wage increase until the economy recovers to pre-pandemic levels.
• Continued funding for economic development programs available through the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, GO Virginia and the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.
• Measures to restore and re-shore manufacturing in Virginia to minimize supply chain issues and product shortages.
• Continued funding for Tourism and Agri-tourism initiatives.
• Actions and funding that recognize and further Tourism as an industry.
• Policies that make it easier to conduct business in Bedford County.
• Virginia policies to invest in infrastructure to expand affordable broadband and telecommunication services in unserved and underserved areas to support education, telework, and telemedicine to enhance our area’s competitiveness in economic development.
• Ease of access to direct broadband funding for localities. This includes a streamlined process to localities that reduces time required to apply, and limits commercial interference when there are competing providers that are not willing to actually provide service.
• Continued funding for business growth and expansion programs such as the Enterprise Zone Program.
• Continued use of Historic Tax Credits as a revitalization tool.
• Full funding by the state or Federal government of any state or Federal mandates to localities.
• Further strengthening of revenue options for Virginia’s localities that were enhanced in the 2020 legislative session. This includes expanded incentives for angel/venture capital investment in Virginia business.
Workforce Development and Education
• We support efforts to increase teacher salaries, which will allow Virginia to better recruit and retain educators in a shrinking teacher workforce.
• We believe funding for workforce development is a priority for state, regional and local education providers and encourage adequate funding.
• We support an alignment between secondary education, colleges and universities and the business community to better meet industry, workforce, and talent needs.
• We support initiatives that strengthen connections among students, parents, educators, guidance counselors, and career coaches for career and technical education (CTE) opportunities and regionally in-demand careers in Bedford County Public Schools.
• We support fully funding the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.
• We support reducing roadblocks for permitting or licensing childcare providers so that parents can continue to work. We support initiatives that make childcare affordable, available and located near work centers.
• We support funding existing school facility infrastructure including upgrades and improvements to existing schools and their assets such as auditorium and outdoor athletic spaces. This investment should reduce closure of school facilities.
• We support funding that enables and encourages adaptive re-use of decommissioned public school facilities. Investment in closed facilities reflects a community's investment in education, noting vacant buildings can be a drain or blight in a community.
• We’re concerned with any rush to legalize marijuana in Virginia specifically as this impacts business and manufacturing workplace safety, reinvestment initiatives, and attracting new industry to Bedford County.
• We encourage the General Assembly to actively support a passenger rail stop in the Town of Bedford. We believe that a passenger rail stop is one of the most important investments that could be made in our economy and our region served by a stop.
• We support more resources for multimodal transportation options, including the Bedford Otter Bus.
• We support initiatives that benefit economic development and projects to make U.S. Route 460, U.S. Route 221, Virginia Route 122, and Route 811 safer for business, commuters, tourism, and truck traffic.
• We support initiatives that will provide business with more health care insurance provider choices with lower costs. This would include enabling a pool of providers for small businesses and non-profits to join together for affordable options.
• We support initiatives that will strengthen behavioral health services in the Bedford community.
COVID-19 and Other Health Emergencies
The Bedford Area Chamber supports measures to help businesses recover and operate during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other health emergencies. We support:
• Accurate and prompt COVID-19 testing.
• Legal liability protections for businesses who follow health protocols.
• Continued affordable and reliable access to Personal Protective Equipment.