As the 2015 General Assembly session draws to a close, the hurried pace to complete consideration of the legislation passed by each body continues.

During this process, I have been fortunate to see several initiatives I supported to have passed in the House of Delegates. Some have also passed in the Senate.

What follows below are descriptions of these measures for which I am either the chief patron, chief co-patron or co-patron, and that have passed in both the House and Senate.

These bills are now Acts of Assembly, which will be sent to the governor for his signature, amendment or veto.

HB 1854 is legislation I introduced to protect small, women-owned, minority-owned and service disabled veteran-owned businesses on state contract procurements by preventing a non-qualifying corporation from using a front organization to win bids set aside for these small businesses.

Specifically, the legislation requires that such contracts include a provision that no more than 60 percent of the work be subcontracted to another business unless such business is itself a small or minority owned business.

Under this measure, a company who violates this provision would stand to lose its special designation under current law for at least one year.

The object of this legislation is to further the intent of existing law designed to enhance opportunities for small and minority-owned businesses.

As I have come to learn, abuse of these contracts, “set-aside” for small businesses and the like, is a common problem across the commonwealth.

As is often repeated, small business is the backbone of our economy. This legislation will strengthen those businesses by increasing their opportunities for honest enterprise.

If signed into law, Southside Virginia companies, many of whom qualify for these bids, will stand a better chance to compete.

HB 1277, HB 1588 and HB 2072 are bills introduced to enhance the competitiveness of our agricultural and forestry industries in Virginia.

The first of these three will allow the cultivation by licensed growers of industrial hemp for university-managed research programs.

The second of these bills will add the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry to the committee established to assist the Secretary of Commerce and Trade in developing a comprehensive economic development policy for the commonwealth in the first year of each gubernatorial administration.

The third measure here listed will enact a procedure by which permits may be awarded for hauling overweight forest products, a particularly useful initiative for Southside Virginia companies seeking to compete against businesses operating under favorable regulations in North Carolina.

Whether the governor sees fit to sign these provisions into law, we shall soon learn. In the meantime, I thank you for the privilege of allowing me to see them advanced in the legislature this term.

Del. Les Adams of Chatham represents the 16th District, which includes most of Pittsylvania County, Martinsville, and part of Henry County.

(1) comment

RogerClegg

Re HB 1854: Why do race, ethnicity, and sex need to be considered at all in deciding who gets awarded a contract? It's good to make sure contracting programs are open to all, that bidding opportunities are widely publicized beforehand, and that no one gets discriminated against because of skin color, national origin, or sex. But that means no preferences because of skin color, etc. either--whether it's labeled a "set-aside," a "quota," or a "goal," since they all end up amounting to the same thing. Such discrimination is unfair and divisive; it breeds corruption and otherwise costs the taxpayers and businesses money to award a contract to someone other than the lowest bidder; and it's almost always illegal—indeed, unconstitutional—to boot (see 42 U.S.C. section 1981 and this model brief: http://www.pacificlegal.org/document.doc?id=454 ). Those who insist on engaging in such discrimination deserve to be sued, and they will lose.

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