Bill Text: VA HB1381 | 2024 | Regular Session | Chaptered

Bill Title: Rural Virginia, Center for; renames Center the Senator Frank M. Ruff, Jr. Center for Rural Virginia.

Spectrum: Bipartisan Bill

Status: (Passed) 2024-03-26 - Governor: Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0132) [HB1381 Detail]

Download: Virginia-2024-HB1381-Chaptered.html

An Act to amend and reenact §§2.2-2699.3, 2.2-2720, and 3.2-3103 of the Code of Virginia, relating to the Center for Rural Virginia; name change.
[H 1381]
Approved March 26, 2024


Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That §§2.2-2699.3, 2.2-2720, and 3.2-3103 of the Code of Virginia are amended and reenacted as follows:

§2.2-2699.3. Broadband Advisory Council; purpose; membership; compensation; chairman.

A. The Broadband Advisory Council (the Council) is established as an advisory council, within the meaning of §2.2-2100, in the executive branch of state government. The purpose of the Council shall be to advise the Governor on policy and funding priorities to expedite deployment and reduce the cost of broadband access in the Commonwealth.

B. The Council shall have a total membership of 17 members that shall consist of seven legislative members, six nonlegislative citizen members, and four ex officio members. Members shall be appointed as follows: four members of the House of Delegates to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates in accordance with the principles of proportional representation contained in the Rules of the House of Delegates; three members of the Senate to be appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules; and six nonlegislative citizen members to be appointed by the Governor, of whom one shall be a representative of the Virginia Cable Telecommunications Association, one shall be a representative of the Virginia Telecommunications Industry Association, one shall be a representative from local government recommended by the Virginia Municipal League and Virginia Association of Counties, one shall be a representative of the Virginia Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, one shall be a representative of a wireless service authority, and one shall be a representative of the Virginia, Maryland and Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives. The executive director of the Senator Frank M. Ruff, Jr. Center for Rural Virginia and three Secretaries as defined in §2.2-200 to be appointed by the Governor shall serve ex officio. Legislative and ex officio members shall serve terms coincident with their terms of office. Other members shall be appointed for terms of two years. Appointments to fill vacancies, other than by expiration of a term, shall be for the unexpired terms. Vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointments. All members may be reappointed.

C. Legislative members of the Council shall receive such compensation as provided in §30-19.12. Nonlegislative citizen members shall serve without compensation. All members shall be reimbursed for all reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties as provided in §§2.2-2813 and 2.2-2825. Funding for compensation and expenses of legislative members shall be provided by the operating budgets of the Clerk of the House of Delegates and the Clerk of the Senate upon approval of the Joint Rules Committee. The Governor shall designate the office of one of the secretaries appointed pursuant to subsection B to provide funding for the costs of expenses of the nonlegislative citizen members and all other expenses of the Council.

D. The Council shall elect a chairman and a vice-chairman annually from among its membership. A majority of the members shall constitute a quorum. The Council shall meet at such times as may be called by the chairman or a majority of the Council.

E. Staff to the Council shall be provided by the Secretary of Commerce and Trade. The Division of Legislative Services shall provide additional staff support to legislative members serving on the Council.

Article 7.
The Senator Frank M. Ruff, Jr. Center for Rural Virginia.

§2.2-2720. The Senator Frank M. Ruff, Jr. Center for Rural Virginia; purpose.

The Senator Frank M. Ruff, Jr. Center for Rural Virginia, hereinafter referred to as "the Center," is hereby created as an independent nonprofit local entity without political subdivision status, for the purpose of sustaining economic growth in the rural areas of the Commonwealth and lessening the burdens of government through the activities prescribed in subsection B of §2.2-2723.

§3.2-3103. Powers and duties of the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.

A. The Commission shall have the power and duty to:

1. Adopt, use, and alter at will an official seal;

2. Make bylaws for the management and regulation of its affairs;

3. Maintain an office at such place or places within the Commonwealth as it may designate;

4. Accept, hold, and administer moneys, grants, securities, or other property transferred, given, or bequeathed to the Commission, absolutely or in trust, for the purposes for which the Commission is created;

5. Determine how moneys in the Fund are to be distributed;

6. Authorize grants, loans, or other distributions of moneys in the Fund for the purposes set forth in this chapter;

7. For each economic development grant or award, including a grant from the Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund, require a dollar-for-dollar match from non-Commission sources. Performance bonds shall be considered acceptable matching payment. No more than 25 percent of the match shall be in-kind. However, a match of less than 50 percent may be considered by a two-thirds majority vote of the Commission;

8. Adopt policies governing the Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund, including a repayment policy. The Commission shall apply the policies consistently;

9. Enter into a contractual or employment agreement with a financial viability manager (the Manager). The management agreement shall require the Manager to provide a written financial viability and feasibility report to the Commission as to the financial propriety of certain loans, grants, or other distributions of money made for the revitalization of a tobacco-dependent locality as proposed in accordance with the Commission's strategic objectives. The Commission shall not make any loan, except a loan made through the Virginia Tobacco Region Revolving Fund created in Chapter 31.1 (§ 3.2-3112 et seq.); grant; or other distribution of money until the Manager has provided the Commission with a written recommendation as to the financial viability and feasibility of the proposed distribution of funds. However, nothing in this section shall eliminate consideration of strategic economic initiatives;

10. Make and execute contracts and all other instruments and agreements necessary or convenient for the exercise of its powers and functions;

11. Invest its funds as provided in this chapter or permitted by applicable law; and

12. Do any lawful act necessary or appropriate to carry out the powers herein granted or reasonably implied, including use of whatever lawful means may be necessary and appropriate to recover any payments wrongfully made from the Fund.

B. The Commission shall undertake studies and gather information and data in order to determine: (i) the economic consequences of the reduction in or elimination of quota for tobacco growers; (ii) the potential for alternative cash crops; and (iii) any other matters the Commission believes will affect tobacco growers in the Commonwealth.

C. The Commission shall at least biennially develop a strategic plan containing specific priorities, measurable goals, and quantifiable outcomes. In developing the Strategic Plan, the Commission shall solicit input from local and regional economic developers, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the Virginia Tourism Authority, the Virginia Resources Authority, and the Senator Frank M. Ruff, Jr. Center for Rural Virginia. The Strategic Plan shall state how each Fund award is consistent with the Commission's achievement of measurable goals and outcomes and its advancement of the specific priorities of the Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan shall also state how awards from the Fund are projected to affect key economic indicators of employment, income, educational attainment, amount of Virginia-grown agricultural and forestal products used by the project, and return on investment.

D. The Commission shall develop a publicly available online database of all Commission awards, listing for each project the project's goals, the means by which the project fits into the Strategic Plan, the project's expected and achieved outcomes, and the total amount of funding the Commission has awarded to the project through any prior grants.

E. The Commission shall submit a report annually to the Governor and the General Assembly.