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Poindexter wants to expand grants
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Del. Charles Poindexter

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Del. Charles Poindexter hopes to persuade state lawmakers to expand the reach of an economic development incentive program this year.

Most of the counties and cities in which the Port of Virginia Economic and Infrastructure Development Grant Fund and Program now is available are in eastern parts of Virginia, House Bill 672 shows.

The bill, prefiled by Poindexter on Tuesday for the General Assembly session that started Wednesday, would expand the grant fund to localities statewide, according to Alex Thorup, the delegate’s legislative assistant.

HB 672 would eliminate zones in which current participating localities are located, which in effect would open the program to other places, Thorup said.

Because Henry County and Martinsville are not in any of the zones, “a lot of businesses in this area are not able to receive these grants” now, he said.

The bill would enable companies using the state port to receive grants to locate or expand throughout Virginia, not just in localities now specified in legislation that established the program.

If a company creates at least 100 new, permanent, full-time jobs, it would be eligible for $3,000 per position, up to a maximum total of $500,000 within a state fiscal year, the bill shows. Lesser amounts of money are specified for lesser numbers of jobs created.

Thorup said Poindexter and his legislative staff are “hopeful” that HB 672 eventually will become law.

But “I wouldn’t say we’re optimistic at this point,” he said, because they know “there will be some strong opposition” from areas already are covered by the grant program.

Basically, more companies in more areas “will be competing for the same money” if the legislation is enacted, Thorup added.

Poindexter, R-Glade Hill, represents the 9th District, which includes Patrick County and parts of Henry and Franklin counties.

He also prefiled HB 676, which would impose a mandatory minimum 10-year sentence on people convicted of manufacturing, distributing, selling or giving — or possessing with intent to manufacture, distribute, sell or give — 28 or more grams of a methamphetamine substance. (See related story.)

Poindexter, who could not be reached for comment, also prefiled:

• HB 673, which pertains to a permit for discharges of stormwater due to construction. It would place the fee for coverage of single-family residential projects of 1 to 5 acres at the amount charged for similar smaller projects.

The bill would help contractors and people building homes for themselves reduce their costs, Thorup said.

• HB 674, which defines “human consumption” of water. According to the bill, the term applies to water used for drinking, preparing foods and washing dishes and human body parts.

The bill would make Virginia Department of Health terminology basically the same as that used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Thorup said.

• HB 675, which would eliminate the State Board of Elections’ authority to extend for up to 10 days deadlines for candidates to file written statements of qualifications and economic interests and some campaign finance reports.

Thorup said “no real guidance” exists as to when the elections board should extend deadlines. If the bill becomes law, all candidates would have to meet established deadlines unless, perhaps, they had exceptional circumstances such as family emergencies, he said to his understanding.

• HB 677, which would require local school boards to host yearly workforce summits. At the events, representatives of local chambers of commerce and businesses would supply information on skills necessary to meet demands of the businesses. They also would present ways in which schools could better foster those skills, according to a bill summary.

The bill would “put everybody on the same page” in terms of making sure that students have skills they need for career success, Thorup said.

• HB 697, which would postpone the date on which localities must assume responsibility for stormwater management programs until July 1, 2015.

Undertaking that responsibility will be costly for localities, Thorup said. Local governments sought the postponement to give them time to find funds, he said.

• HB 915, which would require permits or leases to extract or explore for oil or gas in state-owned forests to allow the use of “hydraulic fracturing” — forcing open fissures in rocks by using liquids under high pressure.

That also is known as “fracking.” It would allow the state “to further develop our energy resources,” Thorup said.

A lot of energy resources in forests and on other state-owned land have been identified, he said. If the bill is approved, and if the state decides to allow tapping into the resources, procedures would be in place, he added.


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