Va Agribusiness Council reports cuts coming when General Assembly meets Wednesday

April 21, 2020

The Virginia Agribusiness Council reports that the General Assembly is set to reconvene on Wednesday, April 22 in Richmond.  The House of Delegates will meet outside of the Capitol building while the Senate will meet at the Science Museum of Virginia.  The Governor has now signed the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan bill (HB 1422/SB 704) and the Virginia Clean Energy Plan (SB 851) as passed during the General Assembly.

Governor Ralph Northam has proposed a 4 month delay to the minimum wage bill (HB 395/SB 7).  The amendment calls for the minimum wage to be raised to $9.50 an hour by May 1, 2021 instead of January 1 as the bill originally called for.  The Council supports the Governor’s amendment to delay the raise in the minimum wage.  The farm worker and farm employee exemption is still included in the bill.

Governor Northam vetoed a bill (HB 119) that would have aligned Virginia’s definition of milk to the federal definition.  Milk would be defined in Virginia as the “secretion of a healthy, hooved mammal.”

The Governor proposed $121 million in spending cuts as a result of decreased state revenue projections due to COVID-19.  The proposed amendments to the state budget leave base technical assistance funding for the Soil and Water Conservation Districts and a $42 million deposit in the Water Quality Improvement Fund.  The amendments also reduce the amount of broadband funding to $38 million over the biennium.  The budget amendments un-allots the funding for any new positions including new positions at the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Department of Forestry, and the new cooperative extension agent in Richmond County.

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