Our VGI March meeting guest speaker was Ivy Main, a lawyer whose focus area is environmental policies for Virginia. Ms. Main reviewed the basics on how businesses can help shape Virginia environmental and renewable energy policies. She reviewed the Virginia legislature and its timing, getting a bill started, who actually writes the bill?, etc.

Ivy Main – VGI Guest Speaker

How does a small business even approach their Virginia legislators? First find out who your legislator is by going to the Virginia.Gov Who’s My Legislator web page. After finding your legislator, contact them, they want input from their constituents. Call them, email them, even meet with them!

After the business describes to their legislator what they need to help make their business better, put it concisely on a one page document. Make it easy for them to understand the goal in as little time as possible. State legislators, have very little time and lots to accomplish in a session.

The Virginia State Legislature (General Assembly) sessions alternate each year between 45 or 60 days. Any bills that are introduced can be introduced on either the House of Delegates side or the Senate side, then the idea is to get the bill to the other “house” at the halfway point of the session.

Back to documenting a business need and introducing it to a legislator….. Once an idea is documented it goes to a Sub-Committee, where it has to get through the Sub-Committee and on to the particular Committee to have a fighting chance.

All bills on energy and renewable energy go to the Commerce & Labor Committee. After it passes the Committee then it can go to either “house” to get started as a bill. Legislators count on their constituents to make the calls and show support for the bill.

The halfway point of the session is referred to as the “crossover” period, where the bill needs to get to the other “house”. Once the bill passes both houses, and after the session has ended, it goes to the Virginia Governor where it’s either signed into law or is vetoed.

Many thank-yous to Ivy Main for going over the basics of influencing policy in Virginia. Ivy’s blog can be found at Power for the People VA.