Legislative Day 2023 brought cooperative representatives from across the commonwealth to Richmond to meet with elected officials about our shared legislative agenda.
As cooperative staff and board members arrived in Richmond on Monday, Jan. 23, excitement was already underway. Association government affairs staff was meeting with legislators on the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee about SB 1029, which would expedite railroad crossings for broadband deployment. That afternoon, the Government Affairs Committee met to discuss the 2023 electric cooperative legislative agenda and approve positions on bills filed at the General Assembly. Afterward, members attended lunch with keynote speaker Chuck Slemp, chief deputy attorney general to Attorney General Jason Miyares.
As evening approached, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee meeting began, and SB 1029 was heard. Prince George Electric Cooperative President and CEO Casey Logan, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative President and CEO Gary Wood, and Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative Vice President of Member and Energy Services David Lipscomb all attended the meeting and spoke to the importance of the bill. In addition to cooperative leaders, SB 1029 was supported by representatives from the Virginia Cable and Telecom Association, Verizon, Virginia Association of Counties, All Points Broadband, Agribusiness Council, Americans for Prosperity and various regional technology councils. While Legislative Day attendees watched via livestream from the hotel, legislators passed SB 1029 on a vote of 11 yeas to 1 nay, with 2 abstentions. The favorable vote was a major step forward in advancing the cooperative legislative agenda.
Later in the evening, legislators joined cooperative representatives for an evening reception at the Hilton Downtown Richmond. With record attendance, it was an important opportunity to build personal relationships with elected representatives at the General Assembly.
The following morning, attendees gathered bright and early for a morning legislative presentation by Association staff. Afterward, the group was treated to an informative presentation on the Virginia political landscape by Bob Hollsworth. After breakfast, cooperative representatives went over to the General Assembly building for in-person meetings with legislators and staff to discuss the cooperative legislative agenda. The day concluded with floor recognition in the House and Senate.
Once again, Association government affairs staff is grateful for cooperative leadership throughout Legislative Day, ensuring that elected representatives see the importance of the cooperative difference as they conduct business at the General Assembly. Through a strong showing of unity around our legislative agenda, cooperatives are able to speak with a powerful voice in the halls of government.
–Report by Sadie Gary, Director of Public Affairs, VMDAEC.