Public Comments for 01/29/2021 Appropriations - Commerce, Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee
HB1750 - Dairy Producer Margin Coverage Premium Assistance Program; established.
Last Name: Bayer Organization: Muhlenberg Lutheran Church Locality: Harriosnburg

As a person of Faith it is my calling to support these areas of concern and I ask you to consider how important these issues are and to vote to approve them!

Last Name: Johnson Organization: Leesburg Animal Park Locality: Leesburg

Dear Delagates, I am writing to OPPOSE HB2109. My name is Shirley Johnson and I own and operate Leesburg Animal Park in Leesburg. We are a small, privately owned zoo in Loudoun County. This bill would add a veterinarian as an "expert" regarding "companion animals". The problem is the definition of "companion animals" in the State of Virginia includes most zoo animals! How is a veterinarian trained in dogs or cats, able to competantly give expert advice on say Ring-tailed lemurs or White-handed gibbons? This is analogous to having a dentist give advice regarding heart surgery! I believe the best solution is to redefine "companion animals" to exclude exotic animals from this definition. Another solution is to have an animal advisory group to the Committee comprised of a person from various animal groups. This would give much more accurate information to the Committee. Thank you!

Last Name: Riddell Organization: Virginia Cattlemen's Association Locality: Louisa

Thank you Chairman Plum My name is Jim Riddell with the Virginia Cattlemen's Association representing thousands of cattle producers across Virginia. We ask you to support HB 1750 for our 442 dairies remaining in Va. 30 family dairies went our of business in 2020. This bill is a win-win for everyone. Its helps Va.'s dairy farmers stay in business, increases Nutrient Management plans and helps to protect our environment. Thank you for your support. Jim Riddell Virginia Cattlemen's Association * 25,000 family farms cattle operations

Last Name: Riddell Organization: Virginia Cattlemen's Association Locality: Mineral

Madame Chairwoman and members: I am Jim Riddell with the Va. Cattlemen's Association. We thank you for your support of House Bill 1750, Virginia agriculture and our dairy farmers. There are only 425 dairies remaining in Va. This is a win-win for everyone- It helps Va. dairy farmers while increasing Nutrient Management Plans, and protecting the environment. Thank you for your support. Jim Riddell Virginia Cattlemen's Association * 25,000 family farms cattle operations

Last Name: Calvert Organization: Virginia Conservation Network Locality: Charlottesville

Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) stands in support of HB 1750 & HB 2030. We hope that the subcommittee members will support each of these pieces of legislation.

HB1763 - Tax credit; agricultural best management practices.
Last Name: Bayer Organization: Muhlenberg Lutheran Church Locality: Harriosnburg

As a person of Faith it is my calling to support these areas of concern and I ask you to consider how important these issues are and to vote to approve them!

Last Name: Calvert Organization: Virginia Conservation Network Locality: Charlottesville

On behalf of Virginia Conservation Network's 150 organizational members statewide, I wish to communicate VCN's full support of Delegate Wilt's HB1763. Case for SUPPORT: http://www.vcnva.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/HB1763-Ag-BMPs-tax-credit-talking-points.pdf

Last Name: Kent Locality: Great Falls

I am writing to ask your support for HB 1763, “Tax credit; agricultural best management practices,” by Delegate Wilt. As a landscape photographer I am often photographing scenes of the Potomac River and its tributaries and I believe it is important to protect the river from pollution. To accomplish this goal, partners from many different sectors are essential, including Virginia’s important agriculture sector. The implementation of “best management practices” is an important means to curb pollution and improve water quality. Nevertheless, actions like stream-side fencing and riparian buffers of trees and shrubs can be a costly endeavor which can be a barrier to these efforts. This bill increases the amount available through tax credits to farmers for implementing water quality improvement practices approved by the Soil and Water Conservation Districts, practices that tend to also lead to increased herd-health and farm productivity. So, in my view this bill is win-win-win for farmers, our water and our local agriculture economy. Therefore, I urge you to recommend it for reporting and will vote for its passage when it reaches the House Floor.

HB1771 - Income tax, state and corporate; tax credit for employers of Nat'l Guard members, etc.
Last Name: Bayer Organization: Muhlenberg Lutheran Church Locality: Harriosnburg

As a person of Faith it is my calling to support these areas of concern and I ask you to consider how important these issues are and to vote to approve them!

Last Name: Ashton Organization: Joint Leadership Council Locality: Fredericksburg

HB1771 - As a representative of the Fleet Reserve Association and as Chairman of the Joint Leadership Council representing over 250,000 Veterans in the Commonwealth, we support this bill. OBJECTIVE: To promote the hiring of members of the Virginia National Guard and the Reserves by recognizing Virginia employers who hire our citizen-soldiers. BACKGROUND:  Members of the Virginia National Guard and the Armed Forces Reserves are citizen-soldiers, meaning that when they are not serving on federal or state missions, they are in their communities and working to support their families.  As a Commonwealth and a Nation, it is important that we recognize our employers who hire our citizen-soldiers. One way to do this is through a small-scale grant to encourage and incentivize hiring.  After the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) Program was established, the Governor and General Assembly authorized the creation of a grant program to recognize small to medium-sized employers that hire Virginia veterans.  If a Guardsman or Reservist serves on federal active duty, they earn Veterans status. Employers who hire these members of the Guard and Reserve would qualify for a V3 employer grant.  However, if a Guardsman or Reservist is not called to federal active duty, they are not considered a Veteran. Employers who hire them do not qualify for the V3 grant program. DISCUSSION:  This proposal seeks to build on the V3 Program employer grant model by awarding a one-time grant of $1,000 to a Virginia employer who hires a member of the Virginia National Guard or the Armed Forces Reserves.  Extending eligibility for a V3-type grant to Virginia employers who hire Virginia’s citizen-soldiers will both incentivize hiring of these talented individuals and recognize the vital dual role played by citizen-soldiers in our work places and our Commonwealth.  The JLC recommends a small-scale initial investment of $50,000 in FY22, sufficient to award 50 grants of $1,000 each. The Departments of Veterans Services and Military Affairs would report back to the Governor and General Assembly of the demand for this grant, and whether any shortfalls exist that should be addressed in future fiscal years.  The JLC recommends that the eligibility requirements for the $1,000 grant be modeled on the V3 employer grant requirements. RECOMMENDATION: That the Governor and General Assembly approve $50,000 to create a grant program to incentivize small to medium-sized Virginia employers to hire members of the Virginia National Guard and Armed Forces Reserves

Last Name: Oertel Organization: The American Legion Locality: Colonial Heights

As The American Legion representative to the Joint Leadership Council I echo the comments and endorsement of Bill Ashton, our Chairman. This bill addresses the number 2 priority of the JLC for this year. While the Fiscal Impact is unknown it is unlikely that the loss of revenue would be large given that it is unlikely that a large number of Guardsman would be on military pay status for over 45 days in a year. That said, providing an incentive to businesses to hire and retain Virginia National Guard members and encourage self employed personnel to serve in the National Guard would seem to be a win-win for both the Commonwealth and the businesses. As a retired active duty officer I highly encourage support of our part-time soldiers who honorably serve in a much more significant capacity than when I was in service.

Last Name: Ashton Organization: Joint Leadership Council Locality: Fredericksburg

As the Fleet Reserve Association representative which has over 4500 members in the Commonwealth of Virginia to the Joint Leadership Council which represents over 250,000 Veterans. we support this. OBJECTIVE: To promote the hiring of members of the Virginia National Guard and the Reserves by recognizing Virginia employers who hire our citizen-soldiers. BACKGROUND:  Members of the Virginia National Guard and the Armed Forces Reserves are citizen-soldiers, meaning that when they are not serving on federal or state missions, they are in their communities and working to support their families.  As a Commonwealth and a Nation, it is important that we recognize our employers who hire our citizen-soldiers. One way to do this is through a small-scale grant to encourage and incentivize hiring.  After the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) Program was established, the Governor and General Assembly authorized the creation of a grant program to recognize small to medium-sized employers that hire Virginia veterans.  If a Guardsman or Reservist serves on federal active duty, they earn Veterans status. Employers who hire these members of the Guard and Reserve would qualify for a V3 employer grant.  However, if a Guardsman or Reservist is not called to federal active duty, they are not considered a Veteran. Employers who hire them do not qualify for the V3 grant program. DISCUSSION:  This proposal seeks to build on the V3 Program employer grant model by awarding a one-time grant of $1,000 to a Virginia employer who hires a member of the Virginia National Guard or the Armed Forces Reserves.  Extending eligibility for a V3-type grant to Virginia employers who hire Virginia’s citizen-soldiers will both incentivize hiring of these talented individuals and recognize the vital dual role played by citizen-soldiers in our work places and our Commonwealth.  The JLC recommends a small-scale initial investment of $50,000 in FY22, sufficient to award 50 grants of $1,000 each. The Departments of Veterans Services and Military Affairs would report back to the Governor and General Assembly of the demand for this grant, and whether any shortfalls exist that should be addressed in future fiscal years.  The JLC recommends that the eligibility requirements for the $1,000 grant be modeled on the V3 employer grant requirements. RECOMMENDATION: That the Governor and General Assembly approve $50,000 to create a grant program to incentivize small to medium-sized Virginia employers to hire members of the Virginia National Guard and Armed Forces Reserves

Last Name: Czaplicki Organization: Virginia National Guard Association, Inc. Locality: Fredericksburg

On behalf of the nearly 10,000 brave men and women serving the Virginia National Guard, I proudly support this legislation as it provides an essential benefit to those Virginians who have answered their community's call. Since 2001, the Virginia National Guard has mobilized more than 19,200 Soldiers and Airmen on State Active Duty to respond to hurricanes, winter storms, flooding and other severe weather events, the novel Coronavirus pandemic and most recently with the response to Washington, D.C. where upwards of 2,900 Virginia Guard Soldiers and Airmen provide security over our Nation's Capitol. These missions to support our communities are hand-in-hand with our missions overseas to defend freedom abroad. In 2001, thousands of Guardsmen have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Tajikistan, throughout Europe and at our own Southwest Border. When these brave men and women return home to their families, they begin the transition back to civilian life. One key tenant of that normalcy is returning to the job that they left. This bill helps to bridge the gap between employers and their Guard Soldiers and Airmen. Buy offering a tax credit to Guard employers, you solidify the value placed on their service. Thank you for your continued leadership and support of the Commonwealth's Guardians.

HB2129 - Chesapeake Bay; wastewater treatment, Enhanced Nutrient Removal Certainty Program established.
Last Name: Pomeroy Organization: VAMWA (Va Assn of Municipal Wastewater Agencies) Locality: Henrico

VAMWA (Va Assn of Municipal Wastewater Agencies) supports HB 2129, which is a carefully structured program to carry out the wastewater component of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP). The bill calls on the top nutrient reduction performers in VA's Bay restoration program -- municipal clean water utilities -- to do extra to help the Commonwealth meet statewide goals in 2025, while other sectors continue working on their original 2010 TMDL obligations. Although the bill imposes a large list of requirements on municipal facilities, it is more cost-effective (State WQIF and Local shares) than the original WIP approach that might otherwise be mandated through a pending DEQ rulemaking and VAMWA strongly supports this compromise over the WIP as originally envisioned. As in earlier Bay TMDL phases, critical to implementing this bill (or the more costly pending regulations the bill would supersede) is for State WQIF appropriations over the next 5 years to continue to keep pace and match progress under the necessary engineering and construction contracts. Currently the HB 2129 approach is an estimated estimated 5-year (CY2021 - CY2025) $800M effort with associated State WQIF share of $300M per existing WQIF statutory formulas. Peak construction and related spending is expected CY2023-2025. Thank you for the General Assembly's rock-solid 24-year history of fully funding the Point Source WQIF on the same schedule as the underlying engineering and construction contracts for these multi-year treatment upgrade projects for Bay purposes.

Last Name: Bryant Organization: Virginia Municipal League Locality: Richmond

The Virginia Municipal Leagues supports HB 2129. The bill affected nearly 30 wastewater facilities, many of which are owned by towns and cities. The bill provides greater planning and budgeting certainty as well as greater certainty in pollution-reduction targets. The bill is a much more cost-effective approach -- calculated to be at least $173 million less expensive -- than proposed in the Watershed Implementation Plant Phase III. HB 2129 will continue ensuring that Virginia meets its 2025 WIP3 Chesapeake Bay obligations in the wastewater sector.

Last Name: Bryant Organization: Virginia Water and Waste Authorities Association Locality: Richmond

The Virginia Waster and Wastewater Authorities Association -- represented dozens of public service authorities -- supports HB 2129. The bill affected nearly 30 wastewater facilities, many of which are owned by authorities. The bill provides greater planning and budgeting certainty as well as greater certainty in pollution-reduction targets. The bill is a much more cost-effective approach than proposed in the Watershed Implementation Plant Phase III.

Last Name: Sanner Organization: CHESAPEAKE BAY FOUNDATION Locality: Henrico

Good afternoon, Chairman Plum and members of the committee. I am Peggy Sanner, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Executive Director. Thank you for the opportunity to speak about HB 2129. I thank Del Lopez for patroning this important bill which addresses next steps in upgrading Virginia’s wwtp program to help Virginia meet its Bay commitments. His legislative and environmental leadership has been invaluable. I also thank Del Bulova whose deep and long term engagement in these issues has also been indispensable. As always, we have appreciated the opportunity to work with our partners Chris Pomeroy at VAMWA and Preston Bryant for VML. And I would be deeply remiss if I did not mention the Administration and especially the ww staff at DEQ on whose tireless expert assistance this whole enterprise rests. As stated, the bill will ensure Virginia’s wastewater program will meet some important pollution reduction goals set out in the Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan – a result we surely applaud. But—without stepping away from the compromise reflected in the current bill -- what the bill does not do is also important. 1. The bill does not require the level of improvements necessary for Virginia to overcome looming pollution reduction shortfalls from other sectors. Progress in stemming polluted runoff that reaches waterways from developed lands hovers between flat and negative. And, frankly, Virginia has never funded our agriculture programs at the level necessary to meet that sector’s goals. While the Clean Water Act and Virginia’s State Water Control Law embody the principle and provide the tools to eliminate pollution from wwtp and other point sources to achieve clean water, this bill will significantly limit the extent to which Virginia can rely on achievable WWTP reductions to fill that gap. 2. Equally important, this bill does not take advantage of obvious and achievable opportunities to meet that shortfall. Unlike the plan first introduced in the Phase III WIP in 2019, and -- unlike the comprehensive plan currently before the State Water Control Board for approval -- this bill requires no new pollution reductions from several large facilities discharging to the James and York Rivers – even though their current rates of discharge are substantially higher than from facilities along the Potomac and Rappahannock. The ongoing pollution levels from these facilities and—frankly, the lack of water quality equity for Virginians downstream – cause us great concern. 3. Yes, the bill includes a few measures in a nod to those concerns. Notably, it provides that 3 James River facilities could be required to reduce their nitrogen pollution loads in the future. But such reductions are deeply contingent, limited in scope, and, in any event, would not come to fruition for 15 years. That is a long time to wait for clean water equity. With all that, I close by asking - in muted tones -- to support this bill. But I also ask that you continue to strengthen this program and the related water quality programs for stormwater and agriculture that, in sum, have made Virginia a national leader in Bay restoration. We cannot become complacent, recognizing that this work will only become more difficult due to pressures from needed development but also due to challenges arising from climate change. Thank you.

Last Name: McDonald Organization: Virginia Association of Counties Locality: Richmond

VACo is pleased to support HB 2129 and is grateful to the patron and all of the other stakeholders for their hard work on this important legislation.

Last Name: Witherington Locality: palmyra

Virginians deserve to breathe clean air. Unfortunately, pollution from vehicles is killing almost the same number of Virginians that die every year in traffic accidents - pollution that hits low-income neighborhoods and communities of color the hardest. While the General Assembly has prioritized acting to address climate change in recent years, cutting back power plant emissions and prioritizing clean energy, emissions from the transportation sector still make up almost half of our state's carbon footprint, with most of this coming from gas- or diesel-powered passenger vehicles. This is why the legislature must act in 2021 to protect public health and address the climate crisis by working to secure a cleaner transportation future. I urge you to support House Bill 1965 and adopt a Clean Cars Standard in Virginia as a first step toward a cleaner, more equitable transportation system in the Commonwealth. Under this program, Virginians will have more access to and greater incentive to purchase Low Emission Vehicles and Zero Emission Vehicles - vehicles that are in high demand but short supply right now as they're being sent predominately to other states with standards in place already. Over time, auto dealers will have to stock cleaner cars, which in turn will help protect public health and the environment by driving down pollution, and save Virginians thousands of dollars over the life of the vehicle. The climate crisis won't go away without years of hard work. If we fail to act now, we'll only fall further behind. I urge you to prioritize climate action in 2021 by supporting House Bill 1965. Thanks, Allen.

Last Name: schutt Locality: henrico va

We need more clean fuel vehicles in VA. Please help support them.

Last Name: Sanner Organization: Chesapeake Bay Foundation Locality: Henrico

CBF supports this bill conditioned on seeing the final amendments we expect to be made by Wednesday.

End of Comments